Update (July 18, 2015): This post is outdated! Go here for a newer blog post.
Trove is the first game that I have been following this closely since alpha. And so it’s probably not a big surprise that it did not only get a “First Impressions Review” (in alpha), but a Second Impressions Review (in closed beta) from me as well. But that’s not the end of they journey, of course. Trove went into open beta back in November and with that, everybody can create an account and start playing immediately now without having to pay anything.
I also noticed that in the last few weeks, we have been getting a lot of hits on our “Second Impressions” piece, but that one doesn’t do the game any justice anymore. A lot has changed and in case you have read the Second Impressions review, you may be very pleased to hear that the issues I mentioned with rubberbanding, low FPS, lags etc. are (mostly) gone. Sometimes, especially after logging in for the first time, I still have issues with the world taking a bit to load in fully. If that happens, I have to wait a bit before I start roaming the map. Once that is over, I generally don’t have any problems. What hasn’t changed is the location of the servers. They are still in the US only. I’m pretty sure that especially Australian players will smirk when a European player complains about latency. :p The latest news I saw from the developers was that they still want to give us EU players servers in the EU. However, they also do not want to separate us from the rest of the players. Again, my own latency is not that bad, so I wouldn’t mind keeping it the way it is, especially if that was the only way to keep playing with everybody else. But we’ll have to wait and see about that, I guess.
Another issue I complained about was when adding a new map in your club world, everything bordering that club world (in a pretty big radius), gets destroyed. They have not changed this behaviour, but they have added a warning in the tooltip of the item that you use to expand your club world. So you’ll know about it, at least, and can save all the items from permanent destruction.
After having said that, welcome to everybody who may not have read any of my previous posts about Trove! Let’s start with the open beta impressions review and the usual warning: This is me stating my very subjective opinion. Do not expect an objective review (as if those things truly existed anyway… :p).
What is Trove? And what can I do in this game?
No matter what you may have read or heard, it’s not a clone of any other game that I know or have heard of. It shares similarities, for example, with Cube World and with Minecraft. But it has more than enough differences to not be called a clone. It is a voxel-based game where you can roam through non-permanent maps with several biomes that each have a different look and house different (crafting) materials, NPCs and dungeons. You collect equipment items that you can also upgrade to make them stronger. You collect skins to make your character look cooler. And you can build – both in your club world and in your cornerstone (more on that later).
When you first get into the game, you choose a name and that is all there is to customization. Don’t worry, you will be able to customize more later! You can also only have one character per account. While you can only have one character, this character can switch between all available classes. The game currently has 8 classes to choose from: Knight, Gunslinger, Fae Trickster, Dracolyte, Neon Ninja, Candy Barbarian, Ice Sage and Shadow Hunter. The 9th, the Pirate Captain, was recently announced. This already shows you that classes are gradually added to the game. There is an item in the game that looks like a wardrobe, the Class Changer, that lets you change your class. You also level the classes independently. So basically, it’s almost like having several characters. I really love having alts, but I don’t miss having “real” alts at all.
Another item in the game lets you customize your character. You can find both those items in the main hub (entered by pressing H). There are various hair styles and hair colours to choose from as well as eye colours and skin colours. Although I don’t think much of that is really visible to others considering the blocky look of the game. ;) Still, I love my little one’s reddish-brown pigtails. Also of note is that you can hide the look of hat and face items! And you can choose which look to use. I have my hat item hidden, so I can always see the pigtails and am wearing a monocle – because, well, it has style.
As I said above, the game is about adventuring in the world. You start by going through the level 1 – 3 portal in the main hub. Just look for the huge tower with shiny and colourful portals. Each world is randomly generated. In these worlds, you find dungeons – if you’re new, you mostly notice them because a text appears in the upper right telling you who to kill. Go there, kill the mobs and the boss, find a loot chest. There are also crafting materials in the world that you can harvest. And, of course, lots and lots of blocks! When you collect blocks this way (switch into build mode to do so), you will only get the standard colours. If you want special colours (like the neon green you can see in the screenshot above), you can craft them from those standard coloured blocks with some other materials. You will also need to collect the recipes before you can make those special blocks. The recipes, again, come from adventuring in the worlds.
Crafting has several purposes. For one, as I just said, you can craft blocks with different looks. You can also craft things like furniture. All of this is useful for the club world or your personal cornerstone. Trion has also started implementing professions. You can level all of them, so there is no need to choose one. At the moment, we have gardening, ringcrafting and runecrafting. We know that fishing will come soon as well. Those professions let you craft equipment, mounts and more items for your club world and your cornerstone.
You can join up to five clubs, by the way. Clubs are the “guilds” you may know from MMOs. Every club can have one club world which is permanent (that is, not randomly generated whenever you enter it) and it lets you build things in there. Since you can join up to five different ones, you can also create one for yourself and have your own personal world to build in. You also have a cornerstone which is a little place in the adventure worlds. This cornerstone moves with you! You will notice empty spaces in the adventure worlds with a !-sign. Click on this (“E” on your keyboard) and your cornerstone will appear. When you die and previously placed your cornerstone in that world where you died, this is where you will respawn. You can also put everything you need like your personal chest or crafting stations on that cornerstone. Don’t worry, nobody can access your personal chest. If they click on it, they will only get access to their personal chest! Additionally, nobody else can build on your cornerstone. But be careful when fighting while you’re standing on yours. Some of your skills destroy blocks and this means that you can indeed destroy your own creation during a fight.
Other than collecting items to become stronger, you will also want to collect items to get their skins. If there’s green text below such an item, you have not yet collected that skin and can put the item in the “style saver”. It gets destroyed, but after that, you will be able to use that item’s look whenever you want to. Just click on the look you want. The stats will still come from the item that you have equipped. This is one of the aspects of the game that I love! There are already so many styles to choose from that it’s really difficult to take just one. Thankfully, every class has its own equipment and style slots. So, items that you equip with one class will stay with that class even if you switch to a different one. You can have a classy monocle-wearing candy barbarian and a silly tetris-cube wearing knight.
Everything you unlock in the game – skins, allies, gaining a level – will also give you “mastery points”. Every gained Mastery Rank gets you something. It starts with +3% maximum health, but there are also cubits (the in-game currency), special skins, materials and even credits (the currency you buy for real money)!
Since this game is free to play, is it also pay to win?
That always depends on how somebody defines “pay to win”. I, personally, would say no. There are some things that you cannot get without spending real money like extra storage tabs or specific mounts. There are items that you can buy which give your equipment stronger stats or a better stat combination faster. However, it’s just “faster”. You can also get there by simply playing the game. Additionally, in Trove, you always work with your fellow players, not against them. I have never seen or heard anybody complain because you did not have the perfect stat combination on your weapon. In fact, nobody knows what you’re wearing and nobody can even see how much damage you deal. So, you may get some things faster, but they will not make you gain an advantage over those who do not pay. Additionally, for me it’s part of the game to try to get the equipment that I want and buying items just to maybe get a stat combination faster than by playing the game is not how I want to spend my money. So altogether, this part may be something that’s not too nice, but in general, it isn’t important. You are not able to buy a weapon with better stats, for example.
You can buy several items either via credits (bought with real money) or cubits (in-game currency). You can earn up to 500 cubits on weekdays and 1000 cubits on Saturdays and Sundays. This means that in a week, you can earn a maximum of 3500 cubits. Cubits cannot be traded with other players. So, by paying with real money, you can buy some things immediately that are time-gated otherwise. On the other hand, I’m talking about classes (the time it takes you to level the class to 20 can also be spent doing those daily quests for cubits which will let you buy the next class), mounts (a lot of mounts drop or can be crafted), costumes for your character (purely cosmetic, but cannot be bought with cubits) and flasks (can be bought for credits and cubits). Flasks are your healing potion. While they have released new flasks in the last few weeks, I did not buy any of them because the standard flask still suits me the best, to be honest.
So yeah, there are items and things you can buy faster with credits than with cubits or by playing the game and then there are cosmetic items that are exclusive to the shop. Decide for yourself if that fits your definition of “pay to win” or not. I personally say it’s not.
How can I help with the development of the game?
Now we get to the part where I think Trove really stands out! They are a very small development team (we now know that they have two designers and two animators) and as such, they do bring us new content and additions to the game quite fast. However, the community certainly helps out a lot! Players can create dungeons, item skins, mounts and costumes. In their latest Twitch stream, they also said that if your mount or costume gets added to the game, you receive 10k credits and 300 codes of said item to give away as you please. But you don’t really need to create something outside of the game, only so that the developers add it – although I admit, this is very cool! ;) You can also “just” build in your club world or on your cornerstone. Trion Worlds has shown a few of those creations on their website.
You’ll also get credited in the game. Your username gets added to the item’s tooltip, so everybody knows this is your design.
Now that we’ve covered all of that: My opinion of the game in a nutshell
I really enjoy the game, but it could not be my “one and only game”. There is no PvP nor do the developers intend to add PvP (Update July 10, 2015: The developers changed their mind and PvP WILL come!). Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think PvP would work well in Trove. I just need some PvP once in a while. And there are no quests or storylines in the game either. So, if you can’t live without PvP or without story quests, then this game may not be for you. But I really like hunting for good items (Diablo-style) from time to time. I also really love building stuff. And I love the look of the game! If you can’t get past those graphics, then yeah, Trove is definitely not a game for you.
In short, it’s a fun game that I’ve already spent playing for countless hours. I don’t really have any big goals in there other than getting all classes to max level and finding nice gear for them (okay, mostly good looks!). I haven’t done much building yet in the club world, but that’s because I want to focus on equipment and levelling first.
One thing I do not like is the user interface. Trying to find a skin I want to equip takes an awfully long time. They are sorted by where you find the skin. But this means that if you want to look for a nice staff skin, you have to go through all the different lists and look for staff weapons – in between the melee, gun, bow, face and hat items. The same goes for the other tabs like allies, mounts and so on.
Some things aren’t properly implemented yet and you can only use them by typing the command. Taking screenshots, for example. I usually use fraps to take a screenshot because it’s much easier and faster, especially when I’m in the middle of combat. However, the game is still in open beta. The developers said that they want to launch soonish. So, I hope that those areas get an overhaul and added features before launch!
In closing, I do hope that the shop stays as it is and that they won’t overdo it: Mostly fun items, but the majority of cool-looking items are still coming from playing the game and not from opening my wallet. I understand that a company wants me to want to buy something and they need the money to survive, of course. But there’s some balance that should be kept where you can get fun stuff for free and fun stuff for money. Because other than the potential “pay to win” that all free-to-play games have looming over themselves, the game itself is a lot of fun! I like hunting after things I want instead of simply buying them and I really enjoy the creative possibilities that this game is giving its players.