I’ve never really been appealed to by MOBAs. There’s been nothing that really made me want to jump in and start playing. It’s not from lack of exposure. I’ve had friends both online and off who were big into League of Legends, and I was listening as they talked about their games. One of my favorite streamers/Youtubers used to play community games of DOTA 2, and some of his hosts multitasked and were in a Skype call with him playing DOTA 2 while he played Blood Bowl. Plus, I look through the Steam Community Artwork, and funnily enough there’s a lot of DOTA 2 (and CS GO) stuff uploaded there.
But none of it ever appealed to me. I never played the old Warcraft RTSes, and that Blizzard style of RTS never had any appeal to me. I’m not that much a fan of heavy-duty micromanagement like having to make sure to get last hits on your own minions implies. Not to mention that the zoomed-out RTS camera and click-to-move controls don’t get me particularly excited.
But then, and you may be able to guess what it is, a particular game came along…
If you’ve never heard of it before, Smite is a MOBA. The thematic gimmick is that rather than being a fantasy mishmash all of the characters are drawn from mythology. Specifically Greek, Roman, Nose, Egyptian, Hindu, Chinese, and Mayan. The other gimmick is that rather than use an RTS camera and controls, Smite uses a behind-the-character third-person view (Rather like the 3D Zelda games) and standard action/shooter controls. Mouse to aim, WASD to move. Space jumps but the jump is purely cosmetic.
Having not played LoL or DOTA2, I can’t comment too specifically about what the difference with Smite is. I’ve been told that Smite is all about the aim and skillshots, as very few abilities will automatically hit their targets, and no basic attacks do. The ganks and flanking plays are also more real because you can’t see anyone behind you until they’re within hugging range. Wards are not just nice, wards that can spot someone sneaking up behind you are vital.
The vertical dimension being more emphasized makes some things more fun. When Syclla rises up in her full
monstrous (eight year old girls are not monsters) glory the camera’s lifted up higher so you’re looking down on your potential targets. And several gods fly up into the sky (and some around the map) for their ultimates.
To be fair, friends also helped me get into Smite. I finally gave it a download after I glanced at my friend’s stream (I didn’t typically watch his Smite games before this) and noticed that he was playing as an eight year old girl
with four giant dog-snake-tentacles a perfectly normal eight-year-old girl. That was a character concept I just had to get behind and try for myself.
And I often play Smite with friends, hanging out on Teamspeak and talking gods and things. But I don’t exclusively play Smite with friends and playing with friends is not the only thing about the game that I like. I watch the official Smite streamers on Twitch, I watch the Smite eSports games, I still get on and solo-queue. I do actually enjoy Smite.
I typically play Solo, Mid, or Support. I would do ADC roles more, but the only hunter that really speaks to me is kind of sub-par. I could Jungle, but jungling is really intimidating, and the only person who will get more blame for losing than the Support is the Jungler. I mean, I feel like I’ve seen enough jungling on streams to have a theoretical knowledge of what to do, but there’s a gulf between theory and practice.
(The joke is that Bacchus is a Support, a tank, and not a typical Jungler)
The tangential learning aspect of Smite isn’t key to why I enjoy playing the game, but it does add to what I like about the game. Every god represented in Smite has a Lore tab where you can read a brief snippet of their legends, or at least the ones that formed HiRez’s depictions of the god in question. There are a lot of gods and monsters and giants in Smite, more than I’d ever figured before looking up the game.
A layperson could probably name Ra and Anubis and Isis from the Egyptian pantheon. But fewer, I think, could describe Neith, Geb, or Anhur. Everyone’s probably heard of Kali in some form or another, but I think that fewer could tell you about Vamana, or Kumbhakarna, or Bakasura. The only figures from the Chinese pantheon I’d expect anyone to know are Sun Wukong and Guan Yu. Chang’e, Nu Wa, Ne Zha, Ao Kuang, Hou Yi, He Bo, Zhong Qui? I doubt it. And I would bet that the Mayan pantheon would be a complete mystery to most people, but thanks to Smite I have a bit of an idea who Chaac and Xbalanque (Sh-balan-ke) and Kukulkan are. I’ve even been inspired to look up more about these figures and their lore.
I’m really enjoying my time with Smite. While it keeps a lot of MOBA elements the shift in the camera and controls make it feel so much more fast-paced and personal. You aren’t hovering in the sky, you are there as you’re firing off abilities and trying to pull of the most real jukes. It also requires fine aiming, which requires fine timing, which means that fine reflexes are also probably coming into play.
But even then, positioning and strategy play a huge role. 1v1s are hard to win, and after a certain point in the game it starts coming down less to individual player skill in aiming and using abilities and how well your team performs in teamfights, everyone working together to make the win happen.
I’m pretty in to Smite. I may soon do a writeup about some of my favorite gods and what specifically I like about each of them. If you’re interested in playing maybe get at me in the comments and [subtle plug]use my referral link[/subtle plug].