There’s something liberating about the new MMORPG from Trion Worlds. It’s not often that a “sandbox” game feels like you can truly do anything, but Trove gives players enough freedom, while giving them a shove in the right direction every now and again. It’s a nice mix of some iconic aspects of a range of different genres and popular games. After playing for just a short amount of time, I was quickly able to tell that this game owes some pretty hefty debts to games like Minecraft, and to a lesser extent every other MMORPG in existence. Trove is the sort of game that pulls you in with its simplicity, and you stay for the compelling content, intelligent design, and all round blocky mayhem.
The sense that some of the aspects of the game have been done before doesn’t take too much away from the whole experience, as the gameplay is so unique, and everything just works well together. The art style and the gameplay are both very simplistic, but also extremely charming. Simplistic is a word that I’ll be using a lot when talking about this game, but you have to remember that simplistic doesn’t necessarily mean bad.
Diverse Classes & Massive Biomes
After diving into the game, I was faced with the option of choosing from a range of different classes, so I naturally picked the one that turns into a dragon and breathes fire. From then on out, it was straight into the adventure after the tiniest of tutorials. Even the briefest of glimpses at the game will have the word “Minecraft” crossing the lips of even the most casual of gamers. The landscape is indeed voxel based, with exploration and crafting at the core of the game, but this only adds to the freedom that I experienced while playing. The never-ending randomly generated landscapes stretch into the distance and biomes of different themes and colors pop up everywhere. These random biomes and sense of a truly untouched world differentiate Trove from pretty much every other MMO.
The biomes are very diverse. There are more traditional and stereotypical worlds like a Tundra with yetis, deserts with cacti, forests with castles, but there are also crazy biomes that look like something from a Tron movie, or a land made entirely out of candy.
After I had burnt my way through the first few dungeons, everything started to become very intuitive. The controls are extremely simple and the dungeons are easy to navigate, yet can also be quite complex
Community Based Gameplay
One of the coolest aspects of the game is the creativity from my fellow players. I’d frequently be bouncing around on my bouncy ball mount when I would come across another player’s home (called a cornerstone) that had been beautifully put together. These cornerstones were often well thought out and designed. One of my personal favorites was a player that had recreated the house from the Pixar movie Up. The house was sitting off the ground, and even had balloons attached to the top, appearing to be holding the whole thing up.
The best aspect of community involvement, however, was that almost every single piece of armor and weaponry in the game has been designed by a player. If you hover over an item that you think looks cool, you can see the name of the player that made it. I started investigating a little further into this, and found that there are resources for you to design your own items and put the designs forward to the developers to seek their approval. There is not only a very active subreddit on reddit devoted to this, but also a page on the official forums.
One thing I noticed about the community and player base is that it seems to be a very mixed bag. You have your casual players, your hardcore MMO min-maxers, your world creators, your “I want to blow this up” guys, and the people that just love hacking their way through a dungeon. The best part is that all of these play styles are possible, and none of them interfere with each other in the slightest.
It seems like Trion Worlds has made a conscious effort to remove the most annoying parts of an MMO experience in Trove. For example, we’ve all experienced the frustration when some loot drops and there’s always the “mind if I roll need?” guy. That problem is completely removed in Trove, as all loot that drops is accessible for all players, so everybody in the nearby area gets the same loot. I found this out the hard way while going through dungeons with a casual group of players. I was leaving about half of everything that dropped on the floor, just to make sure that everyone got their fair share, but that turned out to be completely counterproductive, and ended with me going all the way back through the dungeon to collect those precious internet pixels.
There are clever mechanics in place to deal with pretty much everything. There is no griefing (outside of the obligatory global chat trolls), no stealing from other players, no problems over land ownership, and a whole host of fair ways to deal with most of the normal gripes with MMOs.
Well made? Definitely. Flawless? Certainly not!
While I have definitely given an overwhelmingly positive review of the game, possibly because of my affinity to brightly colored objects and a sense of nostalgia from my World of Warcraft days, Trove is not without its flaws.
There are a number of different things in the game that are left completely unexplained. Most of the hotkeys, for example. It took me 30 minutes to work out I even HAD a mount, let alone how to summon it (Z key, for those coming from Google). Some of the in-game items and attributes don’t immediately make much sense (What is Glim? Flux? Shapestone Ore? What’s a mastery point and how do I get one? Who is Diggsly and why does everyone want to buy him?). All of these things are not clearly explained from the get-go, so it might seem overwhelming to less determined players. After a while of guessing and wasting time and resources, I had to look for a video guide to understand quite a bit of the content.
Too Much Grinding?
Another aspect of Trove that could deter new players is the same pitfall that many other MMOs are famous for - the “endless grind." The quests that send you on your way to kill a certain amount of enemies, or that one quest that asks you to craft something, which would be easy if you didn't have to collect that hard-to-find item 500 times first. Trove includes a few of these, and some players have complained that the end game can sometimes feel monotonous, and like a never ending circle. The complaint is that players have to collect loot, in order to fight a boss to get better loot, in order to fight another boss to get better loot. This continues ad nauseam, until you gather enough resources to move on to the next quest. To be honest, I think I agree with them. Right now there is no definite end-game. There is no iconic bad-guy that needs defeating, princess to save, or 100 stars to collect. It’s almost TOO sandboxy, and while at first the feeling of freedom is infectious, you tend to head towards an inevitable existential crisis when you’re standing on top of the umpteenth dead bad guy and you think to yourself “what’s the point?”
- A true sandbox
- Strong community
- Easily accessible
- Beautiful graphics
- Replayability due to classes
- No clear end-game goal
- A fair amount of grinding
- Some things left unexplained
Overall, I personally enjoyed the game. It’s not a game that I could play the same way as other MMORPGs I have played in the past. I wouldn’t find myself logging in every day and playing for hours, but I don’t think it’s really designed for that. I would, however, happily play a few times a week to see what's news and have a little adventure. It fills its niche very well. It’s a game that builds bridges between the casual market and an MMO, which is something that hasn’t traditionally been possible. Despite its flaws, I still think that it's a very enjoyable game that most people will get along with.
Trove is available free-to-play on PC.