Smite's Conquest map will be undergoing a serious overhaul in preparation for the game's second competitive season.
The 5 versus 5 map which gets used in eSports events as well as by regular players has been reworked with the triple goals of increasing legibility of the play area, improving strategic play when you're playing or countering different classes of characters, and just generally de-clunking the game.
What this means in real terms is ocean vistas, a volcano dripping lava, reworked neutral minions, changes to how leashing works and so on. Wanna see?
In terms of the landscape, the side walls of the map have been replaced with these vistas. They're functional as well as pretty because the different landmarks will enable players to orient themselves on the map. Above is the Order end of the map...
... and this is the Chaos end.
That plume of fire and smoke is where the Fire Giant hangs out and will be visible from all over the map. That ought to be useful if you suddenly realise it's time for that to respawn or you have that "oh god, they're doing the Fire Giant" moment. The Gold Fury is also marked but she gets a massive column with a golden statue bathed in heavenly light.
The volcano spits out an ash cloud which casts a shadow over the Chaos end of the map and changes the dynamic lighting. If you play Dota, this sounds like it'll create that same gloomier effect you have on the Dire side.
If you get confused as to which lanes are which, the long lane is now the one where you get the beach and the ships, the short lane is all about that lava.
"Where's Pip?" you might ask.
"She's taking another billionty screengrabs of a digital bird and not GETTING IN LANE"
New pre-game spawn animations for the Gold Fury.
The Fire Giant is getting a more open plan home and a new set of abilities. The idea here is to force players to move about more in those encounters and to enable latecomers to try and punish teams who have already started the Fire Giant fight.
In terms of things not pictured here, there are going to be changes to buff camps - those smaller neutral camps in the jungle which give you bonuses - both in terms of placement, visuals and, in one case, what it provides.
I think the leashing change is the most interesting though. What happens at the moment is if you leave the camp area you can get the camp to "leash" onto another god and if there's no other god the health of the camp immediately resets. In the new map the health will slowly regenerate over time. That means attacking neutral minions involves a lot more commitment because you can't just walk away mid-fight without risking handing gold, xp and buffs to enemies.
More changes will be announced once the map goes live and over the course of the season. It'll be available on the public test servers from 17 January.
For a cheat sheet to the $2.6million esports tournament happening throughout the weekend, read our Smite World Championships guide.