After a successful launch on PC and a lengthy Beta period on consoles, Trion Worlds’ world-building dungeon-crawling MMO Trove is now officially out on Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Best of all it’s free to play, giving gamers the chance to express their creativity whilst adventuring across voxel worlds at no cost.
‘Minecraft’ with an extended emphasis on adventuring sounds great, right? Trove certainly offers plenty of enjoyable gameplay that lives up to this, though it quickly became a little too repetitive to keep me hooked for the long-term.
Trove’s gameplay is primarily broken down into two things: combat and building. The combat featured in the game isn’t overly intricate, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about the old-school simplicity of it all. It all takes place in real-time too, akin to something like ‘The Legend of Zelda’ as opposed to other MMORPGs like ‘Final Fantasy XIV’ or ‘World of Warcraft’.
Despite its simplicity, combat is well varied thanks to the large choice of classes to play as and how different each one actually feels to use. You might go a Knight who focuses on brute strength and defeating enemies in close quarters combat, or alternatively the Neon Ninja whose speed and stealthy abilities allow you to take down enemies before they notice you’re even there. Those who prefer fighting from range might prefer the Gunslingers and their shooting abilities, or if you’re feeling particularly creative you can try some of the more unique Trovian classes such as the Tomb Raiser or Chloromancer with their specialist abilities.
No matter which class you choose, the game deserves credit for making each of them feel substantially different – Trove can play like an up-close brawler or even a third-person shooter depending on what class you choose. They each offer unique abilities too, allowing the player to gain the upper hand in combat in a variety of different ways. What I particularly liked about the class system is that you can swap between them freely, though you do need to spend ‘Class Tokens’ to unlock them. You can find these as loot or alternatively buy them in-game; Trove is a free to play title, so it’s an understandable business model.
Each class can be levelled up to a maximum of thirty, though unfortunately levelling up only sees you get a boost to that class’ stats. There are no new abilities to unlock, leaving the only sense of progression coming in the form of your character being a bit more buffed up. It’s a shame; after working hard to level up a character to the max, it would’ve been neat to be rewarded with some kind of super attack to show off your dedication to the game.
Besides levelling up classes, you also have an overall ‘Mastery’ rank which levels up on the side. I’ve got no idea where this maxes, but I’m well over level one hundred and there’s no sign of it slowing down. I actually liked the fact there was a ‘Mastery’ level to show, with the high level I’ve achieved seen as a badge of honour when playing with friends who were fairly new to the game. You’ve got to gloat sometimes, right?
Outside of combat you have Trove’s building mechanics – the game isn’t just similar to ‘Minecraft’ aesthetically, but they share a lot of gameplay elements too. Trove allows each player to essentially claim their own small piece of land in each world they visit that they can then sculpt exactly how they please. I actually really loved how this was utilised – each time you claim a new piece of land everything you’ve worked on stays the same, essentially giving you this constant base that you can build up and improve the more you progress through the game.
You’ll also do a lot of crafting in the game, with blocks, materials, and all kinds of different resources found freely in the environment. Some require you to mine them, whilst others can be found by killing enemies or by looting the variety of treasure chests found throughout the world’s dungeons. Resource gathering comes along naturally with gameplay, with most resources found whilst simply exploring and playing through the game – don’t get me wrong, some stuff is pretty scarce, but I never felt like I couldn’t find anything that I needed.
Besides building your base, you can also visit ‘Club Worlds’ where you have the full freedom to build as you please. Admittedly I didn’t toy around with this too much, but they essentially allow you to build your own ever-expanding world and maintain it with a select group of other players. I can imagine there’s plenty of fun to be had in this mode, whilst it also gives all of the resource gathering some purpose. I just found there were better games to play if you’re primarily interested in simply building your own worlds – ‘LEGO Worlds’ recently released and that offers a much more refined and in-depth experience than Trove does. That isn’t free though, so maybe that may be the deal-breaker for some players…
The majority of your time in Trove will be spent traversing through ‘Adventure Worlds’, the procedurally generated environments of the game that are full of dungeons to conquer and resources to gather. Each ‘Adventure World’ is assigned a difficulty, allowing gamers to ensure they’re always playing the game in a way that’s appropriate for their skill level. Despite this, they’re all essentially the same in design; enemies are just a little tougher to take down. This is one of the game’s main problems – everything starts to feel the same. No matter what ‘Adventure World’ you visit, you’re always going to be following the same rinse and repeat pattern across dungeons that rarely feels any different.
Thankfully Trove is an MMO, so you’re able to play with plenty of other players. In fact, playing with others can be essential when taking on some of the more difficult ‘Adventure Worlds’. The social element of the game can be a bit of a mixed bag though. The fact you’re playing on console with a controller is a pain – unless you’ve got a keyboard hooked up, you’ll be frustratingly typing everything on a controller to simply communicate with other players. Given the fast paced nature of the game, this can be incredibly cumbersome to deal with. On the flip side though, I never really saw a whole lot of communication taking place in the chat window anyway, so you’re not really missing out on much.
However, if you’ve got a group of friends together and are actually playing in a party there’s a hell of a lot of fun to be had. Trove is certainly at its best when played with other players, plus the free to play nature of the game means it’s not to hard to convince a few friends to get on it. I understand that may not really be an option for some players, though thankfully you’re able to automatically teleport to other active players in ‘Adventure Worlds’ with the press of a button, so you’re never short of people to tackle dungeons with – just don’t expect an easy time communicating with them…
Those who prefer competitive multiplayer options can jump on the PVP modes, with Trove offering ‘Capture the Flag’ and ‘Team Deathmatch’ multiplayer options. Both group you up with other players so you’ll never have a free-for-all showdown, though that’s probably a good thing given the balance issues that are the consequence of the game’s free to play nature. Now I’m not denying that PVP is fun, because I had good time with it – especially in ‘Team Deathmatch’. It’s just that there could be an obvious disparity between player’s equipment that could offer massive advantages and disadvantages on the battlefield. This may be down to simply playing the game for a longer time which is fair enough, though the pay to win elements of the game might shine through a bit more here given that the in-game purchases essentially allow you to buy things that would take hours upon hours to earn otherwise, giving players with deeper pockets more of an advantage in the competitive side of things.
That’s what a lot of Trove boils down to though. Whilst you can work to earn things in the game, you can also buy it all with real-life money. New costumes, mounts, weapons, classes, crafting resources – it’s all available for a fee. It’s not something that can be held against the game given that it’s designed as a free to play title, but it’s just worth nothing that unless you put some real-life cash in you might find it takes a long time before you find yourself feeling truly empowered.
Sticking with it to earn the stuff naturally was a little off-putting though given that there was a severe lack of purpose to Trove. There are no side-quests to complete or NPCs to interact with as per a traditional MMO, but rather an extended focus on resource gathering, crafting, building, and grinding through a series of fairly repetitive dungeons. You do get the occasional quest pop up, especially at the start of the game, but they essentially act as a tutorial for you to get to grips with all of the different aspects of gameplay.
Now this complaint may not be too much of a big deal for some gamers; especially those who enjoy the resource gathering and crafting elements of video games. I just found it a little lacking and wish the game offered more questing elements or even some form of endgame. There’s definitely plenty of fun to be had thanks to the old-school combat and potential of co-operative play, but it didn’t take too long for me to find myself craving something different to do. I’ve never been one to continually perform repetitive tasks for loot or resources and that’s essentially all there really is to it. It certainly doesn’t make Trove a bad game though and I’m sure this kind of gameplay is perfect for some gamers – I actually played through with my younger nephew for awhile and he never got bored of doing the same things over and over again. Those who are a little older and more experienced with MMOs might find there’s a lot to be desired though.
Aesthetically Trove adopts the simplistic voxel-like look that’s been popularised by ‘Minecraft’, with structures and characters featuring a basic ‘blocky’ look. Now I’m a fan of the style and can appreciate some of the creativity that’s gone into crafting the world, but at the same time it could feel a little overly repetitive. Whilst the effort that has gone into designing each and every object in the game is impressive, the simplistic voxel design means you won’t ever really visit anywhere that’s distinctly different from anything else after spending a couple of hours with the game. Given the need for a long-term commitment to get the most out of Trove, this might be an issue for some gamers.
Still, there’s so much colour and variety in the design of the world that it’s hard not to appreciate your surroundings. Trove has its own charming sense of style, and whilst you might begin to get a little bored of the repetitive nature of how the world feels, you’ll never tire of how it looks.
Trove has left me feeling a little torn; whilst I certainly had plenty of fun with the old-school combat mechanics and multiplayer adventuring, it didn’t take too long for the repetitive nature to drag things down. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of things to discover and loot to find, but rather that the gameplay alone didn’t offer enough of an incentive to entice me to stick with the game for the long term and uncover all of these things.
For a game which demands hours of your time, that was a bit of a problem for me. It might not be the same for other players though and I have no doubt that Trove’s RPG/world-building hybrid will certainly tick plenty of boxes for other players, but I’ve already found myself moving on to other titles.
Still, it’s free to play so there’s no risk to trying the game – just don’t expect to be blown away by what Trove offers.
Developer: Trion Worlds
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Release Date: 14/03/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Mac