AMD Radeon 6950
Before getting into the game itself, I should perhaps give some insight into my MOBA gaming background. Smite is by far not the first MOBA game I have played. In fact, my MOBA playing dates all the way back to the first ‘DOTA’ iteration on Starcraft: Brood War before it was ever called DOTA. Following this I did dip my feet a bit into DOTA on Warcraft 3, but due to the community and leavers on random public games I never really got into it. However, League of Legends immediately caught my attention and I have been playing it since its closed US beta and still play it today. Alongside LoL I also actively play DOTA 2 ever since I got my beta invite about six months ago. I enjoy both LoL and DOTA 2 equally and do not understand why fans of each game are so aggressive towards each other, they both offer something unique and are both extremely fun to play!
Now that you all know my view on MOBA games and my perspective on them, I can get into the reason why we are here: Smite!
I'M A' FIRIN MAH LAZER
The first thing that caught my attention upon starting up Smite was that it uses the same client as Tribes: Ascend as well as the same core design to the in-game main menus. For those who have not played Tribes: Ascend, this means that each menu window has a unique animated background with it that uses the in-game characters. The main menu screen itself also changes with the release of new promotions or champions. For example, the main menu currently is promoting a new free Sun Wukong, the Chinese Monkey King, skin that can be gained through “Liking” the official Facebook page of Smite. As such, it shows the new skin in full animated form in the background of the main menu.
Currently in the closed beta there are five different ways to enter a queue; the first of which is through a normal match, either alone or with up to three friends. The second way is through a ranked queue. The third is with a full 5-man team. The fourth is a solo practice match (you alone versus one easy computer controlled enemy). The fifth and last way currently is through a ‘Joust match’. A Joust Match is something unique for MOBA games and is a special queue in which you can compete against a friend. In addition to these modes, there is the “Novice Mode” replacing the normal match mode for beginners to the game and is automatically turned to Normal match upon reaching level 6 on your account.
As Smite will be a F2P game and all progress and purchases made in the beta will carry over to the full retail release, people can already pre-order “Gems” which are used to purchase skins and Gods. Additionally, players can also use in-game points earned through playing matches to purchase specific skins and each God. Currently there are 22 Gods in the game and by the time the game launches the developers aim to have over 30 in the game, with more being added post-launch. All accounts start with a specific set of five Gods with players being able to pre-order a 30 God bundle. There is a great diversity between the Gods, each coming from a large variety of mythical and religious beliefs from all over the world. This alone makes it standout from the other MOBA games that use champions or heroes, instead of Gods that are inspired by actual myths and beliefs. As someone who is open to all religions and loves ancient mythical Gods, I found it really amazing to see these characters come to life. The cutest of all is perhaps Cupid, the Roman God of Love. Cupid’s weapons you might wonder? Hearts of course! Yes, Cupid really does shoot and kill the opposing team’s Gods with hearts and love!
Killing with love has never been so literal
After entering your desired queue and once a match is found, players will have the time to chat with their team, select the God to play as and his skin. Within the same team players cannot select duplicate Gods and the developers have said they will be releasing a mode further down the line where only one of each God can be selected by both teams. Once in the actual match, players can buy items with a pot of gold and select one of four abilities to unlock a level in. From here, the goal is simple; destroy the enemy team’s Minotaur.
This is done by pushing the lanes to the enemy’s Phoenixes and ultimately killing the Minotaur. Players of DOTA (2), Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends will immediately notice some similarities. There is a jungle providing player or team buffs and there are additional lanes with waves of soldiers and towers allowing the players to buy items and level up through farming/killing.
Gameplay and game mechanic wise, the most noticeable difference is due to the perspective that the game uses, namely third person. This means that players are right in the middle of the action instead of having a Birdseye view on the battlefield. To make the challenge even greater, almost every combat action in the game is a “skillshot”, meaning you have to aim it manually for it to hit the enemy God(s) and it can also be dodged by them; this applies to your basic attacks as well! To coincide with this though, the entire game is focused a lot more on the action. Last hitting barely matters and only gives a small bonus in XP and Gold, while just standing near your soldier wave will provide Gold and XP income on any enemy soldiers they kill.
Thor's spinning is so powerful it can create a red line on the ground!
One of the biggest differences though between Smite and the other MOBA games is the “noob-friendly” mechanics. These mechanics provide a lot of help to people getting into the game to allow them just to focus on the action without worrying about any of the other complex mechanics at the start – such as item building and skill levelling order. To do this, Hi-Rez Studios has an auto-level and auto-buy option that players can disable when they are ready (or re-enable if they want to). These options do as one would expect, they automatically unlock and level up your God’s abilities as you gain levels through experience. While auto-buy, automatically purchases items each time you go back to your fountain.
While the game is still in closed beta and a lot can change between now and launch, in its current state it is both fun and addictive. The gameplay is fast paced and has plenty of depth to it for the experienced MOBA players to learn. While the gameplay does not yet feel as smooth and polished as LoL or DOTA 2, I can only hope it will get to that point by launch. Graphically the game has some amazing visuals, such as the game world design, it really gives you the feeling of being in this massive God-arena. The textures however, do look like they still need a lot of work as they lack depth and detail and thus do not deliver the fidelity gamers are used to nowadays. All that being said, this is a game to keep your eyes on as it should be able to gain a lot of popularity and will easily fit alongside DOTA 2 and League of Legends within the MOBA gaming scene. Smite offers a unique perspective (quite literally) to the genre of MOBA games.