Trove launched last Thursday and a lot of people are curious whether this game is any good. I will try to give you an impression of the game, but will try to keep it short(ish). There is a quite simple reason for this: This is the 4th time that I’m writing down my impressions of Trove. The first time was in July 2014, when Trove was still in alpha. The second time was during closed beta in October 2014. The third time was during open beta in February 2015. You may also notice quite a lot of similarities between this post here and the one from February. I had tried to write a new impression piece, but found that so many things from the post in February still hold true that I decided to rework this blog post and bring it up-to-date instead of writing everything again.
An additional note: An online game’s launch is usually accompanied by queue times etc. when a lot of people want to play the game at the same time. I will not write about this here, though, as I’m certain this will be resolved over time just like it has in all other online games I have played at launch. :)
What is Trove?
You may have heard people say that Trove is just a clone of some other game, for example, Cube World, Minecraft and even Terraria (yes, seriously). 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 which makes you stronger. You can then either upgrade those items in the forge to make them stronger or wait for a better item to drop (both is possibly and viable as quite a lot of items drop in the game). The “Loot Collector” lets you collect the items’ skins and gives you crafting material in return which is needed to upgrade items. There are also some crafting professions in the game and you can build – both in your club world and in your cornerstone (more on that later).
Good news for EU players: European servers were added! Here is how it works: On the Glyph launcher in the upper right corner, you choose your region. Don’t worry, you can change this every time you start the launcher and you can also still play with your US-based friends even when you choose EU here. It’s just the “default location”.
Every time you leave into the adventuring world, that is when you go through the portals leading to the low level areas, the uber-portals and the sky realm portal, you will be placed on servers located in the EU. You will have a much lower latency than when you play on the US servers. If, however, you see a friend online who plays on US servers, you can still click on “join” in the game and play together with them. All of this happens seamlessly and there are no separate databases. It’s just “hopping” from one server region to the other. You won’t even notice which region you’re playing in – well, other than the latency, of course. Other than that, there are no “servers” to choose like you have to do in Rift or Guild Wars 2.
Character customization and classes
When you first get into the game, you choose a name and the class you want to begin with. That is all there is to customization initially. You can also have only one character per account. But don’t worry, you will be able to customize your look later and you will be able to switch classes very easily. The one character you have can switch between all available classes! Currently, Trove offers 11 classes: Knight, Gunslinger, Fae Trickster, Dracolyte, Neon Ninja, Candy Barbarian, Ice Sage, Shadow Hunter, Pirate Captain, Boomeranger and Tomb Raiser. For me, there is currently enough variety and I have several classes that I really like playing and several that I don’t like. I really enjoy Candy Barbarian, who is a melee class that can heal herself and increase her attack speed (both bonuses also apply to other players nearby). The Pirate Captain is a ranged class that comes with a little parrot which you can “place” behind a cannon and who then shoots said cannon. The sounds coming from that parrot are too adorable! And with all the “BOOM” coming from that class, enemies go down quite fast as well.
Trion has also kept adding new classes over the course of alpha and beta with the latest, the Tomb Raiser, arriving with the game’s launch. Because of this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more in the future.
Before you can switch to a different class, you need to unlock it (no real-money-purchase required!). Once you have it unlocked, you can switch to it by using the “Class Changer” which is an item that looks like a wardrobe. (Update July 18, 2015: With one of the next updates, this item will no longer exist. You can then just hit “J” (default keybinding) and change your class this way). You also level each class independently. Level 20 is max level, by the way. Although you can gain another 20 levels by wearing max level gear. 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, the “Barbershop”, lets you customize the look of your character. You can find both those items in the main hub (entered by pressing H). There are various hair, eye and skin colours as well as hair styles to choose from. Also of note is that you can hide the look of hat and face items! Every class gets its own look which means that if you choose pigtails with your pirate captain, you can choose a mohawk for your candy barbarian.
Other than collecting items to become stronger, you will also want to collect those items to get their skins. The tooltip will tell you whether you already collected that item’s look or not. Throw it into the “Loot Collector” where it will be destroyed, but the look will get collected (and can consequently be used whenever you want) and you will get materials in return which are mostly needed for upgrading other items. 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 decide for 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.
Dungeons, adventuring and crafting
As I said above, the game is about adventuring in the world. After the short tutorial, 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: the smaller “one boss dungeons” are the simple towers on the map. The fortresses are dungeons with two smaller bosses and one bigger, more difficult, boss. The scrolls are dungeons with one boss that drop a crafting recipe. 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. You will need to collect the recipe for a special colour before you can craft that block. Once you can do so, they usually require standard coloured blocks and some other crafting materials that you get from adventuring in the world.
There are several ways to craft items in Trove. Before you can start with crafting something, you will need access to the appropriate crafting stations which are usually items that you craft first. Crafting has several purposes. For one, as I just said, you can craft blocks with different looks. You can also craft things like furniture for your club world or your 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, runecrafting and fishing. The latter is not a profession where you craft anything per se, but I thought it doesn’t hurt to mention it here.
Clubs (known as “guilds” in other games)
You can join up to five clubs in Trove. 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 (and your own club chest in there for additional storage space!). What I really like about the clubs is that while you can only “represent” one at a time – your club’s name appears above your head – you can chat in all your clubs simultaneously. And you can enter every club’s world even if you’re not currently representing them.
You get 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. 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. Every change you make to your cornerstone is permanent. So whenever you “call” your cornerstone again, it will reappear just as you made it. I have seen quite a lot of creative cornerstones already. Mine is mostly “functional” as I put everything I need in there. I am now trying to get a bit more creative and have started imitating some biomes on the different floors of the tower I built. The second place is your club world. It starts rather small (still much bigger than your cornerstone, though), but can be expanded quite a lot.
Everything you unlock in the game – skins, allies, gaining a level – will also give you “mastery points”. Every gained Mastery Rank gets you something in the game. 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)! So, I can already tell you that even though there are some things you can only buy with credits, there are also some credits rewards that you get simply by playing the game.
How “free” is “free to play” in Trove?
That depends entirely on what you want and how much you want it. :p You buy credits with real money. Cubits are the game’s currency that you earn by playing the game. Some things cannot be bought with cubits. Extra storage tabs in your personal storage chest, for example. But as I said, you can circumvent that by making a personal club and putting a club chest in there for extra space. Other things are cosmetics or mounts. Those items also give you mastery points, which means that if you want to get all mastery levels, you probably will have to spend real money. On the other hand, this is not needed to play and enjoy the game. You will not feel like a “second class citizen” if you decide not to spend money on the game.
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.
With the launch of the game, Trove also added an optional sub, called “Patron”. You get some bonuses like extra XP, higher crafting speed, 2 chaos chests per day. Again, none of that is needed to play and succeed in Trove.
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. 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 small development team and for that, 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. 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. 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 yet, for example. Thankfully, they already announced that they are working on giving us some fun PvP. It would not really fit into the game if they made it “serious”, so I’m looking forward to what they will bring us. For me, it’s not that I need PvP to enjoy a game, but I need PvP from time to time in general. Without it, I simply play another game when I feel like doing PvP. There are also no quests or storylines in the game. So, if you can’t live without this or “serious” PvP, then this game may not be for you. But I really like hunting for good items (stat-wise or because of the look), Diablo-style, from time to time. I also really love building stuff. And I love the look of the game!
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!) and making my cornerstone look nice.
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 it just takes a long time. I would also love to be able to choose “favourites” for easier access. The same goes for the other tabs like allies, mounts and so on. I will not talk about the text chat in Trove, because that one is still bad and Trion knows this. They are working on making chat better.
In closing, I really enjoy the game and like playing it a lot. I do hope that the shop stays as it is and that they won’t overdo it: Mostly fun items, but the vast 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. 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. It is not a game I could spend daily for several hours every day (unless that time is spent building in my club world or my cornerstone), because adventuring can get repetitive. But for me, it’s a perfect game to play for a bit after work.