Category Archives: Beta

Trove: Second Impressions Review

Back in alpha, I already wrote about my first impressions. Now that Trove is in beta, I figured I should do another impressions piece. As always, I rather call it “impressions review” than “alpha review” or “beta review”, because it is subjective and may not cover the whole game (see shadow arenas below, for example).

First things first, in case you are interested and would like to play the game yourself: It is in closed beta now, meaning you can’t just sign up and play. It will, however, be free to play when it releases. At the moment, you need a key. Trion Worlds, the game’s developer, has given away quite a few keys during their Trove livestreams (usually on Friday evenings, Europe time). You can also keep an eye on the Trove subreddit where you can find people linking to key giveaways. Or if you don’t mind spending money, you can buy anything (even the $5 pack of credits) to get beta access (see the last paragraph in this news piece).

The lava fields biome with the neon city biome in the background

The lava fields biome with the neon city biome in the background

A few things have been changed since alpha (and the time I made my first post). For one, there are no more home worlds. A home world was your personal instanced area where you could build in peace. Instead, clubs have a club world now where members can build (if the club’s leader gives you the proper rank with the permissions to build). You still have your cornerstone which is a piece of land in the open world which basically travels with you. Whenever you’re out adventuring and see a sign with a question mark on it, you can click it and your cornerstone appears. Whatever you build on this cornerstone will be saved and appear whenever you place your cornerstone again. However, building on it is not a peaceful activity. You are in the open world and hostile mobs will come in (or sometimes even spawn next to you) and attack you. The cornerstone is also rather small. You can build high and dig low on it, but you can’t make it any wider.

The cellar I digged below my cornerstone (the checkered place is the ground floor of my cornerstone).

The cellar I digged below my cornerstone (the checkered place is the ground floor of my cornerstone).

The club worlds also start small but you can expand them. Of course, with a lot of members, you will also need all this space if everybody is to have a small piece of land for themselves. You can join up to five clubs (and represent one of them at any given time, just like you do in Guild Wars 2), so there is nothing stopping you from creating a club for yourself which will give you so much space, you probably won’t even notice the lack of a home world. ;)

Bookahnerk and I have a club that we share with his cousin (the infamous cousin by now… ^^) and another friend. We have put everything in there that we need, so that we hardly ever use the main hub of the game anymore. But more about our club world later – there is an unpleasant experience here waiting to be told.

Robots can no longer be found in the ice areas. They have instead gotten their own biome. I love the look of that one and think it was a great decision to take them out and give them their own place! As soon as those are available for the club world, I want one of them. Sadly, not every biome can be built in club worlds yet.

But enough about the things that have changed. Because maybe, just maybe, you are here to hear my opinion about the game. In short: I love it! Simple as that. I find myself playing the game even though I’m tired from work. There’s so many things I can do. They have added gardening and a lot of people think it’s dull to go into the adventuring world, find the peaceful biomes where the sunflowers grow, jump around on those sunflowers and gather the lightbulbs you need in order to grow stuff in your own garden. I, on the other hand, really enjoy doing that. True, it doesn’t need much brain or concentration to do so, but that’s perfect after work. I usually am too tired to do things where I need to concentrate and make sure my character doesn’t die (like in Guild Wars 2’s combat – or Trove’s, for that matter…). Doing something peaceful is what I enjoy most and since I can also grow plants and (decorative) flowers in our club world then, it’s also something useful. It is a bit like fishing in Rift where I may not be able to do anything useful with that skill itself, but I do fish up dimension items once in a while that I can then place in my dimensions (or sell for gold to buy other items).

A small corner of my garden in our club world.

A small corner of my garden in our club world.

In case you are wondering what you can do in Trove other than gardening: Killing things, collecting items for stats or looks, gathering items (for building and crafting) and building things.

You can go adventuring, killing mobs in the open world, but there are also “dungeons” which are places in that world where harder mobs spawn. And then there are shadow arenas which I haven’t been at yet. They are like dungeons, but with harder mobs and better loot. ;) You can go hunt items and forge them in the hope of getting better or more useful stats. At the same time, Trove has a feature that lets you choose a skin for the look while equipping another item for its stats. That feature is free of charge, by the way! So, collecting skins is also part of the game. You can choose one of the available classes: knight and gunslinger are free. You need to buy the neon ninja, fae trickster and dracolyte with in-game currency or real money, depending on your preference (candy barbarian will be the next class, but hasn’t been released yet). You can level a class to level 20. If you want a change, though, you can just click on the class changer and switch. One character, every class. As easy as that. And if you want to change the look of your character, there’s a feature for that as well. You can change the hair style, hair and eye colour, gender (which is basically just different hair styles, I think) for no cost at all.

A dungeon in the Neon City biome.

A dungeon in the Neon City biome.

Then there’s the collecting part of the game: Collect building blocks and items that you need in order to change the look of the building blocks you have collected. For example, when you collect any yellowish building blocks in the open world, you get “Primal Yellow” blocks. If you want a “Yellow Glass” block, you first need to find the recipe and when you have that and have the yellow glass blocks unlocked, you need three primal yellow and one formicite ore (also found in the open world) to create three yellow glass blocks. You can also build different items to place in your club world or cornerstone like a chair, a table or an arctic commando gnome.

If you have been reading my blog posts for some time, you probably know that I am hardly a person who only sees the white or the black side of things. There are too many shades and colours for that. In Trove’s case, as much fun as the game is, there are also negative things and there is a lot of work left to do for the developers! The game is in beta, so I am quite lenient when it comes to bugs and missing features, but I still don’t think that they shouldn’t be mentioned, because they are currently part of the game and who knows if they can get rid of them all (I hope so, but I’ve seen too many games who nourished their bugs for too long… (*coughwarhammeronlinecough*)

It is actually kind of funny. The alpha was really stable, I did not notice any glaring bugs most of the time. The beta is the opposite at times. I’ve seen and experienced so many crashes, unsynching with the world (thankfully, a restart fixes that and restarting the client and logging back in only takes a few seconds), invisible mobs hitting you. Characters were rolled back, too. All of that started with the beta. The crashing has constantly decreased over the last few weeks and I think they fixed the rollbacks now. But it was a bit disappointing to experience these issues when none of them were present in that extent during alpha. I don’t know why that is… maybe they just let in too many players and it was stressing the servers too much. Either way, I still have confidence that they can fix all those bugs and make the game as enjoyable as it was in alpha. I guess there is a reason they squished in the beta before releasing, right? ;)

Another issue is a lot more annoying! Our club world had been carefully planned and designed – well, one of the biomes, at least – by bookahnerk and he had built an awesome castle in there. Within the safe walls of one of its towers, we had placed all our crafting stations. Then we decided to expand the club world and added a few more biomes. What we did not know: Everything built within 40 to 50 blocks from the border of where the new biome will be placed will get destroyed. The tower got hit and disappeared and with it all the items we had placed there. When something like this happens, the items don’t get put anywhere, they are just gone. So, we had to go and farm all the materials to get back those items which cost me the play time of two days (not a lot for “hardcore gamers” but it was for me).

However, as said above, it’s the beta. I put in my feedback and now have to hope that they will at least warn players that this is happening before they try to add a new biome. We are warned and will not build anything close to the borders that we may want to expand at some point in the future anymore.

Other than that, there are a few more things that I wish they would add, change or make more comfortable. The chat, for example. You only get one chat window for all channels. No resizing or moving the window anywhere. What I do love, though, is that you can read – and write in – all club chats that you are a member of at the same time and not just the one you are currently representing. Why doesn’t Guild Wars 2 have something like this?

While I don’t need a mini map to travel through the world, I would love to have a compass. I find myself losing any sense of direction quite often and then need to open the map to see where I am and where I wanted to head. Having a compass would make this much easier. Of course, having a sense of orientation would be helpful, too. :p

Those are just two rather small things. Apart from fixing the bugs and performance issues, I’m quite certain there is a lot more that others would say have to be added to the game. However, altogether, the game is playable (especially now that there are no rollbacks anymore) and if you can get a beta key for free, that’s a whole lot of fun that you’re not paying for. ;)

Lotro’s class changes

Lotro FireworksThe NDA for the beta of Helm’s Deep has dropped, so I can now write about my impressions. I had “quit” the game months ago, although “quit” is probably too harsh. I just haven’t played it anymore, but especially with my lifetime account, I always have the option of going back. My warden is not at max level yet and I find it quite hard to get back into playing her, because of the way this class is designed. I had little notes stuck to the bottom of my monitors with the skill combinations. You have three skills, gambit builders, that you use in different combinations and depending on the combination, you can then use a gambit finisher. The good thing is that this feature leaves your hotbar quite empty of skills. Most of the class’s skills are executed by combining the gambit builders.

Anyway, the proposed class changes are quite controversial.So far, you can basically mix and match traits from different trait trees (each class has three) as you like. After the changes, this will not be possible anymore. It will be more like traditional skill trees (think old-school World of Warcraft). What I did in the beta was mostly looking at the new trait trees trying to figure out if I can play the way I’ve played my warden most of the time. I mixed between offensive melee traits and defensive ones. I found that this worked best for me. It took ages killing mobs solo, but I didn’t die either and I could also easily pull several mobs towards me and still survive the fights. Whenever we wanted to do 3 man instances, I could tank them easily.

I’m not saying this isn’t possible anymore, since I didn’t test it. I’m going to comment on the impression I got and that others will probably have as well. For years now, traits and builds worked in a certain way. Our skill bars were crowded (except for the warden, of course). A change was welcome. I loved the idea of not having that many skills anymore. Some aren’t needed or skills are very similar in their effects.

lotro_hobbits_picnicBut what Turbine did instead seems just bad. It’s not about how the classes and their trait trees will work out in the end. That may even be good, who knows? But if the players look at the trees, try to work with them and are appalled and shocked by the changes… then what good does that do? You can say and argue about how great those changes are, if the first reaction is that of “horror”, your chances are that players will just log out and forget about this game. Unfortunately, when you read the discussion about the upcoming expansion, it seems that several players react just with that horror.

I felt like the devs are putting us into boxes. My warden is either melee DPS, ranged DPS or a tank. But a melee DPS with tanky traits didn’t seem to work anymore. Some skills that you have been using for years now are suddenly locked away in other trait trees. Instead of mixing, e.g., tanky traits with using offensive skills, I now get access to tanky traits and tanky skills with a few offensive skills.I also apologize for not going into detail here, but I can’t access the beta at the moment to check for the skills’ names. ;)

The choice when to use which skills isn’t in the middle of a battle anymore. The choice for using certain skills is now made before you even step into battle. This diversity was what I really loved, together with the ability to choose whichever traits I liked and put them together instead of choosing for a specialization that predetermines which skills you are allowed to use and which ones you aren’t. At least, we’ll get multi-builds. You can make several builds and switch between them when you’re not in combat.

Those changes are drastic and probably a bit too much for the average player to chew on. Only time and more experience will tell if those changes are for the better or not.