By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Detractors might say this is just a Minecraft clone: if that was the case I wouldn’t have lost nearly a month to the addiction that followed my launch review assignment! When I was at Pax East I saw a train track that played “Through the Fire and Flames” by Dragonforce, and in a Club World post-launch I saw Tabula Rasa, and a fantastic recreation of it no less. There is so much that can be done in the casual portions of this game, but it is not Minecraft. Trove has character classes/levels, the ability to purchase/swap classes, cool equipment, and not to mention, it’s actually an MMORPG. There’s a lot going on here, as crafting acts as a central sun of which an entire solar system of content orbits. You get a house for free via questing, but if it’s not your style, you can wreck it and redesign it from scratch after you farm the materials that you would like instead.
If building is your deal, and you want to play with a bunch of your friends without buying a server or any of that nonsense, Trove is certainly for you. Make a club, set up a Club World and get to work designing your dreams! The dungeons for the most part are pretty short, but can be incredibly challenging. Which makes the sweet gear you can unlock, ranging from badass to ridiculous (Intellect Fortress hat, anyone? It’s a real fortress. For your head.), even more rewarding, all without breaking the blocky voxel theme. Those detractors that want to label this a clone are missing out on the vital details of this picture that make it oh so unique. Such as turning into a massive dragon to torch hordes of undead, or running around as a Tron-styled Ninja; there are options and they are all available to you, if you go looking.
Price to Play The Game
Trove is a free-to-play title published by Trion Worlds, publishers of fine titles such as Archeage and Rift, and while yes it is free to play, I can understand the fear of having to spend money to get somewhere in a game. Sandbox worlds have been known to put some pretty rough limitations in the free to play setting after all, so I’ll break down what you can expect in this one. Yes, you can spend money on classes to unlock, or mounts, or a variety of other cosmetic things. But you can also craft mounts, and spend in-game currency on character classes. Filling a meter by fulfilling tasks in-game once a day will give you 1000 of those credits, as does plenty of other quests found as you travel. Once you have the correct amount you can purchase them in the Hub World, or in your own home/Club World if you’ve crafted the item that permits this.
While the cash shop is vast and filled with much variety, it never feels pay-to-win in any fashion. True to most modern free to play games, they stick closely to the model of Pay-to-go-faster. But the majority of useful things cost either real money or in-game credits, and that is to their credit, so to speak. The vehicles are fancier than ones you could craft, and are quite stylish, but not necessary. Classes can be purchased with credits, as can the various upgrades to your flask (which heals you, and has x amount of charges; refilled at your base); but not the costumes, vehicles, or things of that nature. It’s really more cosmetic pieces, or perhaps rare and fantastic gear, but it’s nothing that will change the game without it; you can’t buy materials that I’ve seen, or recipes. That comes from hard work and time spent.
Break That Glass Ceiling!
At present, you can have one character per account, but that character can switch classes, so you aren’t exactly stuck in one position the whole game. Personally my account has a few classes unlocked, Gunslinger, Dracolyte (Fire Mage, TURN INTO A DRAGON), and Shadow Hunter. There are a total of eleven classes in the game right now, and I wouldn’t be too shocked if more come as the game continues to update. Some of them are kind of wacky, like the Candy Barbarian, but after all, there are candy-themed zones, so it makes sense. There are Pirates, Ninja, Knights, Cool Wizards, and the newly released Tombraiser (Necromancer), and all of them play differently. The ability system is kept pretty basic so don’t expect to be juggling multiple skill bars containing 30 skills like in some of Trion’s other titles. This is at heart a pretty simple game for people to enjoy together, and having to master a million builds would take some of the fun from this enchanting title. It’s not too hard to get used to how each class plays, and the hardest part for me was to find which one I wanted to start with! They all looked like a lot of fun. There’s no wrong choices. You just have to find what fits your online gaming playstyle.
There are a few methods of gaining power, and one of the primary ones is simply killing bad guys and increasing your character level, up to 20. In a method similar to Destiny, post 20 levels revolve around your gear, but that’s not the only leveling system to be aware of. You can craft gear, and increase that level, but there’s also Mastery. You can have up to 200 levels of Mastery, which are gained by collecting any gear you gain in the game, as well as leveling character classes. Which leads me to the next thought, customization! Each piece of gear I’ve found looked unique, even in this art style, and some of it’s just silly and hilarious, while others are grimdark and edgy. There’s a piece of furniture you build in your home/Club World called “Loot Collector,” and this is where you put the gear that you aren’t using anymore. It will give you access to the style of gear you put in, add it to your collection, as well as give you some manner of currency, such as Glim, which is different from what you spend on store items. Glim is used on in-game items like Fishing Rods, Bait, and things of that nature, as well as being used in crafting.
The universe is divided with portals, and each has a particular level guideline. 1-2, 3-4, 4-6, up through the Uber Stages that are 20+. Each of these worlds takes you to a randomly generated world, where many other players are also inhabiting. You have a base, a house, that moves with each different place, so you don’t have to worry that you will lose all your hard work. Plots of land exist on “Foundation Blocks,” and as long as a player does not have claim to it, you can grab one. They exist in all sorts of places on these worlds, from near the portal, to right in front of a pathway down into molten lava. You can’t steal one of these foundations from a player, your options are either search for another, wait on someone to leave, or return to the Hub, or use your own portals if you’ve crafted them to teleport to another random world.
There are also “tier” sets, similar to other MMOs, that are crafted using Shadow Fragments/Keys, which are gained in higher-level encounters. It does not seem that you share loot with other players, in a manner akin to Diablo 3 and I for one am relieved that I do not have to fight over cool gear! These worlds have various colored blocks that make up the world, as well as items to collect, and ores to mine, which you access by utilizing the Tab Button to go into Builder Mode. Thankfully a hotfix allowed builders to lay down several blocks at once now instead of the slow, steady one at a time that I had to do for my two story teleporting home. There are also lots of dungeons covering the land, and you can go exploring them at your will. You can tell if one’s already been defeated though, as a huge red x floats in the sky over the top of it. (My gunslinger got his first red blocks that way by launching into the air and farming them atop the X!) The dungeons are varied too, from pirate fortresses, graveyards, volcanoes, and much much more!
The worlds have a variety of topography, ice and snow, fire, plains, candy, oceans that you can build ships to cruise around on and fish… the folks at Trove really went all out to make a creative builder MMO. There are tons of customization options for your home as well, different shades, different ores and metals, but those take some work and time to collect; as of this writing I’ve only attained a few other colors of stone for my base, but I have more fun kicking the crap out of bad guys than I do building. It is also pertinent to be aware that if you set up shop near enemies, they can come into your home and attack you, unless it is completely sealed off. As I was writing this, I came back to find seven mushroom men were in my base, being summoned by a large, evil looking knight. I died several times to get rid of them. Thankfully, you resurrect in your base.
An Explosion of Flavor: 4/5 Great
There is so much going on in this game, I fear one article cannot really contain it. You can build a ship and surf around, fight monsters, hang out with your friends, craft ridiculous structures, and in general, it’s a pretty casual MMO while retaining the creativity of a building title. It’s far from perfect, but it’s definitely a great start to a unique game. And unique it is; though the ten minute idle boot is frustrating, there really are a huge number of people joining; my average login wait was 20-45 minutes at launch, but it was worth it, hands down. There were certainly language barriers, but that’s no real new thing in online gaming. A little patience goes a long way. I’m excited to see what’s next, Trion!
The goal here was simplicity and it works for this game. It’s not supposed to look like a billion-dollar movie, but it’s a casual game with a simple, but detailed look that’s fun for everyone. The blocky style really works for me, and the varied settings and equipment are quite lovely.
The controls aren’t terrible, but they did recently release controller support, which as anyone who reads my work knows, I’m all for. But the control for that was absolutely abysmal. I had the hardest time simply moving my camera a little bit, and wound up all over the place. The buttons didn’t make a lot of sense in the default either. The rest of the controls are pretty solid, though menus closing when I move became irritating quite fast.
There’s a lot going on in this game, and there’s plenty of room for expansion. Your wildest dreams can practically be created if you have the patience and/or time. Friends help too, and this seems to be a very friendly community from the outset. From what I understand you can join multiple clubs, and each one could have a different purpose (a’la Final Fantasy Linkshells), and in this you can meet lots of people! Adventuring, building, crafting, exploring, casual conversation, this game is delivering.
The music is peaceful and tranquil, but I’d like to see more variety here. When I’m hanging out near a volcano, rivers of lava and a dead forest, I’d like something more eerie than a xylophone melody. The soundtrack, while pleasant, did not have enough for me personally, though what was on offer was certainly pleasant.