I stopped by S2 Games booth on Monday to wrap up what had been a crazy busy weekend at PAX Prime. I spoke to one of the balance designers on their latest title Strife about how far the game has come from the demo they presented last year.
For those of you that don’t know, S2 Games is probably still most well known for their work on Heroes of Newerth, a MOBA that is very in the same vein as the original DOTA. However, with the rapidly changing landscape that all burgeoning genres undergo, they have become the first company to develop two completely separate MOBA titles. As people have innovated within the genre, and discovered new approaches that create more engaging gameplay, I’ve always really agreed with the decision to create a new system from the ground up to accommodate everything they want to do, rather than trying to force these shifting ideals into their original title that wasn’t designed to accommodate them.
One of the points of emphasis that S2 made last year at PAX Prime was that they wanted Strife to have a larger focus on the story of their heroes as well as the narrative of the story at large. When the game’s closed beta was first released, players could assume the role of Caprice and run through what was, in essence, a tutorial for the game. It covered why she was a part of the contest and what kind of warrior she was… this was cool and all, but it was just one hero.
Well that changed when S2 revealed Bastion’s (another hero of the game) single player content. Explaining how he met his dragon companion, where he comes from, and the trials he’d passed before entering Strife’s primary contest. It’s good to see S2 follow through on their plans of making Strife a more narratively focused title than MOBA traditionally are. I was told that “S2 is not in the practice of making promises that they don’t plan on doing everything they can to fulfill”. Obviously designs change when they’re shown not to work (their enchanting system in the closed beta has been entirely removed, because it didn’t make the game more fun to play), but S2 has proven that they’re willing to stick to their ideals and put in the work needed to make sure their titles are up to their own personal, high, standards.
The other big announcement was that Strife is now in open beta, meaning that MOBA players en mass can now participate in the game. It’s definitely a good addition to the genre, and does a lot of things right in regards to crafting a more action packed play experience. The guys at S2 have definitely put together a great game here, and I’d encourage MOBA fans to check it out.