Strife Beta Preview

Remember the good old days when the only recognizable MOBA was DotA? Fast forward a couple of years, and now MOBAs are coming out of the woodwork left and right, and it has become a worldwide phenomenon so much that players from different countries compete for team supremacy and bragging rights (not to mention a considerable sum of money). On that regard, MOBAs nowadays are clawing at the bit to stand out from the other titles in the market.

With that in mind, S2 Games, the guys behind Heroes of Newerth, has brought out a new MOBA – Strife. Still in its beta stages, Strife aims to continue what its predecessor started while at the same time present new game mechanics for the burgeoning MOBA genre. But the question remains: does the new mechanics make it stand out enough from the other MOBA titles? Let’s find out!

 

Someone Call a Mechanic!

For game developers, it is paramount that their next title would provide or even surpass their previous titles when it comes to player experience.  In Strife, S2 Games seems to have learned from their past ventures in Heroes of Newerth by trying to make a game that has an identity (because c’mon, HoN was essentially a glossier version of DotA). That being said, Strife gives players  new gameplay mechanics that once mastered, would sway the game in their favor.

A typical MOBA game usually begins to unfold slowly, with players getting gold from last hits from creeps and the occasional first blood from killing enemy heroes; with Strife, its gameplay is all about the action, and as such, is a bit faster and more in-your-face. This due to the game’s gold sharing system. Players who share a lane together can split lane assignments where one can focus on harassing the opposing team while the other would last hit every enemy creep; gold acquired from the kill would be divided evenly between the lane partners.

..or you could just look for a lane where you can farm all the gold for yourself

..or you could just look for a lane where you can farm all the gold for yourself

Touching on the harassing part of the laning phase, Strife also incorporates a health and mana recovery system when players are out of combat for a certain duration. This system makes players stay in the thick of the fight at all times; if they get damaged, they could just heal the damage after a couple seconds. Sticking to its fast-paced gameplay, Strife also gives players personal in-game couriers that can jettison all bought items from the shop to the players; each courier cannot be targeted, and can store item recipes, and its components until players deem it time to get those items. All these factors make for quite an exhilarating laning and clashing phase as it would certainly test one’s mettle to multitask and know what’s happening on different parts of the map as well as one’s own item path.

Causal MOBA players might take a while to get a hold of these laning mechanics and be awestruck due to the frenetic pace Strife pits them in, but as with all other games, every time a gamer plays under a new mechanic, through habituation, such mechanics would become second nature to him.

 

Pets and Crafting

Strife also introduces a pet system and an item crafting and enchanting system. Players choose a pet that possesses different powers which will help in battle. Each pet has a level 24 cap, and every third level, their basic skills can be amplified or be switched with a new unlocked ability. They are different from couriers, as pets have the aforementioned powers and are constantly tailing their heroes. So far, there are eight available pets in the beta; players can unlock them by using in-game currency. The inclusion of pets that have specific abilities adds a bit of customization by allowing players to get the right pet and hero combination that suits their play style.

Gotta catch 'em all!

Gotta catch ’em all!

Strife also has an in-game item customization which allows players the option of enhancing an existing item’s potency with the help of additional components. Such items can be used in-game, and their prices will vary depending on what items were mixed and matched. These two systems further stresses the ethos that Strife wants to convey – in this game, you have the capability to play a character the way YOU want.

On that regard, one can see these game mechanics help establish Strife’s identity as a game. Strife aims to target players who are new to the MOBA genre as well as the more experienced players to take part in a different MOBA experience; to their credit, their in-game mechanics make Strife stand out from other MOBAs.

 

What’s Your Story, Hero?

Another thing worth noting is that S2 Games are planning on releasing single player content, similar to that of RTS and dungeon games, that revolve around the stories of some of the heroes in Strife. Those who have tried the open beta have already experienced the in-game tutor for the controls and basic stuff one needs to about the world of Strife. But a closer look reveals that the tutorial has players run through the narrative of the available characters. For instance, Caprice’s narrative unfolds briefly during the basic controls phase of the tutorial. Here, players will know the initial reason why Caprice opted to join the battle in Strife. Incorporating as much character lore in their single player campaigns add further depth to a game such as this – the available single player episode about the hero Bastion and his exploits in fulfilling a prophecy bestowed upon him, for instance, lets players not only use Bastion, but a slew of other heroes as well. This is a clever strategy on S2 Games’ part, because players can now get a chance to try out a hero and not resort to playing a custom game (or an actual 5-on-5 melee). This says quite a lot though; it shows the developers’ drive to give something new that does not feel too out of place.

you guys want to play Hide and Seek?

you guys want to play Hide and Seek?

Adding some single player content in a MOBA game might leave some MOBA veterans scoffing, but those who play games for the story would get a kick out of such intertwining narratives between heroes. It also provides players other game modes to play in the event that they’d need a palate cleanser of sorts after so many team games.

 

A Region is What You Make of It

When it comes to playing Strife across regions, Strife manages to have their players’ accounts be ready to use regardless of one’s region – for instance, a player in North America can play his account on a South East Asian client without the hassle of importing or exporting account details like other MOBAs require for cross-regional play; in Strife, all you need is to create an account, find a Strife client, and you’re good to go.

Player across regions can play with one another in Strife. However, one’s internet connection would be a big factor in gaming experience since each region has different internet speeds, and to fully enjoy the cross-regional play Strife provides, a decent internet connection would be needed.

In Soviet Russia, Gorilla CRUSHES your CRUX!!

In Soviet Russia, Gorilla CRUSHES your CRUX!!

Final Thoughts

Things are looking pretty good for S2’s newest MOBA. It appears that they have really learned from the past, and are taking the right step forward with Strife. It’s quite a task to create a game that adds a lot elements from various genres, but from the looks of things, Strife has managed to pull it off; it gives players the right amount of variety without making it too gimmicky which is commendable. As with all beta tests, all the fine-tuning and balancing issues will be addressed with every patch update and community feedback. Now, the story would be on how well S2 Games can manage this new title of theirs.

With that in mind, I highly recommend Strife for both casual MOBA players who want to try a game that offers more than the 5-on-5 skirmishes that is tied to every other MOBA out there, as well as for the more seasoned MOBA players to test their mettle in a new kind of MOBA.

 

Pros

– ever-expanding roster that caters to different play styles
– fast and furious gameplay
– interesting gold sharing, pet, crafting, and enchanting system
– can play with people from different regions
– character-specific game modes

Cons
– takes a while to get the hang of items
– casual gamers might get too caught up with all the things that are happening
– talking to the other team is only allowed after the game ends
– contingencies needed to address lag for players in different regions

Rating: 8/10

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