30 Minutes With Kill Strain, Sony's New 5v2v5 Action Shooter
One of my first stops on the PlayStation Experience expo floor was to see Sony San Diego's new intellectual property, Kill Strain, a game that was announced (but not shown) during Sony's lengthy keynote.Talking to a developer from Sony San Diego's team, Kill Strain has been in development for roughly three to four months with a small team of around 15 people.
Sony is billing Kill Strain as a 5v2v5 top-down, action shooter; a MOBA-like game that pits three teams against each another. Two of the teams are rival human factions, both composed of five players. The humans are at war with each other for resources. The third team is a mutant legion consisting of just two players. The mutants are stronger than the humans, and are driven by bloodlust. The death they deal can greatly affect the tide of battle.
The mutants are equipped with leap attacks and stun slashes, but their most impressive ability is "spread strain," a move that creates a spore on the playing field, and effectively spreads their hive across the map. Humans cannot walk through the hive without sustaining damage. Additionally, if a mutant kills a human opponent, and can drag the corpse back to a hive without taking damage, that human transforms into a mutant - an instant ally. From here on in, the newly infected player is forced to play as a mutant. At the end of my match, the mutant team grew to eight players. I was one of them. The humans didn't stand a chance.
The humans can combat the growing hive base by destroying the strains. I found the "Molten Barrage" flamethrower attack and incendiary grenades made short work of them. The resource gathering aspect can also be surprisingly potent.
From the outset of play, a Sony San Diego representative told me that I should gather as many resource canisters as possible. On this particular map, which housed my team's base on the east, the opposing humans' on the west, and the mutants' to the north, there was only one canister spawning machine for my team to the south. The canisters can level up your team's abilities, in this instance, giving us the option to summon powerful mechs for a limited time. The mechs are not affected by the hive, and can mow down rival humans in seconds flat.
Canisters can also be used to power up healing machines, which help when the mutants or rival humans press an attack. Should a human wish to sacrifice a canister, it can be thrown at a strain, causing it to curl up and provide safe footing for the player for a few seconds.
Our match lasted for roughly 30 minutes. Just grasping the flow of the game took some time, but I quickly found plenty of strategies to attempt. I successfully destroyed the rival human's canister generator. If I could have survived next to it for a few seconds longer, I could have turned it into a second generator for my team. The rival human group eventually took it back, and my team made the poor choice to attack the mutant hive. We came close to taking it down, getting to its throbbing heart, but were pushed back, and the hive eventually spread across most of the map.
The last few minutes of play were riotous. The mutants made short work of the humans and the turret defenses protecting the headquarters. Once that structure fell, the match ended.
Kill Strain is still early in development, but its proof of concept is sound. I enjoyed my time with it, and will be keeping a close eye on this forthcoming free-to-play title.