Some Thoughts On SMITE

SMITE-620x350

SMITE and I have a strange relationship.

I played the game back when it was in beta on PC, but it didn’t stick. I played it again when it was launched on Steam and was full release by that point, but it still didn’t stick. I had  the opportunity to pick up some keys for the beta that is currently happening for the game’s upcoming port to the Playstation 4, and gave it a third try.

Wouldn’t you know it? The 3rd time was definitely the charm.

The first time I played, I was thrown off by the fact that you had such a limited field of view due to the 3rd person perspective. I was also very much a League of Legends fanboy by that point, and really very few other MOBAs have made the cut for me, despite having tried most of the major ones (quite a few of which don’t even exist anymore). The second time I just found myself not enjoying it. This third time? Well for some reason, playing the game on the console sold me on it. I’m not sure if it’s my love for Playstation controllers, my lack of a MOBA to play on the console, or just the right timing, but I’ve been really enjoying the game. It feels very natural while playing with the controller, and I may be mistaken, but I believe that you can set up gamepad controls in the PC version, but that was something I never thought about doing. Being a free to play game, I could very easily play it on both PC and PS4, but there was one caveat to that — if I was truly going to invest in the game, that would mean buying the God pack, and I wouldn’t want to do that twice. Thankfully, the decision was made clear, as in the game’s client there were links to articles about the game (similar to most game launchers do these days) and its 2nd birthday. As part of the celebration, the God pack was half off, and I wasn’t going to pass it up for $15. I have been enjoying the game, so making that small investment seemed very worth it.

The game is essentially set up just like League of Legends. There are creeps. There are towers. There are Gods instead of Champions, but those terms are synonymous for this discussion. There are neutral objectives and buff camps. There are several game modes. There are item builds. All in all, the similarities are definitely there. Here’s where things are different:

Third person perspective makes a big difference. You can’t see enemies flanking you from the side unless you’re paying attention to your mini map and have vision. The same would be true for LoL, but you still have a larger bird’s eye view of your surroundings, instead of being locked in tight behind your character. This also affects aiming your skill shots and even basic attacks. Instead of having an auto attack or attack/move commands, you move your character and aim each individual shot, and though you can hold the button down to auto attack, it’s not recommended. It sounds like it would be a bitch, but it lends itself to the controller really well and after a few games I found that I had a good grasp of the dynamics.

You level to 20 during a match, rather than LoL’s 18. You also get your ultimate ability at level 5 instead of 6 in League. Items seem pretty diverse, though holding all of the item knowledge for two MOBAs seems like it will be a challenge. SMITE has a nice feature where you can have the game auto level your skills and also auto purchase the recommended items for the character you’re playing. LoL of course has recommended items, but skill ups are on you, and even with recommended items the build order can get messed up pretty easily. That’s not to say that auto-buy doesn’t have it’s disadvantages, in that you might actually want to build a little differently depending on what matchups you have going on, but for the layman, auto buy is great. So far I have been able to focus on playing the different Gods and not worrying about which items to buy or what skills to use. It’s something that allows you the time to learn the game at your own pace, and you can turn all that stuff off once you really know what’s going on.

Another nice feature is having the ability to play bots on any of the game modes. This gives you the chance to practice before wasting real people’s time or giving unnecessary advantages because of your noobishness. This too is present in LoL, though there are more game modes present in SMITE. Arena is a fun mode that takes away lanes and towers and focuses on team based combat and pushing creep waves towards the enemy’s portal. A point total of 500 for each team drops as scored items (kills, creep kills, etc.) are subtracted from the total and the winner proclaimed. Joust is a single lane 3v3 mode with a small jungle. This is similar to LoL’s Twisted Treeline mode. Conquest is the 5v5 three lane mode most similar to Summoner’s Rift in League or Dota 2’s main map. Assault seems to be SMITE’s version of ARAM, at least I didn’t get to choose my champion when I tried it. Overall, there is the same sort of depth and variety here that League has, and I’m playing it on the console where I have a couple of friends to play it with, so I can play a MOBA no matter what platform I’m on.

So far I am mostly enjoying the Hunters and Mages most. In LoL, I gravitated towards ADCs and Mages as well, particularly when I first started playing. As time went on, I evolved into a Top and Support player, but still play ADCs in both top and bottom lanes. I have experimented with a few Guardians and Warriors, even Assassins and I’m not very good with any of them, but I see plenty of Gods that I would love to learn. So far just trying them all out has been on the agenda, then finding the handful I’m really good with. After practicing some more I’ll feel content to play some PvP and wreck faces! So far I’ve managed to rank up to account level 9 just on bot matches, but I might take it all the way to cap, though I don’t know what that is. There are daily favor login rewards and level up rewards as well, though they seem less appealing when you have already bought the God pack like I did. However, one thing that gives SMITE a leg up over LoL is the fact that you can buy skins for in game money (favor) rather than it being locked to their RMT currency (Gems). LoL locks skins behind the RP curtain, aside from the new Hextech Crafting system that I detailed a few posts ago.

Overall I like the client. It reminds me of League’s client, and I like the functionality of both. The store is unobtrusive, the Gem prices are fair, and though they have a lock-box system, the keys aren’t ridiculously priced and you get some free Gems from the God pack that I personally used for a couple of chests in which I received a couple of skins. At this point I don’t feel like I need to spend any more money on the game, as the God pack gives you all future Gods that are added. I can earn skins using favor, so it’s likely that I won’t spend another dime on it. I’m okay with this.

My verdict is that the game is a solid MOBA that will appeal to people who enjoy the 3rd person (think MMO combat) perspective. If you hate the isometric birds-eye-view of most MOBAs, this might be the one for you. It’s accessible, and especially on the console, you really can’t even get flamed outside of mic chat which is easily muted. Winning.

I assume that what I’ve described is nearly the same for the PC version, but if any of you know otherwise, please let me know. I’m curious but too lazy to go find out for myself.

Couch Podtatoes Episode 82: Death of the AAA MMO

CP4

I announced officially in a recent post that the Couch Podtatoes podcast would be dropping to a biweekly schedule. In all honesty, I could probably still manage to squeeze out an episode a week, but I’ve been feeling like the show needed a change of direction for a while now. Most of the positive feedback we’ve received has been in response to shows where we had guests. Doone has been a permanent guest with us from the beginning, and we’ve had many other guests throughout the years, but I thought it would be prudent to pick up another guest host and it just so happened to coincide with our busier schedules which lead to the drop in frequency. Tacktix, the author of the Tough Love Critic blog (see links below) has been ranting over on his blog about various topics for some time now. He mentioned to me at one point thinking about doing a podcast, so I thought I’d give him an outlet to rant on ours. Once a month, just like Doone, we’ll have Tacktix joining us and bringing something new and interesting to the table, or in the case of this week’s show, a sort-of update on several topics we have touched on in the past. This means the show will have 3 hosts each episode, two of which are rotating. A third person seems to add to the dynamic in a way that keeps things interesting, and as our chemistry builds with Tacktix I think we’ll be able to put out two very high quality shows per month. If time allows, we may go back to doing weekly shows, but I’m going to roll with this schedule for the time being. Also, it’s likely that with our new recording schedule, shows won’t be posted til Saturdays from now on. Thanks for bearing with us while we figured all this stuff out!

As for this espisode, we’re talking about the decline or death of AAA MMOs, and the rise of indie/niche ones. We talk about other gaming odds and ends and how the market in general affects the MMO industry. Thanks for listening! We’ll see you in two weeks!

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 82: Death of the AAA MMO (runtime: 58:34)

What are we playing? (starts at 2:00)
Discussion: Death of the AAA MMO (starts at 24:01)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Eri
Blog: Healing The Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Tacktix
Blog: Tough Love Critic
Twitter: @TaCktiX

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“Unattained” by Revocation (from the album Empire of the Obscene)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at Libsyn.com. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

You can also find the show in video format at The Gaming And Entertainment Network YouTube page. Or, View it here:

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

Fantasy LCS Review: Season 6 Spring Finale

flcsbanner

SpringStandingsSo the final week of the spring split has come and gone, and just as I suspected, I ended the split in second place. I managed to beat out Tacktix by a considerable margin, despite having a couple of low scoring members on my team. Over the course of the split, I ended up losing to Tyvokka all three times I faced him, and once to each of the other teams. That was good enough for a 4/5 standing by the end, which saw me finish in second. It was clear earlier in the season that no one was going to surpass Tyvokka mainly because he owned most of the Immortals team, and they only dropped a single game, causing him to only drop a single game. He dominated the rest of us, and it was a struggle to even get second place. Surprisingly, after a 1/5 start or something to that effect, Tacktix managed to snag third place due to having earned more points than Judentus. Either way, not a lot of surprises in this post. Let’s take a look at the final matchup:

week9results

As you can see, Jensen super under performed, but he just didn’t get many points in Cloud 9’s trouncing of Echo Fox, and then C9 lost to Team Liquid in the second game of the weekend. Odoamne and Rush both had low totals as well, but my support, team, mid and ADC more than made up for things. Thankfully Tack had low numbers across the board, so it was easy pickings to finish out the split. I’m looking forward to watching the playoffs, but for now fantasy is over. I’m hoping to convince these guys to go ahead and play again during the Summer split.

springrecap

Here’s the recap of the whole split, where you can get a snapshot of what happened throughout. I still love that .01 win from week one, and apparently this past weekend was my biggest win of the split. No surprise that Pobelter was my best player, he was very consistent except for that one game that IMT lost. Let’s take a final look at the top players for Spring:

week9top springtop9

Once again, week 9 saw several members of IMT in the top 5. That was a given, but it was surprising to see Piglet get back to the top. He was inconsistent for me and I stopped starting him a couple of weeks back. He also snuck back into the Spring top 5, but the ADC I replaced him with is there too. I guess it would have been better to start Piglet as my flex pick last weekend instead of Jensen, but no one saw that coming with how well C9 has been going, and then it didn’t really matter since I won anyway. But I still managed to make good picks if 3 of the top 5 scorers were under my command.

Anyway, that’s it for this split. We’ll be back for the Summer split provided I can round these guys up to draft again. Until then.

One Door Closes, Another Opens

This is another one of those catch-all posts, as I feel like I have much to talk about, but only little snippets about various things. I don’t feel like I have a full on post ready to go for any of these topics, so I’m just going to jot down some thoughts.

My Projects

I’m officially going to shutter The Digital Backwoods. It was a fun idea that started well and I was getting submissions from the community which was my initial aim – to make it a landscape picture blog for the masses. I gave up on making my own posts a couple of months back, and the community submissions stopped coming in as well. It was great while it lasted but I just don’t see myself having the time or inclination to keep it going. I’ll be deleting it soon, so head over there if you want to download any of the screenshots.

I’m also going to officially call Couch Podtatoes a bi-weekly show. Coming up with new material has been somewhat difficult, and coordinating my schedule with Eri’s along with trying to get guests on a semi-regular basis has also been inefficient. We’ve been toying around with potential format changes as well. It will remain a gaming podcast first a foremost, but I’m not sure if we’re going to keep with the sweeping general topics, or go back to our original format with Idiots on the Internet and Community Spotlights. Either way, expect new shows every other week for the time being. It’s likely that we’ll come back around to weekly shows, but between work, school and my other projects, I still need to have some time to myself to recharge my batteries, and for the past month or so I’ve felt like I don’t have the time to do everything I want to do. So yeah, we might sneak in some extra episodes from time to time, but for now I’m calling it bi-weekly.

As far as this blog goes, I’ve been doing okay with posting, but sometimes feel like I should post more often. I’ll keep plugging away, putting out posts when I have things to say but I’m not adhering to any sort of schedule. Same goes for my YouTube channel — I have videos that I’d like to post, but often times don’t feel like it. I’m not setting a schedule for that either. If you like my content, and have followed me over the years, you’ll know I go in waves and sometimes I post less. Bear with me while I adjust and perhaps there will be great things to come.

Gaming

I’ve been managing more gaming due to less time spent on content creation. I’ve been playing at least a game of League of Legends per day, maintaining practice, but it seems that the group of guys I had been playing with are rarely on at the same time. I might start doing some ranked play by myself just to get the season started, but I’m hoping to get with my partners sometime soon.

I’ve been playing PS4 games pretty regularly, because a couple of my friends already had the system, and me and my best friend’s brother went in halves to get my best friend his own PS4 for his birthday at the beginning of March. He got the Black Ops 3 bundle, and has already picked up Battlefront as well, so we’ve all been playing those multiplayer shooters. I also got into the Smite PS4 beta and invited him as well, as he’s been an Awesomenauts player almost as long as I, so I thought he’d be interested in a new MOBA to play, and we both seem to like it well enough. I’m surprised because I didn’t really care for Smite when I played it on the PC, but it seems to lend itself to a controller really well, enough that I’m really enjoying it. It also seems really well optimized and there are several different modes I didn’t know existed, or were added since the last time I tried it. To be fair, the last time I did try it was on my shitty old laptop, so that could have had something to do with my distaste. However, I’m enjoying it now, and am tempted to pay the $30 to unlock all the gods. We’ll see.

I picked up Mordheim: City of the Damned a couple of weeks ago because it was a mid-week madness sale on Steam. It is definitely worth the sale price, and now that it’s out of early access it’s even more worth it. I picked up the DLC bundle too, as it was cheap and added a few characters to the game for you to put into your warband. I played through the tutorials and created my warband (skaven, of course) last night, but haven’t gone beyond that. I really liked what I saw, and this is a game that is screaming for console support. I didn’t play it with my PC controller, but I think it would work well.

I also picked up the reinforcements pack for X-COM 2 also, as it provided a DLC now, and a couple more in the future. The DLC added now is supposed to have a bunch of customization options for your soldiers, so I’m thinking it will be better to just start over so I can really customize my squad. I only made it through a couple of missions anyway, so it’s likely I’ll do that. I need to play the game more in general.

There are a handful of games I’ve been playing off and on, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easier to stop worrying about my huge backlog and just play what I feel like playing. If that means I go through a week and only play LoL and nothing else, so be it. Why stress out over games? It’s not worth it. I’m going to play what I like, and if that means I have less to write about, less to talk about, or less video to share, so be it. I’ll still manage to find things to write/talk about anyway, so instead of stressing, I’m just going to enjoy life. Hopefully that doesn’t alienate anyone, but I gotta do me first.

Fantasy LCS Review: Season 6, Week 8

flcsbanner

week8standingsI didn’t forget to post about my fantasy league standings last week — there weren’t LCS matches that weekend, IEM took place instead. I only caught one game of the final, and of course SKT bring home another tournament trophy despite having a shaky split at times. The following weekend, we were back to the normal schedule, so of course this week I have more to talk about, although it’s going to be more of the same. Immortals continue to carry Tyvokka to victory, and that means I lost another game, putting me in a three way tie with both Judentus and Tacktix, but I maintain possession of 2nd place by virtue of the most points between the three of us. It’s funny, that Tacktix was on the bottom of the pile for so long and has now managed to tie for 2nd place, and it’s also surprising that I’m only shy 200 points of Tyvokka’s total despite having lost 4 more games. Tacktix is still the only one who has been able to take him down, but that happened to be the one week were Immortals dropped a single game. His fate has been directly tied to theirs, but rest assured this won’t happen again in the summer split. We’ll keep more of those players away from him next time. Lesson learned. So as we already knew, I’m not going to every get away from second place, though this final week of the split will determine who actually claims it, because a loss to Tacktix would mean I could potentially drop all the way to fourth. We’ll see how it turns out.

week7results

I was fortunate for the bad game CLG had on Saturday, because it kept Ty from totally crushing me. Aphromoo did nothing for me despite trusting him and putting him back in. Jensen pulled his weight as did Pobelter and Emperor, but Rush and Odoamne under performed, But when all five members of Immortals are putting up 50+ points it’s nearly impossible to top. I did make one small change going into next week:

week9matchup

I’m putting Kasing back in due to favorable matchups, and the fact that he did well for me before and Aphro has done shit all split. My projections look strong, and I’ve only lost to Tack once, so I think I’ll be able to hold onto second place. I don’t see Judentus beating Tyvokka, but even if he did I think I will still win the point total tie breaker battle. If so, I’ll have retained my rank from the split prior, and under similar circumstances too, though that time Judentus took 1st place only because he beat me on a point total tie breaker. It will be interesting to see if it comes down to that. With 1st place out of reach, it’s the only thing I have left keeping me interested. That and being able to rub in that Tacktix sucked wind.

week8top springtop8

It’s very surprising to see Shiphtur at the top of the points list for the past week, but he did it once before and that’s why I picked him up briefly, but never started him. I also owned Hjarnan and played him once, wish he would have had those numbers when I did. It’s rounded out by Immortals players (no surprise there) of which I still own Pobelter. On the top players for the spring list, I own three, but that still isn’t enough to content with weekly top players. Having those more consistently gets you wins I’ve come to learn. Ah well. Here’s to 2nd place next week!