Hello and welcome to the first Co-Op Review from Rocket Chainsaw!
Reviews of multiplayer and co-op focused games are not uncommon, but they largely focus on the views of only one person. Starting with this review, Rocket Chainsaw will occasionally present an alternate format where you will see the views of two people who play games together.
Joseph and I regularly play games together and when we were given the opportunity to review Smite we jumped on it as an opportunity to review a game together for the first time. While we have similar interests, we regularly have differing views on what is important to a game and what we feel should be shown in a review. Joseph puts a larger importance on gameplay and mechanics, whereas I prefer a great story and music. With that said, let’s take a look at Smite!
Smite is an interesting MOBA. The game not only goes down the free-to-play path but it’s also played from a third person view point when the genre is usually played from a top-down perspective. In addition to these traits, developer Hi-Rez Studios has also included a stack of content.
At the time of writing, Smite has 66 playable Gods, which is an impressive feat. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with the unique abilities of each God and in most cases these will reflect back on their mythology origins. For example, Ra the Egyptian Sun-God is a magical humanoid hawk who uses light-themed abilities. He can scorch enemies with a beam of light, bless allies with a circle of light that heals them, and blind enemies with flashes. The Gods come from a diverse range of pantheons including Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Chinese and Hindu. This leads to some very interesting match-ups and there’s a constant feeling of discovery and excitement.
Being a free-to-play title, not all Gods are available from the start. Five Gods are always free, and there is a weekly rotation of another five Gods. This is a smart move by the developer as it encourages players to try out the different characters and give them some hands-on experience. You can purchase a one-off pack to unlock all current and future Gods at once, or you can use in-game currency to purchase them individually. Each God also has a number of different skins and voice samples that can be purchased.
In-game currency is two-fold – there is a Gems currency which is purchased with real world money, and there is Favour which is awarded to players for completing matches and achieving goals. The game never really pushes players to purchase new content unless they actively seek it; a refreshing change from the constant prompts and reminders you get from a lot of other free-to-play titles. Surprisingly, it’s even possible to experience all gameplay elements without ever using real-world money. As a side note, some items purchased with real world money will contribute to the Smite World Championship prize pool. It’s nice to see a developer giving something back to their community!
There are several different game modes available. The two main ones are Conquest, which is a regular 3-lane MOBA style map; and Arena, which is played as a 5 vs 5 match with teams trying to get their minions to the other side of the map successfully. Other modes include Joust, which is a one-lane map best suited for practice and co-op matches; Assault, where players are assigned a random God and battle in a one-lane map; and Siege, which is a two-lane map. There’s also a special daily rotation called Match of the Day where players are all the same God. With so many different game modes on offer, there is a lot to do and should easily keep you playing for hours on end.
Smite has an Australian server but all attempts to find a game during Saturday and Sunday peak times resulted in no matches. Thankfully, even on the American servers, little lag was experienced and the game ran smoothly. Some modes were more popular than others, of course, but finding a match never took longer than two-three minutes at its worst. This demonstrates that there is a thriving Smite community and server connections have been optimised.
Overall, Smite is a really great package. The game may adopt the free-to-play route but it doesn’t push players to purchase content and keeps a weekly rotation of the playable Gods. Combined with the amount of gameplay options, thriving community and optimised severs, Smite comes highly recommend to MOBA fans.
Joseph’s score: 4/5 stars
In recent years we have started to see a big change in perception towards free-to-play games. While there are still many that are seen as simple cash grabs, we are seeing developers put a larger amount of effort into their games. Fairer models for obtaining content, better graphics, mechanics and games that are simply a lot more fun than people would expect. While we may have written off free-to-play games in the past, we now find more and more that are worth our time. Smite is definitely a game that deserves your attention.
Running with a pulled back third person viewpoint normally found in shooters the game feels different compared to other MOBAs as soon as you’re in a game. Gone is the top down view following a mouse cursor and instead you look over your God’s head and aim with the cross hairs. It takes no time to get used to the game because you’ve done it in so many other games before.
With 66 Gods to currently choose from there is something to suit everyone’s tastes. While you will need to purchase Gods to use them in competitive matches they are all unlocked and free to use in some of the Practice Modes. This means that you can find something you like without having to spend money or waiting for the weekly 5 free Gods to rotate.
MOBAs historically have a big learning curve and while Smite is no different Hi-Rez have taken measures to help mitigate this and lower the barrier of entry. Players have the option of having the characters auto-level and have items auto-purchased. While experienced players will likely prefer to customise their items and abilities to their playstyle, this is a very welcome change for a new player such as myself. It allows beginners to focus on enjoying the game and trial Gods instead of stressing over which items and abilities will be best suited to their God.
Graphically Smite is exactly what we’ve come to expect from MOBAs and free-to-play games. A clean and cartoony art style seems to have become the standard for these styles of games. It’s a perfectly acceptable option and is easily digested and inoffensive. While the style is so similar to other games, the much closer view you get means that a lot of work has been put into the graphics and it looks great.
There are a variety of ways to play Smite, from the classic 5v5 conquest mode reminiscent of other MOBAs to 5v5 Arena mode that requires you to safely escort minions to the enemy’s portal to win.
Our most played mode in Smite was the 5v5 Assault mode. With a single lane to travel, no NPC enemy camps and randomly allocated Gods you need to quickly adapt to maintain the required push and pull. It’s a nice twist to a largely known format and helps keep things fresh instead of playing the same mode over and over.
With the option of trialling every God in the game, a variety of modes to play and good graphics Smite is definitely a game I recommend everyone try. It might not end up being your style, but it costs nothing to try, so what’s to lose?
Andrew’s score: 4/5 stars
Hi-Rez Studios have put in the hard yards and it shows in a MOBA that does enough to set itself apart from the competition while keeping enough similar so as to not alienate the hardcore audience.
With a selection of options making the game accessible to newcomers, a fair free-to-play model and a variety of modes to play, Smite is definitely a game to check out.
Accessibility, fair free-to-play model and variety of content
Empty Australian servers, no voice chat and visual noise