SMITE and I have a strange relationship.
I played the game back when it was in beta on PC, but it didn’t stick. I played it again when it was launched on Steam and was full release by that point, but it still didn’t stick. I had the opportunity to pick up some keys for the beta that is currently happening for the game’s upcoming port to the Playstation 4, and gave it a third try.
Wouldn’t you know it? The 3rd time was definitely the charm.
The first time I played, I was thrown off by the fact that you had such a limited field of view due to the 3rd person perspective. I was also very much a League of Legends fanboy by that point, and really very few other MOBAs have made the cut for me, despite having tried most of the major ones (quite a few of which don’t even exist anymore). The second time I just found myself not enjoying it. This third time? Well for some reason, playing the game on the console sold me on it. I’m not sure if it’s my love for Playstation controllers, my lack of a MOBA to play on the console, or just the right timing, but I’ve been really enjoying the game. It feels very natural while playing with the controller, and I may be mistaken, but I believe that you can set up gamepad controls in the PC version, but that was something I never thought about doing. Being a free to play game, I could very easily play it on both PC and PS4, but there was one caveat to that — if I was truly going to invest in the game, that would mean buying the God pack, and I wouldn’t want to do that twice. Thankfully, the decision was made clear, as in the game’s client there were links to articles about the game (similar to most game launchers do these days) and its 2nd birthday. As part of the celebration, the God pack was half off, and I wasn’t going to pass it up for $15. I have been enjoying the game, so making that small investment seemed very worth it.
The game is essentially set up just like League of Legends. There are creeps. There are towers. There are Gods instead of Champions, but those terms are synonymous for this discussion. There are neutral objectives and buff camps. There are several game modes. There are item builds. All in all, the similarities are definitely there. Here’s where things are different:
Third person perspective makes a big difference. You can’t see enemies flanking you from the side unless you’re paying attention to your mini map and have vision. The same would be true for LoL, but you still have a larger bird’s eye view of your surroundings, instead of being locked in tight behind your character. This also affects aiming your skill shots and even basic attacks. Instead of having an auto attack or attack/move commands, you move your character and aim each individual shot, and though you can hold the button down to auto attack, it’s not recommended. It sounds like it would be a bitch, but it lends itself to the controller really well and after a few games I found that I had a good grasp of the dynamics.
You level to 20 during a match, rather than LoL’s 18. You also get your ultimate ability at level 5 instead of 6 in League. Items seem pretty diverse, though holding all of the item knowledge for two MOBAs seems like it will be a challenge. SMITE has a nice feature where you can have the game auto level your skills and also auto purchase the recommended items for the character you’re playing. LoL of course has recommended items, but skill ups are on you, and even with recommended items the build order can get messed up pretty easily. That’s not to say that auto-buy doesn’t have it’s disadvantages, in that you might actually want to build a little differently depending on what matchups you have going on, but for the layman, auto buy is great. So far I have been able to focus on playing the different Gods and not worrying about which items to buy or what skills to use. It’s something that allows you the time to learn the game at your own pace, and you can turn all that stuff off once you really know what’s going on.
Another nice feature is having the ability to play bots on any of the game modes. This gives you the chance to practice before wasting real people’s time or giving unnecessary advantages because of your noobishness. This too is present in LoL, though there are more game modes present in SMITE. Arena is a fun mode that takes away lanes and towers and focuses on team based combat and pushing creep waves towards the enemy’s portal. A point total of 500 for each team drops as scored items (kills, creep kills, etc.) are subtracted from the total and the winner proclaimed. Joust is a single lane 3v3 mode with a small jungle. This is similar to LoL’s Twisted Treeline mode. Conquest is the 5v5 three lane mode most similar to Summoner’s Rift in League or Dota 2’s main map. Assault seems to be SMITE’s version of ARAM, at least I didn’t get to choose my champion when I tried it. Overall, there is the same sort of depth and variety here that League has, and I’m playing it on the console where I have a couple of friends to play it with, so I can play a MOBA no matter what platform I’m on.
So far I am mostly enjoying the Hunters and Mages most. In LoL, I gravitated towards ADCs and Mages as well, particularly when I first started playing. As time went on, I evolved into a Top and Support player, but still play ADCs in both top and bottom lanes. I have experimented with a few Guardians and Warriors, even Assassins and I’m not very good with any of them, but I see plenty of Gods that I would love to learn. So far just trying them all out has been on the agenda, then finding the handful I’m really good with. After practicing some more I’ll feel content to play some PvP and wreck faces! So far I’ve managed to rank up to account level 9 just on bot matches, but I might take it all the way to cap, though I don’t know what that is. There are daily favor login rewards and level up rewards as well, though they seem less appealing when you have already bought the God pack like I did. However, one thing that gives SMITE a leg up over LoL is the fact that you can buy skins for in game money (favor) rather than it being locked to their RMT currency (Gems). LoL locks skins behind the RP curtain, aside from the new Hextech Crafting system that I detailed a few posts ago.
Overall I like the client. It reminds me of League’s client, and I like the functionality of both. The store is unobtrusive, the Gem prices are fair, and though they have a lock-box system, the keys aren’t ridiculously priced and you get some free Gems from the God pack that I personally used for a couple of chests in which I received a couple of skins. At this point I don’t feel like I need to spend any more money on the game, as the God pack gives you all future Gods that are added. I can earn skins using favor, so it’s likely that I won’t spend another dime on it. I’m okay with this.
My verdict is that the game is a solid MOBA that will appeal to people who enjoy the 3rd person (think MMO combat) perspective. If you hate the isometric birds-eye-view of most MOBAs, this might be the one for you. It’s accessible, and especially on the console, you really can’t even get flamed outside of mic chat which is easily muted. Winning.
I assume that what I’ve described is nearly the same for the PC version, but if any of you know otherwise, please let me know. I’m curious but too lazy to go find out for myself.