Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the 3rd-person, action-focused MOBA SMITE is: “My, I sure wish we had a horrible Mario Kart rip-off shoved into it…”. Oh, it ISN’T? Hmm… Seems Hi-Rez thought so at least. “Apollo’s Racer Rumble” is the newest event in the “Adventures” game mode in SMITE. Bluntly put, a never seen mode (in SMITE) is added and sticks around for a month with rewards for those who buy the pass but you can play for free if you’re not bothered about them.
Perplexingly, the event is named after the god of music (and also pulling the sun around the earth in a chariot across the sky according to a lot of pop culture), simply because he got this new hideous skin. With that out of the way, how does it actually play? …Bad. Really, really bad. Were you honestly expecting a different answer? No-one expected the quality to match the production value of Mario Kart, obviously, but it’s hard not to make the comparison when it’s blatantly wearing its defiled corpse’s skin as a guise. It looks the part, but other than that, it crashed and burned… Probably due to the inferior mechanics. (Note: High-five self later!)
Every element of the driving is detestable: Turning feels like trudging through wet cement, driving around corners normally is far safer yet is BARELY slower than a perfect drift, there’s only one drift speed bonus regardless of drift duration, the collision physics are practically non-existent, smacking into a wall stops you dead, slamming into another player dead stops a player at random, you can’t hop into a drift meaning you MUST be turning before you can start drifting, this means you waste even more time steering wide for a safe drift… I could go on.
Then comes the shoddy balance of items, because no knock-off kart game would be one without it! If there IS an algorithm, it was designed by a madman. Because podium placing positions are no stranger to boosts, shields or blinks. Nor is it a rarity, but can happen multiple times in a row. On top of that, without the inclusion of our good/hated friend Mr. Blue Shell, the race is basically entirely luck based. The person in first is untouchable after a certain range and everyone at the back has no hope of fighting back.
Typically, it goes like this: You all start racing and hit the first batch of item boxes, people behind 1st/2nd will immediately spam everything they have, 1st/2nd will then spam at anyone who passes by, this is when the person who’s been in 4th/5th the entire time rushes into 1st with no chance of being attacked and stays there for the rest of the race. This is every match. It’s a dice roll on wheels with silly horns for each god to press for when they inevitably get BS’d by either the game’s physics or the spamfest of early items. It’s dumb.
A lot of people wonder why they even bothered. It feels like a waste of development resources that could have been poured into strengthening the core experience. Though a lot of people who bring this up are being yelled at by the vocal minority who state they can’t appreciate FREE content. Except, as mentioned earlier, the fancy rewards like new skins are exclusively tied to the paid version. The only reason as many people are playing it as there currently are is that they’re contractually obligated to do so after throwing money at it.
By that I mean Hi-Rez told them with a straight face when they unveiled it: “It costs 100 more gems than the last event, but don’t worry, you can earn 100 back* just by playing it!”.
* …Over the course of 80 RACES. Mmmm, delicious bribery!