As previously promised, this patch contains a new god and sees a plethora of changes across ranked, items, and gods. This patch marks the end of the Spring Split, and brings us that hot Summer Split action. I say hot because both Hi-Rez Studios and I live in Georgia, which doubles as the armpits of the devil during the summer. It’s not the taint of the devil – as some people might have you believe. That honor rests with my hometown of New Orleans. God help us all. Anyway, enough about the torturous real summer. Let’s focus on the SMITE Season 4 Summer Split, instead.
Ganesha, God of Success
Ganesha was a delayed by a patch, but I don’t think anyone is complaining. His model looks amazing, and the kit is intriguing. I have some doubts it will remain as-is for long, but I don’t think it will be until G-funk sees a lot of organized play that it becomes obvious how much his passive and synergy can swing a game.
- Passive – Good Fortune : His passive is interesting. If a friendly god is within a certain range of you (pretty large but not ridiculous), whenever you get a kill the credit goes to the closest friendly god within range and you get credit for an assist. Your assist range is also larger than other gods, and you can get credit for a longer period of time. This ability might prove ridiculous in competitive/organized play. It allows the support to maintain aggression while allowing the carries to get bigger, faster. No more Khepri steals with Rising Dawn. I don’t want to call this problematic, but I think this will a make or break feature.
- Turn of Fate: This is the other ability that might be nuts. It’s a high base, ok scaling ranged line ability that grants 2% bonus damage per enemy god hit to friendly gods within range. Remember, Nike’s passive was on all the time and this isn’t and needs confirmation, but confirming this in a big team fight isn’t all that difficult and can be a huge boost. I could see this going through a few changes, should he prove too strong in organized play.
- Ohm: A channeled silence that also buffs the physical protections of allied gods that stand in the cone of this ability. Part of what I like here is the synergy with Vamana from a pantheon perspective, but at a 1.8 duration, this ability is great soft CC and can turn a fight around – 60 physical protection is nothing to sneeze at.
- Remove Obstacles: Let’s take a moment to recognize how great this ability looks. I love his run! That aside, this a hard CC ability that first roots the god hit, and then knocks them up. The coolest part is it lets you ignore player made deployables, so running through walls is on the menu. That’s incredible mobility and utility. However, the root then knock-up sequence of it means it can get beads or immuned, unlike Xing Tian’s version – in which the order happens in reverse. Still, this is a great ability.
- Dharmic Pillars: A zone that causes enemies who crosses the edges of the square to take damage, become slowed, and have their protections shredded. The cooldown is also fairly short, at 75s. Some opportunity-cost based soft CC is interesting. I like abilities like this a lot.
Verdict: This god looks great with a kit that showcases Hi-Rez’s willingness to expand beyond their defined god borders. His balance might be a touch on the high side, but it’s not Cernunnos levels or anything. He’ll probably see a few changes, but this is a solid interpretation of Ganesha, and a fun god to boot.
This section is gigantic this week. Not only do they have to continue paying the bills with people purchasing skins, there are several skins tied directly to the Summer Split Season Ticket.
- Vampiric Scylla: This skin is automatically received when you purchase the Summer Split Season Ticket. Even the designers commented on how it might be odd it is coming out in the summer, but it sounded like they didn’t have a lot of great ideas about what to make for the signature skin this time around – with Modern Mercenary Nemesis being ok, but not really a big deal. It comes across as almost a parody skin – a silly voice pack with a lot of puns, and then just bat-themed. It looks great, and people will probably like it. It’s not one I would likely use, but not everything is for me!
- Modern Mercenary Mercury: For the ladies. It’s another of the ShadowRun/Technoir/Cyberpunk urban fantasy set. The card art looks great, and the style is visually appealing, though the skin looks a little muddy in the game. The voice pack leaves something to be desired with this one, coming across as an 80’s New Yorker? It’s a little weird, but whatever, I guess. As above, I am not always the target audience. This is one of the free rewards for advancing the season ticket.
- The Sparrow Nike: A super hero-themed skin for Nike. The card art is very booty-centric, which is weirdly typical for Nike. The outfit is neat, the voice pack is on the uncertain side of spunky. It looks pretty good, but it’s Nike’s second skin in a couple of months. As much as I like Nike, it would be cool to see another god get some love.
- Secret Order Ullr: This skin allows you to be someone sent to kill people, while also adhering to a specific set of rules or creed. It looks good, the voice pack is good. This will probably be a popular choice of skins for Ullr players.
- Worldwalker Janus: The effects on this skin are amazing. The voice pack is snarky, as you might expect from being a Dr. Strange-inspired skin. The skin itself has a good design, but the colors are a bit unclear in the game.
Clap and wave for Ganesha, our new friend.
Season Ticket – Summer Split
Like the Season Ticket for the Spring Split, this Season Ticket will have two pricing tiers – the base one, and a higher-priced one that comes with a 2500 Fantasy Points. Buying the Season Ticket gives you the following:
- Vampiric Scylla
- Ability to vote on Pro Games during the Season
- Bonus Quests for Fantasy Points
- Double Fantasy Points for matches you play (new feature)
- 15 Team Fantasy Point Boosters (2x of total received)
- 15 Team Worshiper Boosters (2x of total received)
The new items – free when you earn enough Fantasy Points – added to the Season Ticket reward track are:
- Season Ticket Jump Stamp: a new feature we can expect to see more of in the future
- Sol Announcer Pack: the item I am most excited about in this patch
- 2017 Season Ticket Music Theme
- Roman Recall Skin
- Modern Messenger Mercury
Ranked Changes – Summer Split
In addition to there being a soft reset – a small adjustment of ratings toward the average rather than a blanket reset of everyone to a fixed number – allowing for a normalization of placement – adjustments were made to the qualification process. This is something being worked on to enforce more of a bell-curve approach to the tiers, making Diamond and Master more prestigious than they were this split. The biggest issue still remains that unless more players join ranked, matchmaking is going to continue to have long queue times or result in those disparately skilled games.
That said, the transparent approach to this split is refreshing. Players will be able to see how their TP is calculated at the end of a match, allowing players some insight into the previously black box system. Like many competitive games – or parts of games – there will now be ranked decay. After two weeks of inactivity, you begin to lose 2 TP per day, three weeks has you losing 4 TP per day, and so on through capping out at six weeks of inactivity and losing 10 TP per day for a total loss of 210 TP. You can demote through this inactivity down to Gold V. Jokes on them – like we are going to even place that high anyway!
The other two big changes are about ease of access to Ranked. The first allows you to play any god you own in Ranked, rather than only allowing you to play gods you have mastered. This is controversial, but it makes a lot of sense. The fact of the matter is if you want to rank up your gods quickly, you play modes other than Conquest. Since you end up needing to play a lot to get enough gods to actually play Ranked – at least 18 – you spend time in all of these other modes and end up not giving Conquest or Ranked a chance because it’s scary and you haven’t done it often – if at all. The second change makes the first two players in the lobby to be the two highest rated players, giving them more control over the initial picks and bans. I would like to see a little more control given to the entire team over picks and bans – as sharing the burden can make more people learn – but this is a good first step.
All in all – positive Ranked changes.
When you receive currency (gems, favor, FP, etc.) the notification now tells you how much you receive. Sure, good QoL change.
Item Bug Fixes and QoL Changes
As you will continue to see below, a lot of these changes are just clarifications and changes to make information parsing better on behalf of the player.
- Relics receiving new audio FX: Bracers of Undoing, Horrific Emblem, Phantom Veil, Sundering Spear
- Relics receiving new visual FX: Bracers of Undoing, Cursed Ankh, Phantom Veil
- Relics receiving new icons: Blink Rune
- Mystical Mail: Fixed an issue where the damage wasn’t scaling with items that increased all damage
- Stone of Gaia: Now stops No Escape (Ares’ Ultimate) all the time.
God Bug Fixes
This was taken as something of a joke by the Hi-Rez staff, which is unfortunate. Yes, tool-tip fixes are not as important as actual play experience fixes, but having incorrect tool-tips is a barrier to entry for new and inexperienced players. If the skill doesn’t do what the tip says, that is a real problem that leads to frustration. When you are trying to grow and retain players, this matters.
- Gods receiving fixes to tool-tips about ability radius: Ah Muzen Cab (Bees!), Arachne (Night Crawler), Athena (Shield Wall), Chaac (Thunder Strike), Erlang Shen (Pin), Freya (Valkyrie’s Discretion), Hou Yi (Mark of the Golden Crow), Isis (Dispel Magic)
- Fafnir: You can’t recall when turning back into a dwarf from dragon form any more.
- Freya: Valkyrie’s Discretion shouldn’t stutter any more.
- Kuzenbo: You can’t be rooted in Sumo Slam any more.
- The Morrigan: The Morrigan’s phantom should no longer add stacks to Isis’s passive when using Changeling or Confusion. Targeters from transforming into Awilix should also no longer persist.
- Nu Wa: Clay Soldiers no longer scale with physical power.
- Xing Tian: Whirlwind of Rage and Steel will now properly throw knocked up targets.
Item and Relic Changes
Most of these are actually relic changes – which I wish would get their own section – but the item changes we see are along the same vein of what we have been seeing so far as Season 4 has progressed. Sustain is being pushed down, burst is being pushed down, and unused items are being increased.
- Blackthorn Hammer: The health is being increased from 250 to 350, in the hopes this will cause it to see some use. The passive doesn’t really fit anything in particular, causing this item to just remain awkward – especially since it is a physical only item. When you hit 30% life, your cooldowns are reduced by 3s and your abilities cost 0 mana for 5s. There are different durations there, causing the burden of information to increase, too. It likely needs a rework to find consistent use in even niche builds.
- Gladiator Shield: Not enough people were using the item, so it’s just being made better. Physical protections increase from 40 to 45, and health and mana restore increases from 2% to 2.5%. This will see solo lane pick ups more frequently, I am sure. Poor people that have to fight against a Bellona with this.
- Lono’s Mask: Such a weird little item. This new item is support-centric costing 500g, and lets you get up to 75 permanent stacks of +2 health per stack from assisting in god or minion kills. Additionally, when you complete the stacks you are awarded 400g, meaning you make about 270 gold from this item when all is said and done. It’s…weird. I like that they are experimenting with wanting people to buy and sell items more frequently as the game progresses, so I am interested to see the results of this in a few patches.
- Rage: Ok, so this one might be a problem. The cost sees an increase from 2200 to 2400 to account for the new passive – the stats are still 20% critical strike chance and 30 power. The new passive gives you 1% critical strike chance for each kill or assisting in the kill of an enemy god. This stacks 5 times and the stacks are permanent. At 5 stacks, you also gain an additional 10% critical strike chance. Why are stacks not 3% per stack instead of this methodoloy? For a second power spike from the same item, I guess? It’s a lot of critical strike, and at a budget price. It will be interesting to see if the second crit item changes from Malice or Wind Demon.
- Runeforged Hammer: This item isn’t getting used that often since it requires synergy. It’s an item that provides tankiness and damage, but only if your team can fulfill the CC requirement. It’s also a selfish item, as it doesn’t extend to your team. An extra 50 health and 5% damage is meaningful, but it will still have some trouble finding a home for a lot of gods outside of organized play. Even then, it doesn’t always provide what the team might be looking for.
- Shield of Regrowth: Yeah, like this wasn’t getting nerfed after how silly this item has been this season. It’s almost like adding cooldown reduction to an item that was already really good made it too strong or something! Anyway, the health change is getting reverted – returning to 300 health from 200 health, but the cooldown reduction is changing from 20% to 10%. This item will still be everywhere. The fact the changes reference not giving healers better CDR should say everything you need to know about Hi-Rez’s state of mind.
- Shillelagh: Increased the health from 100 to 200, to better fit the rest of the tree.
- Stone of Binding: In a great move, this item has been expanded to activate from all CC, not just hard CC. This will absolutely see more use.
- Belt of Frenzy: Frenzy returns, granting 10% damage, 15% attack speed, and 10 bonus damage against objectives for 5 seconds, on a 120 second cooldown. The upgrade adds 10 penetration, and extends the duration to 8 seconds. The functionality here is incredible and varied – it just does so much. I have concerns, here.
- Cursed Ankh: In the ongoing struggle to reduce sustain compositions, this relic and the upgrade have had their cooldowns slashed by a third, down to 100s from 150s. I really worry that healing gods are going to just be demolished as the season continues, but I’ll withhold judgement for now.
- Meditation Cloak: This change is to normalize the efficacy of the heal for all gods and builds, but makes it slightly weaker for sustain overall. Again, the effort against sustain continues. Still, it does allow the relic to be tweaked in a more controllable fashion. Instead of it scaling off of the user’s health and mana, the heal is now a flat scaling amount and the mana is based off the recipient. It now heals for 75 + 12 per level instead of 15% of the user’s health, and mana changes from 35% of user’s mana to 30% of recipient’s mana. The upgrade reflects these changes, as well.
- Sundering Spear Upgrade: In an effort to lower burst potential, the upgrade of Sunder Spear has been hit in two areas – the amount of increased damage they take and the cooldown of the relic. The damage increase changes from 30% to 25%, and the cooldown increases from 90s to 100s. It’s a fine change to help them reach their goals.
Honestly, there aren’t as many god changes as I expected going into the Summer Split. Some of these are just a re-definition of vision, and some are actual buffs and nerfs. As expected, Cabrakan gets a nerf, Hun Batz gets a nerf (sadly), and a few underplayed gods get a buff.
- Stealth: Ao Kuang, Izanami, and the Morrigan no longer have their stealth broken from minion damage. Fantastic change.
- Awilix: Moonlit Charge has the mana reduced from 85 at all ranks to 60/65/70/75/80. The hope is this makes her more aggressive, but it helps even if it doesn’t achieve that goal fully. Her mana management is a beast.
- Cabrakan: Like he wasn’t going to get nerfed. Honestly, his changes are still very conservative, which is a great sign from the balance/systems team. His base physical protections change from 23 to 20, and his Tremors damage decreases by a flat 3 at all ranks. This should make him more manageable to play against, but still frequently played.
- Camazotz: I love the Bat Man, so seeing him get some positive changes is great. These changes are interesting, targeting his sustain and giving him a QoL change. Like Cabrakan, these are restrained changes – albeit buffs instead of nerfs. Essence Drinker now consumes pools at full speed all the time, and Devour no longer has a delay. Good stuff here.
- Cernunnos: Ok, seriously? I get the conservative approach – and obviously love it – but this guy needs to a serious pass. Changing the radius of his ultimate from 30 to 25 isn’t enough. I get it’s a total of 10 in the diameter, but that’s only a part of his frustration.
- Hun Batz: Honestly, the item and meta changes did the work here. Just look at the difference between the SPL online split and Gauntlet, but I understand the clamor to nerf the monkey. The changes are honestly conservative, but it’s probably enough to make most people happy and be quiet. Somersault’s slow now scales from 20% to 40% as ranks increase – rather than being a flat 40% at all ranks. Fear No Evil’s cooldown is increased from 90s to 100s. I don’t have a problem with the changes, but I also don’t think they were needed.
- Kuzenbo: NeNe Kappa will now gain 20% health and protection scaling. This really makes him a continued annoyance, instead of that dropping off. I thought this was a bit much at first, but after some thought I think it’s an okay change. It’s powerful, but not quite as powerful as some people are making it out to be.
- Ne Zha: The Lotus Prince has seen little to no Season 4 play, but opting to change Ring Toss is an interesting approach to his viability. It gains an additional bounce, with the hope this addresses his clear and poke. The emphasis on this one skill might speak volumes to his overall design, but that is a future concern.
- Nox: Sweet mama Nox gets a buff to Night Terror to let her team fight more outside of her combo. The cooldown goes from a flat 90s to 90s scaling down to 70s at various ranks. This is a really interesting change, and I dig it.
- Sol: In a great, much needed change Stellar Burst no longer triggers the in-hand attack penalty. This does so much for her feel, and is a solid QoL improvement.
- Susano: This change might be the most interesting one to me, from a design perspective. The expressed position was both a power decrease from interaction of Storm Kata with Hydra’s Lament, but also from a consistency of multiple-stage abilities perspective. Anyway, this is all about making Hydra’s Lament not multiple times despite auto-canceling into the stages. It’s not really the high-level play they make it out to be, so it should be a meaningful burst decrease.