Tree of Savior: Tips and Troubles

As much as I’m enjoying Tree of Savior there are certainly a few quirks to the way the game plays; oddities or secrets I’ve had to learn about the hard way in the time I’ve had to play since launch. In addition to those aspects that may not be readily apparent during your first play through of the game, there are also a number of problems I’ve come across worth noting as well. So here’s a list in no particular order of newbie tips and grumbly quips based on my first 6-7 hours of gameplay. I’m also including a few of the tips I mentioned in my first impressions post from yesterday to keep it all in one place.

  1. Click on every NPC, there are some who give quests but don’t have an obvious indicator above their heads.
  2. Some quests are repeatable for a set number of times and can be turned in back to back. Completing the full allowance (5/5, etc.) will provide a unique reward.
  3. Lag is a major issue right now. The communication between client and server is terrible. You can try switching channels as this helps some of the time, but otherwise make sure you click once on NPCs or items and then wait for the action to register. Repeated clicking can make the issue worse.
  4. Quests reward XP cards that will show up in your inventory as a consumable. Make sure you are right-clicking on them for extra XP!
  5. If you remap the keybinds be aware that the system allows for duplicates so you’ll need to manually go through and make sure each key is only bound to one action.
  6. The default settings for sound has the soundtrack set really low, it’s some great music so I would recommend turning down the sound affects slightly and cranking up the music to 100%!
  7. Mob density can be a little unpredictable. There may be a method to the madness but I’ve noticed the same areas oscillating between empty and completely overrun.
  8. Click the “rotating peppermint candy” to the left of your completed quest for an immediate teleport back to the quest giver (take that, Black Desert!)
  9. Alt-A will hide your UI for screenshots.
  10. Make sure you unbind F12 from the video recorder if you will also be using Steam’s default screenshot key (which is also F12).
  11. After reaching level 15 and selecting a second class, your class trainer will give you a quest to enhance your weapon without telling you how. What you’ll need is an anvil. If you haven’t received one as a quest reward yet, you can purchase them from Alf, the Item Merchant. Right click the anvil in your bag then select the weapon you would like to upgrade. Once you see the anvil in front of your character attack it three times and voila! Your weapon is enhanced to +1.
  12. HP and SP regen is painfully slow so you’ll need to keep potions on hand to refill them as you grind mobs, especially the SP for your special abilities. These too can be purchased from Alf.
  13. Pay attention to the green arrows on the ground when you leave one zone and enter another. Occasionally you will exit stage left, enter the new zone, and naturally continue moving left only to discover the map has been flipped and you’ve now left the new zone and are back in the first one. Go toward the green arrows to leave an area and move away from them when you enter a new one.
  14. Difficulty really ramps up sometime in the 20s. Ashaq Underground Prison was where I noticed it the most; joining a farming group and focusing on powerful AOE abilities with your build is advised.
  15. Koru Jungle is beautiful! The following are several screenshots from my time in the level 30 zone.

 

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Tree of Savior: First Impressions

Tree of Savior is not the MMO I was looking for when perusing the list of titles launching in the west this spring, and yet out of everything new that I’ve played this year, it’s my favorite. The game is not going to appeal to everyone; the art style is cartoonish and reminiscent of older titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, the gameplay has more in common with a dungeon crawler than a traditional western MMO, and as near as I can tell it lacks the extensive feature list of its competitors. However what the game attempts to do, it does very well. The visuals are beautiful, the combat-centric gameplay is satisfying, and the class and character building systems are deep and interesting. I’ve only put a couple of hours into the game thus far, but I can already tell this is a game I’m going to stick with for a while. The following are a mix of tips for getting started and first impressions from my time in game.

Choosing a server

There are three servers available right now—Klaipeda, Orsha, and the new Fediman which will be transferred to the EU at an unknown future date. Orsha has been selected as an unofficial Brazilian server (I didn’t realize there was such a large market in South America) leaving Klaipeda as the NA server of choice for the founders access period. ImcGames has stated that more servers will be added albeit slowly if needed during the F2P transition and those who start on one of the founders servers during the head start will have a chance to relocate for free, three weeks after the F2P launch. Unaware of most of this myself before starting out, I grabbed all my character names on the Orsha server at 6am yesterday right after the servers opened and plan on staying there as the official, self-proclaimed North American ambassador to our Brazilian neighbors.

Controls

You won’t be able to go into the settings and change the controls until after character creation but I’m going to mention it first because it’s important you make a few changes right off the bat. First of all, you’re going to want to select which type of controls you will use—keyboard, mouse, or controller. If you want something similar to say, Diablo 3, then you’ll want to choose the mouse control settings. I found these to be the most familiar to use but the default is set to keyboard which expects you to play using nothing but the keyboard with little or no mouse involvement.

Once you’ve selected your controls, go to “Key Settings” and under your specific control settings, go into the system menu and change the default keybinding for “Record Video.” Tree of Savior has a built in video recorder however the default keybind is the same as Steam’s screenshot key, F12, which means if you don’t make this change right away you will inadvertently be recording video every time you take a screenshot. I amassed several gigabytes of video before I realized this was happening. If you do make the same mistake you can find the recorded video in your Program files under steam>steamapps>common>TreeofSavior>release>avicapture and delete them or save them for your future (or present) grandchildren to enjoy.

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I’m the one with the brown hair. No, the other one. Nope, not that one either. RIGHT there. Ugh, never mind.

 

Character Creation

Unfortunately there’s not much to write home about here. You’ll be playing the exact same character as everyone else with one of maybe ten hairstyles to choose from for variation. That’s it. There a no body types to choose from, no other options for faces or facial features, no variety of character whatsoever. If you’re thinking you can at least sport pink pigtails or a cerulean blue coif think again. Hair color is tied to style and the options are quite bland—brown, blonde, black—that’s it. As if anyone uses those hair colors anymore.

One more important point to mention with regard to character creation has to do with your account’s family name. You will get to choose this before you make your first character but be aware that this will be displayed as a last name for each of your characters alongside whatever you chose for the individual first names.

Gameplay

Once you’ve made your character Tree of Savior doesn’t take much time getting you in the action, and this is where the title really begins to shine. While you will not start off with a lot of abilities to begin with leveling happens quickly and you’ll be able to select additional skills as well as upgrade existing ones. Depending on the control settings you choose, your main attack will use either the left mouse button or the “Z” key with additional abilities being automatically slotted on your hotbar (with different default keybinds depending on your base controls settings).

Many abilities are ground targeting and all of them that I’ve come across so far are useable while on the move. The animations have a comic book flair, the timing between pressing the key and seeing the action is spot on, and the cute little plant creatures exploding upon death is very satisfying. With most of your XP coming from grinding mobs in a concentrated area as they respawn, it’s a good thing that combat feels really tight, responsive, and is a lot of fun. Much like your typical ARPG dungeon crawler, this is a perfect game for a relaxing evening of mindlessly killing wave after wave of enemies.

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“Can we just skip to the part where you tell me what you want me to kill?”

 

 

Story

I’m not far enough along to comment about the overall quality of Tree of Savior’s story, but I’m far enough along to say that there is one, it’s fairly generic, and the English translation isn’t doing it any favors although it does provide for some comedic lines every now and again. From what I can tell, there was a great big tree that destroyed a major city and the only goddess around was an evil one; all the others had gone on vacation or something. And it just so happens that my character is the only one able to save the people from this devastating tree and the evil demon goddess which is going to make things rather boring for the rest of you seeing as how my character alone was chosen to save the world. My character is also having some kind of regular nightmares which other people are always reminding him about because he’s apparently forgotten.

Progression

With 18 character levels under my belt there’s only so much I can say here as well but what I have experienced is rather good. Each character starts with a base class, one of four archetypes of Wizard, Swordman, Archer, and Cleric but at level 15 can chose to either further invest in that base archetype class (referred to in game as “circle 2”) or branch off into one of two tangential classes unique to the base archetype. At a second interval you will be presented with another choice—continue to advance a class you’ve already selected or choose one of the new options available. These branching class choices will occur seven times as you level.

There are 20 classes total to choose from for each base archetype and while each can potentially be advanced up to three times (“circle 3”) the choices you make at each interval will require eliminating other classes from the pool of future candidates or losing the opportunity to further advance a class you’ve already chosen. Thus your character becomes an amalgamation of class choices you’ve made along the way. This provides an uncanny amount of options (and opportunities to screw it up royally, I’m sure) such that even if I and another player end up as a Monk, depending on the path we took to get there our Monks may be completely different from one another.

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I am the Archer.

 

Each class has its own set of skills, some of which only become available if you’ve invested in that class for a second or third “circle,” and each skill can be leveled up with skill points. There are also attributes that can be purchased and learned which I believe are passives that affect how different abilities work allowing for even more customization but I haven’t had a chance to look into them much yet. I’m also unsure how easily all of this can be reset and started anew, something that could make or break such an elaborate system for class customization and development.

The system sounds complicated but it’s actually pretty straight forward and the UI is approachable and user friendly so really as long as altering your choices is relatively simple or downright hospitable a la Diablo 3, then this will be a lot of fun to play around with. If I have to reroll after 110,375 hours of leveling because I made one wrong decision when I was level 15, I’m going to throw my laptop out the window and cry like a baby emu.

Item enhancement

This is another quick tip for something that is otherwise a little confusing. Once you reach level 15 and choose your first advanced class (or invest a second time in your base class) you will receive a quest from a class trainer that will ask you to enhance your new weapon. To do this you will have to purchase an anvil from the Item merchant. Right clicking the anvil after you purchase it will place it on the ground in front of your character. You will then need to attack the anvil with your basic attack a few times until the enhancement is complete. Then you will be able to complete the quest. This type of weapon and gear upgrading will continue throughout your leveling experience so it’s important to understand how it works early on.

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Mmm… monster saliva.

 

 

Overall Impressions

If you’re looking for an MMO sandbox with the depth of Black Desert or you’re wanting another theme park with as many rides and attractions as World of Warcraft, then Tree of Savior is probably not going to keep your attention even after it goes free to play. But if you find the art style appealing, enjoy the occasional mindless mob grind and loot grab in games like Diablo 3 or Marvel Heroes, and you like the idea of exploring a staggering amount of class customization options, then Tree of Savior is worth the ten dollar entry fee to check it out now.

Really, the best compliment I can give the game is that while it doesn’t set out to do much, what it does set out to do it does very well. Personally, I’m loving the gameplay and art style and I think it’s admirable when a development team sets obtainable goals for their game. I plan to continue my adventures in Tree of Savior for quite some time.

Stardew Valley and Immersion

No, the citizens of Pelican Town are not having a debate on baptism; I’m talking about the state of being completely absorbed in a game and Stardew Valley has succeeded at this more than many larger open world MMOs with “realistic” graphics that I’ve played. I know I’m not the only one who has been charmed by this single player farming game either, and I suspect that many of its fans feel the same way I do about the game’s capacity for immersion. Stardew Valley excels at drawing the player into Pelican Town and into the lives of its inhabitants as its newest community member.

Stardew Valley hasn’t cornered the market on immersion though, Black Desert has also received a lot of love on this front, and I can understand why. The game is visually stunning and the mechanics (or lack thereof with regard to fast travel) are intended to draw the player into the vast and breathtaking world. However one thing Black Desert and most open world MMOs will always lack is a sense of place and belonging. Whereas in those titles adventuring is the name of the immersive game, in Stardew Valley it’s about exploring your own backyard. If the typical MMO is expansive with regard to breadth, than Stardew Valley takes the opposite route and draws the player in deeper and deeper into an otherwise minor local.

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Here the women of Stardew Valley get together to exercise; it reminds me of a Charlie Brown dance recital.

 

The value of this for immersive gameplay struck me when I discovered something new this past weekend about one of the inhabitants, Penny. One of the features in Stardew Valley is the option to befriend and ultimately marry one of the single NPCs in town. I’d playfully considered a few of the female candidates—Abigail because of her affinity for all things adventurous and nerdy; or Hailey because quite frankly she seems to despise my character and I like the challenge. Then I came to realize that Pam, the old drunk who lived in the trailer down by the river did not live there alone; Penny was her daughter. I liked Penny, she was quiet but kind, tutoring a few kids from town but otherwise found at the library or with her nose in a book under a tree. I didn’t realize why she loved her books so much until I became aware of what she was trying to escape. The realization made me want to get her out of that life and onto my character’s farm instead.

See what I mean? How easily these characters and this narrative can draw you in overtime as you get to know the individuals who make up your new community? At first you know very little about these characters and lack compassion or interest toward any of them. But as you have conversations with them and learn of their familial ties and friendships that begins to change.

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This farm is still small compared to the land I own, but it’s come a long way since my first fifteen parsnips.

 

And this social and narrative gameplay is only one portion of what I find immersive about the game. Ownership becomes a large factor in this as well. One of the key activities in the game is that you develop a thriving farm, slowly but surely over several years. There are other activities you can pursue as well—fishing, adventuring in the mines, making sure the big box corporation doesn’t steamroll the town. Basically, you have this sense of daily ownership and responsibility on the farm and in the community. By the end of spring I really began to feel a sense of belonging within the community with the produce I was providing and I had developed a routine of my own for daily, rural life.

For example, each time I would wake up to another day in game I found myself going about my routine in the following manner or similar: watering my crops, visiting Pierre’s shop if I had anything to sell, stopping by the library or one of Penny’s other preferred hiding spots to say hello and possibly give her a gift, checking several of my crab pots on the waterfront, and then fishing a bit with Willy before stopping by the local saloon and then heading home for bed. It’s as ordinary as you can imagine and it’s refreshing. I absolutely adore the gameplay of this title because of how quant and ordinary it is. It’s a storybook kind of ordinary though, isn’t it? Not the kind we actually experience, but the kind we oftentimes wish we could, which is of course the premise of the game.

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Time for a relaxing dip at the bathhouse.

 

Immersive gameplay doesn’t require a big budget, photorealistic graphics, and boundless regions of content. No, immersion can be found with a touch of the everyday fantasy of quiet living and a whole lot of heart. Stardew Valley has both of these in spades. From the personal connection to the growth and success of your farm, to the ever growing intimacy experienced with the townsfolk as their stories unfold, there’s a lot to get lost in, in Pelican Town. If you ever come for a visit, you’ll find me at the docks fishing or on my farm just west of town. I’ll keep another cold one in the fridge just in case you stop by.