I SMITE Thee – The Bad

Ratatoskr's eyes are so weird in this art...
Ratatoskr’s eyes are so, SO, creepy in this art…

After getting back from the dentist, or more accurately, their drill, this seems like the perfect time to talk of the pains of SMITE. For as much as I love this game, there are an equal number of obstacles that make me hate it. I’ve never played a multiplayer game where my mood can jump up and down so quickly. Some days, you feel like the god you’re playing. Powerful, feared, unstoppable. Others, you wonder why the hell you wasted 300+ hours of your life when your team is feeding and dragging you down with them or aren’t doing their jobs in the first place and making you look the fool despite your reliance on them. I’ll go over this all in more detail as I explain both the technical and personal issues I have with SMITE. Oh, boy, here we go…

smitegodsopinion
Green – Fair to fight. Yellow – Green + exception. Red – Tedious, one-trick ponies, cheap. Pick your poison. (Opinion, in case that wasn’t obvious enough already.)

The Gods – For a game based around the idea of skilful combat and tactical play there are a LOT of gods whose kits directly oppose that design and instead encourage brain-dead techniques as simple as a single button press. A lot of people tell me that gods are balanced around Conquest. Although I understand why they do this, considering it’s the meat of the game, I still find it to be an incredibly weak excuse for so many gods to be potentially game-breaking in other modes because of it. Even in Conquest, they still reach the same absurd level of power, it just takes longer to reach the late game due to the way the mode is designed. When a mage with no escapes isn’t concerned in the slightest at the sight of Assassin, something’s wrong.

(Though I reckon I’ll voice my opinions of gods from the image above, both good and bad, in an article of their very own. I intended for that voice to be in this article until I realised after discussing THREE gods I had issues with that this article was already 800+ words long. So, yeah. Bullet points when that time comes.)

Some are simply too safe, too simplistic and too effective for the tiny amount of effort they take to play. Only accentuating your anger for them if you’re playing a god that expects more from you than breathing and occasionally pressing one of your abilities whenever it suits you. That’s a common thread amongst most the gods I dislike. A lack of punishment for bad plays. Mainly due to there rarely being a bad time to use their abilities, so spam is their typical flavour.

"Oh, my favourite..."
“Oh, my favourite…”

The Matchmaking – No multiplayer game is going to have perfect servers, I understand that. But some days the servers just decide they hate you. You’re thinking “Pfft, a little lag never hurt anyone!” and I’d tell you it’s hurt each and every one of my keyboards and controllers. The whole point of competitive games is to prove your worth as a player. So when the game decides otherwise and dumps you on a moon server where you hear your actions two seconds before the ability actually reaches the server, you’ll understand me when I stare at the screen with a glare that could freeze Hell in an instant and ponder all the creative ways I could enact revenge on the people responsible for making me feel like dead weight and look like an idiot.

The lag in rare cases has been so bad some abilities simply WILL NOT work. The cooldown appears, you hear the noise, but nothing happens. If the lag doesn’t kill you than perhaps the queue times will. Again, not all days, but some days it hates you. Any search over four minutes will bring a global search which then brings about problem one almost guaranteed.

(This one isn’t a technical fault but still worth mentioning. If you like to play for fun with friends, like I do, prepare to be matched against another team who most certainly aren’t playing for fun and will happily ruin both your friends and your day by using the cheapest and safest methods to win since they’re so hellbent on the concept that they’ll always play no risk pubstomp gods. If you want to play an unconventional god you don’t see every other match, you’re better off going solo. Which sucks, honestly.)

Watch your tail.
Watch your tail.

The Toxicity – Ah, it wouldn’t be a MOBA if this one didn’t come up. Yes, there are some very angry people out there and they have no problem yelling like a spoilt child over the VGS (Voice Guided System. Basically voice commands.) to let you know. The typical culprit yelling “You rock!” “No!” You rock!” “Cancel that!” or simply spamming “Awesome!” or “Woohoo!” upon a teammate dying or simply making a mistake, despite the fact they are usually no better. Apparently the community even have their own term for it called “BM’ing” (Bad mouthing) which shows how much it springs up. Fortunately, if you mute someone in the scoreboard it silences their VGS as well. Bad for conquest though as it turns off all information based voice as well such as “Enemy behind us!”. But, of course, it doesn’t stop there.

There’s also people who intentionally get killed to ruin matches, appropriately named “feeders” due to the gold they repeatedly hand over the enemy. Some people do this accidentally from lack of experience but will blame their team by sarcastically spamming the VGS with “Thanks!” or “Help!” or good ol’ “You rock!” x5 before the spam filter catches them. Some send private messages (See below) to your account but the players that genuinely annoy me are those that can’t grasp the concept that I need their help. I can’t do everything alone unbelievably in a team based multiplayer game.

Feel the thunder... And the hammer.
Feel the thunder… And the hammer.

As an assassin/hunter/mage I can get kills, sure, but not with everyone aggro’d on me while the guardian/warrior/both sit behind me twiddling their thumbs. Or the other way around, if I’m playing support and our heavy hitter(s) go gallivanting off into a 1 v 5 and genuinely expect me to follow them to their blatant doom and yell at me when I don’t. Some believe they are V.I.Ps and that I’m their personal bodyguard and will send me messages after the match asking why I wasn’t following them around non-stop. I explain that I’m too busy saving 80% of the team as opposed to the suicidal 20% but for some reason that only seems to make them angrier… Aw, well.

Certain people will personally send messages to your account yelling obscenities and all sorts of colourful language from time to time. But honestly, I really don’t mind these messages because, and I know you shouldn’t do this,  it just gives me an excuse to wind someone up who was intentionally trying to aggravate me. Often in these cases it’s the worst player on the team trying to justify how dragging the team down was definitely not HIS fault by lashing out at them. Simply tell them the facts in a polite and calm manner and watch them get more and more flustered despite being the one who picked the fight in the first place. When you’ve (preferably) had your fun, simply block the idiot so that if you have the misfortune of bumping into them in a match again, their whining messages will never reach you.

Now that's what I call a hard carry... I'm sorry.
Now that’s what I call a hard carry… I’m sorry… Heh… No, I’m not.

Now, the only time it really did get under my skin was after my 5th/6th match of the default MOBA mode “Conquest”. I had no idea of the intricacies of the mode as the tutorial for it is absolutely terrible. Naturally, the matchmaking balanced us by putting us with people who’d played a thousand rounds of it, knew every in and out and understood their role like the back of their hand. I was our jungler. I didn’t know I was supposed to level up and keep up with everyone else by clearing camps of NPCs while occasionally lending a hand to other teammates who stuck in their designated lanes. Then again, my friends didn’t know they were supposed to have established positions either.

I was playing as my favourite god. Fenrir. In my Mastery X diamond skin which I’d earned over many a bloody battle in the Arena. Despite our best efforts we were obviously stomped. After the match the enemy jungler, also playing Fenrir with a single mastery level messaged me saying “Mastery X? Pfffft…”. It wasn’t that he mocked me for a rank 1 beating a rank X I minded. I minded that this guy was arrogant enough to come to the conclusion that I could have single-handedly carried a team just BECAUSE I was god rank X as Fenrir. On top of that, he was awful. AWFUL. I need to REALLY stress that. Throughout the entire match I’d been 5 levels below him and every time we fought 1 v 1, I’d win. Every. Time. I must have killed him, at the very least, five times.

Is it a bird? Yes. But it's also a bull... and a tiger. ...And a monkey. Sun Wukong, everybody!
Is it a bird? Yes. But it’s also a bull… And a tiger… And a monkey man… Sun Wukong, everybody!

The only time he killed me was when I was ganged by two of his hunter teammates first who had carried the match with their golden bow spam because hunters were ridiculously overpowered in that patch. (Fun Fact: Golden Bow was later completely removed from the game, fancy that.) I messaged him back thanking him for the friendly introduction to the main mode of SMITE and patting him on the back for being a solid pillar of the community welcoming all of any level of experience. I sent a screenshot or two his way proving my worth with Fenrir in particular, despite the fact I’d actually done pretty damn well considering the circumstances of that match.

I haven’t played Conquest except for Match of the Day variants since. It’s left me with the stigma that everyone in Conquest are elitist scum that only care for the win and couldn’t care less if both sides were equal or having fun. It’s a damn shame, really. Though conquest was hardly my favourite mode anyway, so it’s no big loss… It’s basically forty minutes of grinding XP for twenty minutes of fun gameplay! But each to their own I guess! Though honestly, I’d probably try Conquest again if it wasn’t for one other thing about it I despise and heavily hampers my opinion of it. And that’s~

SMITE - A two-edged sword.
SMITE – A two-edged sword.

The Meta – This is one thing I’ll always dislike about Conquest and maybe just MOBAs core mode in general. You are practically ordered to follow a trend both in order to match your opponent but also to make sure you have your team’s weaknesses covered. You can be bored out of your skull, but god forbid you dare go against your expected build, don’t want to have any fun now, do we?! That’s UNACCEPTABLE in a video game! …Wait. But seriously, you could change your build, no-one’s got a gun against your head, but it doesn’t change the fact you’re putting yourself and your team at a major disadvantage if you don’t follow the crowd in that respect. I hate that. I love being a team player but I don’t like having someone else’s play style shoved down my throat and told that it’s the right one and not to question it.

For instance, I’d like to build my assassin for huge damage, those beautiful blood-red crits and for the enemy team to be terrified of a quick and agile killer, but still a glass cannon. But that’s not the “right” way to build the assassins of my liking. (Sure, I could play someone like Kali, where all you do is stick to an opponent and hold the attack button down, but if all I wanted to do was hold the fire button and score free kills for doing nothing, I’d play Overwatch instead.) That’s what really annoys me. If you do build as you want to feel, you’re told that’s the wrong way. You’re expected to build physical and magical defense as an Assassin and get one or two power items, then just spam your abilities when you get close to people. Run directly AT the damage but it doesn’t matter because you have protections and your abilities do a decent amount anyway. Y’know, because when you hear “assassin” the first thing you think of is “ability-based tank”. Obviously.

The glass cannon approach reminds me of knife fighting in Counter-Strike, specifically a duel. It’s a lot of careful footwork, baiting, bluffing, timing your pounce and finally delivering that precision blow that would finish your opponent whilst dodging your enemy’s swings. The “right” way to play though is more akin to Runescape. Opponents stand next to each other, smack each other in the face repeatedly, the winner is whoever died to the damage, as whoever is standing after the fight gets to die a slow and aching death from boredom instead. This isn’t just for Assassins either. It’s all the roles. Watered down to a point where every role for each team simply mimics the other for maximum efficiency. If SMITE had set loadouts instead of an item buying system, the only thing that changes is the amount of time before reaching the late game. But that slow burn before the inferno begins is what most of the Conquest players crave, I suppose… But that realisation was when I put the final nail in Conquest’s coffin.

And FINALLY~

Enough horsing around...
Enough horsing around…

The Relic System – This was introduced in Season 3 of SMITE. At level 1 and 12, you can select what’s essentially a free additional ability with a long cooldown. (Max level is 20, by the way.) These can range from a large slowing effect against the enemy team, to a burst of speed for yours. An increase in damage or a shell that protects from a portion of incoming damage. But then there are others. Anyone who plays SMITE and is reading this probably knows where I’m going. Sanctuary. Originally know as Aegis,  it makes the user immune to all damage for two seconds. This doesn’t sound that bad, but unlike other MOBAs I’ve heard of, SMITE allows you to continue to move while using it. No praying for your team to save your hide. This means you can commit all your effort (as well as health and abilities) into killing someone who then pops sanctuary and wanders off behind his team where you can no longer pursue, while at the same time making you an easy target now you just used everything in your arsenal against them.

Against one person, this is incredibly irritating but can be conquered. However. I mentioned it can be obtained at level 1. This means that potentially every enemy can become invincible at some point, before having to wait on a 160 second cooldown. Double the chance at level 12. This results in failing to kill a target due to sanctuary, so focusing another, then failing to kill that one due to another sanctuary, rinse, repeat and by the time you get back to the first guy, his is back online. You can try to target the people on cooldown hiding behind their team, but since a few still have it they can rush you like fearless morons because they still hold their “Get out of jail free” card. It actively encourages playing recklessly. But the problem comes from the fact it’s free. There’s no repercussions for playing that way.

Call to arms.
Call to arms.

In Season 2, relics were called Actives and cost money to buy. This made that invincibility an investment and would cost you precious time, power and money at the expense of being able to save yourself in desperate situations. But this would mean it would take you longer to buy your items required for defense, power, etc. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. But in Season 3, it’s everywhere. For free. This can really drag a match through the dirt. Knowing you completely outplayed someone only to be met with that golden glowing light is infuriating, but for now, that’s just the way SMITE is. Especially in Arena. So, basically you’ve just got to grin and bear it. Though if you’re not in need of a crutch, that means you can take two team-based ones instead! Yay!

So, for now, that’s it. But as much as I’ve whined about the game, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get carried away with the bad than it is to write about the good, so try not to be (too) discouraged! Still worth at least a shot, right? If I didn’t like this game, I most certainly wouldn’t have written this almost 3000 bloody word long article, would I now? So get out there and find some gripes of your own! They may be a pain, you may hate them, but at least it gives you something to overcome and take pride in when you do. Because crushing a cheap team that are also using five sanctuaries…?

 

…THAT’S godlike.

 

 

 

SilverWolf

Don't worry... My articles are worse than my bite.

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