Ugh. Online Gaming.

I am not the individual for whom online games were created. I know this. I accept it. My natural elitist tendies, utter lack of trusting most other humans and general antisocial nature all conspire to say that playing games with other people whom I do not know is going to be an exercise in frustration.

But, damnit, sometimes the games are just too good to ignore. Black Ops, World of Warcraft, Diablo III… All of them sing their siren song and draw me in. To be fair, all of them also have extensive options for playing by myself, which is probably why I’m okay with them – yes, even though WoW is an MMO, there’s a practical ton of content one can get through by yourself, especially if you’re willing to be a little bit crazy and overlevel some of the dungeons – and the few times one has to deal with otherse are usually set up completely adversarial or involve others who are just as determined to complete the content as you are, so there’s less facepalming.

But once in a great while, something appears that is just too good to ignore, but requires the active participation, trust and cooperation of others on the internet. And that’s when I find new and exciting levels of frustration.

Right now, that game is SMITE. And it’s bloody damn fun. It’s an MOBA, along the lines of Leage of Legends or Heroes of the Storm, except it’s presented from a more standard over-the-shoulder 3rd person camera, and has much more action-y controls, which makes it infinitely more palateable to me.

Following it’s MOBA relatives design choices, it’s technically free to play – and just landed on PS4 this week, hooray – giving you a random rotation of characters to fiddle with each week. You can buy characters to keep permanently by buying their play money with your real money, or if you want a real deal, buy the Founder’s pack for $30 (or only $15 on PS4, this week only!) and get all the currently available characters, some play money to buy costumes and such, and be guaranteed all future characters as well. For the record, there’s roughly 75 playables at this point and they toss at least one out every month or two, so pretty well worth it, especially if you intend to play at least somewhat regularly; it’s a deal at full price (half the price of most new retail releases) and a damn steal on PS4 right now.

Now the problem with it. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and I have a great deal of fun trying out different gods and seeing what they do. I typically will try such beings in practice matches, against AI oponents. Know why? Hopping right into the main competative modes without having at least some understanding of what your character can do is asking to get your ass kicked. Which is why I get irritated, because – and I choose to blame a combination of low or nonexistent price tag mixed with heavy hyping – there’s a metric ton of folks who just jump in and start trying to play. Since many of them seem to come from the CoD school, they don’t get that, generally, the idea isn’t to murder the other team… It’s to complete the objectives. So they chase the other team around, and die repeatedly, and maybe score a kill once in a while, but we loose anyway, or at best, win by the skin of our teeth because one or two men in a 10 man game actually understand the rules of the game they’re playing.

Mind you, the game has about a 2 hour long tutorial to explain these concepts. Checking people’s profiles shows that only about 5% of players actually bother, at least on Playstation. Now, admittedly, since the PC and XBOne versions have been out for a while, some of those folks probably already know the game from other systems, but still. Not all of ’em. Not by a long shot.

Then, of course, you get saddled with all the shrieking children, explaining what they’re going to do to your face, your mother, your dog, your dog’s mother and your house because they’re totally members of Anonymous and will have the FBI land at your house if you dare beat them or report them for unsportsmanlike conduct. There’s the people who join games, die once or see the score dip slightly out of their favor, and either quit or start calling for a surrender. Given SMITE‘s design, a player dropping out is not replaced, which now puts your team at an even worse disadvantage. Ironically, these are the matches I often see won, resoundingly, by the 
“weaker” team, since the ragequitters and surrender-voters who go AFK tend to be the same people who are just point fodder for the other team, so… It works out. But still, not cool, man.

 And then there’s their nametags, cluttering my screen. The sheer number of pot, nazi, “gangsta” and sexual references get exhausting, and deplete my already low reserves of belief in the human species. I just don’t enjoy being cursed at by “Lick_mah_Niggah” and “Hitlerwuzrite420” – both names in my “recently played” list at the moment – because they want to maintain their KDA ratios and aren’t willing to learn the game to do so. The fact that MY KDA ratio is at least somewhat attached to theirs due to the game’s nature as a team exercise only adds to the frustration.

I think I have the answer. I need an army of Dopplekriegers to play these games with.

But, anyway; if anyone out there is into MOBAs and has yet to check out SMITE, do it! It’s fun! And if you are into MOBAs as a concept, but dislike the control or camera, give it a rip, since that was always my problem with the genre. And if you happen to be playing on PS4, feel free to shoot Ashande an invite or a friend request; more people who want to play this game can never be a bad thing, right?

Until next time.

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