Hi-Rez just officially announced SMITE 2, soft-launching into beta this year – but SMITE will stay online


Have you ever wanted to play SMITE but with better graphics, improved matchmaking, and more modes and special events? Well, soon you can! Except it will not be an overhaul of SMITE itself: Today, Hi-Rez’s studio Titan Forge has unveiled the MOBA’s sequel, SMITE 2, and it’s neither a season nor a balance pass. It’s a true sequel, fully built from the ground up. And the early alpha testing is planned for this spring with playtest weekends. Interested? Players can start signing up for it now. Mid-to-late 2024 will herald the no-wipe beta phase.

Before the big reveal at the SMITE World Championship, I met with SMITE Executive Producer Alex Cantatore, Titan Forge Games General Manager Travis Brown, and SMITE 2 Design Director AJ “Ajax” Walker to discuss this big announcement and delve into the sequel that will takes the game beyond its predecessor — without replacing it.

That’s right: SMITE is staying. While Cantatore called SMITE 2 the next generation of action MOBA, he also emphasized that it isn’t meant to erase SMITE. Instead, the sequel will enhance the visuals while preserving the feel of the original. Brown emphasized that it is taking all the lessons learned from developing SMITE over the last 10+ years and making the best possible game now. It will be the core combat and core mechanics that players love, refined and improved, with more impact and better combat feedback. From my small glimpse, it looks poised to deliver just that.

SMITE 2 on Unreal 5

One complaint of older games is that they show their age. That’s not hating on a title; you can still love a game while thinking its graphics are dated. Older engines also limit function. Thanks to technology’s continued advancement, these troubles are just going to be something that every game that persists will face.

SMITE is no different. A decade has passed since its debut in 2014, and it shows. Cantatore stated that because SMITE is currently on the antiquated Unreal Engine 3 (which released in 2006), the engine is holding the game back from being what it could be. For 10 + years, Hi-Rez/Titan Forge has built up SMITE with over 370 major updates over the life of the, but ultimately there is only so much you can do when adding layer upon layer atop the existing base. It’s like pixeled botox: It refreshes and improves, but the underlying base has its limits. Cantatore explained that the only way to really do what the team wanted to do was start from scratch. Ergo, SMITE 2.

Built on the Unreal 5, SMITE 2 is intended to bring the visuals and possibilities forward without sacrificing the feel of the game. Two iterations may not sound like much, but in terms of the Unreal Engine, it’s a significant leap. And the new visuals of SMITE 2 have much more depth, more details, and more life. The devs showed off the improvements, from abilities to effects to the flowing movement of robes, capes, and even the gods themselves, and let me say it is beautiful. How impressive? Even though I am not a fan of conquest (I prefer arena mode), I want to jump in and play conquest just to immerse myself in these new visuals!

Another big benefit to starting from scratch is peeling off all those layers and simplifying. Now, depth can in the game can be from the get go. The depth through simplification focuses on making systems easier to understand and allowing more player creativity and strategy. Walker shared that there are many changes comping to the conquest map that the devs “think will make it more intuitive [and] easier to follow.” He added that the devs will be developing structures on top of that that help players to learn, such as video and guides. “We’re really trying to make the core of the MOBA map feel really exciting with just the core elements and not a lot of extraneous extra mechanics,” Walker shared. “That’s the big step; then doing any additional support structures on top of that, that’s the next step.”

Goal 1 of SMITE 2: Capture the magic

While making SMITE 2, Titan Forge has three goals. First, the sequel must capture the magic of SMITE. There is a reason SMITE has such passionate fans, and maintaining that magic is key to a successful sequel. Cantatore stated, “We want to make sure that we hit the core third-person MOBA formula that players expect.”

That success is due to the game’s core conquest mode, but this does not mean that other modes like arena are neglected (after all, Hi-Rez says that a large percentage of players start in arena, emphasizing its importance as well). We can expect future announcements detailing the development of this gameplay. Additionally, devs emphasize that with Unreal Engine, it will be easier to make more special modes and events. You may see an improved SMITE racing!

Goal 2 of SMITE 2: Refine, not reinvent

How do you capture that magic? But not tossing out what already works! Titan Forge is focusing on evolving and refining the game, not reinventing it. The idea is that there is no need to try to turn the MOBA format on its head. Instead, devs are making targeted improvement to what is already there. SMITE 2 is meant to still be SMITE just a newer generation, not something totally different.

Some of the changes that devs shared include an all new custom matchmaking system (which will not default folks to average but will actually match newer, less-skilled players together and skilled players together better), a re-imagined rank system that brings in the competition to more throughout the world, and an overhaul on relics (now replaced with two default buttons, purification beads and a warding slot) and items.

Gods as a whole have been adjusted: Instead of being either magical or physical, they can have both sources of power. Having strength and intelligence stats, gods will be able to have builds that include any items. This will allow for even more creativity in builds; the same god can play differently not just compared to counterparts from SMITE but from each other in SMITE 2.

Another refinement is the addition of a pick-up function. No longer will players accidentally nab buffs by running too close; each pick up has to be consciously enacted. This use button, however, is not relegated just to buffs. Devs shared how there can be other environmental items to use in matches, including secret areas.

Goal 3 of SMITE 2: Respect and honor the community

The third goal is one Titan Forge says it feels very passionate about: respecting and honoring its community. When transitioning to the sequel, the company wants to make sure it’s respecting the time, money, and accomplishments that players have accumulated in the original. With 12 possible years of achievements earned, skins collected, and gems bought, you can understand why players may not be so keen to start from scratch even if the game itself did! So SMITE 2 aims to reward loyal players for their efforts in the original game.

All of the gods are anticipated to make a transition from SMITE to SMITE 2. However, that process will understandably take time. As such, devs fully expect some players won’t even check out SMITE 2 until their favorite gods make it over. Those who play on older consoles and don’t plan on upgrading will also be welcome to remain on the original. At the start of the beta phase in mid to late 2024, devs plan for 25 of the current 130 to be available. After that, one more god will be added each week of this phase. The single most community-requested god, Hecate, will be the first god launched in SMITE 2.

An important note is that existing content from SMITE doesn’t directly transfer. It simply cannot. As the game is rebuilt from ground up, so must all items be. The fact is 1600 skins can’t be ported over is because it takes two months of work to get one skin moved to SMITE 2 – and that’s without added effects or any other improvements. That means over 246 person years of work to get all skins moved. Obviously, this isn’t feasible.

However, many favorites will appear, and new ones will be added. Hi-Rez devs shared that they do have metrics on the most popular skins, and those will likely be the priority. (On a happy note, it looks like my Ah Muzen Cab Cthulhu skin might make the cut!) Additionally, player polls could also be deplayed to decide on some skins.

To respect all that players have put into the game, Hi-Rez will add two systems to reward players for what they have in SMITE: legacy gems and divine legacy. Players will receive legacy gems in SMITE 2 equal to every gem they have ever spent in the original, either free or purchased.  Additionally, purchasing SMITE 2 founder pack will double those coins. And with the legacy gems, items for sale in the game, from skins to events to battle passes will be 50% off.

Furthermore, the divine legacy system is actually being introduced in SMITE with season 11. This opens up rewards based on accomplishments for each year of SMITE, with rewards in the original and reward skins that will be available in the sequel. Even better, newer players can also work on some aspects of each year of rewards throughout the season.

Finally, there are cross-gen skins being developed for year 11; each skin developed in this year and bought will be available in both games.

The transition: SMITE will remain

For those wondering and even worrying, the original SMITE will not be shuttered with the release of the sequel. While the devs expect many will prefer to eventually move SMITE 2, (after all, even they admit that they find it hard to go back to the original once they started playing SMITE 2!), they know that there are those who choose not to for whatever reason. And they will still have their game to play, but those who want to move have a clear path to do so.

“We want you to be able to keep playing the SMITE you know and love,” Cantatore said. “The most important thing for us is that players can feel happy and play the SMITE that they want. Hopefully they feel at home and welcome in either one.” Of course, if the population drops to a point where matches cannot be sustained, Cantatore admits that at that point, they will have to have a very difficult discussion.

For those who remain in SMITE, there are a couple of important changes that go with that. One, although SMITE will stay open indefinitely, no new gods will be released to the original. All new gods will be launched in SMITE 2 only. However, all voice packs will be automatically unlocked in the original game starting now.

Two, the competitive esports component will move over to SMITE 2. However, there will be improvements with this, including more LANs for fans, a return of region-based rivalries, and an abolition of the rule where the pros must live in Atlanta, which opens the competition up to folks all over the world. The SMITE 2 founder series will begin in spring 2024, with a major event in the US as well as one in the EU.

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