Good news, everyone! No wait, it’s bad news: Blue Protocol’s global release was delayed a while back. It’s a real bummer because I’m a huge anime nerd, and I was actually beginning to look forward to it – not up to the hype level of looking forward to it, but in a general interest way. In the meantime, I’ve been looking over my shoulder meme-style with an eye toward Tower of Fantasy. It’s obviously very anime-influenced, and at least on paper it checks off a bunch of my required MMO must-haves.
I imagine a number of you will chastise me for playing this prior to trying Genshin Impact. It’s basically a copycat, right? Well, there’s one glaring omission from GI: no PvP. That’s basically my number one feature of an MMO. This is the Fight or Kite PvP column, after all. But even beyond that, I just don’t have a lot of interest in games that don’t at least attempt to let players PvP somewhere. (Yes, I know what you’re about to say: Blue Protocol doesn’t have PvP either! And to that I say, you’re right! But I didn’t realize that when I was getting all not-hyped for it!)
So with all that working against me in other anime MMOs, I decided to put down my phone and get off mobile card games to play a proper PC MMO again with some high anime flair and… then I remembered Tower of Fantasy is actually a mobile MMO. Oh well, I’m playing it on my PC like a true gamer. Have at ye!
The visuals and customization options are awesome
Now, if you really want a nuts-to-bolts first take on ToF, look no further than MOP’s own Chris, who gave the perfect first impressions of the game back near launch. He’s got a way with words that absolutely nails the highs, the lows, and the experience of playing. Not to mention he’s actually played Genshin Impact, so he covers the similarities as well. Lucky for me, though, he didn’t touch on the game’s PvP – so here I have an advantage!
I’ve got to say from character creation to exploring the world, I was seriously impressed. Right straight out the gate, Tower of Fantasy deserves some big props for hitting the anime vibe just right. I really love the way the game looks. It’s just plain awesome, from overlooking the scenery to the individual NPCs running around and the story too. Sure, it’s fairly derivative of so many anime you’ve seen before, but I’m digging it. In fact, looking at my screenshots folder for this one, I’ve already got over 200 shots! That’s about 180 more than I usually take for a piece; it’s got to mean something.
Going back to the character creator really quickly, I want to note that the options are great. I also love that you can save a customized character for sharing with others. There’s even a ton of characters created by the community that you can just click and take for yourself. Check out these looks below! I don’t know about you all, but a few of those look awfully… familiar. Of course, if you want to know who you are, you have to look at your real self and acknowledge what you see. Then make your own toon.
The action combat plus a few different PvP modes should keep interested PvP players invested
Now with respect to combat itself in Tower of Fantasy, I think it hits the right notes even if it isn’t perfect. You can use tab targeting and your ranged attacks will auto hit something that’s standing within the death zone. However, when you’re playing on PC, ToF uses an action combat style of control, which means your mouse movement changes the direction your character is facing. It feels pretty similar to enabling the action camera in Guild Wars 2. Of course, while your regular attacks will auto-hit, you will get a cross-hair for precise targeting if you stand still and hold your ranged attack.
I’m a fan of the general concept of the combat and skills. You don’t have a class, but you can equip three weapons at a time plus two utilities. Swapping them out has a similar vibe to GW2. You don’t have a skill bar available, though, which is a little bit of a bummer. But you do have a single activation ability with its own cooldown for each weapon. Also, instead of using a traditional MMO skill bar, you can try to learn your weapon’s combos. Each one seems to have a few to learn. The ones I played with weren’t super hard to pull off; it was usually moving in a direction while either clicking the attack button or holding it.
Speaking of attacking, you may as well be playing traditional Diablo because the intensity of clicking is crazy. I guess that’s normal for this style of action combat, but it’s not for me. I’m more accustomed to auto attacks plus my hotbar.
Now, once you get to the PvP (more on that below), you’ve got basically three modes: solo arenas (Apex League), Conquest (The Critical Abyss), and battle royale (Break from Destiny) for both solo and team queue.
Technically, the solo arenas are intended to be balanced, in that Hotta tries to flatten the gear curve to level 50 gear, but my experience had me splat on the wall. I think the first few fights were against NPCs pretending to be real players because they were awful. Then I played an actual person, and the numbers speak for themselves. I got rocked. I wanted to play the Conquest mode because I have a lot of opinions on it and every game has a slight tweak to the formula, but my queue would time out without finding a match every time. In summary, don’t bother with the arena until you’ve maxed out yourself.
The BR mode was cool. I mean, it was basically your standard-fare BR, but at least I didn’t feel totally outclassed from the first battle volley. My team even took out a few other players before we spread ourselves too thin and got ganked.
There are some good ideas that don’t quite make it work great for a nomad
There are two big downsides to the PvP in ToF. First is the level gating: You’ve got to get up to level 31 before you’re allowed to participate. If you’re really getting into ToF PvE and the normal gameplay, then it won’t be a problem. But I’m someone who tends to float around to a number of different games constantly, so it’s not really a format that works for me.
Honestly, it’s the same issue I had with Lost Ark. If this is the PvE game for you, then this PvP will work for you too. You’ll already understand what your gear stats all mean and how to optimize. You’ll have earned (or bought) most of the weapons that match your playstyle. You’ll be ready to roll. But for an MMO nomad, it wasn’t quite enough to lock me into coming back for more.
Tower of Fantasy is a very cool game and looks awesome. I enjoyed the PvE aspects of it wholly. However, it just wasn’t quite strong enough on the PvP side for me to really want to spend much more time in the game beyond this point. But if you’re bummed out about Blue Protocol, you could do worse than give ToF a chance.