Hirez Roundup #9
Definition of Pay-to-Win: In some multiplayer free-to-play games, players who are willing to pay for special items or downloadable content may be able to gain a significant advantage over those playing for free. Some critics of such games call them “pay-to-win” or “p2w” games. Pay-to-win overrides skill, preventing people with skill from beating people who spend money. Keep that in mind, I’ll be coming back to it. Today, I’m briefly touching on SMITE’s current patch, the current HOTG patch, and the latest Paladins OB64 updated patch notes. I’m not going to apologize for liking the idea either. If I sincerely thought it was going to ruin the game, I assure you, I’d point it out.
So we’re getting closer and closer to HRX, when I disappear from the Internet for a week to watch high-level SMITE, Paladins, and Hand of the Gods action. It’s easily my favorite time of the year. This week’s SMITE patch is not a major one, mostly fun cosmetic stuff, but it does contain a pair of truly majestic updates to the game. A Bacchus buff, and an Odin nerf. I’m honestly just waiting for people to cry because Odin’s ult “is no longer useful” because it’s 5 seconds instead of 6. That’s just the way people are. Though, I was hoping to see an Ullr nerf sometime in the recent patches. Instead, he got a buff a bit ago. I don’t feel like it was to “sell” Frostfire Ullr, because everyone I’ve talked to personally about it, was going to get it anyway, no matter what nerfs Ullr got because that’s their main/favorite god. But there’s really not a whole lot of major changes to the game in this particular update. They’ve been keeping the changes fairly minor and spread out, so there isn’t some gigantic change to the game right before HRX, which could potentially mess things up for everyone. So, kudos to that. But before we get into the bits and pieces that were fixed, let’s talk skins! I also have to say, the Jeff/Barra documentary? I loved it. That’s what friendship really is.
Frostfire Ullr (Limited: Odyssey): This is the Tier 5 ultimate prize for the Odyssey. It’s an amazing, majestic skin. I don’t even play Ullr and I love it. I still stand on “Ullr’s kind of goddamn strong right now”, but I don’t think he’s pick-or-ban tier. This evolving skin is beautiful.
Arctic Seer Artio (Exclusive: Odyssey): Wow, Artio’s gotten a lot of skin love this season! She’s seen skins way faster than most tanks that I’ve seen, which is nice, because Artio’s still really fun. And it’s not Christmas themed, just winter themed. Love it.
Krampus Cernunnos (Exclusive: Odyssey): Krampus! The evil, child-beating spirit of the holiday season. It’s probably my favorite skin of this bunch, except for maybe Tremor Tech Cabrakan.
Crystal Gaze Medusa (Exclusive: Odyssey): Everyone has pointed out the important thing about the splash art so far: Boobs! Yes, Medusa has them. Good stuff, guys. I just like the play on words in her name, given Medusa’s power. And green’s my favorite color. I think my favorite bit is the fancy bow.
Fallen Angel Nike (Exclusive: Odyssey): My only problem with Fallen Angel Nike, is she looks less…muscular? Thick? (I absolutely refuse to spell it “thicc” in a workpiece) She looks…malnourished. But I have to say, I love the Breath of Fire 2 style Nina wings. Very stylish.
Tremor Tech Cabrakan (Exclusive): Yay, robot Fat Loki! I don’t really play Cabrakan much. He’s probably my least played Guardian. I stand by him moving into the Assassin role, if I’m being honest. But this skin is absolutely stunning. I’m a sucker for robots/mecha, so I was sold immediately.
Rocket Punch Mercury (Exclusive): Cyborg and The Flash got ahold of Potara Earrings and became Rocket Punch Mercury. I love the skin, but I’m tired of Mercury skins! I know my coworker Trunath is excited about this though. Nice ab window there, Tony Nese.
HRX Loki (Exclusive): So, this is just Rivals Loki I think. Or a slightly reskinned Rivals Loki. That’s cool with me though! It should make the skin a bit easier to get for people, which is nice.
Empress Nu Wa (Exclusive): A Nu Wa skin that isn’t super fanservy? That’s kind of a novel concept. And I love the voice pack for it. The colors are very nice to boot. Definitely a classy choice for Nu Wa.
So, balance. Only one item was adjusted, and as a Ganesha player, I’m glad it saw a slight cost increase. Stone of Gaia went up from 2000 to 2100. Anything to slow people down from getting it, so I can keep knocking them into the air. It is a very powerful item, so it probably could benefit from costing just a touch more. But more important than that, Odin nerf! Yay, Odin nerf! Sure, it’s only one second (down to 5 from 6), but it feels like a nightmarish eternity. It’s such an impactful move. The Bacchus update is a serious one. I play a lot of Bacchus, and the ability to actually use my Chug without worrying about my mana being gone and not being able to engage? Very handy. Not to mention the mana cost is just outrageous for what it was doing. It wasn’t worth leveling for what you were getting for it. The gods changed in this patch are for quality-of-life purposes, for ability costs that were way too high for what they were bringing to the team. Hun Batz and Sacred Monkey, Isis and Spirit Ball/Dispel Magic, Sobek and his Tail Whip along with Agni and Noxious Fumes. Honestly, none of these are game breaking and will allow people who play these gods to change up the skills they level just a bit, to make them feel like their skills are all viable to level. Details can be found below.
Okay, this is the hard part to talk about. Because I’m still very clearly in the minority of “I like Cards Unbound”. I like the concept of it a lot and I stand by that. They are on their fifth update for OB64, which tells me that they’re trying their best to make this concept work. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week or two talking to their community people and other regular players about the system, and I know I’m not the only person on the Internet who doesn’t think it’s such a bad idea. However, I do think that it was implemented way, way too late into the development cycle. Had this been done a year, year and a half ago, there would be no outcry.
Hirez has given a lot to the players for free during this development of Paladins, and when they made major changes, also gave out, even more stuff as recompense. That set a pretty high precedent, so when such a major change as this rolls out, people cry out “that they didn’t ask for this”. Well, game development isn’t always about waiting for people to ask for stuff. It’s trying new things, seeing what works and what doesn’t. The game isn’t live yet, it’s still very much in development and it shows. I ask again if you don’t agree with something, ask yourself this “Did I even try it yet? Or did I just assume it will be bad because I didn’t like what I heard?” if that’s the case, go play it.
Make actual informed opinions. That’s far more important to getting something changed, rather than just yelling about it. Personally, I think Legendaries should not level up. That’s one of the big complaints I heard, that it’s going to be harder to get Legendary cards powered up, without spending money on the Keys. I agree with that point. In this latest round of changes, they split the game modes. Now there’s Arcade Mode, which is the “Unbound” mode, where all cards can go up to 10, where all the silliness happens. Then there’s the “Bound” Mode, where cards are all set to level 4, and it’s a more balanced game mode. No, it doesn’t stifle the game. Come on. All those level 1 cards you never used? Now they’re viable. Just think about it a little bit. I’d like to argue that there will be even more fun builds. “Ranked” now has level 5 cards auto-set, which I think is fine. That’s fine.
But “pay-to-win”? Will level 10 cards make you suddenly hit all of your shots, and make you good at the game? No. You’ll still suck if you already sucked. Some of the cards do help a bit, like Bomb King’s ludicrous increase size on Sticky Bomb explosions. The ability to buy Champion Chests with gold (7500 gold) lets you buy cards specifically for the champs you play. There is no Crystal option. Will there be in the future? Possibly. As long as the Gold cost isn’t super high and I don’t see that being an issue. I’d like to see you use VIP points on them too if I’m honest. You also get Champion Chests for Mastery and FWOTD, so you can get at least one free one a day for every champ you regularly play. I am however grateful, that Legendaries only take 1 card to level, as with Epics (until level 8). Also consider for many accounts that had a ton of Essence, they’ll come out with piles of gold to buy whatever they need. It’s not going to be hard to get the cards you need for the champs you play. Most people I know focus on a handful of champs (3-5 at the most), so you can just get cards for whom you want. Also, the champion balance is fine to me. There’s so much of it, and I don’t think the Ash/Barik nerfs were really so bad. I do however appreciate there being two options for normals, and I think if cards are set to level for for “Bound”, nobody can complain that they can’t learn a champion. It’s a pretty solid, level playing field to learn the game in an active environment.
All I ask is that you give it a chance. Go try it for yourself. Make informed thoughts and opinions, instead of parroting what you see in Twitch Chat, and simply assuming it’s going to be bad. I’ve had a lot of fun playing so far. The latest notes can be found here.
Hand of the Gods: OB.36:
I haven’t talked about HOTG much lately, not because I don’t like it, but the other news were so impactful to my regular day-to-day that I had to focus on them. But I haven’t forgotten you, HOTG. The big news for this patch is really one ability: Ganesha’s Pillar of Life. Anyone who knows me knows, I play a lot of Ganesha. Second most played, maybe most played, tied with Ah Puch. But, Pillar of Life was incredibly powerful. The ability to keep flooding the board with Healing Pillars that could also block off the other player from summoning creatures? Yeah, that’s hard to deal with. So part of me is definitely upset about that change, the rational part of me realizes that it makes sense, and it doesn’t make Ganesha unplayable.
It does, however, slow him down a fair amount and I will have to change how my deck works to accommodate it. Though it was not in this update, the Awilix change is also one I welcome. Though having her not take return-damage was nice, her new power (when she kills a unit, she creates a 2/2 Zombie in its place) is more fitting to the theme of Ah Puch and zombie swarms just in general. There were lots of times I simply didn’t play her because I needed zombies way more than I needed her on the board. There have been lots of little updates to the game that I like, such as being able to Drag and Drop cards directly onto the board, and Quick Open for card packs. Oh man, that’s the best.
A change to the Starter Decks also came in this patch, giving those new players two of certain cards to make them easier to get into. Greek Decks will gain Ares, Apollo, Teleport copies, Roman receives Bacchus, Shackle. Norse will receive two copies of Fenrir. There will also be two copies of the neutral common Dune Guardian, and Egyptian receive two copies of Bastet. This will help players a bit I think, not having to wait on these cards which will prove invaluable to learning the game. I’m not sure why Norse/Egypt only gain one card compared to Greece’s three, but maybe that’s just because I hate seeing Apollo so much. He stops so many of my cool tactics dead in their tracks. There were some other card balance of note, such as Bakasura going from 3 to 8 cost, but also gaining more Attack (5 from 3) and Health (8 from 3).
But he also has an insane new Warcry though: Kill a friendly unit and gain Attack equal to its cost, and Afterlife: Spawn a 3/3 Avatar. Late game, this could be exactly what you need to simply stomp someone out if you have a Hydra, Fire Giant, or something else monstrous. I’m a little iffy on the Osiris change though. The mana cost is right (9 from 8), but his health being 5 instead of 4 … I could live with it being 4 still. He also saw an Attack increase from 4 to 7. His new ability though spawns a random unit with Afterlife from your Graveyard. Afterlife decks are gonna be pretty damn strong if you can get him on the table. I get it though, but I feel like 4 health could have still been manageable. I’d have to play with it myself before I make any real declarations though. Full Patch Notes can be found here.
Thanks for tuning in as always, guys! We still have some time left before HRX! I’ll have more coverage as it looms closer, and of course, plenty of coverage when the time actually arrives.
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