MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena), otherwise known as action real-time strategy games, have grown in their popularity tremendously since the mid 2000s, with player bases in the millions. Titles like League of Legends, Dota 2, Smite, and Heroes of the Storm sport an intriguing idea of a team-dependent battle, but it had never crossed my mind to play it–whether it was space, free time, or more of an interest in other genres. However, the appearance of MOBAs throughout the “most popular” and my own discovery queues on Steam led me to look into Smite, the free-to-play, fairly younger MOBA.
Downloading and starting up the game did take a while, and getting used to everything was confusing. A basic game in Smite looks somewhat like a tower defense strategy and role-playing game (RPG). In a Conquest, there are two teams consisting of five mythological gods with computer controlled units. Each map has three lanes with two towers and one phoenix per lane which leads to a Titan, as well as a jungle in the middle separating the two teams. The goal for Conquest is to defend your towers, phoenixes, and Titan, all while trying to take down the enemy’s towers, phoenixes, and Titan. You earn gold and experience (eventually leveling up) for the mythological character you play as, and spend the gold in-game on items that improve your character’s abilities and stats. There were other modes as well, like Arena, Assault, and Joust, among others. I found Arena to be the most interesting out of the others, where you’re out of the typical map and instead reduce the enemy’s points to zero by killing the enemy team’s gods and minions, or send ally units through portals.
After trying out the starter gods in the tutorial as well as some matches, the Warrior (melee), Guan Yu, and Hunter (physical range), Neith, classes seemed to be the most interesting and the most mobile.
It was easier to get used to them more so than the Mages (Ra) and Assassins (Thor) due to the Mage and Assassin’s low defense (and in the Mage’s case, low speed). Due to the spacing of the lanes as well as the need to occasionally travel to other sides of the map as fast as possible, it ended up being easier to play characters that were faster and had more defense.
As for the characters themselves, I thought that SMITE’s art and character choices were interesting and well-made. There was a lot of variety in terms of just character cultures, customizations, classes, and abilities, but rather than press on the details, there was more to focus on in-game–if not defending or attacking, then there would be more time spent looking through abilities, passives, and items (in my case, also trying to get used to the controls). Throughout all of the MOBAs, there seems to be a lot of variety in character options, and most continue to add in new ones regularly–if there wasn’t, it wouldn’t be worth playing due to repetitiveness.
Unlike some RPGs and most tower defense-style strategies, this was highly team-reliant. Having a good, communicative team, or even a team of friends would usually end up in a better experience than relying on a team that can’t make any decisions.
The time for matches–anywhere from twenty to forty minutes per match–tended to be somewhat long. Even in a match, it can be a bit annoying to wait to respawn–rather than wait five seconds or so, it could be over thirty seconds, depending on the game mode or the character’s level. However, the time ends up being very useful to look over things that you need to buy for your character, or look over how your team is doing.
Since Smite, League of Legends, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm are all free to play, they’re fun to at least try out and see how they are. Smite is definitely a great starting point–it’s easy to get used to the controls, after a few rounds, and with time dedicated to learning the characters, it can be a fun game genre to get into.
Images//Screenshots of Smite, Hi-Rez Studios