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An Infectious Take on the MOBA

William Murphy Posted:
Interviews 0

Kill Strain is a unique blend of top-down shooter, MOBA, and strategy, and it's been quietly in development and beta testing since 2015. We caught up with Sony's dev team to chat about the PS4 exclusive and how it stands out from the crowd. Plus we've got an exclusive 1,000 use beta code to give you instant access to the beta right now.

MMORPG: For those not in the know, can you give us a brief overview of Kill Strain and why readers of MMORPG should check it out?

Tony Morton: So there are a few aspects of Kill Strain that I feel will really ring out to readers of MMORPG. First up however, is a quick breakdown. Kill Strain is a 3 team competitive PvP game where players battle it out online. There are 2 human teams and 1 mutant team and they are all pitted against each other, however there is quite a twist. In Kill Strain as the match progresses the mutant team gains strength in numbers by unlocking the ability to “turn” humans into mutants. So as the game may start out as 4v1v4 (for example) it very well may finish as a 2v6v1, which makes Kill Strain extremely unique. As far as the readers of MMORPG are concerned, I think they’ll find some interesting progression elements to sink their teeth into. Kill Strain has a couple major components of progression which include Augments and Masteries. Augments are more of a generalized item that buffs your character based on a cause and effect system. Masteries, are tailored to the character so you can “build” them to play more how you’d prefer and it’s a way to make them your own. People who have played MMO’s and RPG’s are most like fans of progression and we feel that Kill Strain will give them something they can chase and really sink their teeth into when playing with all the different combinations of Augments and Masteries.

MMORPG: What makes Kill Strain stand out from the seeming horde of MOBAs out there? If someone's "not into them", why should they check out Kill Strain?

TM: Kill Strain has been called a MOBA quite a few times and to be honest, for a while we tried to convince people it really wasn’t. Hell, we were trying to convince ourselves it wasn’t just due to the fact that people say “oh, another MOBA” and can prematurely dismiss the game. However, during the past few years of development, we’ve embraced it being a MOBA but have taken pride in pulling some of the friction out of it. As an example, you won’t find an in-game store so there’s no need to figure out what items to buy as the match progresses. Your characters level themselves up automatically throughout the match, allowing you to concentrate on gameplay. We don’t have minions so there’s no need to try to kill steal to take the XP away from your team mates. Control wise we take pride in the utilizing the Dual Shock 4 on the PS4 to really make it easy to pick up. You move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, and your abilities are on the shoulder buttons making it extremely easy to pick up and play. At the end of the day the simplification of the game and the ease of use allow Kill Strain to not be “just another MOBA”

MMORPG: Can you go more in depth to the mutation system?

TM: Turning…this one has been one of the key players for us in Kill Strain. As I mentioned above, as our matches progress the mutant team gains the ability to “turn” people. When a human player dies in Kill Strain they go into a “downed” state. They are on their hands and knees, and they are crawling around in a vulnerable state. If there is a mutant near-by with turning available they can approach the downed human, pick them up, and attempt to drag them into the strain. If they are successful the human will “turn” and become a mutant. The mutant team will gain a member for the duration of the match and the team the human player was on will be down a member. As a designer this has been one of the most difficult things to balance in my career. We’ve implemented a number of systems that monitor the match, team sizes, territory control, and other things and it will do its best to make sure the game remains as balanced as possible without ruining the experience of the players.

MMORPG: What sort of progression or long-term hook is present in Kill Strain outside of climbing the ranked ladder?

TM: I had mentioned earlier a little bit about Augments and Masteries. These are the meat and potatoes of progression when it comes to Kill Strain and both have a tier system so users can experiment and get their feet wet before deciding which path to dive down and invest a bunch of time into. I’ll dive a bit more into Augments as I kind of left you hanging above J The Augments work on a cause and effect system, or as we refer to it as a “Trigger” and “Bonus” system. So as an example we have an Augment that is extremely useful for a player who likes to walk the fine line when it comes to disengaging from combat. The trigger for the augment is to hit 15% health, and the effect is that you take 8% less damage for the next 4 seconds. Now as I mentioned both Augments and Masteries are tiered so while the entry level Augment may have you take 8% less damage for 4 seconds, the top end Augment may have you take 15% less damage for 4 seconds or maybe 8% less damage for 15 seconds. We can easily go back and forth on the triggers and create a lot of unique Augments for all kinds of situations which results in a massive toolkit for the players to use and chase.

MMORPG: It's currently in beta on PS4, are there any plans to bring it to PC via Steam or some other service?

TM: I couldn’t guarantee you one way or the other if Kill Strain would be headed to PC at any point in the future. All I can say is Sony has brought a couple titles from the PlayStation over to PC so while I don’t see any plans to do so in the immediate future I wouldn’t say that PlayStation would be totally against it if they felt it would play and represent the brand as well as it does on the PS4 on PC.

MMORPG: How is the game monetized?

TM: We have a few different ways to monetize in Kill Strain, but have zero fear as we are NOT pay to win, but free to play. You can purchase almost everything in game with our in game currency and the things that cost actual money are convenience or cosmetics like boosts and skins. If you want to get the best items in the game and fully trick out your character there is only one way to do it in Kill Strain, play.

MMORPG: What's the match-flow like: are we talking the normal 30-60 minute sort of bouts, or more on the shorter end?

TM: We’re definitely aiming for the shorter session with Kill Strain. Currently our matches are right where we want them at 12-15 minutes. We would rather have players sit down for an hour session and get 4, possibly 5 matches in rather than just one or two. We want Kill Strain to be easy to get into and we want the players to feel like they are progressing. There’s nothing worse than seeing the next reward but realizing you only have 20 minutes to play and it’s over an hour away.

MMORPG: When can people expect to see more from the game and get their hands on it as well? 

TM: Kill Strain is constantly being updated and we’re working on our next big update (what we call PA11, Limited Access) which will be out in May and it has some new features that we’re hoping will help the new users understand the game and how to play a bit better. That being said, I’m pretty sure we’ll be supplying you guys with a 1000 use voucher for people to redeem on the PlayStation store and download the game. Keep in mind our audience is limited and the best times to play currently are from 5PM-9PM PST as that is when we tend to have the most users online.

Want instant access to the Kill Strain beta? We’ve got you covered! Use this code: TF7P-QPNR-7DMP


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.