SEATTLE – S2 Games hopes to forever change MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games with Strife, which the developer behind Heroes of Newerth calls the first second generation MOBA. Gamers around the globe can check out Strife for free now through the Open Beta. Included in the Open Beta is the first-ever single player MOBA experience, called Prophecy of Darkstone. The first in a regular series of episodic games that focus on heroes from the game is called Child of the Dawn.
“This single player campaign is something people have been waiting for,” said Brad Bower, director of special projects at S2 Games. “Bringing the lore and the story of the heroes from Strife to life through mini adventure gameplay is treading new water. We’re going to gauge community reaction from the Open Beta as we move forward with future games.”
Bower said the studio received tons of email about the campaign after the Closed Beta tutorial. Fans wanted to not only see the backstory of Strife, but experience it.
“There are a lot of complex politics and relationships that exist between these heroes,” said Bower. “Right now only the S2 team knows this internally. A lot of the interesting aspects of storylines are lost by simply reading lore. We want people to fully experience it through the eyes of the characters. We believe the best way to tell a story is to let them play it, rather than have a comic book or a story on a website.”
Child of the Dawn focuses on Bastion, who’s a servant boy in the king’s castle. He’s a child of prophecy, which plays a big part in the story of Strife. Bower said he’s a natural jumping-off point to see the world of Strife because his story is a catalyst that’s going to be a bigger prophecy. People within the world of Strife have forgotten what these prophecies are. Some people have developed their own stories and meanings about prophecies, but Bastion forces people to rethink things. Some people will say this is a sign of bad things, while others have been waiting for this sign.
“People are going to enjoy these mini-adventures,” said Bower. “They can play through one story and we’ll release another in a few months. We want to give people something to become more invested in beyond the battles in the arena.”
Strife On The Go
S2 Games has also officially launched the Strife Companion App for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Bill Nega, special projects engineer at S2 Games said the idea was to put Strife in players’ hands wherever they want to access it.
“You can do everything but actually play the game,” said Nega. “When you’re on your PC playing Strife, you want to just play the game. Now while you’re waiting for a coffee, you can do all this stuff so you can spend time in the game actually playing. With a second generation MOBA we felt like we needed to offer something more to our players.”
When players log into the app, they get a free wheel spin. It’s available once a day and allows players to win valuable in-game resources. The app will send a pop-up reminder every day about the spin. Nega said this is a great way to get items and pets faster. He spun the wheel at a press preview event and got a +50 Elixir, which would take four games to win in-game.
The app allows players to see all of their heroes and pets featuring in-game 3D graphics. Gamers can see what their heroes and pets look like with different skins, rotating them in 3D, before making purchases that will instantly be available when they enter the game.
Crafting can also be done with the app, which offers a full list of items from the game. Nega demonstrated crafting Windrush of Tenacity, which gives a boost of speed to you and your teammates. He made it an all-power item by switching out health and manna components for power.
Second Generation MOBA
With Strife now playable for all MOBA fans, S2 Games hopes to differentiate its second MOBA from the crowd through customization. The studio is making its full cast of approximately 60 heroes available and playable from the start. But how players use these heroes and their pets will open up a lot of different gameplay options for the battle arena.
“MOBAs are a hard game to play,” said Pu Liu, director of monetization at S2 Games. “A lot of the long-term fun comes from strategy and how you outthink your opponents. It’s important to feel like you’re outsmarting your opponents and not just outplaying them.”
Liu said the enchanting and crafting systems allows players to build their own experience and helps provide the depth that S2 was going for. The team did a lot of iterating through the Closed Beta, learning that players didn’t like the progression or the grind of the game.
“We’ve balanced every bonus with a counterpoint,” said Liu. “Even if you have no interest in a crafting system, you have options. As you level up you’ll be able to craft two items after the first 10 games. We don’t want you to stop after every game and feel like you need to craft. There’s no resource cap that players should be able to hit. We want people to embrace playing the game.”
Another way S2 hopes players embrace the game is through pets. At Level 1, players can choose one of three pets (Mystik, Pincer or Tortus). These creatures come in different skins (including a cute baby variation). Liu said pets aren’t a gimmick in the game.
“Strife is the first MOBA to have pets, which augment the hero you chose with a specific skill set that levels up alongside your hero,” said Liu. “This lets you take different directions with heroes. You can make a tank character like bastion more aggressive by adding Mystik. Everyone can see pets. It’s not a hidden mechanic under the hood. You can unlock more pets as you play. Since the heroes are all free, pets are a way to gate things, get the gears grinding and make people invested in the game.”
The five vs. five team-based gameplay has a clean look and feel that differentiates the experience from other MOBAs. Gamers can check out the single player and multiplayer action now for free at www.Strife.com.