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Tower of Fantasy for Android review: A standout gacha MMO that's not without its flaws

This "Genshin Killer" makes its worldwide debut, carving out a niche for itself with a focus on MMO gameplay.

The Wanderer stands with the moon at her back.
(Image: © Android Central)

Our Verdict

The similarities may be undeniable, but don't write Tower of Fantasy off as a Genshin clone too quickly. This MMORPG (with a hearty layer of gacha on top) has a lot to love and could be the new obsession in your life.

For

  • + A more social experience than many other gacha RPGs
  • + Beautiful, vibrant graphics and a huge world to explore
  • + Fun hack-n-slash gameplay with a lot of room for customizing a unique play style
  • + Interesting story and characters
  • + Great soundtrack

Against

  • Typical gacha nonsense and way too many currencies
  • Some localization issues
  • Small bugs, particularly with exciting cutscenes or conversations
  • Repetitive quests
  • Some stability and performance issues

With over four million pre-registrations, it's something of an understatement to say that Tower of Fantasy has a lot of hype around it. Now, after years of development and months of testing, this highly anticipated MMORPG is finally available worldwide. So what's all the hype about? Why should you care about another free-to-play gacha RPG?

You're not wrong to be wary, as we've seen similar launches this year — cough Diablo Immortal cough — that were rife with predatory microtransactions and a miserably intentional grind. Thankfully, Tower of Fantasy doesn't buy into the full-tilt scumbaggery that some of its contemporaries embrace, but it's not without its flaws. 

Let's get right down to it and discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of Tower of Fantasy for Android. 

Tower of Fantasy: What's good

Not much has changed with Tower of Fantasy's narrative since our preview earlier this year, other than the rest of the story getting opened up, of course. As an open-world sci-fi RPG, Tower of Fantasy has an appropriately over-the-top story and setting that fans of the genre will likely find entertaining enough. 

The short version is that you are The Wanderer, an amnesiac rescued from a close shave with death by mysterious figures with ulterior motives. Waking up in a scrappy outpost called Astra Shelter, you are quickly introduced to siblings Shirli and Zeke, around whom much of the narrative revolves. 

It's a decently bonkers setup for a story that goes from 0 to 100 real quick.

Here on the planet Aida, human civilization once rose to titanic heights by harnessing Omnium, a rare interstellar resource discovered in a comet. But as is so often the case, humanity's hubris led to a disastrous downfall when one of the titular towers started leaking massive amounts of radiation into the world.

Much of the population was wiped out, great cities collapsed, and those who remain must now wear "suppressors" to keep their DNA from becoming corrupted by omnium, turning them into mutated monsters known as Aberrants.

To make matters even worse for our Wanderer, they find themselves caught up between the warring factions of Hykros, a technologically advanced organization that wants to embrace and master omnium, and the Heirs of Aida, rebels who want to purge omnium from the world entirely.

It's a decently bonkers setup for a story that goes from 0 to 100 real quick.

Fireworks explode over the port city of Banges.

(Image credit: Android Central)

Functionally speaking, the world of Aida is vast and full of opportunities to explore. With fast travel, vehicles, and a trusty jetpack to help you cover ground, players spend most of their time discovering new towns, battling aberrants, seeking out treasures, exploring ruins, and taking on challenging bosses.

It can be tempting to just focus on the main quest line, but I think the real fun of Tower of Fantasy comes from taking your time exploring each location. Every area is packed to the gills with encampments of smaller enemies to eradicate, and some areas, like ruins, provide an intermission to do some light puzzling. 

If you're ever unsure of what to do next, you can refer to your Wanderer's journal, which lays out in exact detail what quests and sidequests you can be doing, along with which rewards you'll get for completing them. 

It's expressly clear when you go to fight a major world boss, for example, what possible rewards you might get from that encounter. This makes it easier to track down certain items you need, like character-specific matrices, rather than blindly striking out into every dungeon hoping you'll come away with something you actually want.

I had a much better experience using the Razer Kishi rather than the virtual controls.

I must admit, I had a much better experience this time around compared to the preview, thanks to using the Razer Kishi rather than the virtual controls. During the closed beta, I attempted to pair my PS4 controller with no success, so it was a nice surprise to find that the Razer Kishi works well enough with Tower of Fantasy.

Not every input is optimized (the game's many menus still require the use of touch controls), but movement, camera control, attack, dodge, jump, relics, and interactions with things and people in the world were all perfectly functional.

The Wanderer runs through Aida.

(Image credit: Android Central)

This made aerial combat a breeze and made navigating tight spaces, like narrow walkways, actually doable. The virtual controls are decent, but there's no denying that a good controller speeds up the pace immensely and lowers technical frustrations.

Another pro, and I'm not sure how I missed this last time, is that the soundtrack is actually really good. Some of the tracks are certified bangers in my book, like the track that plays in Hykros HQ, or the chill ambient track that plays in one of the snowy areas of the map.

Additionally, the English language localization has come a long way from the closed beta. The vast majority of dialogue is now properly voice acted, text box weirdness has mostly been fixed, and the show stopper cutscenes, which were previously only in Japanese with Japanese subtitles, now have English dubbing and English language subtitles. If English or Japanese isn't your jam, the devs have added German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, and Indonesian, too.

The central mechanics surrounding weapons and simulacra remain one of the most fun and engaging parts of the game.

There have also been some notable rebalancing efforts with difficulty levels on things like joint operations. Yes, they even added chest customization to the character customizer. Waifu hunters, rejoice.

Finally, the central mechanics surrounding weapons and simulacra remain one of the most fun and engaging parts of the game. Your Wanderer can hold up to three weapons at a time, each of which comes with its own unique properties. Some are more aligned to tanky defense strats, others are pure DPS, and some focus on healing/support.

It's really fun to play around with different builds and find a groove that matches your personal style. I favor a double DPS + support setup, but you could just as easily base your build on pure personal aesthetics and have a grand old time. There's certainly an optimal meta for the tryhards among us, but with Tower of Fantasy being an MMO, proud scrublords can team up with whales to balance out what they may be lacking.

If you desperately want a specific character, you'll probably have to put some real-world money into the game, but even if you never spend a dime, you can still collect a decent amount of high-level characters and weapons solely by playing the game.

Tower of Fantasy: What's not good

Wanderers face off against a giant beast.

(Image credit: Level Infinite)

In Tower of Fantasy's case, let's break down what's less than good into two parts: fixable issues and those that are not. Which issues can be attributed to development growing pains, and which ones are endemic problems that are hard-baked into the game's design?

Starting with fixable issues, most boil down to localization problems and bugs. I mentioned earlier that the English localization has seen some big improvements since the closed beta, which is true, but it's still far from perfect. While playing the latest build, I still noticed a number of oddities, most of which center on cutscenes and conversations. 

Text no longer runs straight down and outside the bounds of text boxes, but there are still places where text suddenly breaks to another line where it shouldn't. There are also still quite a few instances where characters' mouths don't move while they're talking, missing segments of voice acting in conversations that are otherwise fully voiced, and conversations occasionally lasting well past when they're meant to end. 

When it comes to the fixable issues, most of these boil down to localization problems and bugs.

In one case, I found myself stuck at the end of a conversation and unable to leave. I had to close out the game entirely and log back in to resolve this. I lost a little bit of progress and had to redo this particular dialogue, but I got wise and hit the skip button before it could naturally end and potentially lock me back in again. So far, this is the only notable bug that forced me to restart the game.

I also mentioned last time that I experienced a few frame drops and stuttering, which is also still a persistent problem. However, I'm not going to ding Tower of Fantasy too hard for this one, as the so-so performance could easily come down to sheer processing power. After all, my OnePlus 9 isn't exactly a mobile powerhouse.

These minor issues aren't deal breakers for me, but I would love to see the development team continue to iron them out post-launch. The developers have publicly stated their commitment to transparency and have been very communicative in the past few months about what's changing and being worked on. There may be a few rough edges in these early days, but these are the kinds of things that seem like they'll smooth out with a little more elbow grease.

A group of players line up in front of the ferris wheel.

(Image credit: Level Infinite)

By contrast, many of Tower of Fantasy's bigger problems are subjective, and, therefore, cannot be "fixed." They largely stem from the issues that come with the territory of a free-to-play gacha game. 

I feel that Tower of Fantasy is comparatively forgiving when it comes to drop rates for higher rank simulacra (characters) and weapons, but that doesn't solve the problem of the sheer volume of virtual storefronts, currencies, and items you ultimately need to fully upgrade any given simulacra or weapon. 

A great example of this is simulacra affection. Let's say you roll up an SSR simulacra like Tsubasa. What a cool character, right? And the sweet frost bow you get from that roll is so much better than your other stuff. However, you now need to max out your affection with Tsubasa to fully unlock her potential. To do that, you need to acquire and give her gifts based on the kinds of things she likes, which seems a little insane to me.  

Tower of Fantasy's bigger problem lies in its broader, repetitive design.

Maybe some folks will find this entertaining, but it's a lot to deal with and there are still other facets of the game that I'm straight up choosing to ignore. I prefer to spend my game time having fun rather than sifting through multiple menus to figure out the one or two specific things I need for that next coveted upgrade.

Beyond the overwhelming amount of sheer stuff to wrap your brain around, Tower of Fantasy's biggest problem lies in its broader, repetitive design. Quests start to feel recycled quickly, often boiling down to a game of back and forth between objective markers to be completed.

This issue isn't unique to Tower of Fantasy, but lesser quests often feel like busy work, with uninspiring motivations — go there, talk to this person to get a thing, come back and deliver the thing — and uninteresting, unimpactful dialogue to slog through. Thank god for the skip button; I suspect many players are going to rely on it heavily.

Tower of Fantasy: Should you play it?

Meryl brandishes her ice sword.

(Image credit: Level Infinite)

At the end of the day, I've been having a lot of fun playing Tower of Fantasy. The world of Aida is pretty, vast, and fun to explore and the combat is an engaging process of trial and error with what types of weapons you want to combine for your preferred style. 

The wild sci-fi story is also a big personal draw for me and seeing how characters develop while the deeper mystery is being uncovered makes at least the main story worth your while. Is there much replayability after that? That will depend on you as a player and how much entertainment you derive from grinding up your favorite characters. 

Another plus is that even if you're not into social gaming, you don't really need to engage with the MMO aspects to still have a good experience. Will it help with some of the tougher bosses? Definitely. But there's nothing stopping you from going out there and just doing your own thing, especially considering that you can balance yourself out with a smart mix of DPS, defense, and support weapons to give yourself greater survivability. 

There's plenty of room for improvement, but I can see Tower of Fantasy becoming a mainstay of the gacha scene with the right tweaks here and there. It's 100% free-to-play, so give it a try for yourself and see how you like it!

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Tower of Fantasy

A new MMORPG with plenty of gacha tactics, Tower of Fantasy makes a solid effort to distinguish itself from its predecessors. It doesn't always succeed, but this free-to-play title has plenty going for it. 

Download from: Google Play Store (opens in new tab)

Rachel Mogan
Mobile Games Writer

A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.