Shine On: Sol Arrives In Smite

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.

64 Comments

  1. ribby says:

    It makes a lot of sense that they wouldn’t have a lot of diversity in body-types.

    Isn’t it a saying- he/she has the body of a god/goddess ?

    • ribby says:

      All kidding aside though, whilst I personally have no problems with jiggly boob physics, it’s not very inspired is it?

    • mouton says:

      Smite draws from cultural history and so doesn’t have to be limited to a “superhero” body type. Especially since gods where presented in a myriad ways, with many fertility idols definitely not conforming to this style.

      Hirez does it for Smite to be more tantalizing for males, nothing more. Bit juvenile and eye-rolly, but whatever.

      • ribby says:

        My thoughts exactly.

        play Dominions 4 if you want a real diverse god-game :)

      • GHudston says:

        “Smite draws from cultural history and so doesn’t have to be limited to a “superhero” body type.”

        I don’t disagree that the design is uninspired or that it’s clearly designed to appeal to a young male audience, so just take this as me playing devil’s advocate here, but the -vast- majority of historical goddesses are depicted in a highly sexualized way.

        Every illustration that I’ve been able to find of Sól depicts her as a slim topless woman with flowing hair, which is how they’ve depicted her. Like ribby said: “body of a god/goddess” is a well known expression for a reason. If anything, Smite tones it down a little bit by not including the abundance of total nudity (both genders) that you find in a lot of historical religious artwork.

        The industry desperately needs more variety in female character design (games journalists also need to start writing articles about games that get it -right- too), I just can’t really bring myself to complain when they design a generic sexy character based on a generic sexy character from history.

        The unnecessary boob jiggling animations are another story… :P

        • mouton says:

          Of course, godly bodies were often idealized/crazy. But except for luring some males, there is no reason for sticking to only the very modern “perfect” body type.

          • GHudston says:

            I don’t disagree at all, though I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing so long as it’s not the -only- thing (which it sadly is more often than not…) It’s definitely lazy, uninspired and almost entirely driven my marketing but I don’t think it’s fair to imply that they’re wasting or ignoring the source material when so many gods and goddesses are portrayed in that way to begin with.

            Like I said, I’m just playing devil’s advocate for the sake of discussion. SuddenSight below has some good points though and seems to be more knowledgeable than I am on the subject so I suppose it’s working. ;)

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          SuddenSight says:

          Ignoring issues with the clearly change goddesses (Hel is famously ugly) and focusing on Sol, Wikipedia has images that are not topless. Note that the two topless images are both attributed to the same artist, too!

          It is also worth noting that Sol as a Norse goddess is only recorded by poems written down ~1000 AD. The images of her as a goddess mostly date to 1800’s and later, long after worship of Sol ended. There is an interesting paragraph at the end of the wikipedia article questioning whether or not she was even personified during worship.

          So I do not think any of this justifies the image of Sol as a topless woman.

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            SuddenSight says:

            Forgot to write down, but wanted to note that they didn’t bother to include her only two consistent attributes – a chariot and a wolf! Even without the visuals, her design ignores the myth and seems to boil down to generic flame-wizard.

        • socrate says:

          Well goddess AND god weren’t really depicted in a sexual way really…they venerated the human form…the sad part is that society is like that because kingdom and religion made them that way..muslim,catholic,british empire,ect…were all against that kind of body display and imposed it on alots of culture and people,before the british for example the indonesian were bare breasted..another example is in france alots of women adopted a style with one of their breast out at i think the renaissance.

          The problem in gaming is that they depict a breast that is seen as perfect in the eyes of society…round,good sized and firm but still jiggly…its a really dumb way of acting really because most of these goddess in statue or painting didn’t really feature these kind of attribute and were also…well not fat but chunky…lets not forget that if you’ve seen more then 1 girl naked you probably know that these kind of breast are really rare and now a day usually fake and that every girl is different in that domain and i think we should see different sized breast in character in any game

          but its not like it looks bad and i don’t really care that much its a game…its extremely comic booky and even male character are all muscle and unrealistic

          and they do have scylla who is a little girl and mother of all monster if i remember correctly my mythology

          • GHudston says:

            Yup, agreed. I suppose it’s less that they were sexualised but more that they were depicted as “perfect.” I believe (I’m kind of talking out my arse here, based on decade old memory of history lessons…) that, at the time, the “chunky” look was considered the ideal so it kind of makes sense to me that modern depictions would use the heavily stylised, modern ideal instead.

            It’s still cheesy and getting kind of boring at this point. I do dislike this topic of discussion though, there’s too much of a focus on how this type of design is bad whereas I don’t think that’s the right approach. It’s just -far- too common and comes at the expense of a massive wealth of potential designs. I want more variety, but I wouldn’t want to effectively ban this sort of design to achieve it.

  2. jasimon says:

    Not to say I even disagree with your commentary on the sexualization of Sol, I was discussing such things with other Smite folks when she was announced…but have you ever even played Smite? Seems like you wrote this just to get your ranting in.

    It’s pretty basic stuff to know that Smite’s abilities are mapped to 1,2,3,4 (not QWER) and that basic attacks are left-clicks, not right clicks.

    • Horg says:

      If you play more than one DotA derivative, you rebind that immediately. You should probably rebind it even if you don’t. 1-4 is quite awkward if you want to use the rest of the keyboard.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Although Smite being a third-person-perspective game, has WASD for movement, hence the shift to 1-4 for abilities.

        • Horg says:

          QERF is a nice skill layout around that. Moving off WASD to hit a number key does not feel particularly smooth.

    • Philippa Warr says:

      QWER was a typo because I’d just come off a Heroes of the Storm character article and I’ll change it.

      I do play Smite (I did the Wot I think for this site and have played it regularly since) and this is something that has bothered me for a while. I wrote about it here because it seemed to be such a big part of how they were portraying her and I felt like talking about it.

      • jasimon says:

        Like I said, I don’t have a problem with that commentary and I agree with your points. I just think that such obvious mistakes undermine credibility.

        I’m aware that QWER is common in Dota-likes, but I don’t think it’s a big deal to refer to default keybindings. Especially since W is, you know, a movement key.

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          X_kot says:

          Seems like you wrote this just to get your ranting in.

          • Babymech says:

            You mean they didn’t write it as a paid writer for RPS? That’s fucking weird.

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            X_kot says:

            If you’re good at something, never do it for free.

        • Timbrelaine says:

          You think it’s important enough to discount everything else she said as “just getting your ranting in”, despite agreeing with her(!).

      • socrate says:

        the thing is that all game do it and you look at dota 2 and HoTS and LoL they all do it…there is some female hero like scylla that aren’t like that but yes the norm is the barby look…but you also have that with male which you never talk about…im a bit tired of the female thing quite frankly since male aren’t really depicted realisticly in much game either alots of the time and you never hear people whining about that and i do know female gamer that love playing these character because they look hot…so it doesn’t just affect male gamer and no they aren’t lesbian,im guessing just like male they love to imagine that they are a big giant dude made of muscle with everything being perfect about them…some also love being the monster just look at orc in WoW…

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      Aerothorn says:

      Why would you even ask that of someone who has written tons of Smite coverage for RPS, including its “Best Games of 2014” entry?

      • jrodman says:

        Because games journalism is corrupt, duh!

        • mouton says:

          And there are only ever like 3 gaming news outlets on the internet so we have to stick to the corrupt ones and their existence endangers gaming in general.

  3. Ringwraith says:

    Abilities are often referenced in these types of games as being Q, W E, or R in the case of ultimates, simply as the convention of QWER is so well understood in that sphere and more applicable across games.
    A bit like how every fighting game’s secondary meter for fancy things is often called a “super” meter regardless of the game’s actual name for it simply as Street Fighter popularised it and is the biggest game in that trend. Even though Street Fighter itself internally tends to refer to it as an EX meter these days (V is no longer calling Supers that anymore either, they’re now “Critical Arts”).

    • Ringwraith says:

      Reply fail, no edit function. User input errors cannot be quietly corrected. :(

  4. Horg says:

    From the header image it seems like they’ve taken the Yahtzee school of games design to heart:

    link to escapistmagazine.com

    ”It could only be more awesome if it had tits and was on fire.”

  5. Jorum says:

    I’m play smite almost daily. I’m also 38yrs old dad and I find it faintly embarrassing to play a character verging on soft porn. I agree with Phillipa it’s not so much the designs as the fan service animations. Agni and Herc have near naked skins but don’t have an animation where thet gyrate crotch like a stripper. Nox on the other hand has a idle animation where she shakes her tits at the viewer which doesn’t seem very god like.

    • Jorum says:

      I’m not anti porn, it’s just like sigh are the designers all 14 year old boys with constant raging stauners? Can’t we just give it a rest for a bit. I mean the Internet is not short on alternative outlets to see naked women. And this just further strengthens the sterotype that ‘gamers’ are nerdy virgin boys.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I think it is more that you will rope in some sales from 14 year old boys and not hurt your sales with the other boys, and really how many sales to girls are you making anyway? Of course that last is in small part a self created problem by these very decisions.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      To be perfectly honest, my biggest problem with videogame tits is that it’s not porn. It’s this incredibly pathetic attempt to add some sexual titillation without getting an explicit rating, and I have no idea who is actually interested in such garbage.

      I totally understand the appeal of hentai and hentai games (for example), but I’m completely baffled by the idea that anyone wants to merely ogle the legs and cleavage of some videogame character. They’re not even in sexual situations. How terribly boring.

      This is why the casual objectification of female characters is super weird and distasteful. Because the purpose is really not male sexual enjoyment, it’s so much worse than that.

      • Zankman says:

        Although I agree with the OP you were replying too, your post summarizes it perfectly for me – and all of what you said applies to, like, 70%+ of all anime, manga and Japanese games.

        For Christ’s sake, make “dedicated” erotica and porn, don’t shoehorn it into everything…

      • pepperfez says:

        It’s like they can’t imagine an attractive female character not being boobtastic, which ought to be pretty embarrassing for fully grown adults.

  6. Ringwraith says:

    I think most of the reason I sometimes play Smite is to play Scylla, also because some of her abilities are very similar one of my favourite League of Legends’ characters, and chain-devouring the enemy team is fun.

  7. Dingbatwhirr says:

    I don’t have any experience with Smite, but I entirely agree about the lack of diversity in female characters. It’s just annoying to be faced with constant half-arsed (or rather, very fully-arsed)attempts at titillation, rather than something interesting.

    I have a similar annoyance with some RPG armours if my character is female. I want to be protected against the enemy, not seduce them…

  8. MajorManiac says:

    She looks hot.

  9. Joshua Northey says:

    Game looks dumb, character designs look dumb. Will not play.

  10. Ashrand says:

    Anhur: awesome king of the jungle, also lion puns.

    Bastet: is just a human with a cat hat on (none of that furry rubbish here), Has Dominatrix skin.

    Less said about Neith the better (the fact that she isn’t only someone mum, but everyones mum including the crocodiles should perhaps make her less than ideal as a titillation subject but apparently not). Or indeed Kali who is still a member of an active religion and the sexualisation therof being a Bad Idea.

    Who knows, Bishe, half naked, Jesus making jokes about carpenters and nails might fix all this, but i don’t see Hi-Rez as being that self aware frankly (or that willing to punch up rather than down)

    • Zankman says:

      Bastet looks typically furry to me?

      • Kitsunin says:

        Her old design, sure. Her new design is more like a “humanized” furry, so not really.

        • Zankman says:

          Aha, I just saw the old design and then compared it to the new/current one…

          Man, the current one is so weird when it comes to the legs, holy crap!

          Like, first of all, yeah, the original was very much a typical furry (with the legs again being done “realistically”, usually furries just get human legs and feet in terms of structure).

          Secondly, as for the Splash Art linked in this article, upon closer inspection, it does definitely look like a case of a “Cat-girl”, nekopara or whatever it is called in the Otaku circles – normal human with cat ears, a tail as well as some minor kitty features like eyes…

          But then the legs, oh boy!

          The fact that she is human, very clearly so, with “minor” cat features *but* has very highlighted cat-like legs/feet is so weird and, as hot as she is, unappealing.

          Like, a Draenei woman (for my heterosexual self) can be attractive, since I see it as something unique and exotic, you know, the “sexy alien babe” trope.

          But if she was just a normal human woman, with that leg shape and those hooved feet? No way!

          Same logic here with Bastet: Go check her “Covert Ops” and especially the “Kawaii Pop” Splash Arts – totally normal, sexy human woman with these very weird, animalistic feet.

          Just doesn’t work IMO.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Apparently, on the whole, people didn’t really care about Kali, he’s often depicted with little clothes as it is.
      Meanwhile Freya actually has more clothes than historical portraits, where she’s often wearing nothing.

      Still would be nice if they had more than one model type.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Man, I miss edit buttons. Means awkward typos that rather muddy the meaning of a sentence cannot be quietly removed after the fact.

      • pepperfez says:

        The greatest sin with Kali is how scary she isn’t. A traditional representation has her wearing nothing but a necklace of skulls and a skirt of bloody arms. How they had enough blandening power to emblanden something that over the top awesome is beyond me.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Kali’s design actually used to be rather good. After a Hindu authority complained about how they were “exploiting” her, Hi Rez decided that rather than looking to one of the less sexual depictions (and reasonably so, she had a shriveled head in one hand!) they’d just make her super generic.

          They didn’t even change the size of her tits!

          • Kitsunin says:

            (Reasonably so RE: her Smite version being sexualized. Not them complaining about it–it used to be one of the more faithful depictions of female gods.)

          • Ringwraith says:

            Yeah, amusingly when a lot actual Hindus weren’t particularly bothered.

            Although still has the same body type as everyone else.

          • pepperfez says:

            Credit where due, though: the pirate Kali skin is kinda great.

  11. Zankman says:

    Funnily enough, LoL has quite improved over the years – yeah, mostly, all females are still young and the non-human ones are still quite human – but there is less “rampant” sexualization, with more balance, more variety.

    Sure, sometimes they shoehorn-in sexual stuff into a concept where it doesn’t belong instead of making a dedicated “sexy” concept/skin, but for the most part they have made leaps and bounds over LoL from 2009/2010.

    Hi-Rez was this and was all like: “Don’t worry horny 14-year olds, we gotcha, we will counteract all of this pesky ‘feminism’, ‘egalitarianism’ and ‘diverse depictions’ with Smite!”

    • Horg says:

      Comparing Smite to DotA 2 for a second, i’ve noticed a distinct discrepancy in the casting coverage. Now DotA has the player studio, so there is always some discussion regarding character skins going on, but the base character models (animations, voice acting, character theme) still get praise from the casters and community. Valve put in a lot of work to give each hero a distinct and compelling personality, largely avoided sexualisation, and the feedback has been very positive.

      Compare that to casts in Smite and I feel like the commentators are always having to skirt around the issue of gratuitous side boob and latex skins. Trying to bring an air of professionalism to the events while the focus of the action is a dominatrix skinned furry just feels terribly awkward. it would be cringe worthy to discuss the animation quality when the character is showing off an idle boob juggle. When their female themes become the elephant in the room, I think that should be a red flag that they need to rethink their approach.

      • Zankman says:

        >DotA 2

        DotA 2 really is great for the most part, when it comes to the base designs, that is.

        Some of the (community made) Skins/Sets are a bit iffy, though: Like, conceptually, for a game like LoL, I don’t mind a non-sexy female to receive a more sexy skin – like, why not? I’m sex-positive and open-minded enough to see that that is also variety, as well as optional.

        But in DotA 2, where there is a big deal made out of the game’s characters being very “uniform” and fitting with the general setting? Where people throw a fit whenever a Hero gets some outside-of-the-box design (like Ursa’s famous cowboy get-up, Pudge’s Bloodseeker-esque set or even Phantom Lancer’s Egyptian-inspired set)?

        Well, there, giving Luna a “Shoulder” item that suddenly grants her cleavage and larger breasts, giving Vengeful Spirit a “sexy Chinese-esque” attire (why not *just* “Chinese-esque”?) or giving Death Prophet sexy or at least feminine legs (when the base model has none)?

        That is kinda iffy, again, not in of itself, but given how the rest of the game’s visual identity and “must stay close to the Lore” approach is…

        Then again, with the “pets”, Valve may have decided to drop this previous “uniform” philosophy in favor of profit…

        Anyway, yes, in terms of base designs, DotA 2 has a great variety – sexy, badass, brooding, cute, scary…

        I will say that I dislike Drow Ranger and Crystal Maiden, though, with Vengeful Spirit and Death Prophet being honorable mentions.

        1. Drow had a more unique look with her body art, but they decided to remove that for some reason…

        Otherwise, she is a totally “emo” type of person, very closed-off and reserved, yet, she is basically wearing a “Bunnygirl”-esque corset and lingerie… Random and unfitting, dissonance between Personality Design and Visual Design.

        2. CM is so “generic” – she isn’t even that pretty once you actually look at her face. She just has highlighted blond hair, cleavage and legs.

        3. Vengeful Spirit, like… Maybe they just designed her to be less clothed, that is how her people/race dress, in a “different cultures” kind fo way?

        4. Death Prophet is only problematic when you compare her to, say, Undying – why isn’t she hideous? Instead, she is still pretty (despite her state of being), has a “seductive” voice and even some sexual jokes.

        I think that Lina and, obviously, Queen of Pain, are examples of characters where the sexuality actually fits.

        On the other end of the spectrum, Naga Siren and Medusa are great examples of them not necessarily sexualizing designs – just compare them to LoL’s Nami.

        ———————————————

        Anyway, as for Smite, I completely echo your thoughts – what is worst about Smite is that, obviously, compared to LoL or DotA 2, the camera is put much closer to the characters *and* the character models are much more detailed.

        So, yeah, with so many large boobs with jiggle physics on copy+paste bodies, showcased/highlighted with revealing clothing and/or form-fitting clothing and/or spandex-esque designs…

        It does all seem quite tasteless.

        >dominatrix skinned furry

        As I said in another comment, she is a human with cat features, not a humanized cat – a cat girl, not a furry…

        … With the difference that she has very cat-like legs/feet, which is something that even artists avoid with fully furry depictions, lol. It looks so weird.

    • fish99 says:

      I can guarantee this approach works in terms of getting people to look at your game though, and not just for 14 yr olds. I’m sure this story has a bunch of extra clicks due to the header image from people who couldn’t give a damn about Smite.

      • Zankman says:

        Oh, true, for sure.

        I’m not saying that there is anything wrong in being attracted to the human form – or drawn/animated/3D modeled male/female/whatever depictions for that matter.

        I’m not saying that I don’t find her hot (*badum-tss*) either, nor that it is exclusive to 14-year olds…

        I was just implying what you are as well: It is used for “sex sells” – and there are many buyers.

        (Funnily enough, I did some to read the article after I saw the sexy image – though, for different reasons obviously. I expected a conversation to arise.).

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      Lars Westergren says:

      Big improvement in LoL and Dota of characters design, and especially female characters over the years. Compare the early LoL stuff to the latest champion, Kindred the dual spirit. Really nice art and voice acting.

      Or early Dota heroes like Crystal Maiden, Drow and Luna, compared to the latest ones Legion Commander and Winter Wyvern.

      • Zankman says:

        Kindred still kinda has a female form going on, as well as a very cute voice, though I assume they just wanted to keep it apparent that she is female.

        (The actual issue with Kindred is how marginalized Wolf is…)

        As for DotA 2, I replied in another comment (a reply my original one), so if you want to go and read what I wrote there – but yeah, Drow and CM are problematic designs, with maybe mentions going to Venge and (for slightly different reasons) DP.

  12. brucethemoose says:

    Are there other female body types in Smite, or are they all just re-skinned versions of that busty Barbie body?

    I don’t mind attractive charachters in games, and I can even tolerate impractically skimpy armor. I can even understand the developer’s desire to appeal to a broad (male) base. But do they ALL have to be the same? You can have an attractive character that’s muscular, or short, or angular, or modestly endowed…

  13. Skeletor68 says:

    Put away those fiery biscuits

  14. EhexT says:

    You can always recognize Smite by the male characters being stylized heroic archetypes and the female characters being stripper x job costumes.