At the end of last week I caught up with SMITE designer, Lance Bramble, to discuss the studio's latest initiative. With a new God introduced roughly every month, Hi-Rez were keen to chat about holiday seasons and world-wide events that while temporary, add scope for unique God designs. At the moment players are able to choose Gods from eight different cultures, ranging from Mayan to Japanese. While Hi-Rez aren’t unwilling to implement new cultures, they’re keen to make use of days or events that are culturally significant.
“We love our current roster of Gods and their cultures but there’s definitely room for me.” adds Lance. “Take a look at Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It was an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl - that’s ripe for SMITE and a perfect fit for us.”
In a game where Hi-Rez relies on players purchasing skins and Gods, it could prove fun and lucrative. “Using the Day of the Dead example, we plan on not only implementing a new God available for that period but to also release exclusive skins themed with skulls, flowers and bright colors.” says Lance. “Some of the skins we’ve designed already look incredible.”
With Day of the Dead some way away, I was surprised to hear that Shark Week was high on their agenda. Having begun on June 26th, it’s an opportunity to celebrate everything we love about the Shark and its loveable nature.
Early concept art of Dakuwaqa
“We love sharks at Hi-Rez and have looked at adding a God themed around it for some time.” says Lance. “The fact there’s also an event that celebrates them ties in perfectly with our approach going forwards. We think we’ve got something special in Dakuwaqa”.
For anyone unaware, Dakuwaqa is part of Fijian mythology and is a shark-god. Protecting fishermen from danger while out at sea. Once going inland to conquer Kadavu Island, another goddess - in the form of an Octopus - challenged him. After being defeated, Dakuwaqa promised never to attack Kadavu again and served from then forwards as its protector. Dakuwaqa can change forms into anything - predominantly a shark in water, or a Fijian man with the upper torso of a shark on land.
“His lore is perfect for not only SMITE, but to celebrate Shark Week. There’s also some fantastic possibilities with his kit that we’ve explored. Rodolfo Gorrin did some amazing concept art.”
When pressed on his kit, Lance wasn’t giving everything away but did reveal some details as to his skills. “His ultimate ability, Sharknado, allows Dakuwaqa to leap to a targeted location. Diving into a pool of water, he erupts a brief moment later into a tornado.” says Lance. “Your skills are then replaced. You can choose what debris you want to throw out of your tornado as you move around. It’s pretty epic.”
And what about his other skills? Are there any other surprises? “He’s a melee God and we wanted to play into his strengths of transformation. One of his skills allows you to change into any opposing God. When you trigger Shapeshifter, you’ll sprint forwards, grapple the first God you come into contact with and stun them briefly. You’ll then transform into them for 4 seconds, gaining access to all their skills - with the exception of their Ultimate. It’s range is short, but super strong in the right hands.” added Lance.
What about a release date: when can players expect Dakuwaqa? “We’re a little behind schedule, so he’ll arrive late on Friday. We’re also keeping him available for the entire month and a handful of Heroes will receive shark-themed skins to celebrate Shark Week. Cabrakan just looks so cute with a little fin on his back.”
Before I finished talking to Lance, I wanted to know what event was next on Hi-Rez’s radar. “We’re looking for something around Christmas time. Father Christmas isn’t a God, but he is to most children. We think it could be interesting.”
We look forward to seeing Dakuwaqa in action and would like to thank Hi-Rez and Lance for taking the time out to chat to us.
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