A Clear Nod to the Old School Crowd
For players who have been fans of Ragnarok Online but who are disappointed in the Ragnarok Online 2 sequel, it's time to listen up as Tree of Savior just may be the game you've been looking for, particularly in light of the fact that Tree is being developed by many of the same fine folks who brought you Ragnarok.
The first moments of ToS -- no, not Terms of Service, though there is that too -- see players landing in an inn where a 'team name' or, more accurately, the last name for all once and future characters is chosen. From there, it's picking the standard Archer, Cleric, Wizard or Swordsman. Each comes in a male or female version which is nice, though there is exactly one customization option: Hair. While only four at the onset may seem like a limiting factor in the game, it's really not since, as characters progress, more and more specialty classes unlock leading up to a promised eighty classes. (Ed. Note: Earlier this week it was announced that the Korean version of Tree of Savior will launch with 54 classes, with more to be added over time).
Entering the game, I found myself a bit confused by the movement scheme. By tooltip, I was told to use arrow keys and CTRL/ALT/SPACEBAR for other movement-oriented abilities. What? No WASD? Luckily, developers are a step ahead of the arrow-key-challenged and this can be changed in options to be a more standard WASD or point-and-click movement scheme. Good thing too, since getting to the first NPC required tangled arm machinations the likes of which I haven't utilized since my first PC game back...well, a long time ago.
The graphic style is nice, though nothing overwhelming. Players are presented with essentially a 2.5D isometric view of the game that in some ways also resembles a side scroller, though not completely. At the same time, Tree of Savior gives players the freedom to jump and lock in on targets and other more precision-based skills, so in the end it all comes out OK.
Combat in the more open areas of the early game is accomplished through left and right clicking (using my particular battle scheme with mouse and keyboard) while gaining other abilities on leveling up and choosing from several presented options. Each skill can rank up making it more powerful and leading to specializations later on.
None of the passive mundane monsters at the start that scattered themselves along the pathways were too hard, though they were copious in number and featured and incredibly fast respawn time. While at the low end of the game this wasn't a problem, I can see that in later stages it could become one with openly hostile monsters respawning quickly and catching the unwary off guard.
This changes, however, with bosses. Again, the early encounter bosses I came across or was sent to slay were solo-able, though could take a long time to burn down shields and get set long enough to actually attack. But for the most part, I had no issues with them even when they spawned minions and placed the beat down in big AoE attacks, luckily telegraphed on the ground to make avoidance simpler...or seemingly so. But around level 20, that changes and it becomes a necessity to group with others to take down some of these baddies if you don't want battles to last an hour or more.
This brings up one of ToS's nicer features with a HUD feature that shows off groups in the area, how many members are in them and what quest or objective they are working on. It allows players to find flexible groups for which to take on the game's more difficult beasts.
Combat is fun too, though fairly standard in terms of execution but for the caveat of actually having to apply a bit of consideration on skill usage. Every monster is not defeated using the same two or three skills in some sort of preconfigured 'rotation'. Battle requires some thought about which skills to use when and which may or may not be effective against any given boss. Most of this is accomplished on the fly since no information about the boss you've encountered is given in the tooltip.
One brief aside here: Some of the music in Tree of Savior is really good with a great beat and sound. Other tunes, however...how can I put this? I'd say either 70s TV theme show or the worst example of elevator music you can think of...and it is repetitive, so much so, in fact, that I turned off music altogether. I vote for the 70s TV theme show thing and often felt like I was on...
But I digress.
Tree of Savior with its 80 classes by the time all is said and done is a game about grind. There is no other way to say it. Many posts on the game's Steam page are related to exactly that and there's no real answer from the developers beyond, "it is what it is" (not said in those exact words, of course). It's designed to be precisely that. But if grind one must, there's no better way than the aforementioned grouping to camp monsters since at some point available quests will outpace your character's level.
All in all, Tree of Savior, with its amazing number of classes and the flexibility that the system brings to players who want to feel unique, is a great game for a certain type of player. If you like grind. If you like very hard monsters. If you like the old school necessity of grouping to take down open world bosses, it's the game for you. The game is designed to give players a real sense of nostalgia for days gone by. Be sure to head over to the Tree of Savior Steam page to learn more.
Have you tried Tree of Savior? What did you think? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.