How’s Trove Holding Up?

 

20190407115049_1.jpgI’ve been away from Trove for over a year. I have a love-hate relationship with the game. On the one hand, it hits the right buttons in my brain that makes me want to play it for hours. On the other, there’s been some shady cash shop practices and bad development choices through the years.  But it’s been a year, I’ve been back in for about 2 weeks and much has changed

For starters, Trion as a company is no longer in control or in existence after it was bought up by Gaming. Many wondered what the future would hold for their games. Unfortunately, one title, Atlas Reactor, is set to sunset in June. It’s hard to say where Trove is at right now. There was a fairly large update last year with the Geode Expansion. Geode added 2 new game modes Bomber Royale, Troves take on a battle royale, and Geode, a timed noncombat gathering activity. They’ve also done away with the old portal system for getting into adventure worlds. No longer do I have to hunt around my club world for the correct portal for the activity I want to do. Now the Trove Atlas I can access any world/ difficulty from anywhere.

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I didn’t plan on getting back into Trove. I was intrigued when one of my friends told me some random person had been promoted to our club leader. After some research, we discovered that Trion had promoted him because he was the most active person. This is a feature in case your club leader quits I guess. It’s a bit weird and Jay was not happy as he had spent years working on that club. The plan was to be active enough and hope that this particular person doesn’t log on in the next 45 days to get our leader rank back.

I ended up reminiscing the night with Jay about all the fun times we had in the game. We tried out Bomber Royale as a joke to see how bad it was and were hooked. Much like Trove itself, it’s not complicated. You can throw bombs that bounce around and explode at other players. This damages the player and destroys part of the map. There are different power-up scattered around the map that gives you your other abilities the stick bomb and the jump bomb. As time goes on the outer portions of the map disappears as a “ring” of sorts. It’s great because the maps all start out looking the same but by the final 5 or 6 people, it’s different every time.

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While I was logging in to play PVP, something I haven’t done in a long time, I decided that I might as well do some grinding. That part of Trove hasn’t changed, the game has and will always be one big grind. I find it quite relaxing and it’s mindless enough but keeps my hands occupied enough to listen to a podcast or 3.General chat is still alive, for better or for worse it’s hard to tell sometimes. I constantly see people around in all of the activities. I’ve gotten into some PVP matches in Trove quicker than in other titles. The population is enough for the game to feel full.

I do wonder about how much longer Trove will be around. There hasn’t been much news about updates in recent months. Just last weekend the servers were down for hours and when they came back up the leaderboards were broken. They stayed broken until late this week with very little communication from the developers. The same old issues are still there. Trove can be a laggy mess where you wait around for chunks of the map to load or rubberband minutes on end. It crashes, there are unexpected downtimes,  it’s not shy about asking you to spend money, and it’s a very simple game.

And yet I’m having a blast with it right now. I’m sure after a month or two I’ll move on to something else but for now, I’m quite content to grind dungeons, progress my classes, and play Bomber Royale much too late into the night.

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Going West

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I left work on Thursday ready for the 3 day weekend ahead. I left earlier than usual because the place was dead. I do IT at a school and, trust me, no one wants to deal with a broken computer the day before a break. That’s what Monday is for.

I got home and went to boot up Trove only to find that I was getting a network error when I tried to log in. Shortly after, the launcher reported that the game was offline for some emergency maintenance. My plans for the evening were put on indefinite hold. So I went hunting around on my desktop for something else to play.

I settled on World to The West. I believe this game came from a Humble Bundle Monthly and I had no idea what to expect going in. From the few screenshots on the store page, it looked like a top-down RPG of some sort. As it turns out, this game is actually a standalone follow up to Teslagrad. I’ve played Teslagrad on the PS4 thanks to PS+. I didn’t get very far but it’s a solid Metroidvania.

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World to the West turns out to be less of an RPG and more of a puzzle game with a story.  So far I’ve played as 3 characters. There’s Lumina the teslamancer who can teleport a short distance,  Knaus the miner who can dig under the terrain to avoid enemies and crawl through small spaces, and Miss Teri the mercenary who can grapple onto ledges with her scarf and, uh, mind control animals. Ya, that’s something I didn’t see coming.

The story has Lumina accidentally getting teleported away from her family after messing with her parent’s machines. She ends up in an unknown location, runs around for a bit, and then promptly falls into a hole. Cut to chapter two where we meet Knaus who is trying to convince his mining operation that they are not, in fact, on the moon. This revelation is made after he and a group of others find a tree growing underground. After explaining this to the higher-ups he’s exiled to wanter the caves alone. Cut to chapter three and we meet Miss Teri. A daring mercenary hired to retrieve an ancient relic from a cave. Shortly after venturing out from the town Teri meets Knaus at a totem with 4 faces on it, two of which are theirs. At this point Knaus if following Teri and this is where the real heart of the game lies.

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There are totems throughout the world that serve as both save points and fast travel points. The catch is each character has to touch the totem before they can use it to fast travel. So if Teri reaches a totem using her special abilities then you have to find a way for Knaus to reach that totem using his abilities in order for him to use the fast travel. I like this concept as it makes you really pay attention to the environment.

I ended up switching between characters a lot. Sometimes there’s a key that one character can’t reach so I would have to switch to the other character, run them back o where I was and pick up the key for the other character to use.

Here’s what typically happens to me with puzzle games. I really enjoy the beginning where the game teaches you all the mechanics of the game.  I start to feel confident leveraging all the different parts to complete the puzzles, progressing at a good clip. And then the game throws a curveball where I’m stuck. Then I put it down and never come back.

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I’ve been attempting to get better at not quitting when games get complicated. I don’t think I’m far enough into World to the West to hit a major head-scratching challenge. I have run into a couple of areas where I ran around for a few minutes trying to figure out how to progress. This almost always came down to me missing something like a small side path or a key.

This game has great music. I don’t often pay attention to music in games but, when it’s good, it sticks out. Each area seems to have its own track. I find myself trying to complete a difficult area just so I can hear the next song.

I’m looking forward to playing more. The writing is quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I want to see where this story goes and the core gameplay is enjoyable. Maybe next time I play it won’t be because the other game I want to play is down for emergency maintenance.

 

My 2019 So Far

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In February, we decided to put the brakes on our Twitch channel indefinitely. If you didn’t know about our Twitch channel, WelpsquadTV, it’s because I didn’t write much about it. We were on Twitch for about 2 years and somewhere along the way, I think we forgot streaming was supposed to be fun and not something we had to do. We were by no means a large channel,  but we had a decent little community of regulars, we made a little money, and we put in a ton of hours Now, it was a 4 man channel, but Jay and I were putting in 4 or 5 multiple hour streams a week, that time adds up.

Stopping wasn’t an easy decision considering how long we’d been doing it but a necessary one. No one was having fun anymore and the time commitment just wasn’t fitting into our lives anymore. Plus, I always felt that blogging was much more of my style than streaming ever was.

For most of  February, I didn’t touch Twitch and had very little interest in games in general. Then Anthem came out. I subbed up to Origin Premier to try it out, flew around and did story missions for 8-10 hours and didn’t go back.

I decided to give Apex Legends a try towards the end of  February and I’ve found surprisingly engaging. It’s been a blast with friends and has quickly become the defacto: “I don’t know what I want to play tonight, let’s see who’s on Apex” I haven’t had this much fun in a multiplayer FPS since Modern Warfare in high school, in fact, I think that’s the last time I enjoyed a multiplayer FPS.  It helps that I have enough people to play it with when I want to play because going in alone is an exercise in frustration.

I started up Black Desert in early March after a recommendation from a co-worker. I had bought the game 2 years ago and never got into it. I have a bad habit of playing something until it gets complicated and then quitting and Black Desert starts off complicated and continues to add to the complexity. The first time around I just couldn’t wrap my head around the combat. This time I decided to power through and see how I liked it. It helped that my co-worker kept telling me it was the “greatest single player game of all time”. And you know what? He’s not wrong. Once I got the hang of the combat and some of the systems the game really opened up and has more to offer than grind to the end to PVP.

Most recently I’ve been playing Trove. I always seem to come back to Trove, especially when I’m looking for a progression fix. It’s been about a year since I last logged in, long before Trion was acquired by Gamingo.  My old max level  Stellar gear is useless but was replaced with a much easier to obtain Crystal gear. There are new gem slots so that your Power Rank numbers can go up even higher. And 2 new modes have been added since I last played: Geode, a non-combat gathering activity, and Bomber Royale. I’ll have to write a whole post on Bomber royale, it’s possibly the most fun I’ve ever had in Trove and probably the only Battle Royale game I will ever win on my own.

Yes, this is yet another one of my many posts where I say I miss blogging and I miss writing and yes, it probably won’t be my last. But I always come back here and I’ve been away from my little space on the internet for far too long.