Before Smite showed up on the PS4 scene you could say that the MOBA wasn’t exactly my favourite genre. Pointedly, I thought such efforts were horrendously numbing affairs and that rather than endure them for any length of time, I’d elect for a spot of self-lobotomy via an especially rusty spoon instead.
What makes this free-to-play PS4 game tick?
A big part of what makes the typical MOBA so unappealing to me is the distance at which you end up removed from the action, as the typical bird’s-eye viewpoint seems much too far away from all the good stuff that’s actually happening on the ground. Smite does away with all this by shifting the action to a much more immediate and frankly palatable third-person perspective that does a great job of not only keeping you involved in the conflict, but also ensures that all the pixel-flavoured whizzbang of the various spells and abilities isn’t lost on your eyeholes either.
Simply put, combat in Smite just feels good. As a point of reference, it doesn’t feel unlike the sort of combat you might see on World of Warcraft on PC. Instead, as a veritable visual tapestry of colourful spells and special attacks unfurl, it’s actually underpinned by an extremely finely-tuned set of overlaying systems that are as accessible as they are deep.
It’s not just the change in perspective; another reason why Smite succeeds on console and other like-minded efforts are struggling to (Paragon, I’m looking at you buddy), is because even the most drawn out of matches are swift enough that it never feels like an onerous investment on the part of the player. Here you have a MOBA that you can just hop into for a quick ten to fifteen minute session and – in an era of bigger and more time-consuming experiences – this is an aspect of Smite’s design that absolutely shouldn’t be underestimated.
The whole notion of placing a premium on accessibility goes deeper than that too. Unburdened by all the sprawling mastery trees, progression menus and all that other clutter that usually weighs down other genre efforts, Smite’s loadout mechanic, where you can specify what gear to buy in order to shape and customise your chosen god to match your playstyle, just feels refreshingly effortless and easy to pick up. How many Gods in Smite are there? Tons!
Want an attack-focused character? Just buy more weapons. Want a god that can cut about the place at speed, soaking up damage and aggro with aplomb? Just buy extra boots and armour; it’s all so delightfully simple. The commitment of the developer to bringing new blood to genre goes even further still, since Smite allows players to toggle an ‘auto-buy’ mode where the best gear upgrades are automatically purchased without any extra fuss, allowing you to get down the business of, well, smiting your enemies.
And in a nutshell, that’s what you want from a game like this isn’t it? You just want to hop in, cut about the place, nuking fools with your favourite god, scoop up the rewards and off you sod. Smite totally enables this and in being so very easy to get stuck into, developer Hi-Rez Studios demonstrates a practiced grip on your free time as the minutes turn into hours and social events just fall off the calendar, sending you into a Smite-filled, yet ultimately friendless blissful oblivion.
It also doesn’t hurt that the selection of gods that you have at your disposal are a wonderfully varied bunch too, the generous free-to-play model allowing you to grind up the necessary in-game currency to access them in pretty swift fashion. From Greek gods like Poseidon and Hades, to Egyptian deities such as Ra and Sobek and their Norse counterparts including the likes of Thor and Freya, Smite’s seventy-five strong roster of immortals is an eclectic and compelling cast of folks to say the least.
Better yet, not only does each character have their own unique skills and abilities but each belongs to one of five very different archetypes that in turn make them eminently more suitable for certain match types. Indeed, whereas other MOBA efforts seemingly place a premium on mastering a single character and then sticking with them for many hundreds of hours, Smite does the opposite; instead encouraging the player to developer a well-rounded understanding of a number of different god types so that the correct deities can be employed for the match types that best play to their strengths.
In essence then, Hi-Rez studios should be commended for having managed that most rare of feats; not only have they reimagined the MOBA in a much different and more accessible guise but they’ve also done it in such a way that it doesn’t compromise the core principles of the genre. If you don’t know your lanes from your objectives, Smite will teach you that and in doing so, you’ll find an almost bottomless appeal in its welcoming nature, honing your playstyle as you go and generally having a grand old time in the process.
So yeah, this whole MOBA lark isn’t too bad then is it? Cheers Smite.
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