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Mapp vs MOBA Madness: Smite & Dota 2

According to information helpfully collected by Steam, I have spent a lot of time playing Dota 2, though I take some solace in the fact that it doesn't differentiate between time spent playing the game and time spent watching games via the client or those afternoons I forget I left it running while doing something else. Even if I were to be generous and say that half of my logged time was due to these things, that's still quite a bit of time spent playing Dota 2. For the longest time, it was my go-to-game - I played with a group calling themselves "the casual dota chums", I played in a team, I played alone, I watch games that other people played and I tried to glean information about how my own game could be improved based on how professional players click their way around the lanes.

Yet over the past few months, I've found myself wanting to play less and less. Team games became exercises in frustration, organised play becoming anything but. I tried playing an Ability Draft game this lunchtime with a friend and, even though we won, I found that I just wasn't enjoying myself. I had tasted the sweet support life that Smite - another game in the rather nebulous MOBA genre - and going back to the poverty stricken world of playing a support in Dota 2 felt like a step backwards. In a game of Dota 2, by the time the carry players deign to get involved have enough farm to feel confident about fighting, it's my experience that supports are left fairly helpless in the face of high hit point pools on enemy heroes and Black King Bars. We'll have given up most of our towers before the team comes together to fight as, well, a team.

I've yet to have this same experience in Smite; quite the opposite in fact. While this might be down to the crowd of people I play Smite with (themselves mostly made up of people who've turned their backs on Dota and, I note, mostly people who played support in that game too), some of it can be put down to how damage, items and roles in the game are handled. The game is faster, more aggressive, and I feel that - as now a sometimes support player - I can remain relevant throughout the game. I've never had to beg people to take objectives, or just be aggressive, or try to make something happen. Smite feels fast and aggressive; Dota 2 feels like everyone is paralysed with fear.

In the game of Dota 2 I mentioned earlier, we had a line-up capable of ganking people comfortably. As a support, I warded the enemy jungle so that we could pick off their junglers, because quite often one or two of them weren't in lane getting experience. The enemies pop up on the mini-map in their jungle, illuminated and exposed by ward coverage that meant we'd see where their reinforcements are, if any. But nobody did anything about it. The chat log was more or less filled with our carry players telling everyone to get back.

I got sick of playing game after game where the pace was dictated by either (a) players who were so cautious they never fight or, worse, (b) the enemy team. I miss those early games of Dota 2 where people would play aggressively - where you would try to make things happen, and yes, you might fail, but that's fine. The culture of the game has made people afraid to take risks and, by waiting until the game is almost lost before, you get put in the position where any single mistake costs you the game.

Am I still going to play Dota 2, when I could be playing Smite? At this point, the answer is: probably not. I'll probably still play it, every now and then when the mood takes me, and I enjoy watching it far more than I enjoy watching Smite, but Smite is a game where support play feels far more valued.