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Trove Review

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There’s little reason to explore this endless world.

Trove takes Minecraft’s style and focus on creative construction and fills its online, free-to-play world with dungeons, monsters, and treasure. While its highly varied environments are fun to explore, Trove lacks the depth to make it worth devoting much time to.

There’s theoretically a plot to explain why Trove is divided into many tiny, monster-infested realms, but you won’t hear about that beyond the opening cinematic. After that, the only motivation to stay engaged comes from a sort of tutorial quest chain that instructs you to try crafting various things and level up so you can visit more challenging areas. There are also timed quests that require rushing to beat a set of dungeons in a particular zone, ideally using a specific character class in order to get bonus rewards. There’s not even the thinnest of story to make you feel like a hero who’s accomplishing anything by slaying monsters and recovering treasures.

The real thrills come from Trove’s spectacular displays of creativity. Players designed many of the dungeons, which range from tree houses to lava pits and pirate ships guarded by malevolent parrots. Fighting your way through all of the bad guys is a pretty basic hack-and-slash affair, with enemies having little in the way of strategy beyond firing at you from range or rushing you with their attacks. More fun is the dexterity and timing needed to evade shooting flames and spike traps set in your path or use trampolines to launch to higher ground Getting through all those challenges will eventually reward you with a treasure chest filled with loot. Gear upgrades come fast as you level and items that don’t make the cut can be broken down into crafting materials essential for the other, more time-consuming side of Trove: build mode.

The thrill wears off quickly, giving way to the tedium of gathering everything in sight.

While most dungeon delves are quick affairs, giving you a reward with just a few minutes of play, building anything significant in Trove requires a good deal of patience. As you explore the map, you’ll need to gather rare ores and bricks of various colors that are used to craft equipment and buildings. You’ll also want to stomp on grass, cut down mushrooms, collect bits of slain monsters for other components. At first, spotting usable materials is exciting, but the thrill wears off quickly, giving way to the tedium of gathering everything in sight. Trove doesn’t have much incentive to make the process exciting because they profit by selling boxes of crafting materials.

Building is almost identical to Minecraft, requiring players to construct their buildings block by block. Breaking down equipment, upgrading gear, and customizing your base with decorations or a wider pallet of colors requires building a series of specialized crafting stations like the Builder’s Crafting Bench and Loot Collector. Building each one requires gathering more resources and finding a place in your Cornerstone to put it, encouraging some creative space management lest the place get too crowded. Once you have the right tool for the job, crafting is just done through selecting what you want from a drop-down menu and watching a progress bar fill up. Crafting is the only way to get some powerful items that make the dungeon-delving experience easier, so it’s a necessary chore, but the fact that it requires so much resource grinding just adds to the feeling that Trove is about doing a lot of work for little reward. You can’t even build dungeons within Trove – you have to use a third-party voxel editor and then submit your creation for consideration. The best you can do within the confines of Trove is design structures that are cool to look at, which you can also do in any of dozens of Minecraft-style games.

Larger-scale building projects are reserved for Club Worlds, collaborations between a group of players that anyone is free to explore. Those worlds show the rich rewards of cooperation. One I visited had a monorail you could ride to take in the sights which filled me with jealousy with buildings bigger than my meager cornerstone that were filled with specialized crafting stations only usable by members. Unfortunately starting your own Club World costs an exorbitant amount of resources and Trove doesn’t make finding adventuring partners to share the burden particularly easy. There’s no matchmaker to group you with others who are trying to clear a particular dungeon or form a club. Instead, it provides Rally Blades which teleport you to a random player in your zone. There’s no guarantee they’ll want to group up or even that they’ll be at their console.

The world was relatively quiet when I played after the console release.

That’s an issue because while Trove was so popular when it launched on PC that many players faced long waits to log in, the world was relatively quiet when I played after the official console release. There were a few players asking to group or join clubs in general chat, and most of them were clear that the only reason they wanted to be social was to move along in the tutorial quest chains. My attempts to find friends were met by silence or “your mom” jokes. And each console world has a separate population from the PC one, so you can’t play with friends across platforms.

There are 14 classes to choose from, ranging from fantasy staples like Knight to oddities such as the Tomb Raiser, which summons skeletons to fight on its behalf. Unfortunately, each class only has three abilities, meaning there’s little feeling of growth as you level up. Likewise, gear is interchangeable across classes, so while you need to level each class separately, there’s no need to quest to gather different item sets. If you have a few classes of equivalent level, you can swap them out easily in case you feel like a change of strategy would be advantageous. That doesn’t seem to be necessary, though. I never encountered a level-appropriate challenge my Knight couldn’t just charge and heal through.

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The simplicity of combat does make Trove easy to handle on consoles, even though it was originally designed for PC. It was far from a seamless system translation, though. The text is too small to be easily seen on a large television, forcing you to sit close to the TV to be able to read a weapon description or anything said in chat. The console version also still has some bugs to work out. I found that after combat my Knight would often be stuck swinging his sword repeatedly until I pressed another button or took damage, though this glitch was actually useful when I was walking around collecting resources. At one point, I needed to restart Trove because it froze when zoning into a world.

To its credit, while you will see plenty of prompts to spend money on Trove, you certainly don’t have to. The most notable advantage you can purchase is the ability to harvest bricks and ore faster, which gives you an edge over others competing for resource nodes. Money is also the fastest way to unlock all of Trove’s classes, though you can get a few by just completing early quests.

Other than that, most of the things you can buy are cosmetic. To be fair, that’s also true of most of the things you can earn by defeating dungeons. You can apply the look of any item you’ve collected to the piece of gear that’s actually in that slot, so you don’t have to trade off between effectiveness and style. There’s a huge focus on collecting mounts, pets, and gliding wings that look cool but don’t give you new abilities or meaningfully improve your ability to fight tougher monsters.

The Verdict

There’s a lot of creativity in Trove, but there wasn’t enough challenge or substance to for me to find it satisfying. While I enjoyed touring its stylish world, the novelty wore off quickly and left me with little reason to stick around, especially without a good way of finding people to group with or the means to create my own dungeons without using a separate program.

Editors’ Choice

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