Hello hello, dear friends! Welcome back. This is our second entry in our free to play (F2P) games exposé. We have been discussing how F2P can get things right, as well as how the model can go horribly wrong. This article serves as a continuation of a previous article that introduced the fundamentals of how a F2P game typically works.
Today we’re going to walk you through a fairly new game that quite honestly surprised us with how entertaining it turned out to be. Roleplaying games have been around for ages, and ever since Minecraft became a runaway success (financially speaking), copycats have cropped up everywhere, looking to make a quick buck. Thankfully, this title does both of its inspirations justice.
As stated above, Minecraft has had its share of voxel based knock-offs. Most of them try to recreate the magic, and most of them fall a bit short. Due to this, the game we are discussing today almost got passed over by this author. It simply looked like all the others at first glance, and did not appear bring anything new or interesting to the table. I gave it a shot, and am thankful I did so; Trove is not your average clone.
Trove is a voxel based action roleplaying game. Everything in the game is made of tiny squares, similar to pixels but in three dimensions. You pick a class that determines your abilities. Options include pirates, archers, candy barbarians, and neon ninjas, just to name a few. Once you choose a class, you begin to roam instanced-yet-open worlds looking for dungeons to delve into. While Trove is a very simple game at its core, it does have enough intricacies and hooks grab your attention and keep you coming back. More importantly, it also contains enough rewards, flashy lights, and fun co-op gameplay to justify spending some money on it. So far, this is exactly what you want in a F2P game.
In Trove, you traverse a land which is split up into several different types of biomes. Biomes, for the uninitiated, are basically climates with clearly defined borders. The Haunted Forest, for instance, is purple and filled with skeletons and ghosts, whereas the Western Frontier is populated with rowdy robots and pokey cacti. Each area has its own features and benefits depending on the goal you are looking to accomplish. Each biome also contains specific kinds of weapons and gear themed for the area you find them in. Dungeons are also themed in a manner fitting their placement. Pirate ships float the oceans and the snowy ruins populate an area called the Permafrost. Minerals and materials to mine up are abundant in some areas, while being considerably sparse in others.
When you get tired of dungeoneering, you can form or join a club world, or even build on your own private plot. Club worlds are large open areas you can claim as your own, invite friends to, and set permissions for building structures or accessing tools and materials. Here you get to basically play Legos with all of the blocks and materials you’ve farmed up throughout your adventure. Build a house, dig a tunnel, whatever you’d like.
Everything in Trove is somewhat simplified for the good of the system. There are only five or six attributes that a character can have, including attack power, movement speed, jumping ability and a few others. There is just enough here to keep you number crunchers happy, but not so much as to overwhelm players who are new to the genre. Unlike other massively multiplayer games, however, action and coordination are key. You have to aim your attacks, while jumping and dodging enemy’s assaults. This active method of ducking and weaving keeps you engaged in a fight rather than just rolling your face across the number keys until your enemies are defeated (a system that is prevalent in older MMO style games).
Then comes the building. Materials are distilled down to a small yet varied handful of monster treasures that you combine along with another assortment of ores that you mine from caves. There is enough variety here to keep you searching and scouring, but again, nothing so immeasurably rare that you have to fight a specific boss thirty times. Beyond the previously mentioned loot blocks, there are building blocks which are rarely used in crafting items; rather, they are mostly used to mash together at your leisure whilst building your blocky abode.
Or you could build a giant sandworm from the desert planet Arrakis… you know…. if that’s your thing.
So that’s the game, in a nutshell, but as a F2P game, where and how do they entice you to cough up some real life greenbacks? Many of the in game upgrades (such as transportation worthy creatures, bigger health potions and even all new classes) can be obtained with in game money, ultimately costing only your time and effort. However, you can grease the wheels with some real cash which can expedite that process a bit. There are some mounts and even some character costumes that are purely for vanity’s sake that will cost you real money to purchase no matter what. So that’s the big thing this F2P title does right: nearly everything in the game only requires time and effort to earn. Paying real money only gets you there faster, or in style. What this boils down to is that if you are a paid user you don’t really have any huge advantages that the free users don’t have. You’re absolutely encouraged to spend money, but you aren’t strong armed into it.
Trove also peaks pretty early. Character classes only level up to twenty, a top end that is fairly easy to obtain. Long before that, you’ll have built a pretty sizable and well equipped base of operations. There are a few hard to obtain goodies that take a fair bit of patience to acquire. Looking for something more to do with your max level character? Take up ring crafting or gardening. Crafting is also leveled, requiring you to build a certain number of items from the lower tiers before you can craft the cooler stuff at the top tiers. Taking part in these professions isn’t required, but it is a great way to break up the endless stream of giant castles or underground tombs, giving you a chance to enjoy what could be considered endgame content rather than grind for weeks.
So lets have a quick recap. As a free game, Trove is a simplified crafting game where you can build a clubhouse limited only by your imagination. It features an uncomplicated yet challenging combat system that sports a party friendly experience. Developer Trion Worlds offers fun and useful goodies to entice you to pay for their game, including vanity items and well designed mounts, as well as other toys. You are never in a situation where the player with the most money invested is having the most fun. The only time I was unhappy with this model was in regards to the storage chest. Items store quite easily in these chests; however, building more than one does not grant you more space, it simply creates another access point to get your items back from. If the chest fills up, they encourage you to pay for an extra tab or slot on the same storage chest. The way items stack and store, you will be cramped with just one slot, however it is not required and if you get creative, you can find the room.
Besides the treasure chest concern, there is one last issue worth addressing. Trove released to the public very recently, July 9th according to its page on Steam. Although I highly recommend you give this game a chance, keep in mind it is incredibly new and that the servers have sporadic downtimes as they correct bugs and patch the game up. There used to be queues of people waiting just to get into the game, but a hands-on development team and new hardware seem to have solved that issue.
Overall, for the price and party friendliness, Trove is a great game to pick up and play with some friends. The art style really grew on me as I discovered bigger and more elaborate voxel sculptures and home bases. Collecting new items and building your treehouse, tending the garden, and dungeon delving come together to make something thoroughly enjoyable.