Smite is a free to play MOBA made by Hi-Rez Studios (the same guys that made Tribes Ascend and Global Agenda) that puts gods, demigods and deities from multiple cultures together in bloodbathed arenas. I’ve been around MOBA games for as long as they’ve been around us. I grew up watching my brother play the original DotA, then I watched him play HoN, LoL and Dota 2 and then I played them myself, but none of them feel like Smite. When I first played Smite back in 2012 in its closed beta phase it was a rough, definitely unfinished game. But Hi-Rez took their time and now delivered us a polished gem with potential to stand out from the crowd of MOBA games that’s starting to swallow us.
Because there are lots of things to discuss about Smite, I will split this articles in small chapters. The first one will be a general overview of the game and then I will take each game mode aside for a detailed presentation.
- General overview
What’s different about Smite is the perspective. You follow your character from a third-person point of view, as opposed to the RTS view we’re used to from the other MOBAs. No more clicking on the map for giving your character dirrection, you’re using WASD instead. This gives the game dynamism and places you in the middle of the action. Most of the spells are skillshots that will test your aiming abilities, making the combat feel real and last-hitting minions a real challenge.
As I said above, the characters in Smite are gods from multiple pantheons: Greek, Roman, Norse, Mayan, Egyptian, Chinese or Hindu. They range from well known characters like Zeus to less popular ones like Ah Muzen Cab, the Mayan god of bees. Out of the 57 available gods (so far), new accounts will unlock 5 gods permanently and they can play them at any time. Besides those, there is a free rotation that changes once a few weeks and lets you play another 5 gods. You can buy the rest of them with Favor points, which are granted by playing, or with gems that can be bought with real money or earned in the weekend events that Smite has from time to time. Favor and gems can also be used to buy skins for your gods, emotes, voice packs, ward skins or portraits. Those are purely cosmetical and will not influence your character’s power in any way.
There are multiple game types in Smite. You can practice with bots, co-op with other players against bots or play pure PvP. Once a game starts, you have 1500 gold to buy your starter items and proceed to wreck your enemies, heal your allies and claim the jungle buffs. The shop does not only sell items, you can also buy active spells (Blink, Sprint, Slow, Shield, etc) and upgrade them. However, once you bought an active spell, you can’t sell it back and a maximum of two active spells is allowed per player. The game offers a large variety of modes: Arena, Conquest, Assault, Siege, Joust, and Match of the Day. Hi-Rez is very rewarding with their customers and we get bonus Favor for every first win of the day, in all the game modes.
- Conquest is the classic 5v5 MOBA type. Much like the rest of the MOBAs. it features a slightly asymmetrical map with 3 lanes that start in your base and ends in the enemy team base. Along the lanes there are two turrets and one phoenix for each team. Once the turrets are destroyed they will stay destroyed, but the phoenixes will respawn after a few minutes. Your goal is to kill the Titan that is located in your enemy base, behind the phoenixes. Do you think that once you’re past the phoenix you can call GG, like in the rest of the MOBAs? No, you can’t. The Titan has a sword and it’s more than capable to defend himself. You will need quite a few team members to defeat him, or at least some minions that can tank him.
The space between the lanes is called the jungle. You will find several minion camps there and some of them give temporary buffs: damage increase, mana regen+cooldown reduction and attack speed+move speed, one for each team. There are two major bosses in the jungle: the Gold Fury and the Fire Giant. The Gold Fury is a giant harpy that will award your whole team gold for killing her. The Fire Giant will spawn after 10 minutes of the game have passed and will give substantial buffs (damage+regen) to the team that kills him. However, he is very powerful and should be confronted with care.
As you play matches, your Smite profile will level up until you reach the max level, 30. Once you hit level 30 you will be able to play ranked games, and here comes the biggest problem I have with the game. If you want to play with a friend in the same ranked game the only solution is to join the queue at the same time, have the incredible luck of getting into the same match and not in opposing teams. I hope Hi-Rez will soon implement ranked parties because i know lots of players wait for that. I sure do.
The Arena is exactly what it seems to be. Both teams face each other in an overwhelmingly huge oval battleground with the sole purpose of killing their opponents. There is no Titan that needs to be killed here, only the enemy team players and creeps and the 6 jungle minions that give speed, damage and mana regeneration buffs. The teams start with 500 points each and those points will drop every time an enemy is killed or every time a minion enters through the enemy team portal, which is located at the far side of the arena, at the enemy base. Gods with high AoE (area of effect) spells are favored on this game mode. Because the battleground is relatively open, most of the Arena matches have massive teamfights. Due to the high activity and short duration (about 15-20 minutes) of the Arena matches, it can be one of the most entertaining modes.
Joust is a game type made for 1v1 and 3v3 games. Unfortunately, 1v1 can only be played in ranked games and therefore is only avialable for level 30 players. Those who have not yet reached the maximum level can play joust in Practice mode and in Custom matches. However, no Favor will be gained through these games.
The joust map consists of only one lane with a turret, a phoenix and a Titan for every team and two jungle sides with minions that give speed, damage and mana regeneration buffs. It’s very much alike Conquest but it was made for less players, therefore it’s smaller and it lacks the presence of the Gold Fury and Fire Giant. The game is won when one team kills the enemy Titan. Joust games are more challenging than Arenas and require more focus, especially when played in 1v1. There are certain gods that shine on this map, and you will probably see lots of Mercury, Freya, Kali and Loki when playing 1v1.
Siege is the newest game mode and one of my personal favourites. It’s a 4v4 map that was designed to look like a mayan territory and it just looks fantastic. I’ve caught myself quite a few times looking at the turret and at the minions while i shoul’ve been farming instead. But enough of that. Siege features a two-lane map with jungle between them. As in Conquest, the lanes have two turrets and a phoenix guarding the way to the Titan. The unique thing Siege brings to the table are the Juggernauts and the portals. The Juggernauts are huge minions that have a lot more health than the usual minions and they are about as tough as the Golden Fury. There is a Wild Juggernaut in the middle of the jungle and whoever kills it will earn a Siege Juggernaut that will spawn for you and give your team a big advantage in pushing the lanes. Siege Juggernauts can also be obtained after your team scores a given number of kills and this is showed on a meter on the right side of your minimap. When you get 100 points, the Juggernaut will spawn and your meter gets reseted. There is also a portal in each team base and players can use them to teleport to their teams’ Siege Juggernaut. This makes the Juggernaut a very important piece of a Siege game.
Assault is a beautiful one lane map with 2 towers and one phoenix for each team and no jungle. It is designed around the Norse mythology and Hi-Rez did it really well. One side resembles Asgard, the world of the Norse gods, and the other side Hel, the Norse inferno. I could barely decide what screenshots to add for Assault, because as I was walking through the map I was mashing the screenshot button. It’s definitely my favourite map, GJ to the Hi-Rez designers.
Assault can be one of the funniest modes, but it can also be very frustating, and that is because you don’t get to choose the god you play. It’s an all-random mode and you gotta stick with what you get. You can however switch gods with your teammates in the god selection lobby, and if you truly are desperate you can pay 250 Favor or 50 gems for a random re-roll. Along that, once you leave your base you can’t go back to your base to buy more items or to get healed. The only way to do that is to die, which is not very convenient. The lack of jungle and the narrowness of the lane brings all the players together into massive massacres. One thing is certain about Assault, everything is unexpected. I have played Assault matches that lasted from under 10 minutes to almost an hour that ended with a sudden wipeout of the enemy team (or mine). Because of the uncertain way an Assault match can go, it’s one of the most entertaining modes and I recommend you to leave your competitive side behind when playing it.
- Match of the Day
This is one mode made purely for fun. It does not have a map of its own and it uses all the other maps avialable one at a time. The mode changes daily and Hi-Rez brings all their immagination into this one. The rules will change every day and can go from the ridiculous Battle of the Beards – you can only play bearded gods – or clone Arenas where both teams are given the same god 5 times, to dead serious Conquest games that start with all gods being max level. Stats are not recorded on this map, so go wild and have fun. If you don’t like the mode in a day, be sure to check again tomorrow. Chances are it will be completely different.
Besides the ranked games problem i believe Smite is a very well made game. The combat is very active, the gods are designed to respect their lore and they are all balanced. All maps are designed with a certain lore in mind and will have. The microtransactions are purely optional and cosmetical and you don’t even have to pay real money for the most expensive skins, because Hi-Rez made it possible for everyone to get gems. It doesn’t feel like a cash grab, something that is getting rare in the gaming industry nowadays, so kudos to Hi-Rez.
Rating: Excellent (Shite, Cash Grab, Mediocre, Good, Excellent)