Hotta Studio's free to play MMORPG is not innovative, but it has a great potential.
A couple of weeks after its release, the new Hotta Studio's title, Tower of Fantasy, is the source of a lot of gossip. Already named "the other Genshin Impact", it offers an open world with a great amount of biomes to explore, anime-like visuals with impact animations and a combat system in which we can choose between great weapon variety that allows us to change our role depending on the gameplay style that best fits us. Despite the fact that it just came out and it still has very improvable aspects, this title seems to bring us a great amount of entertainment.
The story is set in Aida, a futuristic world where humans emigrate. Our character wakes up with no memory, and during the first hours of gameplay, we'll follow Shirli and Zeke to finish certain missions to help them improve and protect their home. These act like a tutorial, and although these help you understand the combat system and some important concepts, the area is very limited at the beginning and this tutorial feels a bit long. Of course, one of the reasons is the dialogue with NPCs. During the story missions, every time we talk to a character we are shown an RPG-like interaction with the NPC. Nonetheless, there are too many interactions, and some of them feel too slow. Besides, many of the conversations cannot be skipped from the beginning, something that can feel a bit annoying for those not interested in the narrative.
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The combat system is one of the most important things in any good MMORPG. After all, we spend most of our time fighting, both against enemies we find around the world or bigger bosses, with the help of other players. In this sense, Tower of Fantasy's combat is dynamic, explosive and impressive at a graphic level. Although the camera gets crazy sometimes (it's not at the level of Kingdom Hearts, don't worry), the effects and combos we can make thanks to the combination of up of three different weapons, opens a wide range of possibilities. Regarding the roles we can choose, there are the three typical ones from every game of this style: tank, DPS (damage) and healer. Depending on the weapons we choose, we'll be able to choose a role, which we'll be able to change any time.
The combination of weapons is one of the more highlighted features of this game. Although in other MMORPGs (such as New World) we can swap between two weapons when fighting, here we have the possibility of choosing between a maximum of three. From one-handed weapons to bows, guns, shields and even spears or staffs, each of them has a main skill and an ultimate that is charged by executing basic attacks. Besides, depending on jumping or dodging, this attack sequence varies in each one, which allows there to be a large number of possible combinations and make our character's movement very important. To sum up: a lot of movement, jumps and combos that make the fighting feel dynamic and entertaining. We can level up our weapons by farming materials as we advance or rather by buying them in the game's store.
Regarding the world, this is an open world with a lot of different landscapes. From the most green places to big cities and futuristic buildings, all through rivers and mountains full of vegetation. ToF offers a great anime-like visual selection with a wide range of colours and full of places to explore. It's true that we won't be able to get into different areas if we are not a certain level, since the radiation levels will kill us, but this is just at the beginning. During our adventure, we'll find different puzzles to solve which will give us rewards, chests and bosses to defeat to get achievements and loot, and we will also be able to collect plants, minerals and also fish to eat and heal us.
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Another highlightable aspect are the vehicles and objects we can use to move and interact with other elements in the world. ToF offers a section of vehicles giving us the chance to choose between bikes, unicorn-like robots, and even a sort of futuristic Rubik's Cube which will delight those who enjoy collecting mounts. Besides, there are items like jetpacks to rise into the air and glide, a board to move through the water and even a missile launcher to explode certain elements which will help us discover hidden treasures.
Regarding the character customisation, there is a wide variety. In fact, there are people able to imitate iconic anime characters such as Naruto, Hinata or even characters from Genshin Impact itself. Within the character creation screen we have an option to choose more popular designs created by other players, something roleplay lovers should appreciate.
Regarding the progression system, we level up when fighting enemies and completing missions. Besides, the game has an achievement system in which we receive rewards after fulfilling certain objectives. These can be defeating a boss we find around the world or completing certain missions, or farming certain materials. The rewards we obtain here can give us a nucleus, to improve our weapons, gold or other materials. In this sense, we will have to farm to achieve substantial upgrades, something that already happens in other games of this style.
This progression, especially regarding weapons, can be accelerated through microtransactions in the game. We obtain weapons through a Delivery System in which we exchange a nucleus for a loot box-type item, which has the possibility of dropping a Simulacrum and its weapon. The Simulacrum is a character or a champion we can assign within their own menu in the game which has two quality types: SR and SSR. The first has more drop possibilities than the latter, but it also gives us worse weapons and stats. Once we get one of these characters, we also get their weapon and we can use it. While it is possible to get everything for free, the truth is that there are more possibilities of getting higher quality weapons faster through microtransactions. While there are people abusing this system of "pay to win", the truth is that this game is still new, so it's not that noticeable. In the future this may be more noticeable, especially keeping in mind this is a free to play game.
In conclusion, Tower of Fantasy is a game worth trying. Not only due to its colourful and successful visuals, its dynamic combat system and its wild open world, but also due to the amount of content and hours of entertainment it offers in a free way. We'll see how the microtransactions system evolves, and it's true that the narrative is quite slow and sometimes boring, especially at the beginning. Although the game doesn't have any innovative features, it has the potential to keep evolving, and we can see this in Vera's announcement, the new expansion shown during Gamescom to celebrate the 10+ million downloads this Chinese developer's title has.
7 / 10
Great visuals, wide world and diversity of landscapes. Dynamic combat and many possible combinations of weapons.
Slow and uneventful story. Too many hours of farming if microtransactions are not used.