The rise of MOBA games has been very interesting to me over the past few years. Seeing League of Legends become a powerhouse in the videogame industry while watching other MOBA's come and go has been fascinating to watch. I wanted to be part of the craze but there was just one problem. Almost all of these games plays like an real time strategy game. I respect RTS games but they just aren't for me. I love to be on the battlefield, controlling the action, not sitting from afar, watching my characters as I point, click and then just sit back and watch them battle it out. I still play League of Legends from time to time but I'm not crazy about it like others are.
This is when I was reading a feature about MOBA's on another videogame website and someone in the comments section said "What about SMITE"? SMITE? What was SMITE? Another top down MOBA? I did some research and found out that it was in fact a MOBA, but it was played in the third person perspective. I said "what the heck" and give it a download. That was back in July of 2013. Here is is, March 2014 and I have over 1000 hours and over 1000 matches recorded for SMITE. That is how much I love this game. SMITE is not only an amazing MOBA that anyone can enjoy, it's also one of the best games I have ever played in my life.
Dubbed "The Battleground of the Gods", SMITE's characters are all based on mythological gods from different pantheons such as Zeus, Anubis, Thor, Hun Batz, Ao Kuang, Kali and Poseidon. I wish this game existed back when I was in college because I took an ancient mythology class as an elective and was pretty much bored to tears. Thanks to SMITE, not only do I love learning about ancient mythology but I wish I could go back and retake that class in college because I have learned a lot especially since they have included tons of lesser known gods and I love going through Wikipedia pages learning about their lore.
SMITE is a free to play game so the number of gods in the game has increased overtime, and as of writing this review, 51 gods are available in the game to play. I can tell that Hi Rez took great time and care in designing these gods because each one truly feels different than the next. They all have their own unique looks, moves, taunts and voices that mostly match their lore. Every god in the game, aside from Hel and Ullr, have three abilities and an ultimate. Ullr and Hel are stance characters so their Ultimate allows them switch stances basically giving them six different abilities. Every god has different abilities so the game can be quite overwhelming for new players. The barrier for entry is pretty high and it will take some time with each character before you can really get an idea about how to use your abilities and your opponents abilities as well. I started playing back in July and I am still here so in my opinion, the game is fun enough that it will make you want to keep playing. You will want to get better and I will say that learning everything about this game and it's god has been a wonderful experience. Don't get discouraged if you suck at the game when you first start playing. Everyone does and it will take some time to get better.
SMITE comes with a plethora of different game modes to keep you busy. Arena is 5 on 5 fighting in an arena and resembles team death match. This is a perfect mode for players to practice new gods and offers its own strategy that differs from the other game modes. Assault is a 5 on 5 battle with a single lane and every player is assigned a random god. Joust features a single lane, a jungle and is a 3 on 3 battle. SMITE also includes a "Match of the Day" where every day a new game mode will become available. All of the MOTD's are all fun with. You could get a MOTD where you play as all the same character, or one where you all start at level 20 with 100,00 gold, or a match where you play as physical characters only. They have a huge list of game modes so you will most likely see something new and exciting every day. The other great thing about these game modes is that they are aren't that time consuming. These games can last from 10-25 minutes so you won't have to worry about making a huge time commitment unless you are playing Conquest.
Conquest is SMITE's meat and potatoes mode. This is your standard MOBA game mode with 3 lanes, a huge jungle, jungle camps, jungle monsters, and towers. Conquest follows typical MOBA rules where you have to guide your minions to enemy towers, destroy them and eventually make it to your opponents base to destroy their Titan. At first everyone usually starts in their own lane as they follow the meta. What makes Conquest so much fun is seeing the game play on and eventually break down where both teams converge into giant team battles as they battle back and forth for position. Having total control over your character in the third person view makes these battle so much fun. You truly feel like an epic battle between mythological gods is taking place. No two games are ever alike and with great teamwork you can can be sure that you will have a blast.
Unfortunately, like with most MOBA's, your fun is pretty much at the mercy of matchmaking. There will be times where you are matched up with bad teammates who either don't know what they are doing or are incredibly bad mannered players that yell and harass their teammates the entire game. Get a team like this will pretty much ensure your team gets completely stomped. I am not going to blame Hi Rez or knock points off the score since this isn't their fault, but people need to be aware that when you play MOBA's there is a good chance you will encounter some incredibly toxic and vile players. Thankfully the game lets you simply mute them by pressing Tab and clicking on their name. The other problem with conquest of course is the leavers. Being down a teammate can be extremely frustrating and if your opponents are really good, pretty much means you are losing the game. Leaving a game will result in a 30 minute deserter penalty and I feel that isn't enough. Leavers are a huge problem in this game and I feel like if the punishments were more severe, it would lead to people thinking twice before abandoning their team. The other problem is that sometimes the server have lag issues which can cause players to lag out. I've seen this happen a bunch and it's sad to watch a player try to enter a game only to leave because of lag issues.
Finally, if you think you are ready for it, you can always try the ranked league games. These are only unlocked once you have reached level 30 and have a minimum of 14 gods mastered. League games are where you go if you want some top level play as they include banning gods and draft picks. You can enter league games for Conquest, Arena and a 1 v 1 joust. Winning or losing matches will bump you up or down when the season is over. Unlike other MOBA's the season doesn't last that long. Each season is a month long and when it's over, you'll get an announcement of your placing. Ranked matches can be fun because they do provide for serious, top level play. Unfortunately the process to get into a ranked game can be quite frustrating. The big problem however is that getting into a ranked game can be frustrating. All of SMITE's game modes work on a countdown timer. On the main page it will tell you how long until the next game starts with a countdown timer on each game mode. You simply enter a queue and then wait for it to place you in game. Most of the casual queues have a countdown timer of about 3 or so minutes. So you won't wait very long for those games. Ranked games however are about 8 minutes and it can turn some people off having to wait 8 minute or so for a game, get to the lobby, get all the drafts and bans in order, then suddenly someone leaves the game, kicking everyone back to the home page. That is about 15 minutes of wasted time.
SMITE also includes an absolutely amazing VGS system where you can command the announcer to call out certain commands during a match. Notice the enemy jungler about to gank left lane? You can warn them by simply typing VI1 and the announcer will call out "Enemy Incoming Left". Want to thank your teammate for a great kill? Just type VVGN which is "Nice Job", or when you or the other team has won, type VVGG for the videogame staple "Good Game". There are tons of other commands in the game and it really helps out because most of them can be typed rather quickly and it keeps you in the fight. You don't have to stop what you are doing to type out that enemies are missing, or that someone could get ganked. The VGS system is even better if you have a personal voice pack from each god which replaces the announcer with the voice of the god you are playing as. Hi Rez has gotten pretty creative with these as some of the voice packs are extremely amusing.
Some people may be turned off because it is a free to play game and worry about the game being "pay to win". Luckily, there is nothing in SMITE that you can pay for that would give you an advantage over another player. The only things you can buy in the game with real money are skins, gods, voice packs and icons for your player card. There are no boosts to power or gameplay that one can get and steamroll over others. Even better is that SMITE offers an in game credits system known a Favor. You earn favor by winning or losing matches and said favor can be used to buy gods as well. Each god costs about 9500 Favor. Winning matches will also grant you worshipers. Worshipers are used to rank up your gods. While you don't get any extra boosts or advantages to ranking up a god, you do get the satisfaction of showing off how committed you are you that god on the Vs loading screen. You get your first rank at 50 worshipers and max out at rank 10 with 1000 worshipers. You can gain anywhere from 3-20 worshipers per match depending on how long it goes and whether you win or lose. I absolutely love this system as it's absolutely addicting to rank up all the gods in the game. There is such a great satisfaction looking at a god you like playing and see that rank go up the more you play. I recently got rank 10 or Legendary status with Freya and it was one of the most rewarding moments I have ever had in a videogame. Hi Rez is pretty generous as you can easily earn at least 500 Favor per day by winning a match in each of the game modes. The first win of the day bonus for each game mode is 100 favor so you will often find yourself racking up tons of favor rather quickly. Favor can also be used to buy some skins for gods as well so you are almost never out of things to buy if you are the kind of person that likes to work towards unlocking things. If you do want to spend money and buy gods, I recommend the "all gods pack" which offers every god in the game along with every new god they release for only $30. That to me is an insane deal and if you think you are going to be playing this game for a while, you should absolutely take advantage of it before it's gone.
SMITE also makes things easy on those who want to stream their games via Twitch as the game includes a simple button, that when pressed, will start you streaming on Twitch for others to watch. You can also check out the community tab in game to watch stream from other players. There are also in game rewards for streaming as well. The Twitch Ymir skin is one of the rarest skins in the game as it requires that you have streamed for at least 5000 minutes. There is also the golden ranking for streaming which requires you stream for at least 100,000. It doesn't say if there is a reward attached to that but I sure hope there is. That is a lot of time and dedication. Twitch is such an amazing way for people who love to watch others game and who love to watch E-Sports check out all the action. Hi Rez is holding a $200,000 tournament this weekend for the launch of SMITE and everything will be broadcast on their Twtich page. I feel like SMITE has a very good future ahead of it and cannot wait to see the game grow even bigger in the years to come.
SMITE has been an absolute pleasure to play over the last 8 months or so. I have been dying to play something new, something fresh, something creative and I finally found it. SMITE is great for those who want to get into MOBA's but don't really enjoy the traditional style of play. It features a huge cast of characters, tons of game modes to keep you busy and tons of goals to keep you playing for a long time. Watch out League of Legends, you got some serious competition on your hands here.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively. It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 29 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. And for the record... I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 ending... sue me