Gameplay - 8
Presentation - 7
Story/Creativity - 6
Lifespan - 7
I would highly recommend this game to new MOBA players but not necessarily experienced ones just because the differences are so jarring. I think it is important to reiterate that although the game is based on a MOBA structure, the game holds more appeal to those who enjoy more action-based gameplay.
Smite is Hi-Rez Studios’ free-to-play foray into the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre. The player subsumes the role of a mythological deity, each possessing their own set of abilities which are used to fight enemies, help teammates and kill minions. Conquest, the primary game mode, implements a 5v5 format where each team’s main objective is to destroy the enemy team’s towers in order to gain access to their Minotaur. Whichever team kills their enemy’s Minotaur first, wins.
Through the third person perspective, Smite bends its genre to accommodate a heavily action-based type of gameplay. Unlike other MOBAs, the player controls their character’s movements with the WASD keys while the mouse controls the character’s direction, view and basic attack. The game prizes players on their ability to precisely aim and predict enemy movements. In the early phase of the game, commonly known as the laning phase, the team splits into three different lanes (left, middle and right) where the players kill minions for gold and experience. In other MOBAs, one way the player attains gold is by landing a killing strike on an enemy minion. In Smite, however, last hitting provides a 50% gold bonus but it is not the only means of gaining gold from creeps. Gold can also be acquired by dealing damage to the creeps or by simply standing near the wave. From my experience, last hitting proves to be more difficult than in top-down perspective MOBAs because it is hard to see individual creep life bars. This problem is partly because the creeps clump together and partly because the player’s avatar impedes the line of sight. Another factor to keep in mind is that if a defending tower kills a creep the player gains no gold; therefore, it may be strategically advantageous to keep the lane at equilibrium or to push it.
Smite also offers a variety of other game modes. These include Practice, Joust, Arena, Domination, Assault and Match of the Day.
- Includes a series of basic tutorials and a series of varied game modes played against the AI.
- A 1v1 version of conquest where the first hero to kill the Minotaur wins.
- Quintessentially a deathmatch. Each team starts with 500 tickets. Killing enemy Gods, minions and Gryphon Guardians reduce the enemy team’s tickets. The first team to deplete their opponent’s points wins.
- There are three control points each guarded by an AI. Each team, starting with 400 tickets, fights to control the points by killing the guardians. As long as a team controls at least two points, the enemy will constantly lose tickets. In order to win the enemy’s teams tickets must be reduced to zero.
- More commonly known as all random all middle. It is similar to conquest but there is only one lane and the player cannot return to base unless their god dies and respawns.
Match of the day
- A daily game type that applies unique rule modifiers to vary existing game modes.
The game adopts Gods from Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, Roman, Mayan, and Norse mythology. Unlike other MOBAS such as LoL or DOTA 2, the lore is based on pre-existing legends. The game’s creativity is mainly evident in the customization of each character’s special passive ability and four active ones. In terms of items, the game implements many of the classic MOBA staples, such as boots, wards, or teleport scrolls, but it also has a range of original items which enhance God’s abilities.
The graphics and UI are dark in terms of tone and colour. The main menu is crowded with endless tabs of information which are stylistically inconsistent, as the placement of these tabs and titles differ. Being in beta, there are a few in-game bugs. For example, once I experienced sporadic mouse usage that prevented me from buying items or manually clicking to level abilities.
The third person camera is appealing to anyone who has played a MOBA and wondered what it would be like to be in the map, as opposed to interacting with it from a top-down perspective. This viewpoint allows the player to feel more connected with their hero and the setting they are immersed in. The characters and setting are visually appealing, while the thematic differences apparent through the multitude of cultural Gods adds to an artistically unique hero pool that for the most part, maintains a fairly consistent art style (with the exception of the cartoony depicted Cupid). An aesthetic criticism is evident in particular area-of-effect abilities. When the player selects the ability, the affected radius is highlighted onscreen for the player, and once casted, this area is denoted by a red (enemy) or blue (ally) circle. This literal circular representation takes away from the artistic creativity.
Being a multi-player online game, gameplay is dependent on the players. Hi-Rez Studios helps develop their community with direct twitch integration and they even offer in-game rewards for streaming.
The various game modes, welcoming community and ability to play with friends are large pros for the game, but unfortunately, there is no casual conquest mode that caters to a group of four friends.
Although Smite is a free-to-play game, without paying, the hero choices are limited. There are currently 41 playable Gods. However, only five Gods are free, while five additional Gods are unlocked in an intermittent rotation. Unlocking a single God requires a great deal of time, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the restrictive God pool makes the learning process easier and less overwhelming. If you are a player who loves the beauty of choice, there are a multitude of payment options. Currently the most optimal deal is paying 29.99 US for all the current and future Gods.
Like any other MOBA, Smite has a learning curve players need to grasp before they can understand the metagame. The design of the game is very welcoming to new players. For example, the option of auto-levelling skills and auto-purchasing items allow the player to focus on fewer game mechanics. Although some character abilities are not as simplistic as others, and their synergies can be hard to comprehend, learning the many intricacies of Smite is what makes this game, along with others in the genre, timeless.