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Shine On: Sol Arrives In Smite

She burns like the sun

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This afternoon I have been reading about Sol, Goddess of the Sun as she’s the most recent addition to Smite’s [official site] roster of playable deities. She hails from the Norse pantheon and I don’t think I knew much about her, preferring as a child to stick with the Greek myths and legends.

The lore Hi-Rez offer up has Sol being punished for her father’s hubris in naming her after the sun. Odin sends her to pull the chariot of the sun while being chased by one of the wolf sons of Fenrir. She is not exactly resigned to this fate and taunts the wolf, driven by her desire for freedom and chafing against the punishment handed down by Odin.

My father named me after a Dickens character. God, imagine how awful it would have been if the estate of Charles Dickens had turned up and made me go and do things for Pip all the time. It would be awful. No wonder Mrs Gargery was so cross all the time. She was probably someone like me who had angered the estate of Charles Dickens and was being forced to look after Pip through some kind of book magic.

So what does Sol actually do in Smite then?

Abilities

Her passive ability is called Unstable Manifestation which is a kind of temperature controlled damage thing. By using abilities or doing basic attack damage she gains heat and thus magical power and attack speed. Heat dissipates over time and so do the bonuses it grants.

Radiance is the ability on 1. Sol gains a lot of heat (thus benefitting Unstable Manifestation) and heals herself over time. She also sets fire to the ground around her which damages enemies if they wander through it. It’s kind of like a tiny forest fire, I guess.

Stellar Burst is on the 2 key and causes her next basic attack to explode. What that translates to is a kind of damaging shockwave that seems to expand outwards from the target and then retracts to do more damage and apply a slowing effect.

Disapparate is assigned to 3 and it’s where she spends 3 seconds gradually burning away, moving faster and leaving a trail of fire. After that 3 seconds Sol loses corporeal form and the trail explodes dealing a stun. From looking at the video below (I don’t have the Smite test server installed at the moment) it looks like you can then see where she is thanks to an onscreen fire sprite but I’m not sure if that’s visible to an enemy – basically is it non-corporeal in that you can’t hit her or non-corporeal in that you can’t see her either?

The dev Q&A has the following: “Once fully broken down, Sol has the ability to ghost walk, moving through obstacles. It’s a sequenced event unlike any we’ve done before, and provides significant power and opportunity.”

Her ultimate is Supernova which is a ground targetted nuke delivering a succession of solar strikes.

In terms of her role, Hi-Rez are billing her as a flexible character – particularly decent at pushing or as a magical carry as part of a dual lane.

Okay, so

Visually she reminds me of Jesse from Team Rocket because of the sweep of her hair. Thing is, the first experience I had of Sol was an animation of the character which involved a stretch that was rounded off with a tit jiggle. To pre-empt arguments, I’m not saying boobs don’t move. They move a fair bit and that is why sports bras exist. I’m also categorically not saying that boobs are offensive or that big boobs shouldn’t be in games.

What I’m objecting to is that of all the games I regularly play Smite seems to particularly love adding this boob jiggle flourish to their lady characters and their movements. It’s like how you get a rococo sofa and it’s a nice sofa and really comfy and well made except why does it now have so many ornate leaves and carvings and twirly bits all over the place demanding attention? Smite’s jiggle flourishes are the rococo sofas of breast physics.

When I did a Wot I Think of Smite ages back I said this of Neith – the first character you encounter and one I love playing:

“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.”

I feel like that still holds true. I don’t notice it when I’m in a game but when I’ve been away for a while and I see character animations on selection screens or in promo art it’s just as jarring. Add in a real lack of diversity in female body types within the game and I know it affects how friends perceive Smite and it’s an aspect I’m really not happy with.

Look, I’m not saying Sol is the problem, it’s that when you see the pronoun “she” in Smite it almost exclusively accompanies a svelte busty lady (Scylla is the big exception that springs to mind), sometimes with some animal appendages or scales on top.

I remember an illustration from a book when I was a kid that had Hel as an elderly lady morphing into a rotting corpse. I had a little cat from the British Museum gift shop that was a representation of the goddess Bastet. This is Hel in Smite and this is Bastet.

I’d prefer to live in the world where Smite announces “sun goddess” and there’s as much of a chance that I’ll be getting a furious lava creature or a rotund ball of a girl as a booby lady.

Sol is on the public test server now and will hop over to the main client on 6 October.

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Philippa Warr

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