Smite: A New MOBA Worth Playing

Look familiar? This is the loading screen while waiting for a match to start.

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.

Laning in Smite is similar to DOTA and LoL.

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.

Itemization is simple. Items level up into better versions, and there are only a handful of choices.

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.


  • Oh wow, the different perspective of the character/avatar puts a whole new perspective on the genre. This would be very interesting to watch/play indeed. Good find.

  • I’m not sure if Smite has the same tactical element that LoL has, due to the perspective. I kind of like how its overhead and you can look around the map. Glad to see Smite trying something different though, certainly has potential.

  • Might try to get into the beta… The LOL community is just so damned toxic and it’s starting to rub off on me. 😛

  • I’ve been playing all this last weekend and let me tell you, I hate LoL but love this game. It’s fun. Spend the $20 for the extra heroes before it’s too late!

  • I signed up for the beta while I was watching a stream of someone playing and giving out a few beta keys. It is totally random how long it takes to get an invite though. I actually signed up for the beta and at the same time I got the “Thank You For Signing Up” e-mail I got another one that had a beta key in it.

    I’ve been playing it a little bit, but I have mostly been letting my buddy use my account since he has been waiting forever for a beta key. Pretty solid game. It only took him 1 day to get enough points to buy Arachni, who at the time was considered pretty OP. Not sure if they have nerfed her yet or what.

    Hope to see others on the game! My name in game is “SMDoles”, send me an invite if you’d like to play sometime.

  • Would you throw out a tweet if you stream any of the game today please sir!?

  • Its nice to read about the game, but I prefer the way moba is done in Super monday night combat. First person just seems right in that game.

    Still some competition for LoL and DOTA 2 is never a bad thing.
    Might force them to lower pricing.

  • Sounds interesting, but based on what I read and see, I can’t say I’m sold yet.

    Furthermore, after learning that DOTA2 will unlock all heroes for everyone, I don’t think I can bring myself to support other MOBAs that force you to (realistically) pay money for decent access to a range of heroes. Objectively speaking, it might be an OK model for these games, but personally the ability to choose whichever hero I want is key to my enjoyment.

    It’s the same reason I’ve drifted away from TF2. I feel being able to choose any weapons is a fundamental part of the metagame, and I have no patience for having it hidden behind a pay wall or a grind. To me, it feels as wrong as making an F2P version of Starcraft wherein you have to pay to unlock units other than marines and zerglings.

    Not saying it’s the most rational stance to take on my part by any means. But I feel very strongly about it.

    Also my favorite part of these games is the metagame strategy, making builds on the fly, buying the right items, and quirky mechanics like creep blocking and pulling. I’m just not that interested in turning the format into a hack and slash action game, personally.

  • @Brise Bonbons: I agree with everything you said until the last paragraph with regards to Smite.

    Smite has those strategies. Despite the simplistic itemization, there’s more than one way to gear up. I play Vamana and I can go defense, offense, or a mix and I buy different items and do so at different times throughout the game and I play him entirely different.

    There’s a strat Arachne used on me where she hid her egs behind a bush in the lane right at the start and used her whole mana pool to place lots of eggs. I walked by thinking I was safe in the first 20 seconds of a match, before creeps even spawned, and I was met with 30 spiderlings that killed me.

  • Three beta keys for Keen & Graev readers!



  • Offtopic:

    After reading a review of the new steel Battalion I feel bad for Gus. The foam core guy. (puppet.. shhhht)

    The first one on Xbox was pretty cool with that huge controller.
    Wish I could play something like mechwarrior with a controller like that.

    Talking about a downgrade… sweet controller to kinect. “pukes”

  • @Carson63000: Thanks for that!

    @Zyler: Yeah, the reviews have been horrible. I’m not even going to bother with it.

  • Thanks for the heads up on this! Went with the 14.99 option and have played about 5games so far? Very impressed with the gameplay. Was very easy to pick up having played LoL and the mechanics of the game are very smooth. I love the 3d take this game has put in the typical moba, and I thank the graphics are fantastic. Loving it. Hope it gets the support it needs to grow.

  • Just got a code, Thanks Damage!, and this game is FANTASTIC! I loved the controls and got my WoW mouse all set up 5 min into the game. For me this just destroys the “click, click, click” model.

    I’ve already had a ton of fun and I have only played the Solo practice. I’ll try and get into some games later tonight!

    Another “Bravo” for HiRez!

  • Please don’t call it a moba. I know it is and all, but all this does is pull in players from some of the worst communities known to man.

  • I dislike the term MOBA more than anyone. Unfortunately, that’s what mainstream calls them now so that’s the term I’ll use to identify them.

  • I am a huge fan of this new game. I joined about a week ago and have been playing nonstop since. I have played 160 games and already unlocked all but 6 gods, so yes they do seem expensive, but the more you don’t pay attention to your “Favor” the more you will find you have!
    Amazing game, worth a try. I recently started a Youtube channel focused on straight gameplay aspects of Smite. In a few days I’ll be posting many videos of gameplay with different gods so feel free to check me out. McMonigleGaming
    @Keen F1-F4