By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
My first experience with online gaming was the text-based MUDs [Multi-User Dungeons], where the gameplay was less focused on an “end-game” and more focused on the grind, and group based gameplay. I enjoyed it, without graphics and everything! Silly, I know. Tree of Savior harkens back to those days, as well as Ragnarok Online, a cutesy MMO that almost everyone has likely played or heard of. So many MMOs on the market now are aimed at, again, the “end-game”. Doing big-time raids, getting new, ridiculous gear, then sitting around waiting on the next raid to release. That can be terrifyingly boring, and one of the reasons I fall out of games like World of Warcraft and Destiny, et cetera. However, I enjoy the grind, and the fellowship that comes with it. Thankfully Kim Hakkyu, an original creator of Ragnarok Online, is back to form with an adventure that aims at making the journey to end-game the real game. It has a Ragnarok, and Secret of Mana feel to it; it’s adorable and fun with monsters and mythos representing Lithuanian culture. Mix all these elements together for a sure fire enjoyable experience.
I adore this game. I did not expect that I would love it as much as I did. And unlike other “news outlets,” I’m not going to spend this entire write-up complaining about one bug that made the start of the game infuriating. Sure, having a controller plugged in prevents players from using the menus and starting the game. That’s one of the hazards of playing a beta before launch. Please remember what Early Access means. Tree of Savior is not quite ready for primetime yet, but those willing to spend cash can get in now. Believe me when I say there’s no small number of gamers that have bought in either. The game uses servers, which also have “channels”, a pretty popular idea overseas [This is a Nexon-published title after all] and the lower the load/lag on that server, the higher chance that the queue time will be absolutely soul-crushing. I did have a two hour wait today, and only found myself getting disconnected right at the end. Upsetting? Yes. But instead I just picked a different, higher-lag server and got right into action. Surprisingly there’s no cash shop yet, though dataminers have confirmed cosmetics hinting that it’s in the works. But enough babbling on semantics! Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes!
How does Tree of Savior come together? It’s got what feels like a very basic series of classes to pick from at the get-go: Archer, Cleric, Swordsman, and Wizard. Very simple, very easy to understand what each of them does. But that’s where simplicity goes out of the damn window. Players have a Character Level and a Class Level. You gain a character level, then a class level in an alternating fashion. Once you gain a certain level with your class [for the first rank it’s 15], you can select a new rank class, or simply gain another Circle or enhance that particular class [Say, Cleric]. If you opt to not go with another circle, you get two choices for the upgrade: Priest or Krivis. The next tier offers two more class choices.
I believe you can go up to rank 3 of your own class. I have not gotten quite that deep into the class system though, as it takes so long to make progress. There are about 80 classes offered, and there are Class Masters to teach you new passives in addition to the other passives you can learn for your base class. As far as passives go, you have them divided up for each class you have under your belt. They can increase damage, range, and other effects of your powers. Another thing to be aware of is once you have changed classes, you can learn the “Weapon Swap” trait, which simply put, lets you swap your weapon. Leveling gains skill points for your powers, and stat points to enhance yourself; the game also suggests what stats are most important, thankfully. It is also important to note that when you start off, you make a “Team” name. I feel like it should have been a family name since it appears in game as a “Last Name.” However they do not appear to cross servers; I believe you have to have a different Team per server.
Now, with about 80 classes across the board, you might be asking yourself: “What’s the level cap?” In the beta, it was about 200, but from what I’ve gathered, it is planned at launch to hit 400-500. There are level 400 dungeons and areas to explore, contributing to this theory. So there is definitely plenty of grinding and exploring to do. Each area is beautiful and adorable, and I started to feel kind of bad pummeling the cute little creatures into tiny pieces. I spent most of my playtime with the Cleric, but that gave me the chance to party with others to see just how varied gameplay can be. The buttons for the game are pretty simple. You have an attack button [Z], and a jump button [X], and your standard [Q]-et cetera for abilities and items on your hotbars.
Jumping is actually pretty important too, since larger enemies [bosses, etc] can do huge aoe attacks or cones that can typically be avoided by jumping with the right timing. It’s not too hard to get the hang of, but it means you shouldn’t spam attacks on these boss type fights until you know the pattern. One of the big gripes I have with this game is while combat and movement are terribly simple, this game has SO MANY DAMN BUTTONS. The inventory defaults to [F2], not [I]. [F1] increases stats, [F3] is for learning skills. It even has a default button to recording video footage. [Insert] puts you into “Rest Mode” which offers your moment of creating certain things. Though despite the piano of hotkeys, Tree of Savior is surprisingly easy to learn and play. The tooltips, when you need them, appear on the left side of the screen and you can scroll through the information, complete with screenshots to make it easier to understand. Kudos to them! It’s also worth noting that when you complete a quest, you can press [Backspace] to teleport back to the quest giver for a quick turn in.
Clerics are the best support out of the base classes, and their heal spells do not target individual players. This is an action game, [which does have controller support humorously enough, see bug from earlier] and the heal spells drop onto the ground as circles or blocks. If enemies walk across them, they take damage, and so it’s pretty easy to kite enemies and drag them to their deaths. One thing I noticed is if you gain a character level, a huge explosion happen and lots and LOTS of enemies erupt and take damage. It can reveal more things to kill, and have way more enemies than you want aggro you, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Damage is not something any class is short on! It’s the little things that make this game fun! Tree of Savior is a pretty open world, but you can teleport from place to place by worshipping statues. Most dungeons I’ve encountered have statues for quick return trips once you’ve unlocked them.
When you are not running around killing adorable critters, you can hit Insert and go into Rest Mode. While in Rest Mode, if you have the materials, you can make a campfire, craft consumables, as well as a few other items. However, it’s not instantaneous. Could be seconds, a minute or two, or ten+ minutes if it is really a powerful item. However, you do gain faster HP regen while in this rest mode, and if there are benefits to your rest mode [campfire], other players can use them as well. You can also use an Anvil item to upgrade items, upgrade gems, and improve your items in a variety of ways. I won’t spoil too much of that since it could very well change by the time the game launches, though currently crafts are rated on a 5 Star system.
Speaking of other players, most of the early dungeons are open world in a sense. While you zone into them they are treated as regular zones where players also join at the same time you do. You do not have to find a huge group prior to taking them on. Once you hit level 50 you can do instanced areas that will probably feel more familiar to standard MMO players. You also get Companions! I love the concept of companions, and you can set yours in the Lodge [character select screen, where your Team exists] to use them on any character on your same account and server. If you unlock a powerful Companion that you use often with your main character and build a close bond with them, they won’t likely be as great with a lower character who doesn’t have a high bond with said Companion. Some of them can be ridden, some help you fight, and there is talk that there are plans to add equipment to the Companions which I think will be fantastic.
One of my favorite parts of the things you acquire in this game are EXP cards. Many quests give them to you and they offer EXP depending on the rank of the card. They give Class AND Character EXP, so they are invaluable. And with how long the grind can get, it’s totally worth hunting for them.
Do You Need This?
Current State of the Beta: Great
I do not feel everyone ought to be leaping into the Early Access; there are still plenty of bugs and weird glitches, not to mention I want you all out of my server queue! One of the most noticeable issues is when my character moves at certain diagonals, his head wiggles and twitches angrily like he’s in Night at the Roxbury. Lag and huge queue times hold Tree of Savior back, but fun gameplay, cute monster designs, and a ton of adventure keep drawing me back in. If you enjoy a good long grind, it’s definitely something you’d enjoy playing with friends. I mean, you can even create Guilds with different functions. You can be a combat guild and declare war on other groups, or be an agricultural guild and sell your wares on the open market to make a fortune. You can PVP against other guilds in the field, and destroy their guild tower.
With plenty of class and upgrade choices, cool equipment, and amazing skills, Tree of Savior at last can proudly bear the title of spiritual successor to Ragnarok Online. I was a bit worried that it only had four classes, but the amount of customization that it allows blew me away. It even has card battles! It’s a fairly balanced game, but I do feel like it can be incredibly easy to grind in certain areas. When I saw it had a “Stamina” system it also gave me some pause. But there are items in the wild to give you back stamina, not to mention it recovers pretty swiftly when not running around. All in all, Tree of Savior is the MMO you didn’t know you needed, but do. It’s a beautiful, fun, time-absorbing game that any age can enjoy. There are so many things I didn’t cover, but I can say beyond a doubt: You like Ragnarok Online? Cute, addictive, fun gameplay? You need this.
Keep an eye out at the end of the month as Jamesbl0nde and Abubakr follow up with additional coverage of Tree of Savior!