Wot I Think: Smite

By Philippa Warr on March 25th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Frost giant Ymire is prettttttty cool

“Oh God, it’s like playing League of Legends crossed with Jumanji,” was my initial verdict on Smite. I stand by that assessment but I probably ought to flesh it out a bit in this here Wot I Think piece. Here goes:

Smite is Hi-Rez’s god-themed MOBA. Hang on, are we calling them MOBAs at the moment? ARTS? Lane pushing game? Lords management? Wizard-em-up? Magi-brawler? Five-a-side farming simulator? Whatever your preferred label, it’s Hi-Rez’s take on that genre. You play as one of a pantheon of characters based on the gods of various religions and mythological figures and proceed to do battle across a number of different game modes.

The appeal of games like Dota 2 and League of Legends to me is their ability to exhilarate and the feeling of intense satisfaction when a match goes well. Your goal is simply to understand and while you’re trying to achieve it there are constant opportunities to show off your skills (the omnipresent threat of failing utterly and spectacularly is less appealing, I’ll admit).

As you spend dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of hours in the game, you learn to unpick the intertwining systems, manipulating them with greater and greater precision. It’s a complexity which can repel but it’s part of the reason I stay. The reward of a game well played or a character well understood is strong enough for me that it overrides the memory of bursting into tears after an evening of failing to adequately shoot other internet wizards in the head.

Conquest was the mode I headed into first. It’s Smite’s 5v5 three-lane map and will feel familiar to anyone used to other MOBA/ARTS/STRATEGIC SPELL-SPLOSION games. You’re trying to work with your teammates to shove your way into the opposition’s base and slay their Titan before they do the same to you. You can play as the gods who are available on free rotation, purchasing new ones for real money or using favour which accumulates as you play, or you can buy the game outright and have access to all of them immediately.

Neith is spectacular at kill stealing - sorry, kill securing - with her ult

A major point of distinction between Smite and other games I’ve played in the genre is the camera angle. Rather than a top down view of the map you get third-person over-the-shoulder. Perhaps the idea of a human player controlling the gods while perched somewhere in the heavens created too much of a theological quandary, or perhaps Hi-Rez just fancied doing something different. Regardless, it affects the experience of playing, sometimes positively, sometimes problematically.

Being on the map rather than above it alters sight. Where a top-down game would allow you omnidirectional line of sight around your character, Smite only lets you see enemies in your character’s field of vision. The result is that you’ll need to keep checking behind you to make sure you’re not about to get smacked in the back of the head with a barrage of spells.

Verticality is also a bigger part of the game as some characters have abilities which let them vault over obstacles and walls, appearing out of nowhere to land a stun or a wave of damage. The different viewpoint is also where the Jumanji comparison comes in. Having grown so used to top-down, Smite feels like my toys have come to life and I’m scampering around on the game board with them.

Adding to that sensation is the fact that, with the exception of some special abilities, all shots are skill shots. Arrows need to be aimed precisely, taking distance and enemy movement into account. Melee swipes mean you need to keep track of exactly where you’re pointing your hero. It’s an interesting consequence of having the camera put you so close to the fight and introduces an enjoyably physical type of skill to combat.

But the camera can also be an utter pain in the butt. When you back up against a wall it suddenly switches to first person meaning your god is no longer visible on the screen. The only other time that happens is on death and several times fellow players or I assumed we’d been killed during fights while backed into a corner, costing us vital seconds and sometimes leading to death. There are also moments where you have line of sight on an enemy as evidenced by the fact you can see them right there in front of you but that information doesn’t show up on the minimap until they move closer.

Hades is your average king-of-the-underworld type Pokémon

The game feels relatively simple. By ‘simple’ I don’t mean it’s easy to win, but there’s not as much to master as in other similar games. For example, your six main inventory slots are all for items which offer passive effects while another two are reserved for active items. You’ll still need to choose the items with care and build your god in response to the match, but there’s less reliance on managing the effects of items.

If you’re coming from a game like Dota 2 this might feel like coddling. Then again, having started on Dota 2 over eighteen months back, any form of basic in-game instruction can feel like coddling. It’s also welcoming. You can develop an understanding of how stats and skills work but you’re not quite so likely to be hamstrung by clumsy button pressing or overwhelmed when you’re first starting out.

It would have been good if the tendency towards simplification had been applied to the user interface. At present it often seems unwieldy, taking a few experimental clicks and mouseovers to find the function you’re looking for. It’s not incomprehensible, just a bit unintuitive and would benefit from some tweaking in future patches. The pre-match loading in screen could do with some attention too as it’s oddly static compared to the rest of the display. On first encountering it you’ll likely wonder whether the game has frozen and crashed before realising you’re just waiting for loaders. I also encountered some minor server issues. No game outages but I did find myself booted out of the client mid-match several times which is never ideal.

This screen always makes it feel like the game has crashed. Always.

The battling in Smite is fun. Being able to land a combo is satisfying and some of the skill interactions lead to impressive individual moments – backflipping over a magical dragon which had been about to smash into my god was a particular highlight. It’s for this reason that I found myself preferring the modes which prioritised battle.

A personal favourite was arena mode where you’re competing to notch up kills and deliver minions to an enemy portal in a battle arena. Also enjoyable was the Match of The Day themed mode. It might offer all bird or winged gods one day (Birds of a Feather) and restrict you to magic-based gods the next (Mage Battle).

Assault is an all random, all mid option – i.e. a single lane with no jungle and constant pushing – while Joust, a 3v3 single lane-plus-jungle affair, works well enough if you’ve scraped a three-player party together and would prefer not to team up with strangers (although I should note that I didn’t see much in the way of vitriol or ass-hattery from the general Smite community in any of the modes).

Something which did overshadow matches was the game’s surrender option. If you’re coming from a League of Legends background you might disagree utterly but for me it spoils the flow of the game. If you get a decent start, the enemy team might well just leave. If you have a rocky beginning your own teammates might repeatedly instigate a surrender vote and give up playing rather than attempt to fight.

The games where this happens feel dull and unsatisfying. When it happens repeatedly that feeling is magnified. I get that no-one wants to spend forty-five minutes enduring a miserable defeat, but surrendering can also rob the games of equivalent high-points and of dramatic reversals of fortune. It also makes it harder to invest in individual matches, knowing the experience might just end abruptly.

I have no idea why the sun is shining out of Freya's butt

The majority of the gods included in the game are drawn from ancient cultures. Egyptian gods like Ra and Anubis rub shoulders with Artemis and Aphrodite from Greek mythology. But there are also gods from contemporary religion and traditions. The inclusion of deities from Hinduism raised specific complaints.

Faith is a personal matter and responses to the game’s choice of gods as digital playthings will vary according to beliefs of the individual. I mention it here, though, because it’s something which may affect your opinion or enjoyment of the game and also because the response Hi-Rez offered to the complaints in 2012 came across as facetious, confrontational and patronising. As per COO Todd Harris:

“Smite includes deities inspired from a diverse and ever expanding set of pantheons including Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Norse. Hinduism, being one of the world’s oldest, largest and most diverse traditions, also provides inspiration toward deities in our game. In fact, given Hinduism’s concept of a single truth with multiple physical manifestations one could validly interpret ALL the gods within Smite to be Hindu. And all gods outside of Smite as well. Ponder that for a minute. Anyway, going forward Smite will include even more deities, not fewer.”

The choice of gods from different pantheons also leads to a lack of depth in terms of their interactions. The barks become repetitive quickly anyway, but they don’t appear to change in relation to the characters involved in a particular match. It may be it’s a matter of resources or because there’s no unified lore upon which to build individualised interaction voicelines but it makes the gods feel less connected with one another.

Speaking of individual gods, Hi-Rez has created some pretty badass female characters, Neith being one of my current favourites. She’s a ranged carry-type character capable of vaulting backwards out of trouble (or into it), able to root foes to the spot and with an ultimate that lets her pick off low-health enemies from the other side of the map. She’s the first character the game lets you play as at the moment and she’s heaps of fun.

Neith has many skills, none of which are victory dancing

But when she’s plopped onto the screen in front of you all of that seemed to disappear in the face of jiggle physics. The problem isn’t Neith’s breasts, nor that they’ve been animated per se. It’s that having watched the character shooting, leaping and running in the tutorial videos, the repeated exaggerated chest bounces feel jarring — as if I was spending time with a new acquaintance while someone from Hi-Rez stood next to us shouting “TITS” every few seconds.

Looking through the rest of the character models and the skins available to customise each one, there was less variety when it came to the female gods generally. I like playing as monstrous creatures because I like that their different body shapes and movement can change how a match feels. But the most adventurous female form here is maybe Scylla (a little girl with snakes sprouting from her petticoat) or Arachne (a very busty spider). Male characters include a leaping monkey, an articulated boulder creature, a frost giant, a floating Chinese dragon and a chap with a huge gut. Simply put, the male characters felt more appealing and better differentiated.

Smite is an enjoyable experience and fun to dip into. It was also useful when I wanted to scratch a MOBA itch (which sounds like some horrible ailment) and didn’t have the level of concentration I still need for Dota. There’s a refreshing exhilaration which comes from being down on the board instead of up in the sky and it might catch an audience who bounced off other MOBAs or found them dull or frustratingly complex.

However Smite’s shortcomings leave it feeling a little light. There’s not the finesse and depth of other games in the same category. Additionally, it doesn’t feel like Hi-Rez has any desire to sidestep the less interesting cliches of the genre. As a result that obsessive affection and desire for mastery that you get with the likes of League of Legends or Dota 2 seems less likely when it comes to Smite.

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95 Comments »

  1. Aretak says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiPZFPYhmzs This is a pretty good video explaining the female god portrayals, though some of the more recent ones have been subpar and generic (Nemesis and Nu Wa) there has been discussion that this is down to Tencent’s marketing.

    Overall it’s a great game and I disagree there’s a lack of depth. Currently there’s limited itemisation but the depth comes from learning positioning and god counters on an individual and team level. Not sure how much exactly RPS has played it but game quality only begins at lvl30 matchmaking.

    • KevinLew says:

      I need to point out that using historical references to justify an art style is really silly, because society evolves and therefore things that were acceptable thousands of years ago may not be acceptable anymore. So here’s my question to you: Do you really think that Smite used those original character designs because of their historical accuracy, or because that’s what guys wanted to see? Greek art also depicted men in the nude, but you don’t see Hercules in films or video games with his pants off. So ask yourself that. Why aren’t guys wearing barely anything in any of these games, when that’s how classical art depicted them?

      • aepervius says:

        Society has evolved indeed, and puritanism is passé really.

        • KevinLew says:

          It’s not puritanism. The argument that others are making is how sexism is so common that it’s become socially acceptable. It’s so prevalent that people like yourself use ad hominem arguments to justify that behavior. If anything, Hi-Rez could have said, “We think that our art style is justified as we used images from historical artwork and we believe that it’s an accurate depiction of the female gods. It’s our right to keep the artwork as we see fit, and we will not fall into the pressure of censorship to appease others.” But that’s not what happened.

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            AngelTear says:

            Didn’t you know, sexism is a core component of every historical representation in games, no matter the amount of magic, monsters or medieval potatoes it contains. Without it, the world would feel way too unrealistic and all the immersion would be lost.

            /irony

          • joa says:

            Fiction tries to represent human nature. There might be whacky shit that doesn’t exist in our world, but the people and the relationships are always relateable and human. And sex is a pretty fundamental part of that.

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            AngelTear says:

            @joa I’m not sure what your point is. Either you’re confusing “sex and relationships” with sexism, or you’re saying that men oppressing women is “human nature”, and without that relationships cannot be related to. (I wonder if you’d relate to some of my human relationships; a former friend of mine, a girl, was more masculine and “dominant” than many of her male friends) Now, I’m not sure whether “human nature” even exists as a meaningful concept, but even with that aside, it wasn’t always like that and it won’t always be like that. I suggest you type “matriarchal society” on a search engine.

          • joa says:

            No, what I’m saying is that sexual conflict is human nature. Men and women have inbuilt sexual needs and desires of the opposite sex, and this coupled with the circumstances of the time gives rise to different sorts of social structures between men and women. In medieval times all these influences gave rise to a patriarchal society. If you want to have a fictional medieval world where this is not the case then OK – but then why is this different – what differences in society have allowed it to be different?

            And matriarchal societies show exactly what I’m talking about – sexual differences and social values and so on giving rise to the male/female social structure.

          • Flopper says:

            Shirtless man = woman in bikini top… Unless you’ve never seen/touched a titty, then a woman in a bikini top is pornographic and sexist.

          • wu wei says:

            Men and women have inbuilt sexual needs and desires of the opposite sex, and this coupled with the circumstances of the time gives rise to different sorts of social structures between men and women. In medieval times all these influences gave rise to a patriarchal society. If you want to have a fictional medieval world where this is not the case then OK – but then why is this different – what differences in society have allowed it to be different?

            Absolutely! Just like all Tolkienesque fantasy RPGs detail at length why the fundamental physics of their world are different so the square-cube law no longer applies and thus dragons…

            I demand absolute realism in my fantasy!

          • joa says:

            Humans don’t have an innate understanding of physics. We don’t relate to physics on a personal level. We do relate to humans and their relationships. All good fiction comes back to human nature, even if it’s at a really abstract level. Even in worlds where there are no humans and just weird aliens that don’t act like us at all – it’s interesting how they differ from us.

          • The Random One says:

            No, that is bullshit. The current state of society, as it relates to gender, is not some sort of inescapable human nature inherent to mankind. It’s just the result of European gender relationships that, over time, spread over essentially the entire world due to several factors that caused European-derived culture to become dominant. There are many examples of different gender relationships in cultures that existed prior to globalisation, and even today in some cultural groups that have remained untouched by global culture you’ll find very different dynamics every once in a while.

            What you might argue is that we could not identify with a culture so different from ours, but again, just because your experience is that this culture fits your idea of human nature perfectly (to the extent that you think it’s inherent) there are many people for whom these ideas are at odds with what they feel and believe. If I wrote a book about a society that held ideas about gender similar to my own’s, you might feel that it was false, but I wouldn’t, and I’m sure many others wouldn’t as well, as it would also resemble their own ideas. The whole point of fantasy is to create something that is internally consistent but dissimilar to the real world.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          aepervius has stated loud and clear that he wouldn’t have a problem if nearly every game he buys from now on has every male character with his penis and scrotum out (as long as most games actually put a little patch over the japs eye) and the characters are introduced with shots that linger on the penis and/or a firm set of manly buttocks. With jiggle physics. Nor will he mind if the penis is always oversized, like an elephant trunk from the pants.

          Because he’s not a puritan. He’s also definitely not gay, not that anyone would suggest he was or mind if he was, but it’s very important that you know that he is not.

          • joa says:

            But if you made the male character designs like the female ones it wouldn’t even be sexy. How many women out there want to see the male characters’ dongs flopping around the place?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            In 1996, many people thought Lara Croft was sexy. She was not, and neither are any of the characters above. You think they are, presumably you do think they are, because marketing men have paid through the nose to make you think that it is.

            This is Lara circa 1996: Still think she’s sexy???

            http://cdn.gamerheadlines.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Tomb-Raider-original-game.jpg

            Want a more recent example, google yourself the DoA beach volleyball 2 breast physics (but don’t if you just ate custard, it may make you vomit)

            But you have rather sidestepped the point. Aeper did not say he was sexually attracted to the ladies above, he said people were puritan for not liking it in their games. Well, roles reversed, how puritan does it seem now?

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            AngelTear says:

            @joa
            Except for the fact that he was obviously ironic/exaggerating his point, if you want to see how men are currently sexualized you should look for a couple of images from Yaoi manga/anime (that is, centred around male homosexuality) made for women and to a lesser extent for gay men.

            It’s not quite the same as mainstream pornographic sexualization of women, but then again the latter is often very crude and hardly sensual/sexy in the proper sense of the word.

          • joa says:

            Well the characters may look a little too ridiculous to be sexy – but the point is that their look is supposed to represent sexual power and femininity.
            And how does the Lara Croft screenshot prove anything? Yes the blocky 3d model is not sexy – but the character it’s trying to represent is.

            Marketing men haven’t paid through the nose trying to make people think anything. What they have paid through the nose for is trying to find out exactly what will sell the most – and then going for that. Men find a certain range of looks sexy in women, women find a certain range of looks (and other things) sexy in men. That’s not sexist.

            AngelTear – and how many women read Yaoi anime outside of teenagers on Tumblr? More to the point, how many women would want to date a straight man who acts like one of the men in Yaoi?

            What I’m trying to get at is that the men depicted in video games typically are our idea of sexy men – how many protagonists are fat guys or scrawny guys or guys with huge noses or whatever? There’s no gender imbalance – except for the fact that sexy is depicted in different ways for men and women. Which is to be expected, since men and women find different things sexy in the opposite sex.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Still sidestepping. Are you too puritan for dongs in your game or not?

            Also, quote of the day: “Marketing men haven’t paid through the nose trying to make people think anything.”

            Sure, and no farmers ever gave cows growth hormones. Because the supermarkets said so.

          • joa says:

            Okay okay. What I meant was marketing men don’t bother paying to convince people of things if they can profit just as much off people’s current way of thinking.

            If men found some other look sexy then the marketing men would just make characters that looked like that. Why would they bother going to all the trouble to make men think something else was sexy first?

            Also what do you think men found sexy before the evil marketing men put in all the money to change that for reasons we’ve yet to establish? Genuinely curious.

            And before I forget – yes put dongs in games, I don’t mind. There are dongs in films sometimes and I still manage to watch them

          • Sheng-ji says:

            What men find sexy is timeless. Films and images of Ginger Rogers are, if you like her type still sexy, as are Joan Crawford, Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck etc etc. In 1996, Lara croft adorned every lads mag, and was, if you asked most peoples sexiest game character.

            Now, what is sexy is timeless, but you don’t think 1996 Lara is sexy… So why did people in 1996? Because her image was, as pointed out in lads mags, paid promotions alongside paid articles telling you how sexy she was.

          • joa says:

            I honestly have no idea what point you’re trying to make. Yes the ugly blocky 3d rendering from 1996 is not sexy – nobody ever thought that was sexy. What people found sexy was what she was supposed to look like. I mean Angelina Jolie portrayed her in the film and although it may be a shite film you would have to agree that Jolie is an attractive woman, right?

            Anyway the female characters in this game aren’t meant to look sexy in any realistic way – some of them just have their sexual features exaggerated because that’s part of their femininity.

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            AngelTear says:

            And the men have gigantic penises because that’s just part of their masculinity…?

          • joa says:

            Well yes, for the characters who are meant to be representing masculinity. I wouldn’t be surprised if massive bicep two heads guy in the article had two massive dicks or whatever. But a lot of the ‘male’ characters aren’t there to represent masculinity or men at all, look at the blue dragon monster or the monkey face guy. So the argument doesn’t hold.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            “nobody ever thought that was sexy”

            True, but everyone said it was. The game basically sold on a pair of 2 poly tits. Tomb raider, the game released in 1996 predated the Angelina Jolie film by several years, no-one associated AJ with LC at that point, so now I really don’t understand your point.

            Lookit, you made a ludicrous statement about how marketing experts don’t try to affect peoples minds, I have given you two distinct examples demonstrating how false that statement was, the rest is all your pride trying to argue some validity into your statement.

            My original point was that disliking flapping giant bosoms in nearly every game released is not because I am a puritanical, it looks gross. Gross is the perfect word. I challenged the chap who said that this point of view is puritanical by asking him if he would be OK with penises in his game. We all know the answer, that games would not sell as well if they did. You’ve made that statement yourself. Therefore the problem is not a puritanical audience, it’s the inherent inequality in society that finds it OK to show the body of women but not men, not to the same extent where portrayals of women in mainstream media are pushed to and beyond the level of decency, but not men. Is it a problem for you? Clearly not because you like seeing tits but don’t like seeing penises. You claim this is not a problem because you seem to hold the opinion that women don’t get titillated by seeing a penis. The success of the Chippendales very much prove you wrong, but feel free to ignore any evidence that challenges your world view, you’ve been doing a stellar job of that so far.

            (Oh, by the way, the size of your penis is in no way linked to your masculinity… nor do the size of a woman’s breasts demonstrate anything about her femininity)

          • joa says:

            OK – I see your point about Lara Croft being seen as sexy because the marketing said she was sexy. What I was trying to get at was that the marketing men aren’t conspiring to literally change what men find sexy, they were simply associating the game representation of Croft with something that men do find sexy already.
            That does not really apply in this case. Men find boobs sexy because boobs are sexy, not because of anything marketing.

            A lot of female sexual power comes from appearance while with guys appearance is less important – a guy’s attitude and social standing and so on can make him sexy or unsexy. So to expect there to be equal focus on a men and women’s physical appearance is silly. So you don’t like the bouncing boob physics – a lot of guys do like it (or it wouldn’t be like that).

            Also I never said women don’t like penises, just that I’m pretty sure that women are nowhere near as aroused by simply seeing a penis than a guy is by seeing a pair of tits.

            Oh yeah and thanks I do realise that breast and penis size don’t literally correspond to amount of femininity or masculinity. But they are symbols for it. A man with a big muscles and a big dong is like shorthand for don’t mess with this guy he’s a hard case. A curvy woman with big breasts you know she’s going to be using her feminine wiles and have guys wrapped around her little finger.

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            AngelTear says:

            Now, re-read your post and try to judge how much of what you’ve written is “human nature” and how much is cultural superstructure. Men and women are not totally alien species to each other, in a more neutral cultural context they’d be much much closer to each other than they sometimes look.

            A lot of female sexual power comes from appearance while with guys appearance is less important – a guy’s attitude and social standing and so on can make him sexy or unsexy.

            This is such a sad, crude and unappealing (and un-sexy) view of sensuality that I don’t even know what to answer. It just makes me not want to approach sex with a pointed stick ever again. It’ll pass, I know, but still D:

          • joa says:

            There’s not a lot of difference between human nature and culture – human nature gives rise to culture. Do you think men liking boobs is cultural? Really? If so I don’t know what to say.

            And there’s nothing sad or crude about my view of sexuality – it’s just honest. Maybe you would prefer some new age crap about how we’ve got to fuse our spirit power and praise Gaia or whatever. Men are attracted to women’s bodies. We’re biological beings (even women), it’s not that complicated. If that offends you then perhaps you’d rather live in Victorian times?

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            I’m sorry how exactly does boobs = genitalia. There isn’t mass viewable vagina in video games the same way there isn’t mass viewable dongs.

      • pepperfez says:

        …because that’s what they assumed guys wanted to see

        Just didn’t want you to concede too much.

      • Felix says:

        Eh, the characters in the games still are wearing more clothes than historically accurate, so it makes sense the guys have some clothes, too, if they were taking that stance.

        Personally, I think they just made designs they thought were cool. I don’t generally get the arguments surrounding sexy people in games, but there is certainly a vocal minority saying it’s a problem without proving it’s a problem.

    • Oculardissonance says:

      I posted this on that youtube link but I will post it here also, as an art history major I feel I have to point out…

      Even though to a westerners eyes depictions of Kali are titillating they weren’t considered sexual in traditional Hindu culture. The tradition can be traced back to the time of Alexander when Greek and Hindu culture met. Think of the ideal male nude in Greek art, the Indians took that sculptural ideal and made it their own. Their idealism was feminine instead of masculine. Although the statue of David is nude and ideal we don’t think of it as sexual, the same applies to Kali. This motif goes though both Hindu and Buddhist art. I can see how offense might be taken when jiggle physics are applied to that ancient motif. I think intent matters greatly in this situation. It’s in poor taste, Hindus have a right to be pissed and non Hindus have a right to piss on Hindus’ beliefs. Perspective.

      • pepperfez says:

        I mean, those rights are there, but that doesn’t make it a good aesthetic decision to homogenize classical representations into a contemporary videogame-cheesecake style. Traditionally Kali has been nude, except for her enormous necklace of human skulls and her skirt made of arms.
        That’s totally awesome, and it’s honestly pretty bizarre to me that they missed it.

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      SuddenSight says:

      Posted this on the youtube video, but I will repeat it here as well. The video nicely focuses on the gods that were portrayed in a nude fashion in history. I have looked through the list of gods and found a few that were clearly made into sex objects unnecessarily.

      1) Freya. Norse God. Traditionally pictured in normal norse clothing, which is to say winter clothing that doesn’t really show much at all. Compare that to her stripperific bikini armor in-game.

      2) Hel. She’s an OLD woman. Like, so craggly and wizened that people recoil at the sight of her old. As in so ugly she needs to threaten people with death to get them to talk to her. Compare THAT to her sexified version in game.

      3) Arachne. She’s a spider. Maybe you could point out that she was once a human, so it is “justified” to portray her as an attractive female. But there are already plenty of attractive female characters in the game; it would have been more interesting and equally accurate to actually make her a spider. An actual spider. That would have been fine.

      • CmdrCrunchy says:

        I’ll have to stop you there on Freya and Arachne, both were often portrayed as topless in various forms by their particular worshippers, especially Freya, who was half the time shown charging into battle wearing a full suit of armour, the other half of the time shown cutting down swathes of foes wearing little more than a belt round her waist.

        Hel though is a better example of a bad choice of sexualization, but the ‘smut award for no damn good reason at all’ goes to Nu Wa. Personally I find Nu Wa’s outfit pretty ludicruously bad considering she’s meant to be similarly dressed to Chang’e.

      • tormos says:

        This is (yet) another negative aspect of the way that women are portrayed in games: women who aren’t designed to appeal to 16-24 year old straight males might as well not exist. We’re denied all sorts of interesting characters as a result.

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        Malibu Stacey says:

        3) Arachne. She’s a spider. Maybe you could point out that she was once a human, so it is “justified” to portray her as an attractive female.

        Well at least it’s not Riot making this otherwise you would’ve just got a spider with tits.

        • Ringwraith says:

          In a flimsy defence, at least Elise transforms into a proper giant spider.
          Though yeah, I find the human side of her design eye-rolling, though her skins actually cover her a bit more.
          Actually, I’ve been very guilty of buying skins to cover up depressing designs in League of Legends, I bought Syndra’s before even playing her properly mostly to get rid of her boob window. Doesn’t hurt it’s a really good skin too though.

    • Njordin says:

      i have to admit: i always almost get a boner everytime i see Neith. That´s why my mind tries to tell me to like her. I think i like her. I don´t want to like her. I don´t want to see those sexualized characters ingame.
      Why not like Artemis?
      I feel manipulated.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Man, Artemis has such a cool design in it.
        Probably why although I actually liked Neith’s skillset more to play with, I liked playing as Artemis regardless in my short time messing with it.
        Although, then again, in ancient Egypt most people walked around with very little clothes on because it damn hot.
        There still only seems to be one female body type for the most part though, sadly.

  2. Benjamin L. says:

    Appreciate the informed perspective of a fellow Dota 2 player. Seems like in order to win in the MOBA arena you have to essentially carve out a niche that Dota 2 and LoL won’t encroach on, and I don’t think Smite quite pulls that off.

  3. Henchimus says:

    The fact that it has ditched the ridiculous RTS control convention of its competitors makes it worthy in itself!

    • clownst0pper says:

      This a million times. The fact DOTA II doesn’t use a control method like Bloodlines Champions or SMITE make it a very dull experience.

      • Stupoider says:

        What control system would that be?

        • gunny1993 says:

          Top down rts one would assume

        • shaydeeadi says:

          I think Bloodline Champions/SMITE uses WASD for movement and the keys around it for skills and items. Instead of the DOTA/LOL way of using right clicking/a-moving around the map and keys for spells/items. It’s just a personal preference thing, I can’t see how it would work on DOTA2 though with several heroes having additional units to control.

          Enchantress and Chen would be a complete nightmare if you had to control all their creeps AND them that way. That also goes for Lone Druid, Lycan, Warlock and Enigma (holy crap jungling eidolons with WASD movement would induce premature baldness) and others, not to mention anybody that buys a Necronomicon.

          Edit: Totally ninja’d below while I was typing.

          • DatonKallandor says:

            DotA would be a lot more interesting with BLC control scheme. Everything is a skill-shot, from movement to melee to heal spells. But then DotA could also benefit from BLCs (pre-fucking-it-up) absolute 100% no RNG and simple small numbers mechanics.

          • shaydeeadi says:

            You are utterly, depressingly wrong. I’m sure you aren’t interested in any of my arguments about why so I’ll just use yours and be done with it.

            BLC would be a lot more interesting with DotA control scheme. Everything is a skill-shot, from movement to melee to heal spells. But then BLC could also benefit from DOTA’s RNG variable calculation mechanics.

          • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

            Anyone remember Sacrifice? That was wizards casting spells and controlling armies, needed a decent amount of micromanagement but was very workable with WASD controls and a third-person view.

            (I’d actually be cautiously interested in seeing Sacrifice remade as a MOBA/ARTS/whateverthey’recalled, keeping all the army level strategy and that, think it’d work well and be different enough from others in the genre.)

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            @shaydeeadi
            Typical Dota 2 player. “I’m right, your wrong”, even “depressingly” so apparently. Ever thought that this could be a subjective matter and not black and white?. Might as well just go the whole hog and call anyone that likes something you don’t a bunch of “noobs and casuals”, seems to be the standard response from a DOTA fanboy.

    • Malarious says:

      On the other hand, Dota 2′s RTS style control scheme lends itself to mechanics that simply aren’t possible or present in games like Smite. Microing multiple units, for instance, and heroes like Meepo, Visage, Chen, Enchantress, who use this micro as a central game mechanic. There’s a higher barrier to entry for sure, but it’s oh so rewarding.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        Exactly this, Chen and Enchantress are two of the most satisfying heroes to play for me.

    • Zankmam says:

      The fact that they ditched the standard RTS control scheme is exactly the reason why Smite doesn’t interest me.

      • Henchimus says:

        The RTS control scheme was a necessity stemming from the fact that the original was a WC3 mod; there was no real need for a game like LoL to retain it other than convention/a sop to DotA players.

        When you’re only controlling the one character, it’s pretty much a source of tedium with no strategic value; many people are put off LoL and DotA precisely because micromanaging a single unit for 45 minutes is their idea of hell. WASD controls just make way more sense.

  4. clownst0pper says:

    It’s interesting that you pick out the Gods of SMITE as perhaps a little lacking, when its the consistency of a theme I actually like. The likes of DOTA II or LOL have no consistent style or theme and are heroes just thrown together based on the whims of their creators. You’ve robots battling bugs – it’s nonsense.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Heroes of the Storm actually notices and embraces that. (‘You can’t taste fear!’)

  5. Moraven says:

    45 minute matches?

    One thing I do appreciate with Heroes of the Storm is the shorter matches. And not having to worry about running to town to buy items nor learning the 2 optimal builds.

    • stblr says:

      A 45 minutes long game is considered a long match. The average Conquest match length (barring surrenders, which I agree can be a nuisance) is about 25-30 minutes. The other game modes all take much less time, with Arena averaging 15 minutes, and Assault 15-20.

  6. AaronionRings says:

    It’s a well written review and I agree on some points but going by the screenshots I don’t feel you have enough time on this game to properly comment n the shortcomings of the game. The game was also only released today with a decent number of changes and patches coming out frequently towards release. The game is a bit more stable now than it was over the past week.

    I’d give it at least a few days to really comment on the crashes and get to at least level 20 before deciding how deep certain things are or what shortcomings the game has. I get that you’ve played DOTA2 a lot and you’ll have a good sense of what works in mobas but there’s good number of intricacies that you’ll only find in Smite through playing for a while.

    You brought up some good points though, a huge one being the surrendering issue. This was something that really frustrated me before but once you hit around level 20 people are a bit less willing to surrender early on and you can easily talk them into sticking around and trying to work together to pull out a win. The reason I bring this up with the levels is I’ve had this issue in other MOBA games where a surrender option is available. Lower levels will surrender as soon as they can if things don’t go well while higher levels will at least try to stick around and fight a bit longer.

  7. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    I love how every character sounds like a copy from LOL’s:
    Scylla (a little girl with snakes sprouting from her petticoat) – Cassiopeia (+ Annie?)
    Arachne (a very busty spider) – Elise (Arachne, cause she’s a spider, how original too; I know, it’s a character from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but still)
    Male characters include a leaping monkey – Wukong
    boulder creature – Malphite
    a frost giant – Nunu
    a floating Chinese dragon: Shyvana
    Hades looks a lot like Nasus.

    And Smite itself is LOL’s summoner spell for junglers.

    • Philomelle says:

      In their defense, Wukong is a mythological character and Susan has always been based off Anubis. Even so, I find it curious that their designs and personalities are more reminiscent of their mythological counterparts than how they are portrayed in Smite.

      Actually, what always put me off about Smite is that aside of the third-person camera, it really does very liberally borrow from League. The loading screen and the website’s champion profiles are pretty much LoL with redrawn borders. It practically reeks of Hi-Rez’s favorite business practice, which is rip off whatever multiplayer game is popular at the time, then abandon it and move on to the latest shiny multiplayer concept.

      ( And yes, Scylla’s design pretty much is Annie in a different outfit. )

      • Moraven says:

        Sandbox Goat card game next?

        • Philomelle says:

          I give it about eight months. Then prepare for the latest game to come out alongside a sob story about how they are totally maintaining their current games while patches and actual development slow down to a halt.

          They did it twice now, no reason to believe SMITE will be somehow different.

    • realityflaw says:

      There were common accusations that LoL copied DotAs characters when it came out, but DotA stole it’s models from WC3. Warcraft borrowed heavily from Warhammer, and Warhammer was influenced by writers like Moorcock and Tolkien, who were in turn inspired by folktails and mythology which brings us back around to SMITE…

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        There’s something to be said for the fact that LoL was made from some of the same people who made DotA in the first place, so they might have wanted to keep some of what were their characters in the first place.

        As for the rest of the chain, there’s a subtle difference between “being inspired by” and copying/not having an ounce of originality, or even putting the same character in a different context vs pretty much the same context.

        • Jenks says:

          Need a history lesson or a new definition of “in the first place”

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        but DotA stole it’s models from WC3.

        Indeed. Lets completely ignore the fact that it was a WC3 mod & importing models was all but impossible. Ignoring those facts you’re absolutely 100% correct.

    • Henchimus says:

      You say that as if LoL itself isn’t the most unoriginal, artistically unambitious game ever made…

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        LoL’s character design has several problems (including, but not limited to, sexist issues), and often it’s not particularly original, but at the same time it’s pretty solid and never poor; it’ll never make you go “wow” – although some skins will make you chuckle – but it will never make you go “wow, that’s terrible” either. Some champions do have a lot of character, though, and/or notable “synergy” (for lack of a better word) between their art design and their gameplay (see: Gragas, Draven, Ahri, just off the top of my head)

        There’s far, far far worse, especially in the realm of RPGs and MMOs, as far as originality in character design goes.

      • Philomelle says:

        That would be because LoL was designed with mechanics first and art direction second. The developers themselves admitted that their early efforts were “whatever seemed cool at the time”.

        It’s been steadily changing toward a more unified art direction during the last two years, the problem is that it takes a lot of time. It’s why the number of new champions considerably dropped in favor of reworking old ones, updating their lore and art assets toward something more interesting, less “pop-culture reference” or problematic. It’s still a bit of a mess, but it’s being slowly and steadily cleaned up.

        Incidentally, the complaint voiced in the WOT is the reason why League isn’t getting non-human female characters these days. Elise and Zyra drove in the point that a lot of their female monsters are stuck in the “lady in a Halloween costume” land, so they want their next female monster to be actually… y’know. A monster.

        • Zyrusticae says:

          That last point is particularly egregious considering they have Anivia in the game, who is a crystalline ice bird. No human bits. No sexualization.

          Really, if they have Anivia, why in the world can’t they get another female character just like her? It’s bizarre.

          • Philomelle says:

            A combination of heavily raised design standards and having designed themselves into a corner. Riot has heavily revised their approach to character design around early 2013. You can see that early effort in their redesign of Sejuani, where they all agreed that they hated her being yet another chick in a bikini and reworked her into a domineering armored warlord. They’ve been much more careful at creating champions since.

            The problem is, by the time they realized their “female monster” approach doesn’t work, they exhausted the vast majority of common archetypes. They already have a naga (Cassiopeia with her metal bra), arachne (Elise the Goth Cabaret Dancer), carnivorous plant (Zyra the Stripper dressed in Conveniently Placed Foliage) and a dragon. So now they have to think really out of the box to design their next female monster.

            Personally, I wish they made Nasus and Renekton a sister based on a scarab. I would be all over that.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            It’s such a stupid “problem”, though. I mean, Shyvana Elise and Nidalee already have a full “animal” form that is not a “woman in a costume” (Quinn too, although that’s not quite a proper transformation, but it might as well be). How hard would it be to design a similar character, and give her only the animal form instead of both?

            Incidentally, I find it interesting that men never metamorphose but women do, and that male animals speak, but metamorposhed female animals stop speaking.

    • Natdaprat says:

      To be fair, a lot of the gods you listed are some of the very first gods in the game. The game now has 51 gods, many of which are unique and original. While some of them may seem similar to LoL, they are all decently backed up by the lore of the deities they are actually based on. Wukong from LoL is directly inspired by the real deity from Chinese mythology.

      Scylla however is a total rip off. I say this as a big Smite fan. This god is great, she’s fun and a good addition to the game, but her appearance is such an obvious copy of Annie. She is nothing like how she is described by in the lore. Even her concept art datamined from the Smite files looked nothing like the one released.

      Yet we should look past this ‘x copies from y’ because everyone takes inspiration from everything else. Mythology is a bounty of ideas and concepts that have been used to death in all works of art from literature to video games. Of course we’ll see similarities.

  8. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    It’s too bad that we won’t see some of the awesome shit people wrote up in texts for the Abrahamic religions. Go on, Elisha, summon up some bloody bears to maul folks!

  9. CptCasper says:

    The problem you had with line of sight is because the mini map has fog of war and so the enemy needs to be close to a friendly to show up on the map, players have a similar AOE vision around them on the mini map as when you place wards, its just for game balance.

  10. gunny1993 says:

    “but they don’t appear to change in relation to the characters involved in a particular match.”

    They have begun adding stuff like this for certain gods, so far it happens when you kill a certain god as a certain god they say something.

    For example when Thor kills odin he says “You’re getting old father”

    So far i think maybe 10 gods have them

  11. Premium User Badge

    J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    What year is it?

  12. Lemming says:

    “are we calling them MOBAs at the moment?”

    Hero Strategy is my preference, for simplicity’s sake. That way they don’t even have to be just real-time, and the ‘action’ is fairly self-evident so A-RTS doesn’t really work for me. Lords Management or Lane pusher just sounds about as exciting as a shareholders’ meeting or bowls match, respectively, and MOBA is just abhorrent.

    That aside, I wish Hi-Rez would’ve just added titan-like mechs and some urban maps to Tribes: Ascend instead of working on this, but hey-ho.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Tribes: Ascend was good but they fucked it with their free to play model and going into it now is virtually impossible without dropping a whole bunch of money because you will be outgunned by everybody with unlocks and it takes you an age to get to that point.
      It’s a shame, I enjoyed the game when it was first released but going back to it after a year or so was a painful experience and it seemed the community was very limited at that point.
      I still think they should have tried to do more with the game rather than abandoning further development completely because that is essentially them signalling the end at that point. Once people read that they already consider the game “dead” and new players will be even harder to come by.

    • Ringwraith says:

      I’m still going for Lane Pushing Game.
      As that’s what most of these things are about, pushing the waves of little dudes up their lanes to help you wreck stuff. Regardless of the combat method (like a shooter in Monday Night Combat’s case for example).

  13. shaydeeadi says:

    Reply fail.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    We are calling them SAUSAGES. Strategic Area Under Siege; Attack Groups of Enemy Soldiers.

  15. MysticalEric says:

    I think the preferred term is ASSFAGGOTS

    Aeon of Strife Styled Fortress Assault Game Going On Two Sides

  16. Gnashy says:

    I played tDOTA when it was a W3 mod, as well as the games that came after, such as Heroes of Newerth, LoL, DOTA 2…and after my first match of Smite I never looked back.

    I’m pleasantly surprised RPS actually did a review on it the day it left beta, but the review feels lacking. From the posted screenshots, it’s apparent the author has put very little time into the game (level 4 characters). There’s currently 51 gods, and each of them have unique abilities and playstyles. To say the game isn’t intricate when you are playing other novice players is disingenuous at best. There is quite a bit of nuance involved with countering, item builds and team compositions.

    The combat is incredibly visceral and engaging, far beyond anything you will experience in the traditional isometric, top-down MOBA playstyle. The added necessity of landing abilities with skill shots and combos takes as much finesse or more than the micromanagement of DOTA II or LoL,

    To anyone sitting on the fence: if you enjoy MOBAs or multi-player FPS games, take a chance on Smite. You will probably be glad that you did.

    • Snafoo says:

      The itemization is not as deep as it is in games like LoL or Dota II (where arguably half of those game are won or lost), but as mentioned much of the depth comes from somewhere else: the 3d person view + skillshot combat.
      To play a handful of games in, no offence, “newb matches” and dismiss it as lacking depth leaves the article feeling a little light.

      Especially the comment about vision being a problem shows some shortsightedness in what the 3d person view adds here. Actually that is what adds a lot of the tactical depth; spotting/pinging enemies as a team is even more valuable with the limited FoV.

      There are some definite issues with the game, but the only ones identified correctly as a genuine problem here are the sometimes unstable servers and perhaps the female god designs.
      Yes the female gods are almost universally ‘babed-up’ (where in many cases mythology allowed for a much more interesting design even, see: the Norse goddess Hel for instance) and it deserves to be mentioned. Although functionally they are every bit as potent as their male counterparts.

      It’s a MOBA with MMO combat, probably the best MMO combat has ever been done. If one of those acronyms isn’t your cup of tea you won’t like it, but it brings something new and interesting and it does it well.

  17. paddymaxson says:

    TO be fair to Hi Rez. I’m fairly sure every statue of Neith in existence has nipples on it, she’s kind of always had her chebs on full display from the start.

    I do kind of wonder if it’s maybe a bit disrespectful to show gods from other religions as scantily clad slags though – Especially when some of those religions are still practised fairly widely. I’m going to assume we won’t be seeing Yahweh, Allah or Jesus in a posing pouch.

    • pepperfez says:

      The Abrahamic faiths had the good sense and foresight to worship a male god, so they don’t need to worry about mainstream-smutty representations anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      It is mostly a problem in how the changed norms are adapted. In cases as mentioned, Neith is wearing her kalasiris in the way that would today roughly approximate “fashionable classy party” for ancient Egypt, the top of that dress just reaching below her breasts.

      Really though, one may look beyond fashion and just state the obvious: Except for half-creature half-sexy Arachne, and half-creature half-kid Scylla, ALL the goddesses are traditionally attractive and almost all have nearly the same shape, muscular definition mapping aside. Which is just plain, old, dull, conventional, bloody boring.

  18. SST_2_0 says:

    I just hope when I’m an old man I can hold up to the high standards have for elderly men http://www.smitefire.com/images/god/card/zeus.png

    I think you might have never played Super Monday Night Combat. The spell mechanics were a bit different but the verticality in that game was great. In fact everything you mention here that this game does great I feel like SMNC did just as good or better.

    Sometimes with smite I do feel like they just moved the camera. Though I can’t agree on the camera problem issue. I usually know when I’m dead cause I do watch my health bar, but also the death animations pretty much seal the deal.

    The backing up into a wall sounds like your trying to play this a bit to much like a FPS, which SMNC was more like. This is more like a top down MOBA, you can change zero degree in vertical firing arc and you don’t get auto normal hits to facilitate movement.

    I semi agree on the items with you, though many of the use items have split upgrades to customize towards play style. I think it gears the game more towards character use than items bought. To often I felt in Dota a game was won not by skill but by simply buying your way to the top. Sheep stick for instance.

    That being said the work and effort into this game makes me sad that Uberent, even since MNC, seemed like a group that made games to say “I have cool job, I make games” and not make something that they are actually enthusiastic to keep going.

    So yes, is Nef a bit revealing but Zeus’ pecs aren’t exactly easy for me to live up too. Just be grateful your getting hero updates and not just a new game type that splits the community while delivering only two new heroes in a year. While talking out the side of your mouth about how you plan to keep the game going, all the while building another boring RTS. (SMNC rant over)

  19. Sharongamer978 says:

    I played a few hours of it. Not my type of game.