I took a look at the trailers and I can see what I assume are several key differences from Duelyst:
- More focus on Hero/general/commander/god combat
I do not play smite, but from what I have gathered, a large part of its appeal is the mythological themes in it. Who doesn’t want to see Zeus get evicerated by Anubis since, let’s be honest, Zeus is the paragon of jerks in Greek mythology. Since the game treats these deities as generals, it can be assumed that general-to-general combat will play a huge role. Each deity would probally have very specialized playstyles, with some overlap, in order to accomadate the whole roster or, at least, a satisfying amount.
- Implications of 3D Models
This greatly suprises me. Duelyst is allowed to have so many unique units due to the fact that it uses a very simplistic pixel art design for individual cards. Compared to other card games with individual creature models, Duelyst’s animations are both numerous and varied. For example, Scrolls, another game with individual creature models, used gorgeous hand drawn units. However, this results in several similar looking units (a hilarious example is sister of the fox and life stealer) and not a lot of them in general. I feel that fully animated 3D models for each individual creature will severely limite creature types and probably lead to everything being reskins of the same few units. I just can’t see this game trying to compete with Duelyst in terms of minion diversity. However, from what is shown so far, most of the effort will probably go towards deities models, which I expect to be Varied.
Opinion time: So far, this game looks pretty okay in terms of art. However, it feels quite generic when compared to something like Duelyst, Faeria, or even Hearthstone. All of these games go for a unique art style, magical-cyberpunk, storybook, and cartoon-esque respectively. Smite, on the other hand, looks like a down scaled version of the MOBA. This makes it look a bit plain in my eyes. It’s almost as it is trying too hard to look as good as a full fledged MOBA but failing. I prefer the more focused and, arguably, more timeless artstyle of Duelyst.
I predict that all of this will lead to a more general focused game, with more emphasis on equipment, tile effects, and spells over minion combat. Look at the player’s hand in the picture; they have a sword, a book, and a wimpy bloke. Due to the fact that Smite Tactics is based around Smite, I feel that decks will be built around generals instead of generals being just a synergistic part of a deck. This will probably lead to a vastly different game from the minion-oriented Duelyst. Again, this is just speculation from extremely limited information.
TLDR: Smite Tactics uses 3D models, limiting the number of minions they can conceivable make. As such, the game play will most likely be more focused on General-to-General combat, destinguishing the game from Duelyst.