Smite Review for Xbox One
Words: Adam Barnes
Let’s be open-minded, eh? A cursory glance at the details would make it easy to dismiss Smite early on: it’s a MOBA (whatever that is, right?), it’s free-to-play (ugh… microtransactions) and a standard match lasts around 45 minutes (how long?!). And that’s before you realise you haven’t the foggiest about how to actually play the damn thing. But to overlook Smite would be something of a disservice to yourself, and if you’re a fan of multiplayer gaming – especially those with a little more thought than a typical Call Of Duty match – then you might want to check this one out. But you will need to be open-minded, because Smite – like so many MOBAs on PC – fails to explain so many core elements that it might be a little overwhelming to console players still unfamiliar with the genre.
Sure, there’s a tutorial that teaches you the very basic stuff – kill things for gold, search the jungle zone for powerful-yet-timed buffs and don’t run headfirst into a tower’s attack range – but it doesn’t explain the important elements that run beneath all that, the parts that are arguably crucial to the genre’s popularity. Why does a character’s class matter, you might wonder, and how do I know what lane to fight in? What the hell is the Carry role? Why on earth do I have to buy items? It’s all quite confusing, but due to the ever-evolving nature of the game – MOBAs as a genre tend to shift over the course of months as balancing, new items and additional characters change the state of the game – it’s understandable why the tutorials don’t really touch on these factors. And in truth Smite does include a number of novel features that will help ease newcomers into the fold; auto-level and auto-items in particular help remove some of the additional burdens to help you focus on learning how to play. The third-person viewpoint, too, makes it easier for a console crowd to adjust to the atypical gameplay.
The considerable number of modes helps, too. While Conquest is the ‘core’ MOBA experience – this is the one where a match can easily take around 45 minutes to complete – there’s also ‘Arena’, ‘Assault’, ‘Joust’ and ‘Siege’, each of which offer alternatives to the baseline gameplay that are quicker than a standard game and offer better opportunities to practise. This is important, because with a (current) roster of over 60 gods to play as – all of which have unique visual designs, abilities and playstyles – there need to be such options available to learn the intricacies before heading into the more competitive, longer games of Conquest. It’s in this vast range of playable characters that MOBAs – and by extension, Smite – really begin to appeal, however. In the same way that you’ll have your preferred character in your favourite fighting game, Smite’s eclectic range of deities means there’s always going to be someone for all tastes to play as. It offers up that same iterative improvement that fighting games always offer, and with only four abilities per character the barrier to entry is arguably much lower than even the simplest of beat-’em-ups.
In fact, as far as MOBAs go, Smite is probably the most successful attempt at porting the genre wholesale over from PC so far. Nothing has been sacrificed in bringing the game over to Xbox One, and it’s the first great example of how well MOBAs can work with a controller. Admittedly there will be some teething problems for complete newbs – ranged attacks, for instance, have a short, finite range that won’t appeal to a Gears Of War crowd – but with experience you’ll find the only restriction to your success will be your own skill. Pro tip, though: switch to the Savage control scheme.
You won’t even need to worry about the free-to-play monetisation, either: for a one-off fee of £20.99 you’ll automatically unlock every single god ever released, including any others that are released in the future. And if you don’t want to pay? Well no problem, a rotation of freely available gods occurs weekly, meaning there’s always going to be someone for you to try out. You’ll even earn points as you play, allowing you to permanently unlock and access your favourite god, and maybe even buy a skin to show everyone who your ‘main’ is.
No one can deny that MOBA beginners will have a lot to learn when it comes to Smite, but with the cost to try it out being absolutely zero it’s definitely one worth giving a shot. It’ll offer a totally new form of multiplayer that you might end up adoring, and – just like a fighting game – that sensation of really ‘getting’ a character makes it all the more rewarding to spend the time to improve. As a ‘MOBA on console’, Smite is an unfettered success; as a new multiplayer experience, Smite is definitely one to try.