A Newcomer’s Look At Smite On Xbox One And Gigantic
At PAX this weekend, I had my first opportunity to go hands-on with two MOBAs headed to Xbox One. The genre has a firm foothold on PC, but hasn’t made much of a dent on console. That’s about to change.
First up is Smite. Hi-Rez’s deity-focused MOBA is a better fit for console than some of its competition. Whereas League of Legends and Dota 2 feature an RTS-style top-down view, Smite puts the camera behind the player.
The effect is a familiar third-person action view that makes the game a solid fit for a controller. It’s important to note that despite visual similarities to more straightforward action games, Smite is still a MOBA.
All of the heroes, even the tankiest bruisers, are squishy. That means you can’t “Leeeeeeroy Jenkins” into a pack of enemy gods and expect to survive for more than two seconds.
Where the game does excel is on-boarding new MOBA players. I strongly recommend that if you’ve never played a game in the genre before that you take full advantage of the auto-level and auto-shop features.
The auto-level option assigns points to the four different skills at each rank-up without you having to worry about it. After a few games, you’ll probably want to turn it off and experiment a little bit. It’s good to enable as you learn the map and the core concepts, though.
In most MOBAs (Smite included), you can only purchase new items when you return to base. With the auto-buy option enabled, the game will spend your gold on gear that best fits your chosen deity’s skill set and role.
At some point, you’re likely going to want to turn this off, learn what different items do, and start tailoring your favorite god to conform more closely with your play style. When I played League of Legends for a couple of months, I barely scratched the surface of the item system. It’s where the heart of the genre’s complexity lies, and it has the same appeal as building a Magic: The Gathering deck.
Smite is in closed alpha right now, with release planned later this year. If you can get your hands on an invitation (register on the website), you can download and start playing right away.
I also had the chance to play the PC version of Motiga’s Gigantic. This title is also coming to Xbox One, with unified accounts and cross-play with Windows 10.
Gigantic, too, uses a third-person action camera. Instead of having standard MOBA minion waves, it handles things quite differently.
The goal in Gigantic is take down the opposing team’s enormous creature. To do this, you’ll need to capture objectives, spawn in monsters, upgrade those creatures, and push forward.
Each of the heroes has a standard set of MOBA skills, including an ultimate ability. There are no items though, with Motiga opting for branching upgrade paths and passives to give players opportunities to customize their builds.
This change makes sense, since you won’t be farming AI minions to boost your gold reserves. Instead, Gigantic pushes players into hero-on-hero combat early and frequently. The juxtaposition of the player characters with the enormous, advancing, eponymous gigantic monsters creates a spectacular sense of scale, even at this early stage in development.
Ultimately, the experience felt more action heavy. Heroes felt slightly less squishy than in other MOBAs, and the focus on point control provides a more familiar vocabulary for those coming primarily from more traditional team-based multiplayer.
The beauty of both Gigantic and Smite on console is that their core systems are tuned for a range of players. Getting started isn’t difficult, and the depth of options are likely to surprise many console players that have written off the MOBAs a “PC thing.”
That’s set to change as these titles (along with Orcs Must Die Unchained on PS4) hook untapped audiences for the first time. The MOBA revolution has been underway for some time, but 2015 is the year it’s likely to claim uncontested victory.
For a look at the Xbox One MOBA phenomenon from a genre veteran, you can read Dan Tack's take on Smite and Gigantic.