Tell us how you really feel (Episodes 38, 39, and 40)
I have some words to say. Some traps to lay. This is the block that contains TERA, SMITE and… well Age of Conan but who cares about that game anymore? Those of you who kept asking “Why did you say that about SMITE in your Heroes of the Storm Sidequest?” You’re about to find out.
Episode 38: TERA
What can I say about TERA that I haven’t already said a dozen times over? You know my stance. It’s a perfectly legit, but unremarkable, average game that brings little to the table, being praised as a great innovation by a vehemently irrational fanbase.
See, our problem here is that the US Publisher, “EnMasse” are FANTASTIC bullshit artists. These are the guys who convinced a major population of gamers that they invented the Reticle combat system by marketing their game with a catchy slogan. These are the guys who licensed and published a Chinese Gears of War Knockoff, then marketed and branded it to look like a schlocky action-packed B-movie tribute. They would have done well as grifters or political spin-doctors if this MMO publishing thing didn’t work out.
It’s why I even made mention of the Elin controversy in the first place. My personal feeling on Loli culture aside, if someone didn’t think this was a problem, EnMasse wouldn’t have tried to sidestep it so clumsily, drawing even further attention to the problem. Your argument isn’t with me, a lowly dipshit on the internet reporting on the issue, but those who made it an issue in the first place. Flipping your shit about it to me ain’t going to make the problem, whatever side of the problem it is you have, go away.
What I, and those who can see through BS, can see about TERA is that beneath its ridiculously over-polished graphics is a generic design philosophy that looks like every Korean MMO trying to be Lineage. We see a quest system that hinges so heavily on the fact you’ll enjoy their “TRUE ACTION COMBAT” that they didn’t feel the need to make any quest more interesting than “Go Here. Kill Things. Collect stuff.” It doesn’t try to do anything new because it’s so convinced it already has. I wasn’t sold on the combat. I’m still convinced it’s pretty much a control remap of tab-target combat, and I really should ask Hive Leader if we were playing the same game.
That’s not to say they haven’t made strides to streamline and improve the title. From what I was told, my gripe about the redundancy of the tutorials has been alleviated, thank god. It’s holding up well enough to get another server added. Though I am a bit bummed to hear a major interesting point of the game, the political system, was either removed or revamped. I might even backtrack this in the future. Might.
Recommended?: If you’re new to MMOs, YES.
Episode 39: SMITE
Ok, here we go. No longer limited by Youtube comments I can’t reply to, and a 140 character limit on Twitter. You want to hear why I stopped playing SMITE?
In a minute. First, my overall impressions.
I respect the hell out of SMITE, in a way. Hi-Rez finally got the game they wanted to make, spun off, completely by accident, mind, from a mini-game created for a former failed title of theirs. A 3PS MOBA.
Granted, not the first 3PS MOBA, as every pedant who played LOCO or Monday Night Combat will attest to, but the first to so thoroughly adopt the DotA/LoL formula and place it into a 3D perspective. Three lanes, four skills, five players and six item slots. I’ve always loved the MOBA formula and idea, but I really don’t like the MOBA community and inter-team competitiveness. SMITE initially alleviated that. The shop wasn’t a confusing mess of branches and nonsensical items, only having simple stat boosts with three upgrade tiers. The lanes were perfectly even on both sides, and the “jungle” was nothing more than a few stations of easily skippable buff camps you could go into when the opportunity struck. META wasn’t a word used that often by people and most players knew their gods were capable of adaptation and multiple roles.
But everything changed when the TenCent attacked.
TenCent is a Chinese publisher that gave more than a little funding to SMITE to help launch it into the competitive stratosphere, and there’s likely no coincidence that so many of these vast changes made to SMITE happened around the time they started holding a presence.
Chinese gods were undergoing constant reworks, the formerly fun and wacky takes on Sun Wukong and Ao Kuang being tossed aside and reskinned into the lesser used “Mayan” pantheon as Hun Batz and Kukulkan, while the “new” Sun Wukong and Ao Kuang are boringly “badass” muscular humanoid “srsbzns” types. He Bo went from being a frail old man to some weirdly buff crystal covered guy. Guan Yu’s red-skinned, musical demon look gave way to another buff badass who uses the damage inflicted upon him to strengthen himself. It’s like the game’s being reworked for adolescent boys who think characters like Axe Cop aren’t a parody.
Hi-Rez wasn’t handling their own changes any better. META gamers were using Thor as an assassin, so rather than tweak the moves that players used to treat Thor like an assassin, Hi-Rez reclassified and adjusted Thor’s stats to be an assassin, despite his kit still being entirely based upon a warrior’s stats. Hel got a controversial “Sexy” rework and Bastet went from animalistic to SUPAH KAWAII!
Character changes are the least of my problems, and honestly don’t bother me AS much. My favorite god, Freya was still very much Freya. No, it was when the game started futzing with the map and item shop, is when I became concerned. The lanes were no longer even. There is now a “short lane and long lane” that, to this day, I’m not positive which is supposed to be which. (Don’t tell me. I don’t fucking care.). Jungles were expanded to include “XP camps” for “jungling”, my very least favorite thing in MOBAs. It’s counter-intuitive, overly mechanical, easily derailed, situational as fuck, and horribly stupid to force a player who doesn’t enjoy it, to do.
Then the formerly simple-to-use item shop started “testing the waters” with multi-tiered branches. Instead of picking an item, and upgrading it to full, the final tier would let you pick from two options of the item. Not the best thing, but relatively ok, I guess. Then they pushed it further, offering more items with branching paths. Now, its the same old song and dance. A generically named, non-descriptive item, that only at its final tier unlocks the potential and name it used to always be called in the first place, making locating your favorite items, a needlessly difficult chore. It’s fucking LoL’s item shop now.
The final straw was a culmination of all of them when I noticed the META starting to insist my favorite character, Freya, be played as a jungler. I got League of Legends flashbacks and what happened to Sejuani, and I was fucking DONE.
SMITE didn’t want to be SMITE anymore. It wanted to be 3D League of Legends.
I couldn’t touch Conquest any longer, and I can’t stand streaming the game now. It didn’t matter if I just tried to enter a casual mode. If I went into Joust, Arena, or Assault, THEY WERE THERE. I couldn’t stream inter-community tournaments without wannabe MLGers trying to force their way in because “lol is fun 2 wreck u noobs”. Even players within the community would get absurdly angry or butthurt for losing or yell and passively whine because others picked a character they didn’t feel they could compete against. Fun wasn’t allowed. Everything was just practice for Ranked matches and pointless near invisible glory. No items. Fox only. Final destination.
Hi-Rez seems like a pretty fun company. Their beautifully stupid promos and skit videos show more passion than Kernification, and their Chief Operations Officer, Todd Harris, has a really good humor about things, like proudly announcing SMITE’s position in the MOBA universe by leading the crowd in a chant of “We’re Number 3!” during a tournament. The game is doing very well, and even is working with Microsoft to be the first to bring the modern competitive MOBA to consoles on the XBOX ONE.
I wish them the best with everything they are doing. I just no longer wish to be a part of it, is all.
Recommended?: YES. It’s still my favorite of the “competitive MOBAs”.
Episode 40: Age of Conan
This is going to seem like chip bag full of empty air and crumbs, or a rogue party popper to end the fireworks display. I’m pretty meh toward Age of Conan. I don’t hate it. It had one of the most interesting innovations to the tab-target combat system. It’s just… not very fun for me. Hints of gankers, and channers abound, if the constant comments about my “manboobs” on Youtube claiming my masculinity was in question because I don’t enjoy being ganked by dickless teens looking to reaffirm their own masculinity after receiving their 8th consecutive swirlie, weren’t a clear indication of the type of people this game attracts.
Is the Conan universe like, really even a THING anymore? In the U.S. at least? To expect this grindy, resource hogging, griefer’s paradise with basic fantasy elements to be the next WoW was a ridiculous assumption to make, even if the majority of my old WoW guild decided to jump ship to the game.. and jump back all of 2 months later. Of course, AoC also makes the all too common mistake of telling an MMO player they are “the chosen one” in a world full of “chosen ones”. No wonder The Secret World takes the piss out of this game so much.
Funcom, you put the majority of your eggs into the wrong fucking basket.