Tower of Fantasy: the preview of the new free-to-play action RPG that challenges Genshin Impact

Today, August 11, the global servers for Tower of Fantasy, the free-to-play MMO action-RPG for PC, iOS and Android mobile devices, open for Studio Hotta and published by Level Infinite, the publishing imprint of Tencent Games. After three years of development, the game was published in China at the end of 2021 and now it has finally reached our shores, thanks to the success achieved at home and the experience gained thanks to the feedback received from the Chinese community.

There are those who define Tower of Fantasy as the main rival of Genshin Impact, while others describe it as a shameless copy of it. The impression we have given is that the truth lies somewhere in between. Undoubtedly the two productions have more than one trait in common and it is clear that Hotta Studio was inspired by the work of Hoyoverse (who for the record was accused of having copied from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), but going beyond. Appearances it is possible to find substantial differences, which make Tower of Fantasy a unique title in its own way and capable of attracting a different audience.

We had the opportunity to attend a behind closed doors presentation by Hotta Studio and preview the game thanks to a pre-release build. Unfortunately, our test ended prematurely due to a bug related to progression in one of the first missions, which prevented us from progressing any further, but we are still ready to offer you our advance of the first impressions in Tower of Fantasywaiting to be able to test it more thoroughly in the coming days now that the global servers have opened.

Settings and gameplay

A look at Astra, the first region we'll explore in Tower of Fantasy

A look at Astra, the first region we’ll explore in Tower of Fantasy

Tower of Fantasy is set in a science fiction fantasy universe, where spaceships, robots and laser weapons are the order of the day. Our adventures take place on the alien planet Aida: here humanity has built gigantic towers to extract the Omnium, a mineral as precious as it is dangerous because it causes the transformation of animals and humans into monsters. This resource is at the center of the interests of different factions, between those who want to ensure control and those who want to prevent its use, and we as “Wanderer” will be involved despite ourselves in these power struggles.

We will be able to choose whether to impersonate a male or female protagonist through a QTE of sorts in the opening sequence, a design choice sure to be familiar to Genshin Impact players. And he is not the only one. Just in the tutorial it is easy to notice other similarities, such as the radial menu for quick access to the map, inventory and others, as well as the one-button combo combat system. However, it only takes a few minutes to discover the first major differences between the two productions.

The first is that we can completely customize the aesthetic aspect of our virtual avatar. Thanks to’editor it is possible to modify the size, skin color, facial features, hairstyle, tattoos, accessories and, if desired, even the size of the breast in the case of a female character. A handful of outfit presets are also available, with others unlocked as you progress through the adventure or through premium currency. The developers at Hotta Studio explained to us that the editor is one of the features they are most proud of: the possible combinations are endless and players have complete freedom to create the avatar of their dreams or create characters from anime and manga. If you want, you can even share your creations with the community or import a model made by another player. Then there are the “Simulacra”, which are a kind of skins based on unique characters that are unlocked by obtaining the rarest and strongest weapons through the Tower of Fantasy gacha mechanics, which completely change the appearance of our character. . In short, the developers have put a lot of effort into aesthetic customization, a feature that we are sure will appeal to many players.

Thanks to the Tower of Fantasy editor it is even possible to create anime and manga characters, in this case here is a clone of Naruto

Thanks to the Tower of Fantasy editor it is even possible to create anime and manga characters, in this case here is a clone of Naruto

Another aspect of Tower of Fantasy that the Hotta Studio development team has worked passionately on is the combat system. Unlike Genshin Impact (which we’re sorry to put back in the middle, but it’s the most sensible approach), we control a single character who can nonetheless equip up to three different weapons and switch between them at any time. Each of the 12 weapon types present at launch, including swords, spears, whips, guns, and bows, feature a special ability and unique moves. There is certainly no lack of variety and the combat system gains depth thanks to the “Discharge Skill”, powerful shots with the most disparate effects that are activated by switching from one weapon to another after filling a special bar, while the “Time Ghost” slows down time by performing a perfectly timed dodge, allowing you to punish enemies similar to Bayonetta’s “Witch Time”.

At the moment, however, we weren’t particularly impressed by what theopen world of the Tower of Fantasy. The dimensions of the game world are huge, almost overwhelming in the first hours, and the map abounds with side activities, such as small environmental puzzles and enemy camps to clear in exchange for chests and various rewards. However, the overall level design seemed uninspired, with things like resources and enemies appearing to be positioned in bulk on stages. It must be said, however, that we only had the opportunity to explore one of the six regions present at launch, so it is certainly premature to summarize from this point of view. As for the dynamics related to exploration, Tower of Fantasy does its thing without any particularly noteworthy flicker: it is possible to climb almost any vertical wall, glide thanks to a jetpack and as the adventure progresses it even buzzes at full speed with motorcycles . , bipedal robotic vehicles and mechanical unicorns. In short, nothing new under the sun.

Monetization and multiplayer systems

A fight in Tower of Fantasy

A fight in Tower of Fantasy

The main feature that distinguishes Tower of Fantasy from Hoyoverse’s direct rival is a much greater focus on multiplayer activity. The game world is shared by dozens and dozens of users connected to the same server, who can join together to kill the bosses or simply to explore the world of Aida together. It is also possible to form guilds and create friend lists with the players we met during the adventure. For the more competitive users, there are also PvP modes to add more flavor to the set. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to actually test the multiplayer component of Tower of Fantasy, both because we got stuck in the early stages, as explained at the beginning, and because our sessions were sparsely populated, as the game’s servers have opened up on the fly. only today. It will undoubtedly be one of the main aspects that we will delve into in the coming days before publishing the review.

Another element on which we will inevitably be able to give a concrete opinion only by testing the game more thoroughly is that of the monetization systems and what impact they have on the economy of the game, in particular once the end of the game has been reached. Navigating through the game menus we can anticipate that the complete package exists: gacha mechanic to “pull” the strongest weapons and related drills, battle pass with multiple rewards and sets of resources and more and less expensive items to buy with premium currency.

Comparisons to Genshin Impact aside, the first few hours with Tower of Fantasy offered us mixed feelings. We found the combat system solid and fun, while the game world didn’t particularly impress us, full of activities but also anonymous and uninspired. On the other hand, we are silent on the plot, multiplayer and monetization systems that will inevitably require more time to be analyzed in depth.

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