Words by Milo Fisher
Smite, the new MOBA from Hi-Rez Studios, dares to be different. With a chance of perspective and fast paced gameplay, Smite manages to separate itself from the competition and be one of the best free-to-play games out there.
It’s amazing what a change of camera angle can do. Instead of looking like many other MOBA’s, Smite’s third person camera angle makes the game feel less like League of Legends and more like a God of War action brawler. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching the match take place from above, but that you’re physically controlling this character and are responsible for their actions. The camera is an integral part of the gameplay, with ranged characters aiming their shots depending on where the camera is facing, meaning that seeing what’s in front of you is massively important. Don’t worry, there are still wards that can be bought in the shop so you can spy on enemies from across the map, but the game encourages you to look less at the map and more on what’s going on in front of you.
Smite, despite its changes in gameplay and camera angle, is still very much a MOBA. There are lanes to carry, minions to kill, turrets to destroy, and enemies to decimate. But it’s the little changes that make the game unique. Instead of a defenseless nexus to destroy, there now stands a giant guardian, and this guardian doesn’t just stand there, once you enter the enemies base it will hunt you down and begin to attack you mercilessly. Having the final hurdle be a massive boss fight makes the final push even more epic and rewarding than other MOBAs, with the entire team gathering together for one final fight feels dramatic. Once you enter the base and your teammates dying left and right, you start fighting to avenge your fallen brethren, and it makes that final blow even more wonderful.
The MOBA genre is notorious for being hard for newcomers to get into. The complexity and lack of guidance makes it tricky for most people to get an understanding of even the basics. Smite aims to fix that by being lovely supportive of new players, and even players who are just struggling. Last hitting, a mechanic found in most MOBAs, has been completely removed. Killing an enemy or minion rewards everyone in the area with gold and exp, meaning that everyone benefits from working together to take down an enemy and the whole team levels up evenly, meaning no one player becomes over leveled. The game also caters to those who don’t understand the item shop, allowing them to make the game auto-buy recommended items for them. This reduces the time you sit in the shop looking around for what could help, and lets you get back into the heat of battle a lot faster. But by far the best thing that’s incorporated are the training videos, guides made by the team or professional players that show off the basic mechanics, as well as tactics for each character. The entire game feels welcoming, embracing new players with open arms.
Once players get accustom to the basics, there are multiple game types to try out. The game has the standard conquest (5v5), but also features an arena mode where gods battle it out in a massive open arena space, one lane jousting (3v3), and even its own version of League’s ARAM (5v5 random gods on one lane). The game also features randomized special game modes that are there just for fun times. The best being the battle of the beards, where only gods who boast mighty beards may enter to duke it out to prove who has groomed the finest facial furniture. These game modes aren’t anything serious, but they give you a good chance to play around with some gods you might of otherwise never touched.
The only real issue is with the late-game. Some characters such as the trickster god Loki and wolf man Fenrir can become quite unevenly balanced, to the point they can take out support gods with a few hits. The difference in their power is so different to most other gods, that it’s impossible to turn the game around once they hit level eighteen. While the surrender option is nice, and allows you to end the game once you know you’re doomed, the game does need just a little more balancing toward the end game.
Despite some late-game issues, Smite is a fantastic MOBA. The games camera and fast pace make it feel less like a strategy game and more of a hack and slash multiplayer arena. While the unlockable skins and voice packs cost a little too much, the games addictive nature assures that players will no doubt be able to afford the skins in no time. For a free to play MOBA, Smite rises through the ranks to become truly godlike.