Why you should play Smite

28 Mar 2014  by   Tim McDonald
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You said this is like a third-person shooter. Do you actually mean that, or do you just mean “It’s a MOBA, from a different perspective”?

No, it’s definitely got third-person shooter chops – or at least, third-person action game chops. Most abilities are skillshots, meaning you actually have to aim them, and usually aim them ahead of where your foes are moving. Likewise, your basic attack needs to be aimed, and it definitely takes a bit of skill to hit distant foes with a ranged attack.

So dodging is also pretty important, then.

Yes and no. You certainly don’t want to stand still or everyone will murder you, but you need to keep a fair bit in mind. Moving in any direction but forward is slow, so sidestepping or running backwards are never the fastest way out of a battle. Equally, whenever you attack, you’re slowed for a moment. While aiming is important, it’s not really fair to call it a twitch game – you need to think about when and how to engage, rather than just run in and spam every ability you have.

Smite - 05

She’s not the most dangerous of gods early on, but Scylla can dish out a lot of damage and move around very, very quickly, so she’s a continual threat.

Speaking of abilities, how do they work? Are the gods actually different, or are these just variations on “this is a ranged attack, this is a ranged AoE attack, this is a shield”…?

Nah, the gods are definitely, um… varied. I mean, sure, you’ve got ones like Artemis who are ranged damage and are almost entirely based around that ranged damage, but most have some sort of unique twist. The aforementioned Vulcan can put down turrets. Chang’e has a rabbit that can pick up items for her, letting her get upgrades without needing to head back to the fountain, and she loses the backstep penalty whenever she uses one of her abilities. Bacchus gets harder to kill the drunker he gets. Etc.

You’ve also got plenty of scope for ridiculous wombo-combo sorts of things, too. Hades’ ultimate is kinda similar to Enigma’s Black Hole, in that it pulls everyone in. Combine that with Poseidon’s ability to summon the Kraken and Zeus’ ability to fry everything in a certain radius, and you’ve certainly got reason to coordinate with your teammates. Throw in Athena’s ability to warp to someone, temporarily protecting them and hurting everyone around them, and you’ve even got a way to keep him alive while all of that’s going on.

And, happily, most of the gods look and feel pretty authentic; if you know your mythology, you should be able to spot where a lot of the looks and abilities come from. You can argue that the outfits for some of the female gods are a bit, um, skimpy and… over-emphasising certain assets… but most of the time that makes sense. Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and sex; it’s not too ridiculous that she’s dressed like… well, like a high-class prostitute. Likewise, Athena is the goddess of wisdom and warfare (and about a dozen other things) so she actually wears clothes. And has a gigantic shield. Considering most of the classical depictions of these gods have them wandering around bare-breasted, this is probably a step up from the usual representations.

SMITE

I’m pretty sure “dressed like a high-class prostitute” is actually pretty fair. I genuinely mean it descriptively, rather than as some sort of bizarre pejorative.

Yes, but Aphrodite’s only the goddess of those things because of the outdated and sexist patriarchal view on women in society.

I’m not getting into this debate. There is absolutely no way it will end well.

Coward. So does this use Dota 2‘s fantastic mechanics of having every character unlocked from the start, forever?

No, but–

0/10 worst game ever

Shut up. No, it doesn’t follow Dota‘s model, but it’s got one of the better interpretations of the usual free-to-play model that I can recall seeing.

Smite - 02

Agni does lot and lots of area damage. Lots. And lots.

I don’t believe you.

Okay, look. It’s got the typical hero rotation stuff – your account starts with a few gods unlocked, and there are five gods that are available to everyone for a certain period. When that period ends, those gods are locked again, and another five become temporarily available.

Which is awful.

Yes, it is, and I’d be complaining a lot more about Smite if it didn’t offer a lot of other options. For starters, you can try out any gods you like in one of the tutorial modes, so you can at least work out how they function and if they’re someone you’d like to try more. The next step up is “renting” a god, which lets you play as them for one match, in exchange for a frankly minuscule amount of Favour – Favour being the currency you get just for playing the game. And then, of course, you can outright buy gods, either for real money or for Favour. Happily, they don’t actually cost that much.

You get bonus Favour the first time you win a match of each gametype, each day, and you get bonus Favour when your profile gains a level. As such, over the first few levels you’ll be swimming in Favour, which you can use to rent gods out or to maybe buy a couple.

smite god pack

Dear every other developer making something that’s free-to-play: do this, please.

Alright, that’s not so bad. I’d still prefer it if all the gods were just unlocked, though.

Yeah, that’s my usual reaction, but Hi-Rez have actually done something else, too – something I’ve been clamouring for basically every free-to-play game to do. They’ve released a pass that lets you “buy” the game, getting access to all current gods, and all future gods whenever they’re released. This basically means that the only things left for you to buy with micro-transactions are skins.

And it only costs £700!

About £21, actually, which – if you like the game – seems like a damn good deal. I really, really wish more free-to-play games would do this; I don’t like micro-transactions, but if the game itself is good, I’d happily pay a “full game” price to basically get everything. And as Smite is free-to-play anyway, you can certainly try a fair bit of it out before deciding if you want to part with your £21.

So has Smite pulled you away from Dota 2?

Er… no. But it has provided me with a more fast-paced, action-y alternative that I keep going back to. This actually feels like a game I can play alongside Dota 2 – after a few matches of that, I can hop into Smite and have a few games of that to cool down.

It’s worth noting, too, that I’ve been playing Smite with a few members of our Dota 2 guild, and pretty much everyone has been surprised by how much they’ve enjoyed it.

Which is the thing, really. You might think “oh look, another MOBA,” but Smite has largely managed to do something relatively unique within that space, and it’s done it with sufficient skill and aplomb that – at the very least – it’s worth a look. It’s totally free to get started, and if it sounds even remotely appealing, you owe it to yourself to download it and check it out.

The Smite Launch Tournament is currently on-going, and can be viewed on Twitch over here. Expect to be entirely baffled if you don’t know much about how the game works, though.

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