Changing common MOBA mechanics in “Strife”

“Strife – The Second Generation MOBA” is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game released in open beta by S2 Games and available on Steam. Advertising itself as a successor to other massively popular MOBAs such as “Defense of the Ancients” and “League of Legends,” “Strife” provides a gaming experience that balances unique mechanics while maintaining a good aura of familiarity with games of the same genre.

In MOBAs, teams of five players compete against each other to destroy the enemy’s base at the other corner of the map. Team members play a single character and combine skill, strategy and teamwork in short matches to defeat the enemy.

There are a few unique features in “Strife” that significantly change game play compared to other MOBAs and it does not have communication between teams in order to reduce trash talking between players.

While I am disappointed that I cannot compliment a deft opponent or use psychological warfare to foil an enemy strategy, I really appreciate the significant drop in hostile communication between players. Allies and enemies alike can always be messaged after the game for post-game chatter.

Every match is a competition for various resources against the enemy but also between allies. Some roles require a lot of money to play effectively, which can lead to abrasive players being territorial about loot and experience. Gold sharing between teammates reduces hostility between allies and encouraged me to work towards a common profit.

“Strife” also has out-of-combat regeneration which is interesting because of the new mechanics it provides when farming for gold and experience in a lane. Teammates tag team while fighting for territory so that they can heal just outside of the front lines. While I’m growing accustomed to it, I don’t really like this feature. I feel that life should be a limited resource in the field so that there is a higher risk in balancing survival and desperation for greater wealth.

Items in “Strife” can be combined with recipes to gain additional benefits and save space in one’s inventory. Other MOBAs have even better equipment that use recipe items in their crafting components   but “Strife” decided that recipes can only be made with regular components.

Having two or three items with minor benefits that I can freely mix and match for various purposes is a lot more fun to play with as opposed to selecting solely one item with major benefits.
Towers in “Strife” that protect major paths to the base at the corner of the map have an appropriate level of danger attached to them. Other MOBAs have depreciated the strength of towers giving insufficient damage support and frequently lead to wild goose chases.

People can choose to play on servers all around the world so players from other continents connect to games and then disconnect. Players who leave have harsh penalties when playing again but the rating penalty affects the entire team including legitimate players. This means that legitimate players end up with a low rating and are unjustly paired up with other players with low ratings such as frequent leavers. It turns into a vicious cycle commonly dubbed “ELO hell.”

The gameplay is unique and interesting but item builds end up very uniform when playing against opponents. Few people play this game in open beta so the best times to play are on weekend afternoons or evenings. “Strife” went into open beta Aug. 29, 2014 and the player ladder will be reset in a couple months.