MMOs always come bearing a lot of promises – endless adventures in an ever-evolving shared world, friendships and rivalries with other players and guilds, and the freedom to play in a way that suits you. But while the best games in the genre know how to keep those promises, their extraordinary scale and ambition often comes at the cost of looking all that good.
That’s why looking at Tower of Fantasy makes you do a double take. The new MMORPG from Hotta Studio and Level Infinite has a crisp anime-inspired art style that looks stunning – like an epic open-world game had somehow fused with one of the great sci-fi anime series to depict a world that’s both post on the brink of collapse and thriving with life – dangerous and gorgeous in equal measure.
Tower of Fantasy is set on the distant world of Aida, which humanity has populated after leaving the resource-stripped planet Earth behind. Things were going swimmingly on Aida, until again humans messed things up by trying to capture a comet called Mara in order to extract from it a precious energy source called Omnium. Having captured the comet via a building called the Omnium Tower, humanity became afflicted with Omnium radiation, which caused a planetwide disaster.
When will humanity learn?
(Image credit: Level Infinite)
But it’s not all bad, because Aida is filled with plunder and adventure for those intrepid enough to go out and find it. Sweeping vistas tease you with incredible scenery, distant airships, and mysterious faraway structures to venture towards, while metallic neon-soaked cities are filled with quests, mini-games, and opportunities to speed around showing off your cyber-bikes. Beware though, because wandering the wilderness and guarding the treasures of the world are all kinds of monstrosities that are sure to test even the most experienced MMO veterans.
The granular character creation system lets you tweak and craft a hero in your image, or in the image of the kind of character you want to roleplay. Long hair, short hair, three-tone highlights graduating from blue to pink, bunny ears or cat eyes – it’s up to you, and it’s all beautifully presented through the game’s distinctive anime style.
Creating a character is one thing, but once you’re out in the world you’ll need to call on powerful Simulacra to aid you in battle. When you get a new weapon, you not only get the weapon but automatically summon a legendary hero to wield it for you. Summon these heroes to battle, master their skill sets, and use them to fight the dangers of the world. With a robust PvP system as well as PvE dungeons and raids, those dangers can take many forms.
The Simulacra are a varied bunch: Echo, for instance, is an orphaned woman who carries her formidable Thunderous Halberd into battle, King is a red-headed brawler and master of the flaming scythe, while Crow is an assassin skilled in piercing his foes with dual-wielded Thunderblades. Each of these characters is not just a champion, but a friend, and you’ll need to learn which gifts they desire to build up their loyalty and make them more deadly in battle.
The fact that you’re fighting with multiple characters makes for an incredible variety of moves and play styles, as you’ll learn to seamlessly switch up between weapons (and characters) in the heat of battle. Unlike the often staid combat of other MMOs, Tower of Fantasy plays more in the tradition of high-octane MMOs, with an explosive pace that evokes legendary battles from anime series like Naruto Shippuden and Attack on Titan. It’s all amazingly stylised.
Whether you’re a lone wanderer or searching for companionship, whether you wish to explore the wilderness or get embroiled in the complex quests and storylines of Aida’s people, Tower of Fantasy is a world that invites all types of players to participate. From PvE raids to high-stakes PvP warfare, this looks set to be a world of danger and opportunity, layered over with a beautiful aesthetic that keeps your eyes scanning all over the screen in awe.