OK, i’ll just come out and admit it: Trove is really, really fun. Since playing the other night, it’s the only game i launch- mainly, because goals are forming up. Where i was wandering around aimlessly earlier, slowly i gain insight in the game mechanics, the crafting and the goals you can set yourself.
This is also the first installment of my Project-Trinity-copout-column, the Backpacker. From time to time i will write a piece about a zone, landscape, village, npcs, a quest chain, game mechanics or, like today about a game i visit. It is aimed to be an “MMO tourist” series of posts in the wider sense- usually, there should be a focus on the “Trinity games”, though.
First, i wanted to follow the “golden path”, or thread or whatever it’s called here to gain those cubits i needed to unlock another class. I don’t know why, but instead of only the knight, i also have had access to the gunslinger from the beginning. By now, i unlocked the Boomeranger and the Ice Sage, as well. Of course i spent money- i always do; even if it’s entirely possible to play for free- and with Trove, it is, it is not my goal to do so. When i see value in a game, i pay. So i went and bought the Power Pack (for 20$), which gives me wings, a fast mount, a boat, a sail, 2 class tokens and some other stuff i don’t really know about.
Then, i wanted to find some Primordial Flames to craft a Ringcrafting table. I had 1, but needed 5. The flames seem to spawn close to other ore, but it seems to be on a very rare occasion. Turns out they spawn by themselves in the Dragonfire Peaks biome- only have to find one of those, right? It took a while, though. I don’t know whether biomes are somewhat connected to levels, but i had to enter a level 6/7 adventure zone and explore a bit to find one. It turned out fine, though. Dragonfire Peaks seems to be the biome you should look out for when you’re hunting for ore. There was a lot of all kinds of ore i know by now- and there were even some Primordial Flames.
The next resource i’m trying to gather up is enchanted wood– the best places to gather seem to be found in the medieval highlands, Fae Wilds and Cursed Vale biomes.
And i need to go fishing for the next step in the golden path, not knowing how fishing works, at all.
Free-to-play game design
As you might know, i don’t really care about business models- i’m fine with subs and i’m fine with free-to-play, as well. I know both models influence game design. But i also have to say that some free-to-play and buy-to-play games, especially those designed to follow that model from the ground up, provide fun gameplay without having too many timesinks. There are “pain points” (great term!) to get you to pay, but often, these games do not try to make your sessions longer and play more than you can.
Trove excels in this regard- it is so easy to launch up and just play. Sure, if you are trying to reach some goals it might take you some time. But you can always fire it up, enter an adventure zone and do something- getting there takes about 2 minutes, and that’s including load time.
When we’re talking business model, i’d like to say that i also had a look at the cash shop- and found it to be reasonably prized (a class for about 5€) and i have to confess that i’d have trouble finding something i’d really like to buy. Classes would be one way to go, but my guess is, once i can build in a club world, that the building blocks would be the most interesting. And they’re dirt cheap- of course they are, since you could also just go out and gather them. I’ve received 2000 blocks of each primal block as part of the power pack, so i might be covered for some time. Other than that, i didn’t see anything that would be an issue. Lockboxes, sure, but honestly, i think they do fit somewhat in this game- it’s a whole different affair when a game is more serious. Still not a friend of lockboxes, though, so i won’t buy any of them.
The MMO concentrate
Now, Ironweakness has a great post covering this already, so i’ll make it short here: Trove includes almost everything an MMO should have (i have to agree on the auction house, though- i’d like to see one)- fun gameplay that’s easy to learn but will get more difficult later on, i’m sure. Lots of crafting options, “housing”- or building stuff, exploration for exploration’s sake and so on. It’s playable in small groups, bigger groups and solo. It can be relaxing and quite involved. You can have your downtime, as well- when building, crafting, exploring or whatever.
I can’t tell you yet if it is a shallow experience, mainly because i still don’t understand half of it- how does the crafting work, what can you build? What should you build and why? I can say, however, that exploring these mechanics is fun and it takes time. I think early on, half of the fun to be had in MMOs was to slowly get a grasp on these games, their worlds, features and mechanics. Nowadays, these things are usually “streamlined” and “made accessible” for the “filthy casual”- Trove shows that you can be one of those streamlined, accessible, casual games while still retaining some of that wonder that is exploring online worlds.