MOBAs were a pretty big deal for awhile there. It seemed like we couldn’t go a week without hearing about the latest clone of Defense of the Ancients. Just as quickly as the bubble blew up, though, it popped; 2014 and 2015 saw the demise of DC vehicle Infinite Crisis, EA’s Dawngate and Ironclad’s Sins of a Dark Age. There are still a few upcoming MOBAs, like Gearbox’s Battleborn, but the genre doesn’t seem like the sure-fire money factory it used to be.
At this point we’re down to three main contenders: DOTA 2, League of Legends and Hi-Rez Studios’ SMITE. Today we’re talking about the latter, which gets my vote for the best option out there. Recently, SMITE saw an Xbox One release and now it’s undergoing beta testing on PlayStation 4.
Despite the jump to PS4, SMITE is…well, it’s still SMITE. At its heart, this is DOTA with gods from various mythological pantheons serving as the heroes. It’s still got all the godly action you know and love from this series, only now everyone is using a controller. While this is a MOBA at heart, there’s an array of game modes available that are defined largely by their similarity to DOTA. The “standard” mode is Conquest, which is your usual three-lane deal, while my preference is the Arena mode, which almost completely eliminates the MOBA aspects of the game and turns it into a team deathmatch.
As always, the highlight of SMITE is the vast variety of gods you can command during a match. You’ve got your tanks, like the wine god Bacchus. You’ve got your assassins, like personal favorite and venom goddess Serquet. There are hunters like the Greek mentor Chiron, mages like the god of the dead Hades and your slash-and-bash warriors like the Roman goddess Bellona. With over 70 gods to choose from, you’re bound to find someone you can stand playing. Victory requires learning the ins and outs of your chosen god as well as working together with your teammates.
One of SMITE’s biggest perks compared to most MOBAs is its pricing scheme; for a single payment of around $30 you’ll unlock permanent access to all current and future gods. DOTA 2 beats this out by being entirely free, but it’s still a pretty good deal.
Graphically, SMITE still looks pretty good despite moving to a vastly more limited platform. The biggest change you’ll notice is that, like the Xbox One version, the game runs at 30fps. Playing on a controller still feels pretty awkward as well, though at least you know that everyone else is struggling with one along with you. As a beta, this one’s also still a little buggy, with the scoreboard sometimes getting stuck on screen and other minor issues, but these will likely be worked out by release.
My one question here: it hasn’t yet been announced if you’ll be able to port your PC account to PS4 – naturally you can’t port an Xbox One account to PS4. Lacking PC-to-PS4 migration would mean that your microtransactions could be lost if you’re trying to switch platforms. This would be a make-or-break issue for me and doubtless other PC players as well.
Still, the PS4 beta of SMITE allows players who have never experienced the game before to give it a shot. SMITE on PC will run on a toaster, but a PS4 can perform just a bit better on the graphical front than a machine that cooks bread. If you’ve got a butt-kicking gaming PC, you should be playing SMITE on it and probably have no reason to migrate over to Console Land. If you don’t, here’s your chance to get in on some godly warfare. Let’s just hope Hi-Rez Studios decides on cross-platform interplay – at least on those microtransactions.