Tree of Life
Tree of Life is a 3D fantasy themed sandbox MMORPG with cartoony graphics and a focus on cooperative gameplay. Players must work together to survive on an unknown continent inhabited by hostile monster tribes.
|Publisher: OddOneGames via Steam
Type: Sandbox Survival MMO
PvP: Open PvP with penalties
Release Date: May 27 2015 (Early Access)
Pros: +Dynamic game world. +Build anywhere and alter the landscape. +Large community guilds.
Cons: -Player buildings litter landscape. -Visuals may put off some players. -Day/Night cycle too short.
Tree of Life Overview
Tree of Life is an indie Korean studio's take on the growing survival/sandbox trend in online gaming. Unlike many of its Western counterparts, Tree of Life boasts brightly animated graphics and an emphasis on cooperative gameplay. Players must work together to build settlements and protect them from raids by computer controlled monsters. Become a mayor or king and fortify your resources by building high walls and watchtowers. Prospering villages are attacked by hordes of monsters, hungry for resources. Defend against greedy players as well, eager to kill peaceful citizens. The game will include open PvP like Rust, DayZ, and H1Z1 but with harsher death penalties imposed on player-killers (PKs) than normal players.
Tree of Life Key Features:
- Hunting and Gathering – collect a variety of resources by fishing, farming, hunting animals, sheering sheep, chopping trees, and more.
- Build Your Empire – build your own home or amass resources with friends to construct massive villages and cities.
- Defend What's Yours – repel monster attacks on your settlement with the help of allies.
- A Shared Experience – Tree of Life supports over 1000 players per game world. Make new friends through shared experiences!
- Dynamic world – forests grow and die in response to player interactions, altering the landscape dramatically over time.
Tree of Life Screenshots
Tree of Life Featured Video
Tree of Life Review
By Sean Sullivan
From the moment I saw the trailer, I looked forward to playing Tree of Life. As a longtime fan of the survival genre, I was excited to play a game that emphasizes communal defense over ruthless PvP. Too many survival games—whether it be Rust, DayZ, or H1Z1—are plagued by griefing. But Tree of Life’s trailer depicts players frolicking across deserts and gathering around campfires to sing Kumbaya. Is it the game it claims to be? Not exactly. But Tree of Life deserves to be praised for what it delivers.
As with any MMO, we begin with character creation. It’s simple, with a small selection of hairstyles and skin tones to choose from. But this is a simple game, running on a lightweight client. Your character model is detailed enough to make it feel individualized. Actual customization comes later, through your choice of profession and crafted gear. My own character was as Vin Diesel-esque as I could make him. Dubbing him gUMBLE I was ready.
I entered the world greeted by charming, upbeat music. During the day, a happy beat skips along, perfect for an elevator in some upper-class neighborhood. When dusk arrives, a xylophone kicks in to see you through the perils of darkness. The inviting sounds parallel the game’s childish graphics and deliver an overall tone that—personally—recalls the first time I launched Runescape. It’s a presentation that should work on most modern computers and allows for the innumerable structures that pockmark the vast landscape to be rendered without much slow-down.
Like any survival game, the first check on the itinerary is made after you smash your face against interactable objects, whether it be a rock, a tree, or water. In Tree of Life, I ran up to a Wetland tree and unleashed my fists of fury. My knuckles bloodied, the tree imploded into twigs, apples, and one oversized log. Tree of Life is a game where everything can be decimated with a well-placed hit. So I smashed the log as well, turning it into a firework of firewood and more apples. Pressing “F,” I collected each item, one at a time.
Four meters must be monitored to continue existing: Health, Soul, Stamina, and Hunger. The least obvious is Soul, a timer dictating respawn when you die. The most pressing meter is hunger. Spawning hungry, I collected as many apples as I could to feast like an inebriated Johnny Appleseed. Opening your inventory with “E,” you can drag the Apple onto your toolbar—if it’s not already hotkeyed. Selecting the Apple hotkey will call up a Honeycrisp icon in the center-left of your screen. Right-clicking, you drag your cursor over the icon to begin munching away. As with many survival games, your character burns calories like a marathon runner—you’ll spend time building your pantry before exploring the world.
As you perform a task you level up its corresponding Mastery—or skill. Punching away at wood like Beatrix Kiddo I leveled up Martial Arts, ready to take the next boat to Han’s island. If your preferred weapon is sharp, then use a Crude Knife to increase your proficiency with daggers. When you level you increase your stats as well. Smashing at some bark with my mace bestowed me with Hammer, increasing my Strength and Constitution by one in each stat respectively. Even Logging rewards points in strength as you level. It’s RPG leveling at its most basic: the more you do something the better you become. But, not every skill can be leveled by hitting objects.
Crafting in Tree of Life is extensive. Of the 24 occupations, 8 are devoted to sweating behind a bench of one kind or another—with some occupations requiring level 50 to create their final item. It is undoubtedly a grind to max out a craft. And starting off, you will be stuck creating rudimentary materials, you may or may not need, to level up. But it's a simple system. Pressing “E” reveals the crafting menu; simply drag and drop items and click on a corresponding icon to create. First off, you’ll make a bonfire to cook the Venison you barbarically acquired, and a workbench to begin leveling skills, such as Tinkering. Some required resources can be difficult to discover, as they are limited to areas on the map. So, typically specialization is you best bet—setting up camp near the resources you need to level. And working with other players to create a community where each player asserts a role for the greater good.
Searching For A Community
Watching the trailer for Tree of Life, it's evident that it’s a game that wants you to engage with other players. But finding a newb friendly guild can be pretty tough. I met players on my travels, but many of them were wanderers or noobs like myself. I headed inland from my starting island in the South-East portion of the map, hoping to find an active base I could contribute to. But all I found were decrepit forts, rotting away. Standing atop a hill I looked out and gazed at their scattered husks. It gives the world a lived-in feel, albeit a desolate one but captivating. As I scavenged the ruins, I found only a Cow that I amusingly lifted with ease, before slaughtering it for meat.
And then, when I did discover bases they were occupied by solo-players, walling off their own small chunk of land—many of whom wanted nothing to do with me. It was a bit disappointing. Is this the mentality of my fellow players? Most players I met would ignore me once I broached the subject of teaming up. Luckily, I did eventually find a helpful player who directed me to noober territory, in the South West of the map—and he gave me a VooDoo mask.
Forging An Empire
Just as I was about to give up, I ran into two players rebuilding their base. Every night monsters spawn and attack structures. The more prodigious the the base, the more monsters that spawn to hack away. Vigilance is necessary to maintain your work. The two I ran into were rebuilding after zombies had eaten away their barrier like termites. I asked if I could help them out, and to my delight they accepted. I joined their guild and set about building a base.
Base building is easy, so long as you pay attention to the UI. You place structures after gathering the necessary resources and then proceed to add additional resources in a series of steps. Once you’ve dragged over two logs, thrown some sticks and firewood, you have yourself a cabin where items can be stored. It’s paramount that you lock your stuff up. Locks can’t be built until Tinkering is at level 4, and it's highly recommended you grind up tinkering before logging off. Otherwise, other players will mosey up to your house and steal from you without remorse. Or, you can stay online and fend them off with a swing of your club.
Tree of Life is an MMORPG that utilizes an active combat system. As long as an enemy's HP bar is present on the top of your screen you’ll be able to make contact. I learned the hard way which monsters will decimate me and which ones I could square off against. Stick to deer and wildlife, animals that don't fight back. Bears, Angry Tree Spirits, and Cursed Zombies are formidable opponents that will send you scattering. I did not find combat to be immersive. It’s far from the focal point of the game. You hold down left-click and swing, or shoot, away—whoever has more health wins. It’s not a complaint. Many survival games have rather weak combat systems. Its the experience of building a base and forming a community that provides an engaging experience.
During my playthrough I never suffered any griefing or harassment from other players. My interactions tended to be one-sided snoodiness. However, there have been numerous complaints in reviews about merciless homewreckers. PvP-focused players are flagged red after attacking a player or their base, flagging themselves to be killed without consequence. When an aggressor is killed they lose all of their items; it's a fair incentive to prevent players from wildly swinging at each other, such as in Rust. And non-flagged players who are killed only drop 1 item, so the loss is more of an inconvenience than a terrible tragedy, such as in Ultima Online.
Overall, the game is very focused on PvE, as far as I can tell, over PvP. I’ve heard of roaming bands of criminals slaying innocent players like Genghis Khan. But all of the sociopaths must have been committed because my experience was benign. If players are likely to attack, it will be in a raid when you’re offline. They’ll break down your walls, sneak into your property, take your loot, trample your crops, and steal your daughters.
Final Verdict - Good
I did not walk away with the sense of community and comradery I came to expect from the trailer. Perhaps I didn't find the right players. So, to really enjoy the game you’re going to need to pick it up with a few friends. Or, be social enough to find affable players. The infusing RPG elements adds a new level of grind with persistent rewards in the form of new skills, giving the game value even after you’ve been killed and raided. Tree of Life's emphasis on community building creates an immersive world where player interactions have a tangible impact. It's a game that blooms the more time you invest into it.
Tree of Life Videos
Tree of Life Links
Tree of Life System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 512 MB
RAM: 1 GB
Hard Disk Space: 1 GB
Operating System: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10
CPU: Intel Core i3 2.4 GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 970
Video Card: GeForce GTX 560 / Radeon 7850 or better
RAM: 2 GB or more
Hard Disk Space: 2 GB
Tree of Life Music & Soundtrack
Tree of Life Additional Information
Developer: Odd One Games
Game Engine: Axis Game Engine
Lead Programmer: Chyaya
Concept Art/Modeling: Dalraechaki
Game Designer: NobrainHan
Early Access Date: May 2015
Development History / Background:
Tree of Life is developed by four-man South Korean Indie studio OddOne Games. Previously known as Rack Our Brain, they developed a RPG titled ReAL: Return from Afterlife in 2004. After separating and gaining 6 years of experience in the Korean game industry, the team came back together release a survival / sandbox MMORPG.
The development team took a unique approach and raised 16,000,000 Korean Won via crowdfunding. While this was not enough to cover the costs associated with the game, it did help raise awareness. Odd One Games decided to self publish Tree of Life in the West through Steam. The game was Greenlit by the Steam community soon after its submission on February 2, 2015. Tree of Life launched into early access beta on May 27, 2015 as a buy to play game on Steam. Within a weeks after launching into early access, the game reached 10,000 concurrent users on Steam and over $600,000 in revenue, making it an instant hit.