This edition of F2P Kingdom is a big one. Today, I decided to dip into the Tree of Savior free to play client, and in doing so I nearly drowned. ToS is easily one of the largest free to play MMOs I’ve ever played in terms of scope and brought me back to the early days of MMOs like Ragnarok Online. However, that’s not always a positive thing. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover so let’s begin our journey through the vast field of Tree of Savior!
Launched by IMCGames for Western audiences, Tree of Savior is an MMOARPG that will immediately draw comparisons to Ragnarok Online both in style as well as substance. In fact, the fastest way I can summarize Tree of Savior is if Ragnarok Online got turned up to about 12. With over 80 classes, a maximum character level of 330, and a dauntingly sized map, “immense” is a descriptor that falls pitifully short of the reality.
ToS should feel immediately comfortable to players of any ARPG, and to players of Ragnarok Online specifically, with a lot of the same advancement mechanics. Character levels are where you improve your stats, while Class Ranks are where you learn new classes. Further classes have Circles in them that allow them to earn new skills, and points can be applied to currently equipped skills to improve them. You can also go to your class teacher to buy additional enhancements for your abilities.
Is your head swimming yet? Because on top of all of the class advancement and build options, there are also systems to enhance your equipment through the use of item advancement, slotting gems, and applying Magic Amulets. At the risk of understatement, Tree of Savior has a lot to offer.
As intimidating as this all sounds, Tree of Savior does a pretty good job of easing you into things. The tutorials are competent enough, and quests that give you directions on advancement systems are overall very informative. The biggest help, however, is other people; with so much to digest in Tree of Savior, the resources compiled by other players are an absolute godsend and I highly recommend anyone who starts playing to use them liberally.
As big as everything in Tree of Savior is, you won’t mind the journey because this is an absolute beauty of an MMO. With excellently animated sprite graphics and watercolor backgrounds, roaming the world and fighting monsters is a visual feast. I was instantly brought back to classic JRPGs like the Seiken Densetsu series with its sense of style and use of color.
This comparison holds true for the combat as well, which involves basic buttons for attacks and jumps while function buttons let you use a variety of class abilities. Because of the way combat flowed, I found using a controller to be the most comfortable arrangement as it gave me easy access to my abilities while maintaining more direct agency of my character’s movement.
With all of ToS’ old school charms come a couple of those old school failings as well. With so many levels to gain, things can feel pretty grindy in rather short order if you’re paying very close attention to your EXP bar. It’s also a game where you get out of it what you put in; if you want to try Tree of Savior, you’re either going to have to commit fully to it or accept the fact that playing casually will mean you reach level cap over the span of many months. Still, it’s hard to completely knock a game that has no admission price offering this much content.
It’s now time to examine the Tree of Savior free to play setup. As always, I’ve chopped up my experience in four categories: Account Limitations, Store Interruption, Store Offerings, and Store Reliance. Each point will be rated on three different scales: Minimal, Acceptable, and Oppressive. I’ll also further explain why I came to each rating for each category. Finally, I’ll offer my overall feelings but just remember this wrap-up isn’t an aggregate score, just an overall assessment of what Tree of Savior is like for the free-to-player.
Account Limitations: Acceptable
What are Account Limitations? Anything that locks content away from you, from character or class choices to hotbars, access to dungeons or endgame. These are things that flag you as one of the “freeloaders” and restricts your play.
The whole smorgasbord of Tree of Savior is absolutely yours with no payment required whatsoever. That’s every class, every bit of the map, every single system. The biggest restrictions of the Tree of Savior free to play client are related to the market and movement speed. There are other limits on EXP earnings and dungeon entries, but the greater bulk of the game doesn’t wall free players away.
While I feel these limits are acceptable, it’s hard to know how much of that holds true at endgame, so I’m going to put an asterisk on this rating. Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly the time to dedicate hitting level cap in Tree of Savior but research into the matter seems to point to some general grumpiness with the endgame. None of those complaints appeared to be related to free to play restrictions, however.
Store Interruption: Minimal
Store Interruption is based on how frequently you’re reminded of the in-game store during play. This either occurs through pop-up reminders that dominate your screen or buttons that redirect you to items offered in the store.
The in-game store of Tree of Savior is nearly off the main path. You have to purchase cash shop currency on Steam, and accessing the cash shop in-game itself requires you to head to the primary town of Klaipeda. It’s literally out of your way.
The only reminder of the cash shop is the giant golden “TP” button on the top of the screen, where purchased cash shop currency can be collected. Otherwise, Tree of Savior doesn’t give players the hard sell.
This combines into something that actually strikes as a bit of an inconvenience, in all honesty. It’s not a dealbreaker by any stretch but it also seems like a weird decision; one of the first of many, in fact.
Store Offerings: Acceptable
The Store Offerings section is a quick look at what the store has to offer. From the selection to the variety of items, this is your at-a-glance idea of whether the store is interesting and if prices seem to be fair.
I’m going to be honest, this is a hard one for me to parse. Tree of Savior’s cash shop is a tale of two storefronts. On the one hand, you’ve got the TP Shop, which offers up a bunch of really nice cosmetic options and boosts. On the other hand, you’ve got the Medal Shop, which offers a much broader assortment of cosmetic options.
How does one earn medals? By recycling unwanted items that one gets from opening Goddess Cubes, the game’s version of lockboxes. I’m not entirely sure I like the decision here, but the prices for these lockboxes are pretty minimal and the costs for buying TP are best described as “reasonable-ish”. This is really my own personal opinion and I recognize that value will very likely differ from person to person. If you stick to the TP Shop’s items, prices there are pretty fair in my view.
Store Reliance: Oppressive
This is an overall score of whether a game enters the “pay-to-win” realm with its offerings. Does the in-game store have an abundance of boosts? Does the leveling curve feel like you need to buy pots in order to progress? That’s what Store Reliance measures.
This is another one that’s hard for me to definitively judge, but I went with an Oppressive rating by virtue of the fact that getting Medal Shop items requires the purchase of lockboxes and leveling up can feel very drawn out and daunting, making the purchase of EXP boosters almost feel like a requisite.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention EXP Cards, which are items that are often rewarded for quest completion. These lovely consumables grant you both Character and Class XP, which can smooth out the leveling curve. Further, there is a calculator that can give you suggestions on when to use these EXP Cards to your most benefit. Still, the fact that this tool is even needed kind of affirms my rating.
Tree of Savior is likely going to appeal to a very specific type of MMORPG player. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but its shelf life seems to lend itself to a game that will stick around for a little while at least. It’s undoubtedly not for everyone, but if you’re the sort of player that loves Ragnarok Online or prefers the “slow burn” style of MMO, Tree of Savior definitely has the goods.
In spite of that assessment, I still find a lot to enjoy in Tree of Savior personally. A lot of that has more to do with its feeling of gameplay and style than its sense of being an MMO, but for what it is, ToS is a solid and unquestionably deep-dish option. I just wish it made some better cash shop decisions.
As always, feel free to comment below with your own thoughts about Tree of Savior as well as suggestions on which MMO you would like F2P Kingdom to look into next. Until the next time always remember: you’re not cheap, you’re thrifty!Related: Column, F2P, F2P Kingdom, MMOARPG, MMORPG, Tree of Savior