Wizards A Go-Go: Strife Now In Open Beta


Heroes of Newerth devs S2 Games declared their second wizard ’em up, Strife, a “second generation MOBA.” (Don’t confuse Strife with Smite, Hi-Rez’s similarly-named wizard pusher.) With one Dote ’em up under their belt, the reasoning goes, they’ve learned from successes and mistakes of the wizard murder simulator genre. Yes, yes, but what’s it actually like? We can now all see for ourselves, as S2 launched Strife into open beta testing on Friday.

You know the basics: two teams of five wizards are fighting each other for whatever reason, pushing down lanes towards each other’s base, levelling up, buying items, and generally killing each other. That’s a Dote ’em up all right. Here come the twists.

Wizards are accompanied into battle by a pet of their choice, critters sheep to crabs who have their own abilities and level up persistently along with your account. Wizards respawn quicker than other games and regenerate quickly out of combat, so they should spend less time dead or walking back to base to heal up. Last-hit gold is shared between wizards too. Strife’s map also has a honking great neutral monster held captive somewhere, which players can free to send rampaging down lanes. Look, rather than summarise all these differences myself, I’ll send you to this page doing just that.

Head over here to create an account and play in the open beta. Have a month-old trailer:


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    ventricule says:

    The graphics and the “improvements” look very LoLey. Has anyone tried it to say if it could satisfy a hardcore doto player ?

    • Kitsunin says:

      If you want something simpler than dota, while being more forgiving and intuitive, then yes. I like it a lot myself, but then dota is just a bit too tense for me (While I absolutely despise the rigidity of LoL).

      You share gold with your lane partner, while snowballing tends not to be as bad as in other games (one farmed carry does not mean teamfights are impossible to win, though a farmed entire team can), which leads to a much more chill game. Most unintuitive complexity from dota isn’t there (pulling, blocking, denying, and such).

      The heroes feel unique, with powerful, iconic-feeling abilities, and though there are only 20 right now, each feels very different than any other in almost every way, and can be played in a decent variety of ways. All heroes on a team get similar amounts of farm, and all tend to be similarly important at all stages of the game, so there are often a few viable ways to build a character, with completely different focuses, which lead to quite different play-styles.

      EDIT: This is, maybe, a bit more accurate now. My memory sucks, wow.

      • Xocrates says:

        “some of the aspects that I really like about dota that aren’t in LoL are there, activatable items being a big one (…)”

        uh? Lol does have activatable items, to the point riot has mentioned one problem they have in support itemization is that it’s not unusual for a support to end with essentially twice as many skills due to all the activatable items (other roles generally only get one or two).
        Granted, I think lol generally avoided making them when the game came out, but that’s certainly no longer true.

        (unless you were talking about other features not including the activatable items, the sentence comes across as rather ambiguous there :P)

        That said, the lack of activatable items in other games do not surprise me in the least, particularly since most other games have (understandably) tried for a more accessible design, and activatable items add a layer of complexity that is not strictly necessary, particularly since it removes focus from the champions abilities.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Holy crap you’re right. I played LoL all the way to level 30 how the crap did I forget that? Maybe it’s been so long since I played LoL that I forgot how much I liked it (Doubtful, since I stopped because I realized I like dota better), I have no idea.

          One other reason I like Strife a lot — it feels much more active than other games, with a smaller map and much less reason to return to base, teamfights happen a lot more often. Unless you personally suck, your Kills + Assists will just about always be over 15.

          Still, as much as I talk about how I love it, I want to play Dawngate more, and I have no idea why.

    • toxic avenger says:

      I mean, judging from the article and the video–the game seems to center around a more forgiving play style for the new gamer–I would guess hardcore MOBA fans would best look elsewhere. I mean, what promo video is going to ostracize a part of a potential fanbase by outright stating something like that, so who really knows?

  2. JustAPigeon says:

    The name makes me not want to play it.

    “Fancy a game of Strife?”

    • Shadowcat says:


  3. Gog Magog says:

    I miss Warcraft III
    I miss the complexity of it all

  4. Gnoupi says:

    The differences it shows compared to other dote games sound interesting.
    Shared gold, regeneration, shorter respawn timer, and a pet which delivers your items, it all sounds like a nice quality of life improvement.

    I especially appreciate the changes to map vision (no warding), to prevent having your ward mule player.

    Now remains to see if it all works out in the game, and how they monetize it. I will surely give it a try.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Skins are way too expensive, but gameplay-wise monetization is really great. You don’t need to play all that long comparatively, to have access to all the pets, and as many crafted items as you need. It does take a bit of a while, but there’s still no need to pay any money whatsoever.

  5. Steven Hutton says:

    Removed all kinds of crazy bullshit. Yay!

    Added all kinds of grind and nonsense! Boo!

    Two steps forward, one step back.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Your mileage may vary on the distance covered in either direction.

      For me the idea of persistent unlocks that provide an advantage (as is implied, but might not be the case, viz. the eternal argument about ‘sidegrades’) suggests they’ve traced a trajectory so far into the Pay to Win camp that I’d give the game about as much chance as Company of Heroes Online (anyone remember that?).

      • Kitsunin says:

        Except it takes barely any time to reach max pet level, which you can only buy yourself a boost towards, and even less to have a full set of crafted equipment (Which are all sidegrades anyway). It really isn’t pay to win in the slightest little bit.

    • Asurmen says:

      I’m really struggling to find the grind and persistent unlocks you’re both talking about.

      • Kitsunin says:

        There are pets, which are like rune pages and summoner spells wrapped up into one choice. It does take about 100 games minus quest rewards minus level-up rewards to get one, and there are 8 of them (but you start with one and two other cost less than half as much, so more like 6 in price), but none of them are better than any other, and while they do get better based on your level, it doesn’t take that long for them to reach max level. Maybe seventy games? You can half the time it takes if you buy a $10 exp booster, and that’s basically the extent of the pay to win.

        • Steven Hutton says:

          So unless you spend money it takes over a thousand games to have access to all of the gameplay relevant (non-cosmetic) content?

          • Kitsunin says:

            No, man. If you did the math based on what I said it takes 600, minus level awards and quests, which might even go so far as to halve that number (level rewards are pretty huge, daily win doubles your reward, there’s also a weekly 10 win award that adds a little bit). You probably won’t even care in the slightest if you don’t have one or two of the pets which don’t match the playstyle you like. If you compare 300 games to get 100% of gameplay content to LoL or Dawngate (The competitors I have played), it’s not even close to close. I’ve played 22 games of Dawngate and I’m a bit over halfway towards getting one of 32 shapers (with a ton more coming, I’m sure). LoL gives champs a little faster but there are over 100 so it will take literally a year of playing 10 games per day to get all the champions (Pretty sure I read an article where someone actually did the math there). That’s not even counting the runes which require the same currency, and offer a literal in-game advantage.

            Sure it will take some time but it’s just that: some time, compared with the competitors where it’s a completely crazy amount of time.

          • Cik says:

            That’s exactly what my socialist gamer friend said too. Funny, the expectation of entitlement to others products and services for free.

  6. cpt_freakout says:

    Now they can get started on Savage 3! Right? *crickets*

  7. Xocrates says:

    I wonder if the short respawn timers and regeneration won’t cause the game to became stale-mate-y though.

    The reason you need to go back to base in other games is so the other team has time to push the lane and/or roam.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Creeps spawn with such frequency that they don’t actually kill each other faster than new ones spawn. Because of this, if a lane is left alone, they will pile up, and if one side goes and clears out the enemy’s creeps, their creeps will naturally push the lane. Also, the map is a bit smaller, so early game you can destroy a tier 1 tower even in the small amount of time it takes an enemy to respawn and get back, especially since it takes less time for your teammates to come and help push. The smaller map also makes roaming much faster, so you don’t necessarily need the enemy to be out of commission. Towards max level, which doesn’t take that long to reach, respawn timers are still long enough that you can sometimes, late-game, push through the enemy’s last tower and fountain before they can respawn if you get a penta.

      It’s not that stale-mate-y, I’ve played 70 games and never 100% finished my build (Though they did increase gold gain a bit in the last patch, so maybe now…). Even so, unless your team obviously just isn’t as good as the other, there’s rarely a moment when the game’s outcome is certain before that final push that ends it.

  8. BlueTemplar says:

    That game name is too short.
    I propose adding some extra words.
    10 of them :
    Aeon of Strife Styled Fortress Assault Game Going On Two Sides.

    And we’re back full circle!

    • Gog Magog says:

      Was just about to say the first of these Isometric Multiplayer Click’emFuck’em Ups was actually called Aeon of Strife and that indeed, this shit’s gone full circle now.
      It’s over.
      No more games.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Glad to see that idiots can even ruin articles about Dota. That joke is neither funny, original, or new. It was stupid when I saw it years ago, and it remains stupid now. Go back to IGN or whatever pit of the internet you crawled out of.

      (In case anyone is bewildered about the strength of my reaction, just make the acronym in the first post).

      • Gog Magog says:

        Well I never.
        What nerve.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Well, I guess I just wasn’t in a creative enough mood to make my own acronym, so I took the “historical” one. And you’re the one that “spoiled” it by revealing it.

        What’s up with IGN?

      • jrodman says:

        As for me, I just use the block button. I liked the Geebs approach though.

  9. Malibu Stacey says:

    So S2 Games DotA 1.5 (aka Heroes of Newerth) is all but dead because Dota 2 is a thing which exists, so they try to go up against League of Legends & Heroes of the Storm with their next game?

    I’m sure this will end well for them.

    • strangeloup says:

      I was under the impression that HoN was dead because the playerbase made your average lanepusher player look like the epitome of politesse and erudition, which tends to make it difficult to attract any new players.

      • Banyan says:

        Ah, HoN – making other MOBA players look reasonable and good-natured since 2010.

  10. PedroTheHutt says:

    Having played a fair bit of Strife in closed beta, I will say that if you’re used to Dota 2, or even LoL, you won’t find this very exciting. The map is even smaller than LoL’s and there is out of combat rapid health and mana regen, add to that the fact that every player has their own personal courier and you have a very passive game where if you have any decent map awareness it is way too easy to tell that a hero is rotating to gank or do the Roshan/Baron or Dragon stand-ins because there simply is no reason to ever fall back to base, so if someone disappears from their lane they’re rotating to do something. And jungling isn’t viable in this game as a sole source of exp gain so yeah, ganks are very telegraphed. (And there are no wards in this game, instead there are a few little structures in the jungle that you can click that temporarily give vision to your team for that part of the jungle, but it never feels necessary)

    Add to that the fact that there are little to no long range initiators like Storm Spirit or Clockwerk and only one invis hero in the whole game, and you end up with something that has a very passive laning phase where you’re rarely feeling threatened by anything before the mid-game breaks out if you have good map awareness.

    If you’re brand new to the genre it could be fun, and/or if you can play with a five stack. But I honestly can’t recommend this to a seasoned LoL or Dota veteran, they’ll find it dull and underwhelming. Which is a pity because I liked some of the ideas like sharing gold and exp, but I just feel like those more “casual” ideas shouldn’t also mean that the game can’t be exciting. That I think will be S2’s biggest challenge moving forward with Strife, bring some excitement to the table

    • Banyan says:

      Thanks for this. I’m still terrified by Dota 2, but I’ve played enough of it that I’d probably be bored silly by what you’ve described.

  11. hideinlight says:

    It’s a great entry level MOBA, but you’ll eventually get bored of the limited hero pool if your experienced in games like DOTA2 and LoL

    It does have some nice fleshed out mechanics though.

    • Kitsunin says:

      I think maybe I agree and that’s why I’m enjoying Dawngate more?

      I want to absolutely love Strife with all the logic in my brain but I just keep coming back to Dawngate. It’s weird. Maybe it is that there are more heroes, and it’s less forgiving. Maybe farming is more interesting?

      • untoreh says:

        Actually I have played only one hero (the space lizard)for like 50 matches and still haven’t got bored, the swarm shots is like the most beautiful nuke to play with among all the mobas i have tried. I hate the stupid grass system and ground level is present only in the jungle and not in the base, turtling in this game is a no go. The out of combat regen is for faster and more frequent lane rotations more than ‘stay more outta fountain’ which seems as most of the people interpret it. The skills linear scaling allows for much more variety. The items are good, pretty much a mixture of hon/dota and lol items, the crafting is soso because there is too much emphasis on stats then secondary bonuses, they need to improve on the latter offering much more choices. I hope that with the intended small hero pool that keep the characters very differentiated, and don’t end releasing bland heroes like most mobas do, lol in primis, Hon in his last 2 years or so…bad hint is that I have already seen too many shields (even the space lizard had one), its ok 1 hero or 2 but making it a base mechanic is a negative point for me. The bipolar boss system is nice and I think it does its job well.