So it’s been a dog’s age since I’ve written anything, mostly due to my computer being a smaller version of my gimpy ass. But rest assured I shall one day finish the second part of the Wakfu Revue. That said, I did manage to get my hands on a beta key for Smite and figured I’d share my experience with you all in an effort to delay the other article further. The game looks at my PC and practically melts it, so I’ll be cherry picking images from google…I’d feel worse about this if I was getting paid, really.
First and foremost I should give those of you not “in the know” as the hip kids say, a brief explanation of what the game is. Basically, it’s 3rd person League of Legends, without the bird’s eye view. I’m not actually stating that as a negative or positive yet. What I am saying is that Smite has a similar 3 lane set up with a “jungle” between lanes where specific mobs spawn, some of which give buffs. There are magic/physical/hybrid characters and an in-match shop that allows for the customization of individual builds. In many ways they’re damn near the same, but there are a few notable differences. Essentially where LoL has an overhead semi-fixed perspective, Smite has a behind the character view and that’s where the real changes in gameplay start to come in.
The most notable thing to arise from the change in perspective is that there don’t appear to be many point-and-click spells. Everything – even auto-attacks - are aimed. Now that can go either way for enjoyment, but personally it took a bit of getting used to especially where the “creeps” are concerned. That said, once I got a feel for it I really liked the set up. It allowed for a greater degree of control over what’s going on as well as allowing you to dodge like a mad bastard. I can’t even tell you the amount of times I barely escaped from a gank by…Well, basically this:
Yes, yes I do make that sound when running away in either game. Ask the other writers, it’s hard to miss when on a Skype call.
My unhealthy obsession with Benny Hill and old comedians aside, the gameplay is a blast though at times it can get a little too frenetic. That’s the one trade off of the change in camera placement. Teamfights can become something of a clusterfuck at the drop of a hat. To top it off a few abilities in game screw with your ability to see. For instance Ra has an ability that temporarily blinds you. You, you, not the character. The screen goes white from bright light for about a second-ish then fades back into view over the same amount of time. It’s mostly inconvenient but it can really hurt if it’s well timed. Another that doesn’t much help is Sun Wukong’s ultimate. Ground level fireworks complete with an aoe fear effect for a couple seconds can be really disorienting. That said, I actually like all that. This is something of a trend so I’ll point it out now: Smite does a few things differently than LoL, but the few things it changes up make it a very different game yet make it tons of fun as well.
By the way, if those two abilities seem a bit OP, don’t worry. Champions are fairly well balanced in that every single one has an OP ability or two. Guan-Yu has a semi-spammable aoe heal, Sun Wukong has his ult, Agni has a re-goddamn-diculously hard hitting aoe ult, etc. I think the balance for a few champs needs to be tweaked just because of how dominating they can be at times, but overall the champs each seem to have their place and a wide variety of useful skills that makes for an exciting and competitive game.
As far as useful game functions go, there’s an auto-level and auto-buy function you can toggle on or off before a match starts. Now, being that I had already played LoL I was able to just jump on in. I can, however, see why those options would be a boon to new players. Getting the hang of the game and trying to balance all the things they’re in the process of learning while also remembering to buy stuff and level skills can be hard on newbies. I wish LoL had a system like that as I remember people not doing either of those things occasionally in lower levels. I’m not saying it should be used all the time or anything but I feel it’s a pretty nice way to help people who may not be able to get directly into the zone.
I suppose I should note that there are a few flaws the game right now. My biggest complaint was the mini-map. It’s way too small and doesn’t really translate information well. This is especially an issue with the camera being stuck in one place. The mini-map really needs to be tweaked for maximum visibility, but as it stands right now it’s damn near useless. It gives a vague idea of where things are but it’s rather hard to pin characters down definitively, and with the fixed perspective ganks become more of an issue that the map fails to help at all with. Occasionally I’d find myself pelted by attacks before they even registered on the map. Aside from that and he aforementioned balance tweaks though I’d say the game is pretty solid.
Speaking of solid I seem to have the most luck with Artemis, a largely underpowered champ except for her ult, a boar that can stun for a couple seconds and can bounce to different targets. Only one at a time though and the thing has a mind of its own. For some reason I enjoy her mechanics which largely boils down to left click until something dies, occasionally use ability, continue holding left click. Guess I just like me some auto-attack champs. That and her ranged harass is obnoxious if you can actually hit your opponents.
What I particularly appreciate are the changes that have been made to the “inhibitors” and “nexus”. After knocking down the forward towers you come to the last line of defense. In place of the inhibs and inner two towers you run into phoenixes instead. Just like the inhibs, at least one needs to be destroyed in order to win. The caveat here is that the phoenixes fire back just like the towers which means a last minute re-spawn can completely turn the tide of a game even more so than in LoL. To top it all off instead of a static nexus, the final objective of the game is a Minotaur. A giant golden cow-dude with an axe roughly the size of your champion…It hits as hard as one would expect.
Again, this offers the defending team a chance change a decisive loss around. I actually really enjoyed this aspect of the game. It really makes each enemy kill mean something and makes teamwork all the more important. Even as a tank or support you’ll end up feeling more accomplished at the end because even when taking down the last objective you’re still an important part of the team.
All in all, I really enjoyed the game. I still prefer LoL overall, but Smite is not without its merits and I would recommend at the very least giving it a shot. If nothing else the spectacle of having various pantheons kicking the crap out of each other is amusing.