By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
While the MMORPG scene has been laying low for the past few months, MOBA or Dota style games have been popping up and taking up most of gamers' time. While Smite is still in open beta, it has changed drastically since its appearance last year. Read on to learn more about Hi-Rez's ever evolving game that is Smite.
Unlike the traditional Warcraft III top down play, Smite takes a new approach to this genre by letting players play gods from the third person perspective. The third person perspective helps to set apart Smite from others in the genre. It is not really a competitor to games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends due to its massive difference in gameplay but it is there to provide an alternative to those gamers that enjoy the tower and base assault gameplay. The game does take a lot of elements from both Dota 2 and League of Legends but provides enough of its own unique features such as the third person view to set it apart. It may be classified in the same MOBA genre but Smite is unlike other MOBA games.
I was skeptical on how Smite would play using the third person perspective but was surprised to see how well Hi-Rez pulled it off. The controls are very smooth and do not act as a turn off for the game. While it can take time to get used to having to aim all attacks and skills, the marked ranges and spell indicators make it very easy to pickup.
With the change of perspective, the pace and style of the entire game has been changed. It is difficult to simply focus on killing creeps for farm due to Smite's action packed matches. There is always action going on across the map, quite a big change for myself coming from Dota 2.
This is due to many changes introduced by Hi-Rez such as low mana costs and gold gained, although less, without last hitting creeps. Even the jungle creeps focus on providing players with buffs such as movement boosts and mana regeneration to allow for constant action. However, this action tends to be limited by the strength of towers. Until players are powerful enough, they are forced to quickly back off from tower range unless they wish to die but this issue is balanced out by the relatively low health towers.
Skins completely change how the gods look
Aside from the traditional conquest mode featuring five on five battles across three lanes, Smite offers many additional game modes to both differentiate itself from other games and provide additional entertainment to its players. These game modes are the sole reason I would consider recommending Smite to fellow gamers. If I wanted the traditional game play, I would go to Dota 2 but these modes give me reason to play Smite.
Arena is the first of these additional casual game modes. In Arena mode, players fight five against five in a, you guessed it, arena. This is a very fast paced and short game mode with an average game time of just 15 minutes. You start the match at a higher level and with bonus gold to allow for players to quickly jump into the action. Each team is given a supply of tickets which decrease when a creep or enemy is killed. The team that loses all of its tickets will lose the match. Arena is a great way to pass time without committing yourself to a long game.
Domination is Smite's take on the traditional control point game mode. Those familiar with any first person shooter will quickly pickup how this game mode is played. Teams fight to control up to three control points in hope of reducing the enemy's ticket count. Similar to the Arena game mode, enemy kills also reduce ticket counts. You must control at least two of the three control points to begin reducing the enemy's ticket count at a steady rate. Similar to Arena, this game mode is not very long with average games lasting 20 minutes.
Assault is similar the ARAM (all random all middle) game modes seen in other games of this genre. Your god is randomly selected and you must fight the enemy team within a single lane. There's no returning to base for health so every hit you take and deliver can have impact.
Joust is simply a one versus one game mode where two players compete in a single lane racing to kill the enemy Minotaur. The Minotaur is the main structure in the base of each team.
Additionally, Hi-Rez offers daily game modes which include fun modes such as Hoarder where you begin with 100,000 gold. These modes provide additional entertainment for casual players to pass time in an enjoyable matter.
Arena is a great way to quickly get into the action
It is very difficult to go in depth with all these game modes especially with games in the MOBA/Dota style genre. You will only get the true feel of each game mode after trying them out.
While I see Smite to be a casual game, it does offer competitive game modes including drafting for those interested in competing at a higher level. I do not see Smite rising to popularity because of its competitiveness and eSports scene. Instead it will gain popularity as a casual game to pass time.
Having social features is necessary in all casual online games. Hi-Rez has fully integrated TwitchTV within the Smite client allowing for players to tune into all major Smite related streams. It also rewards players for streaming to TwitchTV. This could increase the eSports seen for Smite but I do not foresee it to join the giants that are Starcraft II, League of Legends and Dota 2.
Being a F2P game, gods are on a weekly rotation with the option to purchase or rent gods with either in game currency or real money. When I initially tried out Smite a few months ago, I did not enjoy it as much as I have the past week due to being locked out of certain god picks. This may just be myself being spoiled by Dota 2, but I do not think the game is completely enjoyable until all the gods are available. Fortunately, there is an option to purchase all gods, both present and future, for a base cost. However, this deal is only available for a limited time therefore I highly recommended making use of this deal before it is too late.
TwitchTV within Smite took up a lot of my time
The renting option tries to fix this issue by letting you play any god for a limited time at a cheap cost. This is an essential future as it ensures that players do not waste their hard earned favor (in game currency) towards gods they will never touch. Hi-Rez has done a good job providing alternatives to free players making the god purchasing system not completely terrible.
Skins may also be purchased to set yourself apart from the crowd.
I have enjoyed the time I spent playing Smite and do not see many flaws in its gameplay. In other areas such as grief protections, there is a lot of room for improvement. The actual gameplay is very fun and engaging but is ruined by what is surrounding it. Leavers can easily ruin an entire match and server lag can frustrate all players. Simple changes such as strict penalties for leavers and ability to select, not recommend, server locations can easily solve these problems.
The game is still in its beta stages so it is bound to change before its release as seen by its constant updates. If Hi-Rez can work on improving the presentation of Smite and efficiently combating griefers , I could see Smite being very successful towards casual gamers.
In conclusion, Smite is a very fun game. There are some issues surrounding the game but the actual gameplay is very well done. I would love to see how much more Smite will change as it nears release. Games such as Smite are very difficult to review without writing pages upon pages. You really need to play it yourself to fully understand the game. It is free, so why not give it a go? I would definitely recommend Smite to those looking for some casual fun on the side but I do not see it being a game that would take up the majority of my time.