On the 20th of September, I was saltier than the North Sea. Now that I’ve just finished calming down, I’ll begin to explain why. Fenrir is my world-ending, god-mauling, nightmare-inducing baby. So the knowledge that an Odyssey skin was coming out for him got me pretty excited. We were shown a surprise glimpse near the end of the Summer of SMITE trailer, it was blatantly cut that way since they saw it as the highlight, as did I. It was the moment we all flipped the nearest table at our earliest convenience. The skins are only on-screen for a grand total of 14 frames. I knew it would be a long time until they showed off the completed model but eventually… eventually he’d get that reveal and I’d be poised and ready to pounce, money in hand.
70 ungodly long days of waiting were over. The countdown timer slowly ticked down on the stream, teasing and testing what little remained of my patience to its limit as the seconds moseyed on by like there was all the time in the world. I was ravenous for the reveal, I wanted to see how the jump from 2D art to 3D model had gone. I wanted to see the shining golden claws, blood-red swirling streaks through his white as snow fur and eyes that burned with the fury of a thousand suns. I wasn’t aware at the time that they didn’t show the skins until after all the gameplay changes had been addressed, confusingly, it’s the opposite now. Over half an hour of chaff later, I was finally rewarded with the long-awaited reveal of Fenrir’s Odyssey skin.
I felt betrayed. No-one asked for the washed out, drowned rat look or the different colours or the prayer beads or the magically floating hunting trophy crap. After being sledgehammered with the disappointment of the reveal I pondered why such a strange shift that bordered on false advertising had occurred. A memory sparked in the back of my mind, one of Hi-Rez having to remove skins for legal reasons. So the obvious thought came to mind that they got cold feet and backed down at the last second, throwing whatever they could together in the hopes that it wouldn’t end up being removed from the game. Of course, some people still liked it but it felt like a gut punch for the rest of us who had been pumped for the original vision.
Ravana’s Eliminator skin was obviously based on Scorpion and Bastet’s Night Prowler was Catwoman, though it was as subtle as a brick through a greenhouse even compared to Ravana’s. I can understand why they got flagged but I still think that just because the original look for the skin SLIGHTLY resembled that of another famous game wolf, it deserved to get canned. Especially when put side-by-side with the travesty that is the Inugami skin. Not just on the appearance but rather the squandered opportunity. In Japanese mythology, an inugami was a yōkai (demon) that was created in order to wield power.
A dog was buried up to its head and left to starve with food and drink just out of reach. Just before death, the owner would saw off its head. All the hate and resentment the dog had felt would amalgamate into its spirit form and the owner could then weaponise it to do their bidding and force it to serve as a guardian to protect their family. But mishandled, the inugami would unleash a revenge-fuelled frenzy, mauling the owner and anyone else unlucky enough to cross its path. Can I just point out the parallels between Fenrir and an inugami and how effortlessly and brilliantly this weaves into his story and how that could have been expressed as a skin? What a waste.
Inugami have a lot of different appearances depending on where in Japan the interpretation came from. There were inugami depictions where it was a dog’s head with a weasel-like ghostly body or a normal dog but its head would float above where it was decapitated, the gore still visible and spewing. Some depictions are just a dog head that can fly, innards still dangling from the fatal wound and there are even more out there! But this just gives Hi-Rez EVEN LESS of a measly excuse to not go crazy with ideas. It’s so goddamn half-arsed. It’s like they googled “japanese wolf spirit” or “japanese dog mythology” or something akin to those. Just searching for a name that would VERY VAGUELY fit the theme of Fenrir being Japanese themed. Hell, they barely cared or understood it themselves. Listen to this gem.
Guess I’ll just keep on rocking the diamond skin then…
At least Fenrir got some nice quality of life changes that buffed him recently to make up for this crap. Okay, the actual reason was because he was underperforming, but I’m taking it as compensation. His potential max damage is weaker now, but you can use his howl buff without consuming runes, so there’s no longer the fear of crippling yourself at an opportune time. The ability itself was buffed to counteract the loss of the max rune buff. Brutalise now gives some physical and magical protections which is appreciated, and finally, his ultimate was given a cone targeter so you don’t have to play “find the pixel” when you attempt to bite someone. Though that last change is winding me up because as nice as the cone targeter is, for some reason it prioritises minions. It’s pretty stupid when your ultimate runs out of time despite biting the same enemy huddled in a row of minions five times over. Hope they fix that crap…