A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Strife is a downloadable online fantasy war game in which players join up with both friends and strangers to challenge other teams in arena-based combat. The goal of the game is to destroy the opposing team's base -- and to do that, players will have to kill other players, as well as computer-generated enemies. Although there's violence inherent in the destruction of opponents via various weapons, spells, and skills, the visuals, coupled with the top-down perspective, limit the impact from being overly graphic. Parents should also know that although Strife is free to play, there's an incentive to purchase content to boost your chances of creating specialized equipment. And there's a focus on communication for teammates to plan strategies, but it is unmoderated, so players can be exposed to objectionable commentary/language.
What's it about?
STRIFE is a competitive online real-time strategy team-based game with role-playing elements known as a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). Players pick a character, select a pet to accompany it, form teams, and go up against other groups (or the computer for practice) in an arena. Every character in Strife has a backstory, which is used to provide the tutorial for players (other backstories will be revealed in short, downloadable single-player adventure games that will be released over time). Arenas all are similar, with three lanes along which players and computer-made soldiers move to their goal, the enemy base. Along the way, players destroy protective towers and earn experience points and gold shared with teammates to level up their characters and skills and to purchase equipment.
Is it any good?
MOBAs are popular because of the level playing field on which everyone starts. All characters start in the same place, with a set amount of gold to purchase starting equipment. As the players gain kills, they gain experience to level up their characters, opening up more skills. And then they upgrade their skills, gaining more gold with which to purchase equipment. Strife stands out from other MOBAs by making gold and experience shared among team members who participate in the kill, so squadmates aren't competing against each other. That also means that support characters -- that is, characters with skills that support their teams (healing, shields, crowd control) -- are more fun to play rather than their being the "sacrificial lamb" for the good of the team.
In Strife, the online multiplayer game is further extended by single-player adventures provided for free. These mini role-playing games tell the characters' backstories, and players learn to use all their skills to get them through the adventure. Parents who play the game might be OK with younger kids playing the single-player games, as they're played offline. The largest drawbacks in games like this are the unmoderated language that kids will encounter when they play with strangers, the frustration of trying to coordinate with teammates who have unknown skills, and the long learning curve. Add to this the complexity of endless equipment variations (and, thus, character customization), and you could run into a lot of confusion for novice players. But this depth is one of the game's strongest selling points, so if you stick with trying to understand the nuances of Strife, you'll have a great time either by yourself or with friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of online safety and what kids should -- and shouldn't -- be sharing with strangers.
Discuss teamwork and communication in games like Strife. How does proper communication foster teamwork? Do you like playing with someone who's polite or rude?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, strategy, thinking critically
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: S2 Games
- Release date: September 2, 2014
- Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG)
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- ESRB rating: NR for Not Rated
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.