When Minecraft meets an MMO structure you get Trove.
Trove is an interesting concept. It takes all the great building and crafting of a Minecraft game, the hook that keeps kids playing, and opens up into a simple massively multiplayer online role-playing game that may not challenge those interested in hardcore MMOs, but will consistently entertain the younger gamers in the household. I feel like I just wrote a review about kids having fun with a game more than an adult. Hmm. Anyway, let’s get right into it.
The structure of Trove is easy to figure out. You go on short stints of adventure through a blocky world filled with vicious enemies and small dungeons to collect loot that will propel you to your next quest. It’s mostly wash-rinse-repeat with a bit of grind leading the way when it comes to Trove’s structure, which isn’t a bad thing, especially for a younger audience that hasn’t gone full MMORPG quite yet in their life with the likes of World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV. It’s essentially the ‘next step’ when younger kids are slowly popping off the Minecraft addiction and looking for something just a little bit more to peak their interest, but with the same familiar they’re used to seeing/playing in the Minecraft world.
The first similarity between the two games is the exploration, which allows you to seemingly go on an endless trip into the sunset across an open ocean, up and down the rolling green hills of a forest landscape or even through the rough, hot grounds of an active volcano. Those are only the tip of the exploration in the game, or at least the stuff that lands I have found. Having seen my kids play Minecraft, I can definitely see how they would love that openness of exploring an active, endless world. I have already seen my son get up early in the AM (which is not typical) to find his way through this game just to see what he can see. For me, as an old gamer, I don’t understand this type of exploratory feeling anymore, as I need some closed structure and purpose to my gaming experience, or at least a bit more motivation to keep going (kind of like what you would find everywhere in Skyrim) But, the kids love this type of exploration in their games nowadays, so I can’t really say it’s not important or good enough. Again, going back to my son for an example, he has eaten this game up.
That said, if I had to legitimately knock this game a bit in the exploration department, I would say that the game doesn’t reward you nearly enough for exploring its lands. The joy of exploring in games like this is to be rewarded for your efforts of exploration and taking chances. I played this game for a large amount of minutes and didn’t feel like it rewarded me for my curiosity or pushed me to keep finding lands. And this concept of exploration/reward isn’t a new one in MMOs, so don’t think I’m complaining to complain. It’s a legitimate complaint. Back in 1987, when I owned a Commodore 128 system, I played a game called Club Caribe from LucasFilm Games (the game was also referred to as Habitat). This MMO, one I consider the first true MMO in the industry (at least one that resembles today’s MMOs), hid items across its islands for people/its residents to stumble upon and find as a reward for exploring the lands LucasFilm Games laid out. Finding a Darth Vader head to put on or special monetary items to get you things like Q-Link (the service it ran on) t-shirts or such help to motivate you to keep exploring Club Caribe’s islands. Random or secret rewards strategically placed in different areas of a map are a great way to reward gamers and almost a guarantee that your users will return to the adventure over and over again. Trove has the large stretches of lands that entice gamers to keep going, but they just need more rewards to keep the players on those boards. If Trion Worlds does this, then they will find their user base will more than likely stick around for a longer period of time.
Anyway, back to some positive notes about Trove.
Along the way during your exploration, you can also set up a homestead in specific plots of land the game lays out for you. You’ll find those in small squares with a wooden yard sign that you only need to press the square button to establish as your land. Though somewhat restrictive in the X-axis girth, you can add-on and construct your plot the way you want it with the tools you are given. For example, I wanted a giant hole in my Trove front yard. I dug it and made it majestic for other users to fall in and hate. You could build walls, you can dig holes and you can pretty much customize your homestead the way you want it. Once built, I found that once I did any adjustments to building/yard that it would follow me, hole and everything, whenever I built on an empty plot of land. Cool stuff and it allows you to not have to constantly re-create the buildings you want over and over again, plus if you like a part of the game, then you can re-build your homestead in that area (that is where you would respawn should you die). I can totally dig that in the game and think, especially for a younger audience, that it makes sense.
Now, staying with the building, you do all of your crafting, at least during my time with the game, on your property. You gather material and bring it back to create things. It’s a simple concept and one that is cool when you really start building items of interest, including a nice loot crate. What’s also interesting is how you can go to other people’s homes and take material they leave behind for you. I did this and felt terrible, but was able to create more items for my home because of it. Anyway, much like Minecraft, gamers will find gathering/creating is going to be heavy part of Trove, which will make quite a few people happy.
Continuing on the topic of gathering, the dungeons in Trove that I went through were a little bit underwhelming. They felt more like rooms than they did actual large dungeons, which is fine, especially for a younger audience, but I was hoping for a bit more from the game. The bosses/enemies in the dungeon were easily disposable and the reward for dispatching enemies was a loot chest (which was broken and looted). I didn’t run into much trouble through these dungeons. Again, I think younger gamers will absolutely be fine with this and eat the concept up, but for more seasoned gamers, they will probably want more, and I’m sure there are harder challenges ahead of me as I continue my adventure in Trove throughout the year. I have faith in Trion’s ability to deliver when it comes to MMO adventures and obstacles, so I’m not too worried, but as it stands it feels a bit easy.
Anyway, there’s a lot to be seen in this game, as well as a lot of rewards to loot from dungeons and bosses, and I’m still continuing the adventure in hopes of bigger and better things. As it stands now, I think Trove is a solid game for kids, as well as up and coming MMO players. It’s a game that is a wonderful upgrade from the Minecraft world, but pushes players a bit further with gaming concepts and design that most of us have experienced for a good portion of our gaming lives. I’m sure that it will keep growing as a game and hopefully, audience willing, garnish new add-ons and design that push it into a more rewarding experience that will legitimize it as a go-to MMORPG for a wider audience.
I have hope.