In the Beta: Smite

Smite is a Massive Online Battle Arena game, commonly abbreviated MOBA. The difference: It’s not bird’s eye, it’s an over the shoulder third person view which completely changes the game – and I just got into the beta and wanted to share some info and opinions.

The change in perspective is really the biggest difference between this and most other games in the genre. And in a genre like this, a perspective change makes a massive difference in how the game plays out. Most MOBA games have a very strategic feel. They are still fast paced, but due to the view and the control scheme they feel very strategic. Smite doesn’t feel as strategic as it is. There’s a lot of strategy involved, but it doesn’t really feel like it due to the Action RPG style perspective. To me, this is a bad thing, I like the feel of the MOBA genre – and this game just doesn’t have it.

That isn’t to say I’m not enjoying my time with Smite, I really am. It’s very unique, and it has a really cool concept. The concept behind Smite is that there’s a battlefield where religious and mythological figures from many of the world’s religions compete for glory. You have characters like Bastet, Ra, Artemis, Bakasura, and others from cultures like Indian, Roman, Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and others. This really creates a truly unique and fascinating range of available characters, and you can even educate yourself by reading the lore within the game to get a bit of understanding for the various religions and mythologies. A fantastic idea, and it makes for some really interesting atmosphere.

The gameplay overall works fairly well, it’s remarkably polished for a game in beta, as I have yet to encounter any graphical glitches, crashes, or bugs. On the balance side; however, the game feels a bit wonky still. There are a lot of things that feel kind of awkward between the action rpg style controls and the specific abilities implemented. One thing that they did that I think is a fantastic idea is the idea that you don’t need to get the last hit on the minions in order to get rewarded for it’s death. In stead, you merely get a bonus when you are the one who actually kills it but still get some money as long as you are nearby when it dies. This is such a great idea, it makes the game a lot more accessible, and allows for a lot more interesting gameplay as you can be a lot more aggressive without sacrificing a ton of potential money. The only other unique aspect that they added that I find so fascinating and interesting is the concept of being able to purchase ‘abilities’ that you can use regardless of champion for a relatively cheap price during the game. Games like League of Legends also have abilities like this, but you have to choose which ones you have before the game starts, which removes a lot of potentially reactive gameplay.

The game will be free to play with access to the various gods provided either through a form of currency acquired when you win or through a micro-transaction. This is a good system, proven to be effective by League of Legends… the problem is the way they handled new players. When you first start playing you have access to 1 God who can fill each role. What this is going to mean is that when you’re playing against new players – and since it has a matchmaking system new players will tend to play against new players – the games will be very stale since all of the games will quite likely be the same 5 Gods on both teams. This may not sound like a huge problem, but first impressions can be very important, and they are relying entirely on micro-transactions for their money. Not letting people get a sampling of what else is available early on is not going to do a good job of encouraging people to buy things.

I have a hard time seeing Smite turning into a competitive MOBA game like League of Legends or DotA/DotA2 due to the awkward point of view and the strange balance considerations; however, in some ways this is a positive. Competitive games tend to be restricted by balance which can lead them to being less enjoyable games in some cases. Sometimes it’s fun to be overpowered afterall.

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