By Mohammad Abubakr
It has been way too long since I have found an MMORPG that pulls me in and makes me want to keep playing for hours on end. The MMORPG scene has been stale for a couple years now and the games which have been coming out lately have not had the same effect on me as MMORPGs did back in the day. I had enjoyed playing Ragnorok Online before and upon seeing Tree of Savior screenshots a few years back, I had a feeling that this game would be the one to pull me back into the world of MMORPGs. With this in the back of my mind, I had very high expectations from Tree of Savior. Did the game meet my expectations? Is it worth your time? Is it fun? Read on for my full review of Tree of Savior.
Tree of Savior is a 2.5D MMORPG published and developed by IMC Games. The game is currently available to founders who purchase a founder pack but will transition into a free to play model on May 10th, 2016. Those familiar with older titles such as Ragnorok Online will quickly feel at home, but the game is not limited only to nostalgic fans. It offers an insane amount of customization when it comes to class builds; there are so many ways you can build your class using the four base classes and multiple sub classes. This level of customization will keep you occupied for a long time experimenting and theory crafting multiple builds. Plus, with the entire journey to the end game being enjoyable, leveling multiple characters is not bad.
The game looks beautiful
Most games these days end up making the leveling process feel like a chore we must get past before getting to the fun part. This is not the case in Tree of Savior. From level 1 to 280 (the current cap), you will run into multiple quests featuring mini bosses, run through interesting dungeons, and work to keep up with your daily missions and quests. I have always been a fan of the traditional grinding to level up so I was very happy with the journey to the end game. The great sound track is a nice bonus to have as well while queuing for dungeons or completing quests. I only wish that there was more variety when it came to equipment while leveling up. As it is now, you find a set + weapon and stick with that for 50 levels before switching. There are even some ‘best in slot’ items which you can use for more than a hundred levels without having to upgrade. While the leveling itself it fun, it is lacking the excitement from finding new loot and changing your gear.
I personally went with an Archer as my main class, focusing on clearing large pulls of monsters as a Fletcher. Aside from leveling your character, each character has a separate class level which is used to level up skills and advance to another class. I will not go into the details of the game mechanics as Ragachak did a great job in his Early Access Thoughts article. Instead, let us focus on what this game offers to gamers and what it lacks.
Cutscenes help to tell the story
Overall, I am very happy with the game. It is great to finally find an MMO I can sink hundreds of hours into and still find myself coming back for more. While the base gameplay and ideas are great, the delivery of some features was a failure. Before I begin to point out the problems with the game, I would like to note that I love this game. I will continue to play it and fixing these flaws means a lot to me and other founders who were dedicated enough to purchase founder packs in order to play early. We all have a real stake in the success of this game.
To begin, Tree of Savior is supposed to be a massively multiplayer online role playing game but at times it feels like I am playing Tree of Single Player… Everywhere you go, you either don’t want to run into others or have difficulty recruiting parties when you want to play with others. The game provides bonus experience to those using the solo queue system for dungeons and missions and therefore no one bothers manually setting up a strong party (until the end game). I mean, why would you waste your time searching for a party which will ultimately grant you lower experience in the end?
I’m a big fan of the combat system in Tree of Savior
Unfortunately, this queue system only works if you are alone. If you are playing with friends, you can either choose to spend a lot of time searching for party members or queue at the same time hoping to enter the dungeon together. On my main character, I am always playing with a friend and this system is a real pain. A lot of the time we end up in different parties, I could end up in a party with no healers or tanks and he, a healer, can end up in a party with multiple healers. It seems like the queue system was just a quick addition which does not take into account any factors such as roles and simply queues you with others around the same level.
Outside of dungeons and missions, the spawn rate is horrible on most maps. This means that you will always be fighting with others for mob spawns and as a result prefer to not see anyone around. The spawn rate is so bad that it is faster to switch channels to kill enemies than it is to wait for the next spawn. I wouldn’t mind receiving less experience if it means the spawn rate can be bumped up, I would rather not stand around waiting for mobs to spawn. To make it even worse, the armies of bots make this process of waiting for spawns almost unbearable. Fortunately, IMC seems to be cracking down on the issue of bots over time.
These mini bosses while questing keep the leveling process interesting
Unfortunately, their methods of turning away bots cause more inconveniences for players than they do for bots. For example, the entire concept of trading silver was removed in an attempt to kill gold sellers. Any trades with silver must now be done on the market (auction house) which has set floor and ceiling prices for all items based on the average selling price. This system was destroyed by gold sellers who slowly sold easy to find items for insane prices in order to raise their limit prices. Now these items are put up for sale by gold buyers and purchased by gold sellers to transfer silver over to their customers. Once again, we are shown that most of the time systems meant to steer away bots only cause issues for the law abiding players.
The market as a whole is very limited due to these limit prices among other restrictions such as limited listings, delayed listings, and a waiting period before claiming your well-earned silver. These restrictions were also added into the game hoping they could be used to catch suspicious trades in time. However, all they have done is caused the entire merchant market (buy low, sell high, make smart trades, etc.) to fade away and not be as enjoyable. I have always loved playing the market and slowly building up my bank balance without having to leave the city, I cannot do this in Tree of Savior very efficiently or with much enjoyment as every action is delayed in the market.
The zombie army looks so cool!
Aside from fixing the multiplayer aspect and economy of the game, the engine and user interface need massive revamps. The game looks great but it should not be very graphically demanding. IMC Games seems to have taken this to heart and created a game which does not demand anything from my graphics card. A single core on my CPU will get maxed out while my 980Ti is sitting around looking at the game running at a beautiful 2 frames per second when there is a lot going on. This makes world bosses or guild vs. guild battles, two major features of the game, not very enjoyable and at times impossible.
The user interface looks great and fits the game perfectly, but it does not give players enough information about what is going on. I cannot even hover over my buffs to see what bonuses I am being given in detail. The information available to players is inconsistent and in some areas it seems like the developers forgot to include the actual Strings as hinted by multiple ‘%s’s. Until a recent patch, the only graphic option available for players was the screen resolution. Even after this patch, the options are still very limited. I can understand some details being left out to avoid confusion but PC gamers are used to multiple graphic options by now. If anything, an ‘advanced’ mode can be added allowing players interested in additional details to quench their thirst for knowledge.
Dungeon boss battles are pretty cool
A Great Game Hindered by Poor Design Decisions
I am a huge fan of Tree of Savior but a lot of the design decisions were very poorly made. IMC Games likely had good intentions with their decisions but they seemed to lack foresight or were poorly executed. While it is essential to implement anti-botting measures, you must never punish your users with these restrictions. As a software developer, I can implement workarounds for most anti-botting measures games add and don’t care about the inconveniences and restrictions. If I was to setup my own gold farm, I would have multiple bots running around limiting the effect these inconveniences have on me. However, if I am playing the game after work when I have limited time, I don’t want any fuss when it comes to spending my time doing what I enjoy.
Fortunately, being both published and developed by IMC Games, the game is able to quickly act on user feedback and address any issues we face. Even before the early access period began, IMC Games listened to the community to shorten the early access period. This was a great sign as it showed us that IMC Games is willing to listen to the community and fix their mistakes. Throughout the early access period, several requested features and fixes have been added. Over time, if IMC continues to listen to the community, all of these poor design decisions can be replaced by better decisions which take into account what the players want. I really hope this game continues to improve and provide us with a great MMORPG experience.