With so many new entrants to what is now being called the “MOBA” genre, I was happy to find one that finally stands out as something a little bit different, yet so familiar. League of Legends and DOTA2 are both great games, and I appreciate what both do to be different; However, they’re very much the same when you compare them to a game like Smite. Smite, a free-to-play MOBA currently in closed beta, is being made by the same devs who made Global Agenda and brought back the Tribes franchise.
Imagine League of Legends gameplay, but from a MMO perspetive. Third person, behind your character, hotbars with abilities that instant cast (most are skill-shot), and controls with WASD and mouse look. That’s the best way I can describe Smite to someone for the first time. At times it feels to me like I’m playing in a WoW BG or something like Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes because the focus is very much on how I’m controlling my character.
More Smite thoughts after the jump.
The object is still to push into the enemy base by destroying towers, and overcoming the enemy’s creep waves to ultimately kill the enemy’s Minotaur boss.. There isn’t denying, and you get exp/money just from being near a creep that dies, but you can last hit for some bonus cash. Jungling is possible with some heroes, and the neutral creeps even have buffs like those from League of Legends.
Smite is very newbie friendly. Two features I find very helpful are the auto-level skills and auto-level items options. Enable those and the game will automatically pick your skills for you and buy your items when you are near the shop. This alleviates some of the thinking involved, and allows a newer player to focus solely on killing enemies. When you’re ready to be a little more competitive, there are several ways to play some heroes that you can explore by taking certain abilities first or choosing to buy different items. Items are very simple; Smite uses the LoL system of physical damage and magic damage (AP MP?). There aren’t any recipes to combine, simply upgrading base items into better versions of themselves.
I’ve played all day for the past two days, and I’m pleased with how well I do. I’m not a great DOTA player, and I suck at LoL, but a little bit of both my MOBA and MMO skills have combined to make me and my friends competitive. We all come from slightly different backgrounds: Some LoL, some DOTA, and some only MMOs but we’ve all been doing well and having fun.
The cash shop is very Hi-Rez Studios-esque. You get a couple of basic heroes, but you quickly find yourself wanting more. You can earn additional heroes by playing and earning points, but the gain is fairly low until you level up and get 1000 points. New heroes cost ~5500, and from what we can tell after the first two it will be a long road to unlock a third without paying money. There’s a decent deal available that gives you 10 heroes, some points and stuff, for $19.99, which is all the heroes in the game minus only a couple. [Update: This bundle deal ends tonight. They're changing the cost structure. 400 Gems (2 heroes worth) will be $7.99.] I always find it extremely hard to buy things in F2P games, so I haven’t spent a dime yet. Hi-Rez makes it hard on free-loaders, but that’s their business model.
Right now I have only a few complaints.
- I wish jumping was in the game.
- The UI is ugly, and picking new skills requires a big window to open (Press ‘K’).
- Some hero compositions are very powerful: AoE damage is currently king. Needs time in beta for balancing.
- More maps would be good. This game could easily support them. Something about the current map feels a little small and in need of detail.
- I wish heroes cost less, or wins gave my points.
Smite is already a lot of fun. I find myself liking it more than DOTA because of what I envision it becoming, and because I’m actually decent at it. When the opportunity arises for you to give this game a try, I recommend you give it a fair shot. I’m going to continue testing Smite, and providing feedback as I have with all of Hi-Rez Studios’ games.