So when I’m not playing games for Epic Brew or Gamezebo there is a 90% chance I’m playing Smite with my friends.
Hi Rez’s MOBA pulled my group of friends and I out of our Battlefield 3 infatuation and introduced us all to the MOBA genre. Smite (back then) was new, and not nearly as intimidating as League of Legends or Defense of the Ancients 2 was. Smite was filled with characters we already knew a little bit about, —like Thor, Zeus, and Poseidon— so it wasn’t too difficult to learn what all the playable characters did.
The main draw to Smite was that it put us in the action with our characters. League of Legends and DOTA2 both utilize isometric camera angles to show the player the action from a birds-eye perspective. This is great for seeing what everyone is doing at once, but it takes the player out of the intensity of the battle. In Smite, players are given an over-the-shoulder camera angle that forces them to constantly turn around to make sure they are not being flanked, and makes landing skill shots much more rewarding, since you’re in on the action.
For two-and-a-half years, my friends and I have been enjoying Smite and it’s consistent influx of pantheon-based characters trickling into the game, as well as the constant updates to the game that add in new skins, re-worked visuals, and new abilities entirely.
Storming Onto the Scene
Heroes of the Storm has managed to pluck my friends away from Smite, one at a time.
Since the open beta and recent launch, my friends and I have taken a liking to Blizzard’s MOBA, for many the same reasons we got into Smite…and for some other reasons entirely.
For one, we like that the playable characters are mostly ones we are familiar with after having dabbled in Blizzard’s holy triumvirate of franchises. Apart from the Lost Vikings and E.T.C., I recognized each of the heroes I saw in the game. Sure it makes absolutely no sense that Li Li (a little Pandaren girl from World of Warcraft) would stand a chance against The Lich King…let alone Diablo itself…but that’s just how it works in Heroes of the Storm. All the heroes are brought up/down to the same level, allowing for some really crazy battles with Blizzard heroes who normally wouldn’t ever cross paths.
The characters are not the only ones sharing the same, equal-footing experience; in Heroes of the Storm, the entire team shares the same experience level. As minions are slain, enemies killed, and objectives completed, the collected experience points from all team members goes towards the team’s level. This communistic way of doing things is nice in that it helps supporting characters from falling behind (as is often the case in Smite, where the tanks usually are outpaced by the other players).
I’ve been trying to think of a downside to this way of doing things, and I really can’t think of one. Sure you might get stuck with a player who just ignores the objectives and sits in lane and dies a lot, but if you and the rest of your team are willing to pick up the slack, there is absolutely the possibility that your team won’t fall too far behind.
You just don’t get this in Smite/League/DOTA. Usually, the team with the newbie is the team that is going to lose.
The Item Shop Is Out of Business
The other major difference between Smite and Heroes of the Storm is that the latter has no item shop.
I remember one of the most daunting aspects of Smite was learning the items that the player needs to buy to improve their god as a game progresses. Even after two full years with Smite, there are some items in the item shop that I’m not completely familiar with.
Heroes of the Storm doesn’t have this problem because Heroes of the Storm doesn’t have an item shop.
By allowing the player to customize their hero’s abilities as they level-up, rather than by buying stats through items, Blizzard has done away with the need for items.
Part of what makes League of Legends, DOTA2, and Smite (to a degree) so competitive is knowing which of the hundred-or-so items to equip your character with. In Heroes of the Storm, you just simply pick a new improvement at level 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 20. That’s it.
The ability improvement usually feature a noticeable change in that abilities function, so this gradually improves the hero in much the same way that items would.
To my surprise, I found that I miss having an item shop. I like tinkering around with builds, and having a number of options available to me, rather than just 4-5 choices every 3-4 levels. Having no item shop doesn’t really hurt Heroes of the Storm, but its absence is palpable.
While I don’t see Heroes of the Storm replacing Smite amongst my friends, it is a nice change of pace from Smite for a bit. Heroes of the Storm offers us a pretty relaxed game experience with some fun heroes to play around with, and that is enough to keep us playing around with the game off-and-on, for the foreseeable future.
It certainly lacks the depth that Smite, League of Legends, and DOTA2 possess, but some players may prefer that…as all three of those games can quickly get emotionally draining after a few poor match-ups.