Update (October 17, 2014): Trove is in closed beta and I have just posted a newer impressions piece. Please have a look at this one, too, if you want to know what I think about the game.
A few days ago, I was idling for a bit before it was time to leave and catch my bus to the doctor’s office. I had decided to check Twitter and saw a tweet by mmorpg.com which had been posted a few hours earlier announcing that they were giving away Trove Alpha Keys. Not really believing in my luck, I still went there to check if any keys were left and actually got one! I immediately made bookahnerk aware of it, so he could get one as well.
I have spent quite a few hours playing Trove now and – as a tl;dr version of what my first impression is: I also now spent 18,99€ on the adventurer pack, so obviously, I enjoyed my time playing the game enough to give them some of my money.
As usual, this “review” has “first impressions” written in front of it. It is going to be subjective and about my experiences within the first few hours of playing this game. Read the following post accordingly, please.
Trove is a sandbox game currently in alpha which will be free to play once it gets released. I haven’t followed it too closely lately, so I’m not sure which features will still be added in the future. I do remember that when Trion Worlds first announced the game, people called it a Cube World clone. I had never heard about Cube World, but it does sound like it belongs to the genre of Minecraft and Terraria – as does Trove now. As far as I can tell, Cube World is more about adventuring (and questing as the developer has added or is adding a questing system to the game) and not so much about crafting, creating and collecting resources. In Trove, you do adventure, kill mobs and collect better items to advance to more dangerous areas, but you’re also collecting various resources and will probably spend quite some time crafting, most of all items for your homeworld and your cornerstone – more on that later. Let’s just say: Trove has got housing! :D
After installing and launching the client, I had to name my character (“Paeroka” in case anybody wants to add me to their friends list) and that was all there was to the character creation. Off my little (male-looking) avatar went into the tutorial hub. This is just a very small region which introduces you to the very basics of the game like moving, switching between adventure and building mode, etc. After leaving the tutorial, I got thrown into another hub where I quickly found a barber shop. Here, I could finally change my look and make Paeroka female – as female as it gets with those avatars – with reddish hair and green eyes as most of my main characters have.
I had automatically become a Knight, but I knew the game has more classes than that. In fact, three are released already and there will be more. A quick internet search told me that I can change classes in the hub and that the Gunslinger is free now (this was added with a patch which also hints at how they’re handling classes in the future: Some will be free, some will require a purchase) while the Fae Trickster costs something (in-game currency or credits which are bought with real money). When I had created my character, I actually got some in-game currency. I am not sure if that is something like a daily login bonus or what triggers it. However, you can also earn more of this currency by playing the game and defeating bosses. I decided not to save the in-game currency for the Fae Trickster and bought myself a mount instead. After that, I rode through the hub to finally find the class changer. One click and I was a Gunslinger! You level each class separately, by the way. I got the Gunslinger to level 5 at which point bookahnerk suggested I should try the Knight because that’s usually what I enjoy more than a ranged class (but the dual pistols of the Gunslinger are quite awesome!). The Knight was still level 1 and she is now level 6. The current maximum level in the alpha is level 20 for each class, so I still have quite some content ahead of me.
Speaking of content: What is there to do in Trove? You start in a central hub where you and other players gather. From there, you can take one of several portals to the adventuring world. Those are divided into level brackets. You can go to a world that is higher than your level, but mobs will hurt you a lot more than if you were even level.
Once in such a zone, you can stroll through the world and will probably get attacked by mobs that roam around in the world. All mobs are hostile. There are no quests, but something like “events” in some areas. Sometimes, those are bosses, sometimes, those are waves of mobs spawning to attack you after you started the event. Some of these events have something like jumping puzzles to get to them. Nothing has been very challenging so far, but I’ve only gotten to level 6, after all. Bosses drop chests which give you loot (equipment) which makes your character stronger. Standard mobs can also drop such loot but this is rarer.
Altogether, you can roam the world to farm bosses and earn XP and loot to advance in levels and get stronger. However, the other part of Trove is what I enjoy much more: There are resources in the world. Some are, for example, tree stumps or mushrooms that you destroy to gather the resources. Then there is also ore. You need different kinds of ore to craft different items. And most of the world can be destroyed as well. It mostly consists of cubes which you can collect and use for building yourself.
When I first started playing, I found a cornerstone. If nobody else has claimed it, a simple click on “E” on your keyboard claims it for you. You can have one cornerstone in the world. It is basically a tiny piece of land that you can build on. It can also host different useful things like the healing potion refiller (your healing potion has 15 charges and can be refilled for free here). I had claimed a piece and then gotten attacked by a mob. I realized that there were two or three mob spawns right next to the cornerstone and I didn’t even have a calm minute before another of them showed up and attacked me. I was a bit upset because I hadn’t seen how I could switch the cornerstone yet. So, I left it and went to explore the world. The further away from it I got, the less I remembered where it actually was. So at that point, I wasn’t just disappointed about the location, I also had no idea where the location actually was (it shows up on your map, by the way. I’d just been too blind to see it!). However, by now I know that a cornerstone is not meant for you to claim a specific location in the world. You can do that, I guess, but that’s not using the cornerstone to its full potential.
There are lots of places in the world and in the different zones where you find empty cornerstones. As soon as you find one, you can click “E” and the cornerstone moves from the previous position to the current position. A cornerstone can house, as mentioned above, the healing potion refiller (handy to have in the world out there, right? ^^), crafting stations, a box where you can store some items, or even a crafted item that lets you destroy looted items (you can’t sell them anywhere but you can destroy them to get a resource that you need to upgrade your items). So, the cornerstone basically follows you wherever you go and lets you conveniently do whatever you want to do – as long as you have crafted the respective stations and put them on your cornerstone. You can also build on it, of course! And if you happen to die, you will get resurrected at your cornerstone (or the starting point for that world if you haven’t claimed a cornerstone).
One bad thing is that the cornerstone is tiny. Your homeworld, on the other hand, is pretty big! And that’s where you can build to your heart’s content. But first, you need to build your homeworld portal which creates your homeworld. After that, you can jump to it from anywhere in the world (the homeworld is an instanced area). Since the cubes are pretty big, placing items in your homeworld isn’t rocket science (oh, the amount of rage items in Rift have already caused when I wasn’t able to align them properly …). One may argue that the graphics are ugly, too blocky or whatever. I guess this is a case of “either you like it, or you don’t”. I like the graphics and I think they’ve got a certain charm. It works for games like this one.
As mentioned above, I bought a supporter pack now. I like knowing that I support the development and that I spent about the same amount of money that I would have spent on the game had it not been “free to play”. It is not a required purchase, of course. The things I got as bonus items are things like a pet or cosmetic items. It doesn’t look like I’ll get anything that’ll give me an advantage and I hope that this is where the shop will also go. No f2p without an item shop, right? ;) At the moment, the shop mostly has mounts, pets and the Fae Trickster class (for credits or in-game currency) available. But the Knight and the Gunslinger are free, so you do not have to spend money on it.
So far, I would say that if you don’t mind the graphics and enjoy gathering resources, crafting and building on your homeworld, then Trove is a game to check out. If you’re into challenging fights, collecting items to make your character stronger, etc. – then I’m not sure if you’ll have tons of fun in the game or not, because I haven’t seen enough of the bosses yet to judge that part of the game properly. ;) One thing I do not like is that apparently, you don’t have a wardrobe or a cosmetic item system where you can choose a certain look but wear other items for their stats. With the amount of funny looking items, I would have assumed they have such a system in place!
Since it’s in Alpha currently, you either have to sign up and hope you get an invitation or buy your way into it (it starts with 18,99€) – or, as in my case, be lucky to win a key in some giveaway. If you’re patient, you can also just wait for beta to start (5€ gets you a guaranteed spot in the beta – yes, unfortunately, it seems that the best and easiest way to get your hands on the game in alpha or beta is to spend money) or even wait for the game’s launch since joining the game will be absolutely free then! We will also know a lot more about which features will be in the finished game then. And, of course, the whole experience will be more bug-free than it is now. I haven’t encountered a lot or anything game-breaking, but still. It’s not yet a finished product and you notice that, of course.