MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) have had a massive impact on the PC gaming landscape as they collectively rode the growing wave of game streaming to become one of the industry's biggest genres. It's strange, then, that this multiplayer juggernaut has largely bypassed PlayStation consoles and it's only with the recent release of SMITE on PS4 that a new and previously untapped audience now has a chance to see just what all the fuss is about.
So, if you're looking to get into SMITE, we're here with some hints and tips to help you speed straight up the steep learning curve common in MOBAs, and become a god in the lanes.
Pick a god and stick with them – for now
Since SMITE is a free-to-play game, you'll only have free access to a small number of the seventy or so deities to begin with. While some of these free gods rotate in and out each week, there are five – one for each of the classes – that are always available. As a result, it's worth taking the time to try out Neith (Hunter), Ra (Mage), Thor (Assassin), Ymir (Guardian), and Guan Yu (Warrior) before picking one to be the first god that you'll master.
With each character sporting five abilities, you may think that it takes no time at all to learn a particular god, but you'll quickly find that they each play very differently, and that it can take many games to pick up every tactical nuance. One source that can help speed up this understanding are the 'Know Your Enemy' god guides found on the SMITE YouTube channel, which provide excellent primers for how to get the most out of your chosen starting hero - at least, once you've got a basic handle on how they play.
Learn to walk before you run
Of all the game modes in SMITE, Conquest is the most challenging and will be immediately familiar to anyone who's played a MOBA before. Rather than jump into Conquest right from the start, though, it's best to spend time in a couple of the other game modes in order to learn the ropes.
First off is Arena - an approximation of Team Deathmatch - where you can hone your skills with your chosen god in a chaotic melee of deity-on-deity action. This'll give you ample opportunity to get used to your god's skills - as well as those of the gods that you'll come up against – and will help you get to grips with your character's strengths and weaknesses.
After you're comfortable with the abilities at your disposal, you should move onto Joust where two teams of three fight in a single lane. Since Conquest has three lanes, Joust acts as a primer for how to fight in a single lane without having to think about the added complexity that the additional two will bring. Here you'll learn how to fight your way to the enemy base, farm NPC minions for gold and experience, as well as when to push your lane or go on the defensive.
It's also worthwhile starting out with auto-level and auto-buy turned on, as this will allow the game to automatically choose which skills to level up, and the best items to buy with your gold. There's a whole other meta-game in SMITE around which order to level your skills, as well as which items to buy, and this can be incredibly hard to get your head around, so it's best left until you've got a lot more experience.
Strength in numbers
You'll quickly learn that even when playing some of the more resilient gods you can be killed very, very quickly if you get in a bad situation. Since SMITE is a team game, you'll increase the opportunity for these swift deaths if you run around on your own trying to take everyone on yourself. As a result, sticking together with your teammates wherever you can, as well as recognising when you should retreat to safety, are key things to learn.
On top of this, your team's minions provide welcome distractions to not only their counterpart's on the opposite team, but also enemy structures, meaning that it's well worth sticking around your minion waves so that they can take some of the heat off you.
Always be farming
In simple terms, if your team gathers experience and gold at a faster rate than your opponents, then there's a good chance that you'll come out on top. Therefore, every second that you're not in your lane, you'll be missing out on all the gold and experience that you could have gained from those nearby enemy minions.
Killing minions at a steady rate is vital in the early game, and you should avoid getting involved in any major brawls - unless you're certain you'll kill an enemy hero without dying yourself – as most of the time you'll just get beaten up so much that you'll have to go back to your base to heal. Anything that causes you to miss out on those all-important farming opportunities in the early game has the potential to allow your opponents to outpace you, and should they get two or three levels ahead you'll notice they'll be able to push you around more easily.
Don't be greedy
See that enemy god that's damaged so badly they're running away? Before you decide to chase them down ask the following questions: how's my health and mana pool? Are my abilities on cooldown? Where are the rest of the enemy team? These questions will help you determine the chances of success, and despite the evidence most of the time that chasing your weakened foe probably isn't a good idea, your immediate desire to try and get that kill will feel overwhelming. Fight that temptation, as you'll more than likely be running straight into hopeless situation where you'll get ambushed and killed.
What was previously said about always farming is equally true for the opposing team, and in the early game, pushing an enemy out of lane for any length of time will give you an all-important opportunity to pull ahead and get a much needed edge. Yes, it's not as satisfying as cutting an opponent down, but if you get far enough ahead of them in the match there'll be more than enough opportunities for racking up kills later on.
And that's it. There's so much more to learn about SMITE, but for now these pointers should help you get acclimatised to this very enjoyable MOBA - and remember, no matter what anyone tells you, there's no such thing as stealing a kill; only securing it. See you in the lanes!