Cooperative Village-Building Game Is Challenging, but Fun

By Chloe Spencer on at

Have you ever wanted to be a chef or a warrior, but couldn’t decide which one? In Tree of Life, you can be both!

Tree of Life is a sandbox RPG where you can build your own village, create your own guild, and fight monsters as you explore the vast open world of Vegonia. You design your character and choose from one of three factions: the Knights of Roses, who are looking for a cure to save their princess; the Adventure Company, comprised of opportunistic adventurers and merchants; or the Bastards of Freedom, prisoners who bought their freedom in exchange for military services. Each faction is seeking the Tree of Life for its own reasons. Like other MMOs, Tree of Life relies on team cooperation and building community. You can communicate with those in your faction for help, facilitate trade, and plan missions. Factions are also known to fight and steal from each other, though, so be careful.

From there, players design a career from a total of 21 different class combinations. You can build and maintain farms, become a merchant, or become a master crafter. This can lead to some grinding. From the get-go, I was running from area to area, chopping down trees with my bare hands. You gain skill points for a variety of activities, and you have to level up in order to build certain items. So, even if you have all the materials for a crafting table, you won’t be able to make it until you hit the right level.

You start off on a beach, and you’re physically weak—you don’t have full health or a full stomach. The game gives you some items, such as bread and bandages, that will help you get started. On my first day I made a small campsite. The next day when I logged on it was completely gone, along with the items I had stored in it. Needless to say, I was devastated. In order to “settle” in the world and prevent your buildings from being destroyed, you need to build a Warden tree, which you can’t build until you reach a high enough skill level. I was both confused and annoyed by this requirement.

You can ride and tame animals in this game as well.

Tree of Life also has a store where you can pay real-world money to buy upgrades. Some players argue that having a store option in the game makes it a pay-to-win RPG, but I don’t know what exactly it is that you win in Tree of Life. While there is an end goal—to find the Tree of Life—most of the game is built around building whatever you want and designing your perfect RPG life.

My overall experience playing the game was fun but frustrating at times. Starting out, I wandered around Sunset Beach aimlessly until my character became hungry. Although I had plenty of food, I struggled to figure out how to eat it, even after equipping it. I clicked and my character attempted to bludgeon rocks and trees with the loaf. I messaged my faction to ask them how I could consume food before finally figuring it out myself. It was unclear that I had to hold down the right mouse button in order to use the item. In another instance, within my first 30 minutes of playing the game, a mother wolf and her cub chased me down. Due to the controls, I was unable to escape quickly enough, so the family killed me. Life in this RPG isn’t very fair, no matter how hard you try.

I wandered the map as a ghost, desperately searching for Mr. BoBoo, a ghost who has to revive you when you die. After about fifteen minutes with no luck, I decided it was just better to restart the game with an entirely new character. I played it safer and avoided the monsters, as well as other players, until I could build up my skillset. After I levelled up a bit, pummeling monsters and obtaining resources from them became a great stress reliever. While scavenging is usually thought of as a menial task, I really loved looting monsters to figure out what they had, as well as breaking down trees and rocks in the world. But it was still annoying that I have to spend hours levelling up to build a tree just so that my buildings won’t be destroyed.

Screenshot of a village and farm in Tree of Life, taken from the store page.

While some people were helpful during my playthrough, a lot of players were obnoxious and ruined what little progress I made. One random player raced past me and destroyed a crafting table I had just built. Another player and their monsters attacked me while I was casually gathering materials. I had to run for my life in the dead of night, and I happened to stumble into more wolves and other enemies. Tree of Life requires you to not only be patient with other players, but to be patient with yourself.

Tree of Life released officially last week after 2 years in early access. If you’re into the idea of an RPG with these kinds of possibilities, check it out.