The Colorful World in Tree of Savior

Tree of Savior doesn’t offer a lot in the way of blogging topics, even less the more I check off my “here’s a feature people might be interested in” list. In fact, sometimes I wonder what draws me to the game at all, as it’s fairly straight forward in gameplay along the lines of a Diablo 3 dungeon crawler but without the loot. Even the customization happens at such a slow pace that it’s hard to point to it as a defining feature, compared to something like Path of Exile where customization is happening regularly. When I stop to think about it, I really don’t know what I find so compelling about this game.

One thing I can say is that the visuals are spot on. If nothing else, I enjoy exploring the maps and looking at the unique monsters, demons, and bosses that IMC Games has dreamed up for Tree of Savior. If anything this may be the defining feature for ToS, and at least one of the reasons I’ve logged over 80 hours in the game already. The color palette, illustrative style, and the diversity of biomes has been well worth the exploration time. As someone who use to draw and paint a lot once upon a time (and has a degree in Fine Arts), I think I actually appreciate the two dimensional nature of this game more than the three dimensional world building of Black Desert.

At level 117 I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game world, with supposedly 600 levels in total before reaching the level cap. You can see from the screenshots above just how littered the world map is with individual instanced zones, each of which are unique in design in some way. I’ve only reached three major cities and unveiled maybe a third of the map overall. Even within the portion of the world map I have uncovered there are level one hundred and two hundred plus zones I’ve yet to explore. Screenshots alone really don’t do these worlds justice, but that’s all I have to share so they’ll have to do. Below you’ll find a selection from the many environments I have been able to explore and enjoy and I hope it provides at least a glimpse of just how beautiful this world can be. With Tree of Savior going free to play on May 10th, you may want to check it out for yourself.

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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.

Casting Shadows

I found this small detail to be interesting while taking screenshots in The Secret World. Apparently your character will only cast a shadow while in third person view. If you scroll in to first person, your shadow disappears. I guess as far as the game is concerned, your character ceases to exist at that point so it is no longer rendered and thus, no more shadows. While I enjoy discovering little nuances like that, I was disappointed. I was hoping to get a picture of my character’s shadow on the wall but without her figure in the image. Oh well, below you can at least see the transformation as I scroll from third to first person.