Tower of Fantasy has finally made its way globally after what you could call a somewhat rocky start. Early access was kindly provided to me, so I just played around for a bit to see what it’s like. There are some things I’m not allowed to show, but as it stands, I think I will enjoy this.
I REALLY, REALLY LIKE SCI-FI
Let me get this out of the way: I far prefer sci-fi aesthetics over fantasy / high fantasy, considering my love for Arknights. Tower of Fantasy is pretty much more up my alley with the futuristic setting, with hoodies, TRON lines, subtly glowy lines… you get the idea.
I feel that the colours are more muted when compared to Genshin Impact which isn’t a bad thing. I’d prefer something on a more subtle overall palette anyway because of the whole visual sensitivity issues. On the PC, the general layout is fairly neat as there’s enough space to display the next properly, but maybe not as much on a mobile screen that I did not try the game on.
Another thing that I’d want to see adjusted for launch is the text. The formatting is not all in place and honestly does look unflattering. The menus are a bit much to navigate, which I can chalk down to needing more time to get used to.
Your chosen character speaks a lot more in their own voice which could make them a bit less of a self-insert. I will have to say I much prefer the Japanese dub over the English one though.
HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST, ENGAGE
Gameplay basically consists of doing the story quests, other quests, exploring, and the regular material grind. It’s an open world, so the motions of exploring should be pretty self-explanatory. You can choose to have visible markers or otherwise to lead you to most quest destinations, if you’d like the experience to be a bit more immersive.
Character creation is a big thing but admittedly, I didn’t really play around with it. I felt the darker skin colours look far too ashy to be realistic which is disappointing, but I’ll fiddle around with it some more. I ended up using a character – known as a Simulacra – instead, because I liked the short spunky kid who I would like to obtain from the gacha in the launch build. Raising affinity with them can let you turn on Simulacra buffs.
Exploration progresses from running on foot, to being able to obtain vehicles (mounts!). Exploration actually feels much faster because you don’t use stamina when sprinting, so even if you don’t get your starting vehicle, your base movement speed makes traversal less of a slog. You do consume stamina for climbing, swimming and gliding, so that’s what you need to be more concerned about. You don’t die immediately when running out of stamina in the water, and you’re allowed to teleport as you take heavy damage, which is nice.
Speaking of taking damage, you can regenerate HP out of combat! If you accidentally yeeted yourself off the edge and took a hit, you can stand a while and recover. It naturally just makes things more fast paced. Enemies have a subtle alert icon above their heads before they engage; I think it’s hard to see, but if you’re just running past anyway, you should be well out of their sight before they start coming after you.
The grinding consists of doing the various recommended quests, raiding ruins, and trying the other game modes. I didn’t try out the multiplayer stuff, content with running around for now. Exploring the ruins gets you equipment pieces that have random stats, with some exploration in finding the other hidden chests. I don’t think this is anything particularly special, but the exploration feels more engaging here since you can pick up ambient items to fling at things, not to mention the air dodges.
I also enjoy the combat system. While you only control one character, they can have up to 3 weapons. The type of weapons can grant different bonuses depending on what you have equipped. Then, whenever you use the weapon in combat, you charge up the others so that once you swap, it unleashes a burst of effects depending on what’s equipped. From what I can tell, there’s perfect dodges that temporarily slow enemies within a bubble, allowing for more pew pew. Much like the general loop, it simply feels faster-paced.
Grinding is definitely inescapable. Weapons can be equipped with “matrices” which are akin to artifact sets in Genshin Impact, obtaining bonuses for a number of pieces equipped. Both weapons and matrices can be further improved and uncapped with the duplicates. There’s gotta be an incentive to gacha, after all. Grinding will also be for the various weapon / relic shards to unlock and improve them, you should get the idea. Don’t forget to level up your 8 pieces of equipment too!
Gacha rates are not great in the build I tried out. Choice Weapons start at 0.75% for an SSR, with 80 pulls for a guaranteed SSR. SSR Matrices start at 1.7%, with 40 pulls guaranteeing an SSR. I can’t tell how generous the pulls are right now, so I’ll hold off on touting it being P2W or F2P friendly or whatever.
Am I in the honeymoon phase? Sure.
Is Tower of Fantasy at least offering me a bit more fun in the open world genre that I don’t normally enjoy in my currently really jaded state? Yes.
If I am able to derive any kind of enjoyment in a game, I will consider that a win. I’ll just see how far I’ll go.