Strife Hands-On Impressions

The next generation of MOBAs take the stage

In recent years the words “MOBA” has been synonymous with frantic and messy clashes between heroes, lighting reflexes and oh – more toxicity than running behind a fully built Singed – League of Legends joke-. My personal experience with MOBA games has been less than pleasant throughout the years, with 12-16 year old kids calling me a n00b; at the end of the day, I didn’t have fun at all. That was – and still is – the current state of MOBAs.

Enter “Strife”, a new free to play MOBA from the creators of Heroes of Newerth (HON) that they are calling the “2nd Generation MOBAs” which promises to be more beginner friendly and community focused. When I asked what would make Strife standout from the League of MOBAs e.g DOTA 2, LoL etc; Producer of Strife, Tim Shannon said “Strife is still a MOBA game in itself, however we are not reproducing anything from the other MOBAs out there, Strife has several mechanics and gameplay tweaks that would make Strife standout”.

Strife Hands On Screen Shot 01

Those changes that he mentioned was immediately apparent to me the second I took my seat at one of the many demo stations they had- fully decked out with Razer gear. Like any good MOBA game in this day and age, an introductory tutorial was provided to ease new players into the game; the tutorial would teach new players the very basics of the game e.g movement, basic combat and explanations of the game’s basic mechanics. Confident in my below average skills in MOBAs, I decided to skip the tutorial and jump right into the action – with AI bots.

Before I could jump right into the fray, I would have to make the biggest decision of my life – picking my hero. To be honest, I was initially disappointed with small pool of heroes – LoL, DOTA 2 and even Strife’s predecessor Heroes of Newerth boasts an incredible roster. Producer Tom Shannon said that the low hero count was intentional so more time would be spent on polishing each individual character. Everything from the aesthetics to their abilities, each character feels polished and balanced. In additions to skins, each character have a variety of color palettes which would greatly change the visual look of the character of your choice. After browsing through the handful of heroes that was available to me, I decided to pick Minerva, a female assassin armed with a spear; much like the archetypal assassin one would see in MOBAs, Minerva’s lack of crowd control ability is compensated by her high damage output. I was finally ready to go!

Strife Hands On Screen Shot 02

Strife starts out like any other MOBA, teams would spawn at their respective bases with a short moment to make the necessary pre-creep spawn procedures e.g buying items and moving to your desired lanes. Unlike most MOBAs on the market, Strife removed the concept of an actual physical “Shop” for players to buy items from(which means there’s isn’t a “Secret Shop” here) instead they bound the item shop to a single press of the “B” button. The effects of individual items in Strife are listed in percentages instead of raw numbers, which is a small touch that’ll go a long way in making the game a lot more user friendly.

The first thing I noticed was the actual size of the map, instead of a full-size map with lengthy individual lanes and a immense jungle for intricate ambushes i.e DOTA 2; Strife decided to opt for a smaller map which immensely reduced the time it took for me to travel from my base to where the action is. With such a small map, the pace of the game ended up becoming much faster as compared to the other MOBAs out there, clashes are frequent and intense, in short ,less time traveling and more time fighting !

Strife Hands On Screen Shot 03

In an effort to curb some of the toxicity from the players, Strife has decided to remove the concept of “Vision Wards” which are items that a player would purchase and plan on the map to gain vision of that particular area; arguments between players on who would actually buy the wards are uncommon in games. Wards are replaced by static buildings that players would capture, this major gameplay change would not only change the entire dynamic of the game (no more vision wars), it would also change the entire flow of the game (teams would now need to guard the “wards” on their side while trying in invade the opposing team’s “wards”)

Strife implemented a pretty awesome twist to the standard MOBA trope, it comes in the form of a giant ape named Krytos. The concept behind Kyrtos is similar to that of the Baron in LoL and the Roshan in DOTA 2 (though one would need to free Kyrtos by slaying a powerful neutral creep guarding him), they are meant to be a buff that could only be taken late into the game and both have the potential to change the tide of the game. However, unlike LoL and DOTA 2, the bonus for Krytos does not come in the form of a buff nor an item; Krytos would spawn on a random lane and help push that particular lane while soaking up creep and tower aggro. My personal favorite twist was the removal of “Last Hitting” where all players in the lane would get a share of the gold earned from killing creeps/minions instead of the player that “killed” the creep. There would no longer be “stealing” of farms, everyone would need to do their part.

Strife Hands On Screen Shot 05

As I played through the game, I was beginning to see the versatility of each hero. Instead of being just any ordinary assassin, Minerva could become a tank and an initiator for the team if I were to give her health increasing and armor items instead of just damage increasing ones. Tom told me that each hero is built with the emphasis on adaptability instead of a single role and itemization would be the deciding factor on which “role” the character would play.

With all that said, Strife might just be the next big MOBA; with the streamlining and simplification of the gameplay while still retaining the depth of the MOBA giants out there. The Closed beta of Strife is happening real soon so check out Strife’s South East Asia Facebook Page

by Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2013, All Rights Reserved.

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