Updated Wed, May 30, 2012 by Stow
Hi-Rez Studios has been busy lately. Their upcoming FPS, Tribes Ascend, has been getting a lot of good press (check out some of our Tribes Ascend coverage) and their third person MOBA/DOTA-like title, SMITE is generating interest. Details on SMITE are few and far between at the moment, so we decided to sit down with Hi-Rez's Chief Operating Officer, Todd Harris, to get some juicy details on the third person genre-bender.
"There are lanes, there are minions, and it's 5v5," said Harris. That comment alone should quell a lot of the concerns people might have based on the various early trailers on the Internet. However, the unique mythology setting, far from a generic looking forest, definitely plays to its favor. We haven't seen a MOBA truly break that mold since Demigod came out to much fanfare...and little support. While you're controlling abilities with cooldowns and positioning like any other game in the genre, the third person camera really changes the overall feel of gameplay. WASD movement controls are used, and almost all attacks are skillshots. Even your melee attacks have to aimed carefully to ensure they land flush on the face of your opponent.
While the game will have a minimap to coordinate attacks and pinpoint locations of allies, viewing opponents will be a strict line of sight-type ordeal. Your peripheral vision as a player from a behind the hero viewpoint is not 360 degrees, after all, so paying attention and having a friend watch your six during pushes will keep you safe from the inevitable counterattack or gank.
When asked to describe a stand-out hero in the game, Todd noted that he plays a lot of Zeus. Zeus is a mage of lightning (duh?), but as you zap your opponents, they build charges. If you time it right, you can detonate the charges as you attack for massive damage. Detonate itself has no range limitation, so nowhere is safe even if you escape his wrath initially!
If you wanted to see the hero in action though, spectator mode and replays will be available upon release. This is outstanding news for those who want to learn, or simply enjoy watching players beat the hell out of each other without being tied down to the game for half an hour. If you don't think you can stomach the typically horrible community, rest assured. "The third person style with WASD movement will draw from MMO PVP fans, shooter fans, and anyone familiar with the control scheme," Harris said. Having a diverse draw of players will definitely help keep the player base civil.
Last hitting, a mechanic loathed by many, has a much smaller emphasis in SMITE compared to the other games. They don't want you worrying about hitting minions when a big ol' mythological figure is right next door. While the items in the game will be familiar to any veteran, Hi-Rez opted to keep these items simple because the combat in SMITE is so radically different.
Communication is one of the most important things in MOBA games and SMITE is introducing a system all too familiar to Tribes players. There's a hotkey voice communication system that will allow you to call missing heroes, make requests, and keep your team updated without having to rely on your headset or speaking the same language as your team. Everyone understands Shazbot, at least.
Gods will be purchased with in-game currency and some will be free each week. Cosmetic items will be purchased with real money ala League of Legends. (Currently there are fifteen, and more will be coming before launch.) Closed beta is around the corner this quarter, so look forward to hearing more about SMITE fairly soon!