MY FINAL THOUGHTS After 3 Weeks in Tower of Fantasy's Global Closed Beta
“The perfect MMO.”
This is something we’re all searching for. A game that is so undeniably, so absolutely consuming for us that we become infatuated with it. Incapable of doing anything else.
That ain’t Tower of Fantasy.
But of the 60 odd hours I’ve played of it, I daresay it came pretty close. For a week or two.
Today, I want to give my impressions over the course of a 3-week period spent in Tower of Fantasy. Logging in almost every day, to make sure I didn’t fall behind.
Tower of Fantasy is an MMO. The devs list the game as an “online action RPG,” just like Lost Ark and just like Blue Protocol.
Yet while traversing the large, open world you’ll come across countless players out questing. Dueling. Chatting. Role-playing, if they’re into that. And given this is an Anime game, you best bet there’s gonna be some serious ERP going on.
Mrs Stix and I save that for the bedroom. Or sometimes the computer room when we turn our cams off.
There are an enormous number of different channels for players to log into. Channels serve as a means with which to segregate players – preventing too many people from gathering in the same instance of the game, subsequently overcrowding and likely causing severe latency issues.
You’re capable of transitioning between channels easily enough. Mrs Stix and I had to utilize this feature several times to find players to engage world bosses with. And world bosses were utter chaos. In the best kind of way.
You had 10, 20 players or more all showing just how bad we are at group content, engaging the boss without a healer, dying to every mechanic, pulling it outside of its attack range and resetting it.
These fights would last 10 minutes. 20 minutes. Would be comprised more of walking back to the boss than actually hitting it. Again, chaos. Thankfully we always had our trusty dedicated healer Hikari, and other guild members to keep us alive while we mindlessly DPS’d.
Typically, players kept to themselves outside of content that required cooperative play. The majority of players I saw out in the world were too busy doing their own thing to really concern themselves with me. Which was understandable. I hate having to socialize with people as well. Like, what do we talk about? The weather?
Thankfully, the game doesn’t entirely penalize you for wanting to play by yourself. There are a lot of activities – including the main story, that are done exclusively by yourself. With varying degrees of difficulty – that rely solely on your own abilities. Or lack thereof. Hey, I’m not judging you. Unless you’re in my group. In which case, know that I’ll be judging you.. silently.
And while you’re capable of participating in a lot of content solo, there’s just as much if not more content available to you as part of a group. Seriously.
The majority of it is instanced content that you either queue for, enter with a group, or tackle solo. Generally, content consists of fighting boss monsters, waves of enemies, solving puzzles, or clearing small dungeons with a mixture of all of the above.
Except PvP. PvP is the one type of instanced content that completely disregards everything else. PvP – at least from what I experienced – involves equipping whatever weapons allow for optimal CC-cycling, and locking players with as much crowd control as possible to inhibit their movement. And fun.
Which brings me back to the good ‘ol days of RMD or RMP in WoW. Goddamn I hated being Kidney Shot into Cyclone into Polymorph. Anyone that played that in 3s deserves to have someone pee in their coffee.
I think PvP really shines when you allow for additional players to participate together. Doing 1v1 matches – which is the only type of PvP currently available right now is really no different to dueling someone out in the world.
Skill really comes into play when coordinating CC, heals and abilities with another player to really push the boundaries of your composition.
So while I did have some fun – I believe I won 75% of my fights, the PvP seemed too limiting, too small in scale, and ultimately relied too heavily on which weapons you had access to.
Speaking of weapons, I know I’ve mentioned it multiple times thus far. You can use the term “weapon” or “hero” interchangeably here, and I’ll attempt to explain it as simply as I can.
There is a Gacha system present within Tower of Fantasy. The Gacha system works the same way as it works in every other Gacha game. You have a currency, and you use that currency to roll on characters.
Characters have their own unique personalities. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. Their own weapon types. Their own statistical advantages that they provide, their own elemental affinity, meaning they are much more powerful overall than non-character specific weapons you obtain. Which we’ll just refer to as “common gear.”
You can equip up to a maximum of 3 weapons, and subsequently weapon types at any given time. Weapons like spears, katanas, bows or staves. Each type of weapon excels at different things, fitting its own unique archetype.
As an example, one weapon type might excel at AoE while another is more suited to single-target damage. One can heal, and another might deal elemental damage. Possessing such a large array of different weapons means you’re never locked into a single class – opening up a world of countless, endless styles of play and builds.
You are required to upgrade your gear, and as you continue to upgrade things get much more expensive, and materials become much more difficult to obtain. So it’s best you focus on what weapons, and what style of play you want to pursue in the short-term so you don’t end up severely limited down the line.
While we’re on the topic of weapons, combat in Tower of Fantasy utilizes a hybrid action combat system. Meaning you can freely attack – use your abilities without a target. However if there is a target present, you’ll begin to automatically lock on to said target.
I found this to be a little awkward at times, when there were multiple trash enemies around and I wanted to simply kill the Elite monster I was after and move on, yet repeatedly locked on to the trash around before finally engaging the monster I was there for.
Yet at the same time, I found it very useful when at a distance from an enemy, as it allowed me to lock on with my spear or sword and grapple directly to it.
You are capable of cycling through enemies with the tab-key like in traditional tab-target MMOs, but it locks on to the most obscure target in the distance so often that it almost felt easier to just hard-focus the trash you’re already locked with and let it re-adjust accordingly.
The combat is incredibly fast, and arguably, has one of the better systems present within the genre. I feel as though it’s a little stiffer than games like SoulWorker, PSO2 New Genesis or even Genshin Impact or Punishing Gray Raven. As are the character animations, especially when climbing. Which you’ll notice immediately as you begin doing so.
Then again, I’m unaware if 2.0 corrects this or whether it’ll remain a detriment, hindering its potential success.
I know some of you are curious as to the specific rates pertaining to the Gacha system in place, and unfortunately, I can’t give those numbers at present. This was a Closed Beta, and as such, everything is completely subject to change upon its full launch – even in its next test stage if it has one.
This is further made evident by the fact that they didn’t have a fully functional cash shop in place. Either because they’re not sure what specifically they want to have available, or they didn’t want players coitizing them ahead of their release.
Thankfully, regardless of how the cash shop ultimately turns out, you’re capable of earning a lot of premium currency in-game. You’ll find various objects out in the world with which you can interact, that will offer you 2 different types of currency to use to roll for characters.
I believe I did well over 40? 50 rolls in total over my weeks playing the game and – I just need to get this off of my chest right now – I cannot believe I still didn’t get Meryl. I got several Claudia’s. But no Meryl. Why does this game hate me?
Look at Meryl. She’s depressed that I didn’t get her. She’s the only character I didn’t get. She feels left out. So alone. It’s heart-breaking.
This wouldn’t be an MMO without a functional Guild system, right? Given Mrs Stix is going to be no-lifing this when it launches, and I’ll definitely be playing on and off myself, we’ll probably end up making a guild of our own.
Guilds.. well, they’re guilds. They’re called “crews” in this but that sounds stupid. They function as a means with which to.. avoid having to rely on complete strangers if you need to group up and tackle cooperative content.
Otherwise, it functions like any mobile guild system. You can do guild content. Accumulate guild currency. Access a guild store. etc., etc.
Oh, you also get mounts. And can ride around on a hoverboard. Or fly through the air on a jetpack. That’s always kinda cool.
Finally, and what is arguably the most important aspect of the game: You can create your own Waifu. Or husbando. It doesn’t provide the same depth as an Anime game like PSO2 New Genesis, but it offers more than most. Allowing you to create your ideal Waifu for laifu or husbando for.. err… cuddles and moral support?
Ultimately, I had a lot of fun in Tower of Fantasy’s first Global Closed Beta. Playing through the game every day on stream with everyone, slowly exploring the world, unlocking additional story. More characters. New content. Tackling more difficult encounters.
The first week was some of the most fun I’ve had in an MMO in the last year or two. Yet after the first week I began to get locked out of progressing. They have content time-gated, meaning that once you hit a certain point in the story, you cannot progress further until you’ve waited the allotted duration.
Which at times was upwards of 3 days. Meaning I could log in, pursue daily content. Run a few instances. And then immediately log out because there was nothing else to do other than run the same content for little to no reward.
There’s a type of stamina system present: Vitality, that isn’t nearly as limiting as the stamina system found in other Gacha games, as you are capable of replenishing it. But other than repeating the same few instances, I really saw no reason to.
At that juncture, I was left highly disappointed with the game. I don’t like being told I can’t play when and how I want to. And after waiting 3 days to continue with the story, you continue for 20 minutes, and are forced to wait several days more? No thanks.
Removal of this limitation would be such a drastic improvement to the game and my enjoyment of it, but with this in place, and the shear amount of grinding necessary to be competitive, I highly doubt I’ll find myself logging in too often.
Daily, sure, to quickly run what I can, but I’m not a grinder. I have more important things to do with my time. But maybe that’ll change. Maybe I’m just being too picky – but this is my time after all, and like you, I need to decide if it’s worth the investment.
Again, I’ll definitely be playing both the next test phase if there is one, and once it fully launches, but I don’t expect this to be a game I dedicate large portions of my time to. Mrs Stix on the other hand..