Game Review: 'SMITE: Battleground of the Gods'

Hi-Rez Studio’s crown jewel SMITE: Battleground of the Gods isn’t too different from most MOBAs (Massive Online Battle Arena). It started off with the traditional 16 character roster, and it has evolved it’s roster to currently 82, with #83, Nike, the Goddess of Victory dropping later in December. It has six game modes, with the main focus on the traditional 3-laned map, being split up by the jungle filled with monster camps to obtain gold and powerful buffs. The characters available for playing are based off of gods and popular figures from ancient mythologies, including Norse, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Japanese, Mayan, and Hindu pantheons, which means that characters must be built around that god’s lore, rather than a character built “from the ground up” and completely up to the developers.

The different gods have different abilities based on who they are and what their lore involves. For example, the Hindu god Agni is the god of fire, which means that his abilities, or, “kit,” is heavily based around fire and things exploding. The different gods obtain various skins to change their appearance, while still trying to stay relatively close to their original look. A wonderful example of this would be Fenrir, the Norse bringer of Ragnarok, the end of days. In his mythology, he is a giant wolf, which he is shown as in the game. In his skin “Wreck the Halls,” however, he is a turned into a Rudolph-esque reindeer, decked out in a Christmas sweater, antlers draped in Christmas lights, and a flashy red nose. He is still Fenrir, but more fun and diverse. And, in typical MOBA fashion, most skins are for purchase or can be earned by completing challenges, with some available the day a new god releases, and some being available for only one month and then never again.

What really sets SMITE apart from the rest of the MOBA scene is the over-the-shoulder view. While most MOBAs use a top-down view of your character and the battleground, SMITE brings you right into the action with a much closer camera angle, making engagements feel much closer and intense. Since it’s release, many new MOBAs have tried to utilize SMITE’s unique take on perspectives for their own games, with varying levels of success, but none seem to be able to get it quite as right as Hi-Rez does.

Now let's talk about what is probably the most important part to any game: balance. Many games today, especially in freemium games like MOBAs, there will be characters or items that can completely ruin another player’s gaming experience. They are seen as OP (over-powered) and aspects that cannot be countered in any way. And, while SMITE is not an exception to the rule, the developers really seem to try to make the game as balanced as possible, particularly now during Season 3. At least once a month, there is an update for the game, bringing changes to items and characters, or fixing bugs as well as little quality of life changes. A great example of this would be the release of Khepri, the Egyptian Dawnbringer. Upon his release, there was not a single player that would tell you that this god was balanced, and he was banned for 98% of all competitive matches. Well, the game-masters heard their cries, and he was heavily nerfed in the next patch, while still allowing him to be playable. He was not completely nerfed into the ground, but he was nowhere near as strong as he was before, which fixed many qualms people had about the god.

Overall, SMITE is a wonderful addition to the MOBA genre. It plays very similarly to other popular MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2, while still having its own unique feel with the more personal camera angle. It is constantly evolving, with items and characters changing to better suit the flow of the game and not create anything too powerful, or anything that is too underpowered. The game has a dedicated player base of over 25 million players, and it just keeps growing and changing form. The developers try to really listen to the players, doing events and changes based around what the players feel could be fun or new or a quality of life improvement. I have grown to love Hi-Rez’s masterpiece SMITE, and I expect big things from them in the future. And based on past experiences, I don’t think that I, or anyone else who loves the game, will be disappointed.

I am a Junior attending Harry S. Truman High School.

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