Trove is the latest free-to-play MMORPG to make its way onto PlayStation 4 and Xbox One’s digital marketplaces for console gamers to experience and “enjoy”. Developed and published by Trion Worlds back in 2015 on PC, Trove borrows many of its core gameplay mechanics and artsyle from one of the most played games in the world: Minecraft. Yet even with two years of developmental support, Trove has released on consoles as a terribly shallow MMO that leaves much to be desired.
Players begin their journey in Trove by creating a character from one of the 14 available classes at launch. Ranging from the dual wielding Candy Barbarian to the undead Tomb Raiser, each of the classes in Trove features three exclusive abilities that make up their unique gameplay set. This decision is a pivotal one for beginning players because this is one of the only times a character will be offered for free before players have to invest into paid currency to obtain new ones. I suggest picking one of the more unique classes to start with like the Dracolyte or the Boomeranger because these classes feature some of the more interesting abilities in the game while still being simple to learn and use like the generic Knight.
Once players have finished customizing their characters and completing a brief combat tutorial, Trove opens up and reveals itself for what it really is, a boring grind fest. There’s little to no story content after the opening cutscene so the only objective driving players to reach the toughest worlds and battle more powerful bosses is the never-ending search for better gear. While I enjoy grinding in games like Diablo 3 and Borderlands, the essential piece that Trove is missing to keep me hooked for hours is appealing gameplay. I couldn’t believe that when I leveled up my character to level 5 I had unlocked every ability and attack that class would ever offer me until the end of the game. There’s no feeling of progression or build variety to keep things fresh, only the aesthetic differences and statistical improvements that come from obtaining new gear.
The most common way to obtain new gear in Trove is by exploring new worlds and clearing dungeons. What disappointed me the most about these dungeons is how bland they are in design and substance. Each dungeon only takes a few minutes to complete at most, but I was quickly seeing copy/paste level design across the various biomes I explored. Once I found the boss hidden within, it was only a matter of seconds before it was promptly defeated, leaving behind a chest filled with spoils. After repeating this process over and over again for three hours I threw in the towel and put down my controller. When I play MMOs I love to experience the world around me and learn the lore of the bosses and enemies that I defeated with friends, but Trove doesn’t offer anything close to this because it’s not attempting to be a quality MMO, just a themed one.
Because Trove is Minecraft themed I expected the one thing it would be able to execute on is the crafting and base building mechanics, but even these features have a number of annoying issues. Bases in Trove are called cornerstones and what makes them special is that they can be brought with the player to whatever world or area they explore. However, there’s a catch, players can only build their cornerstone in specifically marked plots of land, which are relatively small in space. Basebuilding is done this way to avoid other players from griefing each other and to control players from creating massive creations that could impede exploration. By limiting the creativity of its builders to this extreme, everyone’s cornerstone in Trove just ends up being a tall standing tower.
Building a simple tower is quite the chore though, thanks to Trove’s terrible Build Mode tools. Players are essentially working with a laser beam in third-person to place blocks and fix mistakes, but because there’s no way to lock your angle or position when you attempt to make a vertical or horizontal row of blocks, it’s difficult to build anything precisely. I can see these tools working effectively on PC, but on console everything about crafting and building is tedious and inefficient.
The core problem Trove suffers from is that Minecraft doesn’t work as an MMO. Minecraft is an open world survival game that inspires its players to create huge structures and towns. It was never the gameplay that got people hooked, it was the stories about what they created. Trove limits this ability severely, leaving players with a shallow and characterless MMO that quickly becomes boring after just a few hours. Even if players were to invest money into the game, Trove still has nothing of substance to offer except cosmetics and progress fasteners. Stay away from this greedy cash cow, MMO players deserve better.