The MOBA genre has exploded in the last couple of years. The roots can be traced back to the Warcraft mod Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), and since then the MOBA genre has spawned a number of popular games and spinoffs. Aeria Games approached the genre with Realm of the Titans and Funcom dived right in with Bloodline Champions, but so far none have been able to claim the fame that currently belongs to the MOBA giant, League of Legends. Next in the constantly evolving history of the MOBA genre comes Smite, an innovative attempt at a MOBA title utilizing a number of new features and mechanics.
The most obvious change with Smite is the viewpoint. The majority of MOBA titles presented to players use an isometric view for battles, whereas Smite has taken a more RPG traditional approach using a third-person view. Although still a MOBA title, this simple change in perspective has a huge impact on the way players experience the game. The viewing distance is severely limited and you’re unable to scroll the camera to look behind you, unlike League of Legends where you can see a set distance in all directions. This makes map awareness a far more vital skill and makes ganking and sneak attacks far more strategical.
Another area where Smite stands out from competitors is the ability system. Hi-Rez studios have totally removed the typical lock-on approach to abilities so often seen in MOBA and RPG games, instead every ability in the game is entirely skill-based. Whether you’re swinging a sword, laying down a pool of fire or launching a projectile, every ability must be aimed and timed correctly. This is another area of Smite that adds new skill elements to the MOBA genre, reducing the luck factor and replacing it with player skill and ability.
Similar to League of Legends, Smite offers a micro-transaction system in the form of an item mall. Players can purchase extra gods (There are currently 30 available) or extra skins for owned gods. There are no items available in the item mall that will give you an advantage in combat, totally removing the pay to win approach. Some of the skins in-game can even be purchased with favor, the currency you earn for in-game victories.
Finally, Smite offers another area of innovation using the towers. Like other MOBA titles, each lane features 2 automated towers, but there’s a slight difference. An extra tower is in place in the form of a fiery Phoenix, and the last tower, the base hub, is actually a Minotaur. The Minotaur works like a dungeon raid boss fight in an MMORPG game, he’s fully mobile and has a variety of skills and abilities.
Overall, Smite is exactly what the MOBA genre needs. An innovative approach to time-tested features and mechanics. If you’re a fan of any of the other MOBA titles, you simply have to give it a go.
by Blaine Smith