I haven't played the game for long, but seeing how I have tons of experience with Mobas, and seeing how I will continue to play it in the future for sure, I wanted to write an ACTUAL honest review that refutes these absurd pay2win claims from the so called "most helpful" review right now.
This will be somewhat long and indepth, but I will do my best to explain this game and what it is about and what you can expect.
WHAT IS STRIFE?
Strife is your good old so called MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). Just like in the main MOBAs DotA 2, League of Legends, and to some extent Heroes of the Storm, you take control of a hero trying to work together with 4 others to storm the enemies crux, a building inside their base, to win the game once it is destroyed. You do that by pushing along one of three lanes; the mid, bottom, and top lane, together with your brawlers (minions), destroy two turrets along the way, and destroy the generator to be able to attack the enemy crux. The generator is somewhat unique to strife, as destroying two or all three of them weakens the Crux considerably, making it easier to take out. Unlike in other games, destroying it does not make your minions stronger, but as mentioned, the Crux weaker.
HOW DOES STRIFE DIFFER FROM OTHER MOBAS?
Strife somewhat borrows a lot of elements from the top MOBAs right now, whether they are more or less well known. It has the out-of-combat regeneration of TOME, the cartoon style (although somewhat different) from LoL, the recipe and courier mechanic from DotA 2, the instant-queue-matching from HotS (pick a hero, be matched with others without being in some sort of champion select). It does introduce, however, a new mechanic called Pets. Before each battle you can choose from a wide variety of pets that you unlock for leveling up, seals (the ingame currency) or gems (real money currency). Every pet though can be purchased for both seals AND real money, so you are not locked off of choosing any pet you may want to save up for. These pets give you two passive bonuses and one active ability with a long cooldown, such as regenerating mana or health, or sliding in a direction. It is pretty cool if you ask me, and they have alternative skins too (purchasable with real money).
Strife is somewhere between casual and hardcore territory. As mentioned before, it does borrow the courier mechanic from DotA 2, but the courier can't die or be intercepted, or rerouted or otherwise controlled, it is simply a way of receiving items in lane. The heroes in Strife are wildly varied, you have your usual supports, bruisers, and burst mages, and hunters, but also some more interesting characters like Chester, a hero that attacks with chess figures and can create illusions and links between him and allies. Also, ALL the heroes are free, but skins and colour variations are obtainable with gems.
SO WHAT IS THIS CRAFTING "PAY2WIN" MECHANIC ALL ABOUT?
Strife allows you to craft items with elixir, an ingame currency you obtain from leveling up and winning, or gems. Essentially, you don't "craft" items, but you alter existing recipes. Let's say there is an item that gives you health and mana regeneration. You can give this item some more of that, or some additional power to make your attacks stronger. Now, claims of this being "pay2win" have been coming up, simply because you can purchase this with real money and thus have an advantage over other people. However, this is not true, and let me explain why.
After you have altered a recipe, you can also choose an enchantment which usually gives you a % bonus, like an additional 5 % power. These are different for EVERY item, which means you cant just alter your 6 build items and then have 30 % power over other people. They are really small bonuses, a little movement speed, 2 % health, and they MAKE YOUR ITEM MORE ExPENSIVE. Adding power, health regeneration or whatever, and putting an enchantment (you can also choose not to have an enchantment at all) make the ingame cost of the item RISE. Which means that essentially, whether you pay elixirs or gems to alter an item, it comes with the tradeoff of it COSTING MORE GOLD, for a really small bonus that wouldn't matter either way. It is like the rune system in League of Legends, just bound to items and with the negative of said item costing MORE after altering it.
It is a neat small system that gives you ingame bonuses for a tradeoff and allows you to truly customize the items you would build, however, just because you can buy this with gems doesn't make it pay2win - especially not since you get TONS of elixirs and can craft tons of items easily anyway, So, before saying it is pay2win, check the game out for yourself, and see.
WHAT DO I LIKE/NOT LIKE ABOUT STRIFE?
Strife is neat. The animations are fluid, battling is fun, matches are generally over in less than 30 minutes. The heroes are wildly varied in how they work, and the voice acting of them is generally well done, if a little repetitive. Like, a LOT. Luckily, you can turn this off in the options, or make it less rare, which is a nice feature.
However, it is a beta and the game needs work. So far, it is a bit unoptimized, making my graphics card sweat when it can easily handle Dragon Age Inquisition on Ultra (but that may somehow also be my mistake). The first tutorial campaign has tons of logic issues (a pirate burning down her ship and leaving her crew hanging JUST to join a tournament? Alright...) But that is nitpicking. Also, the death of enemy heroes while playing could be a bit more impactful in visual and audio design, but it is hard to explain exactly what that means until you see it. And finally, it is impossible to look through all the heroes available in the game right now without actually going INTO a game and the hero select, but you can watch pets out of the game? Doesn't make sense, there should be an additional hero tab to watch these.
MY VERDICT (TL;DR) FOR STRIFE (SO FAR)
So far, I would recommend this game and give it an 8/10 on my personal scale. It still has its issues, obviously, but its fun, fast paced, and quick, and certainly feels, despite familiar mechanics, like a breath of fresh air in the MOBA scene, something I am very happy to see. The crafting mechanic is nice, but has only a minor effect and comes with a tradeoff and other knacks that prevent it from being pay2win like others have claimed. It is free, so check it out yourself, and have a great day whatever you may be doing today :) Oh and also the campaign is great.
I am out.