In 2009, Minecraft's first public release was unleashed onto the Internet. Over five years later, it's the third-best selling video game of all time and shows no signs of stopping. Success breeds imitation, and we've had no shortage of games that incorporate block-manipulating mechanics like those in the hugely successful Minecraft. Trove by Trion Worlds (creators of RIFT, Defiance, and ArcheAge) is one such game that heavily incorporates those mechanics, and it's an interesting Free To Play entry in the long list of voxel games that have come out in recent years. Don't be fooled by the cute blocky setting and characters - there's much more to Trove than a sandbox building game. I first heard of Trove through a friend. My first entry into the game world involved selecting a class, picking a head and hairstyle, and completing a short tutorial. After that, I was put into the game world proper to do as I wished. [caption id="attachment_26308" align="alignright" width="300"] Adventure Worlds are rated by difficulty and entered through player-crafted portals. The red portals lead to Uber Worlds, some of the most challenging content in Trove.[/caption] One of the first things a new player will probably notice is the lack of any sort of level-gating. I can leave the tutorial and immediately enter some of the most difficult content in the game if I chose to do so. While the game's worlds are separated based on recommended levels (from the easiest "Novice" worlds to the hardest "Uber 5" worlds), I can choose to have an easier or more challenging go at the game. While the enemies in harder worlds do more damage and have more HP, Trove does not currently have any sort of scaling for experience and loot rewards based on your level. If I follow another player around an Uber 5 World, I will get the same sort of experience and loot that any other player would. This is one of the best ways to rapidly level a character - you can make it to the mid-game point of Level 10 in approximately an hour of following around groups of players beating dungeons in Uber 5. The game worlds are created on the fly and shut down after the very last player leaves the world, so there's always fresh content available. And these worlds are positively massive - there's more than enough resources to mine and dungeons to complete for everyone. I've personally spent several hours in a world with a small group of friends after everyone has left. We had the entire thing to ourselves for as long as we stayed in there, but we could have played all day and never feasibly completed all of the dungeons and mined all the resources available. [caption id="attachment_26305" align="alignleft" width="300"] Dungeons are randomly placed in the Adventure World. Most of them were created by players and added to the game by Trion Worlds.[/caption] Questing in the game is very simple and welcoming to the casual experience. Lairs (with one boss) and Dungeons (with two sub-bosses and one main boss) are all over the different biomes in a world - you'll see a quest appear at the top right of your screen when you're near enough to a boss. Make your way to the boss room, and if you can manage to defeat the boss you'll be rewarded with a big chunk of experience as well as a loot chest. Up to 8 players can bash on the chest to open it, and everyone gets instanced loot. Once the main boss is defeated, a large red X appears over the dungeon in the game world as well on the game's map to indicate that it's been completed. Standing atop any one dungeon will usually show several more nearby, so you can move from one quest to another relatively quickly. The vast majority of Trove's Dungeons and equipment have been created by players - partly for the glory of having their name forever on an item style, and partly for the bounty of in-game currency that Trion Worlds pays for accepted creations. Mining and gathering other resources works the same way - if I shoot a piece of Enchanted Wood and you're close enough to me, you get a piece as well. You don't have to be in my Club or on my friend list - you don't even have to know me. You just need to be relatively close to me. This puts a complete stop to ninja looting, but it also introduces the problem of leeching - some of the lazier players will simply follow you around and let you do all of the work. The game's graphics embrace the simple blocky styles of a voxel game. Trove in its current state does not seem to require a lot of graphical horsepower to run smoothly. However, many players (including myself) experience a gradual decline in framerate over several hours - this leads me to believe that the game may currently have a memory leak somewhere that causes performance to gradually decline. Thankfully, the game boots up quickly so the occasional restart won't keep you out of the action for very long. The music is largely a simpler version of what you would find in any fantasy game, but it works well for Trove's aesthetic. The sound effects overall are fantastic - enemies explode with a satisfying "poomfh" sound. A lovely little musical tone plays when loot drops, and the tone gets more energetic and complex with better loot. Even double-jumping has a lovely "bouncy" sound to it every time you make an additional vertical leap. [caption id="attachment_26303" align="alignright" width="300"] A sampling of Cornerstones. Some players get really creative with their designs![/caption] Every player has a Cornerstone - their own personal 16x16 plot of land that they can spawn on pre-existing Cornerstone plots in the game world. At its most basic, a Cornerstone serves as a base camp. If you die in a game world, you will respawn at your Cornerstone rather than the spawn point of the world - it's wise for a player to always have their Cornerstone nearby. Cornerstones can also hold a variety of useful workbenches such as the Rejuvenation Station (which refills your Elysian Flask - your health potions) and the Personal Chest (which acts as your stash). Aside from that, players can build however they like within the limitations of the Cornerstone and that design will be saved. Many players have put a lot of work into making their Cornestones look fantastic. Players can form a Club (Trove's version of a guild). All Clubs get their own Club World that starts as a tiny island and can expand to absurd sizes, provided the members wish to pour resources into them. Clubs can accumulate "Props" from other players and eventually show up as a random portal in the Adventure Worlds for others to come and visit. Players can build in their Club Worlds however they wish, and there are a wide variety of impressive player-created works out there already. [caption id="attachment_26307" align="alignleft" width="300"] Club Worlds provide players the opportunity to build large scale projects without any griefing or interference from other players.[/caption] All items in the game (save rings) have a "Style" - the visual appearance of that item. If you see "This is not in your collection" in green, you destroy that item in the Style Saver and it's added to your collection. You can now use that item's visuals for your outward appearance regardless of what you actually have equipped. Items you already have in your collection (and aren't worth keeping) can be put into the Deconstructor which will give you some Flux. Flux is the de-facto currency for trading and is used in upgrading equipment and some crafting. Collecting the Styles of equipment is one of the many facets of the game's Mastery Rank, a sort of account-wide level. You can increase your Mastery Rank by collecting styles, recipes for decorations, mounts, mag riders, classes, flasks, and a host of other things. You also get Mastery Points by levelling classes, attaining max level with a class, and advancing professions. Each successive Mastery Rank gives you some sort of reward - a little bit of resources, some currency, or permanent bonuses to all of your classes such as +3% damage or +3% health. Once you reach Level 10 as a player, you can equip any quality of gear in the game. That is where the levelling game mostly ends and the gear grind begins. Gear's stats have a star rating system - each stat can be no stars, one star (85th percentile), or the coveted two stars (95th percentile). Ideal gear is an 8 star weapon, hat, & face and a four star ring, but it will take a lot of resources to reach that point. While a player may be lucky and get an excellent piece of gear as a drop, it will more typically be modified in a variety of ways. Forging is the easiest way to get direct increases in power - spend some Flux at a Forge or Advanced Forge and you permanently increase the stats of a piece of equipment a little bit. There's other items in the game that let you randomize the stat values or the numbers themselves, so there's a lot of options for customization. [caption id="attachment_26304" align="alignright" width="300"] Shadow Arenas and Dungeons are Trove's version of raiding and represent the most challenging content currently in the game.[/caption] Aside from the collect-a-thon and gear grind, Trove's endgame mainly consists of Shadow Arenas and the recently released Shadow Dungeons. Chests in Uber Worlds will drop Shadow Key Gems and Fragments - these are combined into a Shadow Key which will permit you to enter a Shadow Arena or Shadow Dungeon (chosen randomly). This represents the most difficult content in the game and is Trove's version of raiding - organized groups exist and run nightly, although having a four hour SA run is much rarer compared to a four hour run through Molten Core in World of Warcraft. Trove is still relatively new, but the developers have been good about patching on a weekly basis. Fresh content is constantly coming in, and the devs seem set on a model of an ever-expanding world of new items, biomes, and classes. It's still a bit light on the building side right now, but there are solid plans for that to change. I've enjoyed the few dozen hours I've put into Trove so far, and if you like voxel games or dungeon crawlers then you'll probably like it, too. Have you tried Trove yet? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!