SMITE – A Console MOBA Experience
MOBA games, you either love ’em or you hate ’em. Paired with a brutal learning curve and what amounts to a highly competitive team experience, it’s easy to see why this genre divides gamers. Enter SMITE, a MOBA which pits the power of the Gods against one another in a genre that is currently dominated by the kings of this scene, League of Legends and DOTA 2. SMITE however is anything but another re-branded clone and aims to stand alone in what has become a very populated niche of gaming.
For the uninitiated, the typical MOBA template involves two teams in an online battle to take out each others base. Each lane spawns AI minions that are essentially canon fodder for you and your opponents team. You take control one character which can be levelled up and assigned items to boost your stats, games are generally a 5 v 5 affair. Up until SMITE came along the perspective was an isometric top down view, akin to any typical RTS of this day and age. SMITE aims to change this by changing this to a third person view, now all attacks must be aimed, sneaking up behind your enemies is easier and allows for more ganks, running backwards and attacking and many other small but significant changes give this game a totally different and unique experience.
Hi-res Studios have addressed the learning curve in a really clever way. Like LoL and DOTA2, you start as a low level playing against other low level people but they go one step further by defaulting to auto-level and auto-items. This removes that initial hurdle of researching what items to buy for what God or which skill to level up first, it’s essentially a jump in and try it out feature and works great at tearing down one of the biggest hurdles that has plagued the MOBA genre since its incarnation. It’s not all sunshine and lollypops though, even with these things in place you’ll still spend your first bunch of matches having no idea what’s going on, how to use your character and whether or not your team is even winning. But like any other game, if you stick with it you will feel like you are contributing to team fights, getting a rough idea on how to build and level your God and even help change the tide in a team fight with a well placed ability. The aforementioned mechanics help ease you into familiarity reducing the barrier of entry somewhat.
The $64,000 question is, of course, does this successfully transition from the PC (keyboard and mouse) to the console (controller pad)? SMITE is the first of its kind to make this transition and for the most part the conversion has been a success. It goes without saying that a controller simply can’t replicate the precision and accuracy needed and often feels awkward and clunky. If there is the option the keyboard and mouse is still the best way to go as analogue controls, at times, feels a bit unnatural and inaccurate when it comes to aiming your spells or attacks. Due to the difference in controls the PC will probably still remain the premier version, but having this as an option for those who don’t run a gaming PC is huge. Console owners can rest assured that SMITE transitions well to the console and any gripes on controls are fairly minor.
SMITE is an entertaining game, the developers have clearly made a massive effort to make the learning curve as shallow as possible. Having played many MOBA games in the past, I can only wish that such features were available back in the day that DOTA was just a custom map on Warcraft 3 Frozen Throne. Another slice of good news is that finding games was quick and painless with thousands of Oceanic players ready to throw down at any time. There are many different modes here other than the standard 5 v 5 but the variety truly comes from the huge range of Gods you can choose from and their builds. Even with its changes though, this type of game isn’t for everyone, there’s no single player experience to be had here and for many that’s already a deal breaker. But now for console gamers there’s an option for those interested in this scene and what is better is that It’s free to play, so you lose nothing by giving this one a try, check it out!