Avatar: The Last Airbender is seeing something of a resurgence in fan culture recently. The series was finally added to Netflix last month, which allowed fans to revisit the series and for new viewers to discover its intricate storytelling for the very first time. Now, Avatar is making a return to the world of video games, but in a place that few probably would have expected.
As part of an upcoming Battle Pass update, super popular MOBA Smite will be adding character skins based on the cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender and its spinoff series, The Legend of Korra. Titan Forge Games announced this in a video posted to its YouTube channel on Monday.
The trailer shows an art style that feels very faithful to the original animated series. The trailer shows Aang and Zuko from The Last Airbender seemingly arriving in the world of Smite to lend a hand to those in need. The rest of the trailer shows off the abilities of Aang, Zuko, and Korra as they use different elemental and melee attacks on their enemies. Maybe the most exciting addition to note here is that Korra has brought her pet polar bear Naga along for the fun.
It appears as though each character will have two different skins. Rather than being standalone characters, each skin will go over a pre-existing character from Smite. For instance, Aang will be a skin for Merlin, Zuko takes the place of Susano, and Korra is in place of Skadi.
According to a full announcement on the Smite official website, the new Battle Pass will also come with all kinds of exciting goodies that will be familiar to fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender. These include new character emotes and a “ward skin” that will allow Aang to summon Appa, his sky bison.
This new tie-in Battle Pass has apparently been something of a labor of love for the team at Titan Forge Games. The announcement reads, “The Titan Forge Games team is full of die-hard Avatar fans and when we found out that we’d have the opportunity to work on this franchise, we knew we were going to go all-out and really bring the Avatar world to life in SMITE. We went overboard with detail, capturing each Avatar character’s unique personality and referenced many fan-favorite moments from the shows.”
This should come as a pleasant bit of news for hardcore Avatar fans. To put it nicely, some of the franchise’s previous forays into video games have felt rather underwhelming. There have actually been a handful of video games based on the Avatar franchise over the years, but none of them have exactly made a splash with fans or casual gamers.
In GameSpot‘s review of the 2007 video game adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, reviewer Aaron Thomas wrote, “Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t so much a bad game as it is one that’s disappointing because it fails to capitalize on its many interesting concepts … Toss in some unfriendly design choices and lots of backtracking, and you’re left with a game that’s just not that much fun to play.” In other words, not exactly the most excited critical response.
While these games have seen medium to successful sales, none of them have really captured what fans love about the series and its spinoffs. Heck, one of them featured the characters teaming up with other Nickelodeon cartoons to play baseball.
This relative lack of success for Avatar-related video games may be why one fan took it on themselves to make one of their own. Under the name Elca Gaming, a massive fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender has been using Media Molecule’s game creation engine Dreams to develop the unofficial Avatar [Aang Project]. This game features different and intricate movesets for every element-bending character from the animated series and has clearly been crafted with quite a bit of love. As of this March, the work in progress already had millions of people watching videos of the effort put into it.
Outside of fan efforts like this, there hasn’t been much in the way of Avatar for gamers in recent years. It should be exciting for fans to see these characters return to the gaming world, even through a tie-in event like this.
Smite has had some interesting tie-ins like this in the past. Though the game is primarily focused on characters from folklore and legend, characters from TV series such as RWBY have also made the transition to Smite.
More details on the new Battle Pass featuring Avatar characters will be revealed on the official Smite Twitch channel later today. Fans of The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra should make sure to tune in to that broadcast at 3 p.m. EDT.