Hirez Roundup #7
Good morning, Internet! I know I didn’t publish one of these last week, but it was Thanksgiving! Give me a break. Today we’re mostly just going to talk about Patch Notes for SMITE and Paladins, and what they really mean. Paladins is the big focus here though because I do have a few thoughts.
Two sets of patch notes before Thursday? You guys are trying to kill me! I spent most of yesterday watching Patch Notes and analyzing them for content/thoughts, and the SMITE patch notes are not as major as the Paladins ones, at least in my opinion. SMITE took care of some god balance and several items saw a bit of a minor nerf, and none of these are going to make something “unplayable” in my estimation. This patch also comes with a whole ton of skins which are gorgeous (ARES. YES. THANK YOU HIREZ) but the real meat and potatoes of the week is Paladins OB 64, and the “cards unbound” change. I am not going to break down every single new card here and what it means to you, the player. Because that would be just a Paladins piece all on its own, and would probably be better done in a video setting. Maybe I will if I can get around to it. But this is an incredible idea, but there are some suggestions I certainly have to make the casual audience less upset. I’ve heard a few outcries in my own personal DMs/mentions/etc about how bad this is for the casual game players. But let’s get started!
SMITE: Patch 4.23:
Unfortunately, I still have not completed Nightmare Mode of SMITE RPG, Shadows over Hercopolis, but I’m trying! It’s still in the game and is still incredibly challenging. This is definitely not a major patch for SMITE, but Hirez is currently taking a look at gods that are underperforming at lower levels (but not top levels) and seeing what they can do to adjust them. It’s also important to note that 4.24 (the next patch after this) will be the patch Worlds will be played on, unlike Paladins, which will be played on this current patch, not the next one. So none of the new card stuff will be there. This update is minor balance, fixes, and updates to gods that might need it. Also three mastery updates! Discordia, Hel, and Vulcan, and they all look amazing. But the next stop is Rome, hence the title of the update, Rally to Rome. As far as cosmetics go, this is an amazing patch. The Ares skin is probably one of the best of the year, and that’s only marginally because I’m an Ares main. It sounded like he spoke Old God’s Tongue, which is remarkable attention to detail. So here are the cosmetics that are coming, and where you can get them:
* Defiant Bellona (Exclusive: Odyssey): Blue-haired Bellona? A punk with a gigantic baseball bat? I love it. The shield being a “Dead End” sign is just wonderful. I am disappointed her weapons don’t squeak (because let’s be honest, they do look like squeaky toys…).
* Badlands Vulcan (Exclusive: Odyssey): Now this is a badass Vulcan skin. But he’s easy to make skins for I have a feeling. A lot of people in chat were complaining because it wasn’t “Chef Vulcan” or “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Vulcan”, but I do have to say, that’s an Unreal Engine he’s got.
* Order and Chaos Hel (Exclusive: Odyssey): This is a much-requested Hel skin, and the two forms are based on the present-day Titans for Order/Chaos. You can bank on there being new Titans in Season 5. I love the dialogue for these so much. Order-Hel’s joke made me snort.
* Abyssal Knight Ares (Exclusive): Oh. My. Lanta. Anyone who knows me knows how pumped I am for this. THE SHIELD IS ALIVE. THE SWORD HAS AN EYE IN IT. The dialogue is wonderful, the custom emote is delightful. Best skin of 2017. Thank you, Hirez.
* Discordia, Vulcan, Hel (Mastery): Vulcan and Hel were re-works, but the Discordia skins are new. The best part of these has to be Diamond Discordia’s apple being … well, Diamond. It’s a gigantic Diamond Apple, and all is right with the world.
As far as “fixes”, the only one was for Vulcan and it made me laugh incredibly hard. It’s to make his ult “less scary” for allies. That made me laugh. Though I will admit, there are lots of ults that make me worried, even when they’re on my team and I move out of them out of habit. But that’s a good segue into the God Balance for this patch. Most of these are just for gods that are underperforming, except Fafnir (though his Coerce was more adjusted, than nerfed/buffed) and Discordia (come on, Strife was ridiculous). So I’m going to point out one or two of these and move forward with items. Awilix saw her Moonlight Charge fixed, where it was going further than the targeter would suggest. However, the range of it did wind up going up (65 units to 70). Not a big change, but as a Bacchus player, I don’t want Awilix anywhere near me! Another of the really big updates here is Ra and his Divine Light ability. It received a whole host of updates, from Increased Base Damage (60/100/140/180/220 to 70/120/170/220/270), Increased Magical Power (40% to 55%) and finally, Reduced Mana Cost (60/70/80/90/100 to 60/65/70/75/80). Ra’s one of the more unique mages, as far as his kit goes, and his “weakest” ability had to be this one. This will let players use it more aggressive, use it more often, and not have to stress about it just being a button you don’t use except leaving it on top of the minion wave or on top of your team to give a minor heal. Susano, Medusa, Kukulkan, and Camazotz also saw minor changes to make them slightly more viable. I like a lot of these changes, even if I don’t play the gods (in fact, I only play two of them, Discordia and Fafnir). I agree with the slight nerf to Strife, being a very strong ability. And Fafnir gaining a second of cooldown while also gaining more of an Attack Speed Buff, I don’t mind that one extra second. I tend to run CDR anyway.
Why, Hirez? Why nerf the items I love so much? I mean, I understand it, but couldn’t you nerf stuff I don’t use? I’m glad for the Gladiator’s Shield nerf (Phys Protection lowered from 35 to 30), because it really made Warriors annoying to deal with. It was a part of most builds, and perhaps it will see them try to use other items instead. It’s not a major change, but Warriors have been my bane this Season it seems. And that leads me to the change to Jade Emperor’s Crown that I tend to use as my way to slow down those aggressive, annoying Warriors. It saw a reduction to its Physical Protection (60 down to 50), which is a pretty big change. The idea is to put the emphasis on the aura it provides, but the tank needs to be safe too! But honestly, 50 defense isn’t so bad. I’m just salty. Speaking of nerfs, Executioner and Devourer’s Gauntlet are a pair of powerful items for Hunters that are getting a little bit of a nerf (Exe: Lowered Phys from 35 to 30) (Devo: Increased cost from 2000 to 2100). The stats to Devo didn’t change, but the cost did go up, so it’s not gained quite so quickly. Fully stacking Devourer’s Gauntlets gives quite the edge, so I’m glad it will be slowed down a tiny bit. As far as Executioner, I think it makes it as strong as the other Hunter items, while still having its awesome, useful stats/abilities. Conversely, Jotuun’s Wrath sees a cost reduction (2450 down to 2350) will be a bit easier for ability-based Assassins. Speaking of Assassins, the last big thing I want to point out is that Hydra’s Lament is getting a buff! I love this item, even if I’m not really an Assassin player. But it’s seeing a boost in its Basic Attack Damage (30% to 40%) and it will help those Assassins be just a bit more aggressive. Between this, and the nerf to a few of the physical defense items, it will put Assassins in a better place, without making them all pick-or-ban tier to prevent players from having to deal with them based on itemization. The complete patch notes can be found right here.
My favorite part of the Paladins patch notes were probably “Do you wanna build a Bomb King?” singing number. It was far more on-key than I expected. So, this Patch for Paladins will not be at Worlds, which will give them some time to adjust and change it as needed. This feels like a “Paladins Season 2” sort of change. There are some minor things (at least to me) in the VIP stuff, which is great and offers some benefits like more points, account exp, etc for acquiring more VIP Points. I have to ask, if this counts for VIP Points that you buy with Crystals though, or if it’s merely what you “earn”. So we’ll talk about that first. There are now five tiers to VIP, and it comes with a cool badge. As you raise these tiers, you gain more Account XP, champion Mastery, Gold, VIP Points, and a Discount on VIP Store Items. Note: In the PTS, you can spend Crystals to gain the next level. So, there’s that figured out. I like this, as there are cool rewards, from skins (Divine. Seris. Yes.), a cool Dynamic Spray, a mount that’s on the way as well. . . I do like the VIP system. I don’t understand why people are mad about it. It doesn’t make anything about the game easier/better for players, it just has rewards for people who invest in it. It’s a cool system, and they’re putting a sincere amount of work to make it viable and worth investing in.
There’s also some really cool new skins for the holidays, in the holiday chest. The coolest one being A-Bomb-inable King. It’s one of the coolest Paladins skins I think I’ve ever seen. There are some other really cool cosmetic things, like the Match Lobby. It’s being changed to fit the flair of the game, instead of that boring, blank blue screen. It shows off the characters better and fits the Realm setting. Crosshairs were also changed for a host of characters (Jenos, Kinessa, Lex, Strix, Lian, Ruckus, Skye) probably to be in line with whatever gun/weapon they fire. I haven’t seen these yet, but I’m going to take a look at my earliest convenience. Then the new map, Magistrate’s Archives joins the Onslaught set of maps. This is great because it’s the second “Stone Keep” map, which expands that area by a considerable amount. It’s tied to the lore in some manner, and I can’t help but wonder who lives there. Is that where Torvald does his research/studying? I’m terribly curious. As the lore unfolds, my interest will only grow. Editor’s Note: There are so many card adjustments and changes in this patch. Oh lord. I will provide the Paladins Patch notes in a link below.
But the biggest change, the most important change, is “Cards Unbound”. Essence is going away, huzzah (It will be converted, on a 1-to-1 basis into gold)! I mean, I have more than I know what to do with, but from a new players perspective, this system of unlocking cards, getting Essence, et cetera, was pretty frustrating. I’ve had to sit down and explain it to quite a few people, who had to sort and figure out who they wanted to play first, then slowly get the cards for them, if they were lucky. It was aggravating to deal with. So, with that in mind, players will now have access to every card, every legendary at all times. Forever. Players that already had them will have “level 3” versions of the cards, which I will also explain. Now, while you do have every card, they can level up to 5, which increases their effectiveness/power. So now, chests contain cards and cosmetics, and as you gain duplicates of cards, they level up. You need x amount of a card in order to level it up to the next tier. And “Casual” mode is gone, replaced with “Quickplay”. In Quickplay, just grab your five favorite cards for a deck, without a point limit. Quickplay is just a crazy, ridiculous mode, and if you have every level 5 card for a champ, you have a significant power advantage. In Ranked Mode however, all cards are unlocked and set at level 3. You can’t make them stronger than that. So it’s far more balanced in ranked and now puts every single player on a level playing field (outside of skill, of course).
Ranked is far more skill-intensive, and Quickplay is the silly, play-for-fun mode where you can do whatever and probably still have a lot of fun. Every champion now also has a new (fourth) legendary card! Legendary cards also rank up as well, which is pretty awesome. Hirez is also doing something that EA wasn’t capable, smart, or considerate enough to do: Champion Chests cannot be purchased with Gems yet. They want to make sure the free player experience is fine-tuned and fair before they introduce that part of the game. How about that? AAA games have a lot to learn. You can also unlock these Champion Chests (chests that contain cards for that particular champion) via Mastery, and for first-win-of-the-day with that Champion. So, I really think this is a clever idea, and a way to open up the game to everyone. Now you don’t have to farm to “get” the cards, but you do have to farm the upgrades for normal play. I know a lot of people that just play casuals and they do have a fear that needs to be addressed. There are going to be people that will no doubt wind up with the level 5 cards in casuals faster than others. Because as of right now, you have to rely on the Radiant Chests (which are not expensive, gold wise), and Champion Chests to get the cards you are looking for. It’s very hard to get them in Radiant Chests, given how many champs there are. But at least you can use the Legendary Keys to get specific “types” of Legendary cards, to make that a “little” easier.
I am fine with that staying the way it is, as long as the Champion Chests are not expensive (Gold/Crystal/VIP wise), but I would also like to see the ability to level up specific cards, whether it’s as a quest reward, or using Gold/Crystals/VIP, whichever (or all of the above). I have heard a lot of people worried that it’s going to be really frustrating in Quickplay if they can’t keep up, and other players who grind more, just wind up with the luck of the draw on the cards they want for their decks, coming in hot with a set of level 5 decks. I can see why that might be sort of a bummer. As someone who primarily just plays Ranked, I’m not stressed, because I know all of my decks are ready to go (except adjusting them for balance changes/new combos, etc). I’m going to be playing in the PTS as much as I can to get a handle on it, but so far, I love the idea. I do think there needs to be a way to upgrade the cards though outside of chests. But this is a fantastic way to change up the game while it’s in beta, and it really opens the game for everyone. There’s still collecting to be done, but now it’s less “Oh, I don’t have cards to build a deck” and now “How can I make this deck more powerful”? Do remember, this is still a beta, so there’s still plenty of time to change. They are collecting feedback, so make sure you download and play, and figure out what you think about it. You can count on more from me as I learn more.
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