Each week, I’ll aim to give recommendations on video games across multiple platforms. Generally, these will follow my personal gaming habits, as I’m known to jump from game to game. This is the first installment.

Trove

Developer: Trion Worlds
Platform(s): PC, Mac, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Action Roleplaying Game (MMOARPG)
Cost: Free-to-Play*
Rating: 3.5/5

Pros:

  • Reasonable limitations on free-to-play accounts
  • Engaging combat with unique character abilities
  • Unique voxel art style
  • Consistent reasons to log-in, including daily and weekly rewards

Cons:

  • Poor server performance and maintenance
  • Over-enticing cash shop with slightly higher prices than necessary
  • Repetitive gameplay that will turn off gamers opposed to “grind”
  • Player base split between adults, teens, and children (can be annoying)

Minecraft Meets Zelda Meets Diablo 3

At first glance, Trove appears to be a knockoff of Minecraft, the popular Mojang/Microsoft game where players enter a voxel world, fending off zombies and building grand things block-by-block. While Trove has numerous world-building opportunities, it’s a fundamentally different game at its core — an action-based RPG.

Players will select one of over a dozen classes to start, and will unlock 4 different abilities as they attain their first few levels. These abilities make gameplay relatively simple and easy to pick up. Players attain power and gear by completing dungeons, where they are tasked with defeating 1-3 different bosses. Dungeons can take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, but the barrier to entry time-wise is very low.

As players progress, they will collect an almost absurd amount of loot. Most of it will be entirely useless, broken down for materials used in crafting and upgrading. Anyone familiar with the loot style of Diablo 3 or popular looter-shooter Borderlands will have no problem adapting to Trove‘s “the more the merrier” loot style. Players will use this loot, and the upgrade materials, to gain further power, until they can complete tougher dungeons. This cycle repeats for the entire life cycle of the game.

What makes the game particularly interesting, however, is the world. All dungeons are true three-dimensional spaces, with players resorting to bombs, flying mounts, and platformer-style jumping to speed past whatever they can to defeat the end boss. This element sets Trove apart from what would otherwise be a rather boring grindfest.

Those Dopamine Releases

As many games have recently discovered, players achieve a dopamine release when a rare desired piece of loot is gained. Trove doubles down on that concept, with a tremendous amount of “RNG” (random number generation, or luck) mixed into the game.

Almost every facet of the game, from collecting loot to opening rare chests, has a gambling element to it. This is by design, to leave players chasing their next rare or important drop. It’s incredibly effective, and extends the game’s life cycle tremendously.

Free-to-Play, Until You Get Hooked

While Trove features relatively few limitations compared to a number of other free-to-play titles, the game does provide hefty incentives for players to spend money. Free players are limited to just 3 of the game’s 14 (13 on console) classes. Players who pay a monthly subscription also receive bonus experience, bonus chests every day, and a number of perks like increased jump distance and loot drops.

Luckily for those willing to spend money, the entry cost to Trove’s patron system (membership), is fairly low at $14.99 for a single month and $10.99 if you commit to a one-year subscription.

The true “hook” comes in the form of a number of “packs” offered by Trion Worlds in the Trove store. These packs, ranging anywhere from $20 to $99, offer a number of items, both cosmetic and game-enhancing. They also mix in special offers throughout your play time, including free items just for checking the store. It’s all designed to incentivize sales, and is effectively implemented.

The Verdict

Trove at first glance appears to be a pretty basic game, perhaps even catering toward children and teens. In reality, the game has depth via grind, and a constant chase for better loot, more power, and more rewards. The game has reasonable free-to-play restrictions, but plays smoother and with less frustration for the paying player. I’ve been getting hours of fun out of the game, but it’s not recommended for players who aren’t used to “loot grind” style games. I recommend Trove with a 3.5/5 rating.