After you’ve played one or two MMOs, class design starts to grow stale. Across the board I’ve seen very little innovation with regard to how classes play from one game to the next. While I love the combat in The Secret World, it illustrates this quite well. Yes, there are a number of different weapons all of which can be used in combination with one another but the underlying principle is the same—use ability X to build resource Y, spend resource Y on ability Z. In nearly every MMO there are classes that use mana (a full pool of resources that depletes on use), energy (a resource that regenerates on its own) and rage (a resource generated from attacking a target) and variations on those ideas but none all too different from what’s gone before them. That’s why I enjoy the class design in Trove so much, there are genuinely unique ideas at play.
Take the Chloromancer for example. The class places two types of plants (turrets) on the ground and must “grow” them with its main attack that functions as a damage ability and a heal depending on the target. Once full grown, the turrets either create a persistent damage field or explode healing allies and damaging foes. Planting requires the use of an energy pool but the main attack does not. In a way the class feels like you’re creating an environment of damage for the enemy rather than directly damaging the mobs yourself.
The Tomb Raiser is another unique class, this one focused on pets. This class can spawn up to six tiny skeletons that can then be merged into one giant creature. The more you merge, the greater the giant. However all the pets lose health over time in addition to taking damage from the mobs they are attacking. To counter this, the Tomb Raiser has a simple attack that can heal as well as a much more efficient aoe attack that heals and does damage but depletes energy quickly.
To add a little interest to class playstyle, Trion introduced last year what they call emblems that connect to your healing flasks that cause an additional affect every time you use a flask like increased damage, defense, or energy regen. So with the Tomb Raiser, I use an emblem that completely refills my energy pool every time I use a health potion so that I can indefinitely use energy to heal my minions and keep them alive until I can make the combined behemoth out of all six.
Some creative elements are small, but effective like the Boomeranger for example. This class can use either a sword or a bow and has a boomerang as a secondary ability with a cooldown. Whenever you hit a target with the boomerang and catch it on the return all of your CDs are shortened, including two types of bombs you can throw (one with a random chance to spawn chickens!) The Candy Barbarian is another favorite of mine. The idea is simple but still unique; successful hits have a chance of spawning candy that increases the speed of attack. Then there is the Dracolyte, which drops bombs that must be damaged with the class’ main attack to go off. Just about every class in the game does something unexpected or unique and this with only four active and one passive ability each.
Trove didn’t get a lot of attention from the wider world of MMOs prior to its successful launch on Steam, but it should have. If there’s something that other MMO developers can learn from Trion with regard to bringing fresh ideas to an all too often stale genre, it’s in class design. If you’re tired of the same old mechanics and can look past the childish, voxel graphics there’s a lot of new combat mechanics to play around with in Trove.