Jumping straight into things, as I’ve put off this post for far too long now. TERA is not a game that I’ll be playing in the future. I had a good taste of the “beta” and there’s a pile of things that I’d rather not do for a couple thousand hours. The combat is not enough to justify the game for me, and really it’s the only seriously redeeming feature. There’s other things that take away from the game. TERA makes all the classic mistakes of a modern MMO, improves on very little, and lacks depth. I found it difficult to form an attachment to my character, or the world he lived in. The story was convoluted from the start with poor execution, save for small bits. Once past the intro, you’re hero #5123124, go out and adventure so you can be ready for defending your homeland that we let fall.
New characters go through a phase where you’re level 20 and have a ton of abilities assigned to your bar (unmodifiable by any means for some reason), along with combos already set up. My Mystic had a problem with this because telling your minion to attack things is done via ability, otherwise they sit around until something has already started taking chunks out of you. Once I got into the game proper I was able to force my minion to initiate fights, but it was missing from the intro. It’s odd, giving you a ton of power right from the get-go, then stripping you all the way back down to level 1. I don’t understand how that works, if I recall correctly, you start out on a beach talking to a dozen quest givers preparing the army to start fighting, then you have to go save some commander that went on ahead of everyone else. One would imagine this gets revealed to you as to why, but then you’re time warped back to when you first encounter newbie island, or whatever it’s called. That’s the function of it.
Questing is nothing special, save for the occasional cutscene. Yeah, cutscene. There’s about a dozen from level 1-20, and they’re not terrible. I watched the first 6 or so, but once you get into a grinding mood it’s just more stuff in the way. That’s what the game does for you, it throws a whole bunch of quests at you, you kill many things, click on some things, drag back the loot and collect xp. Welcome to MMO’s 101. Yep, it’s a quest hub system. Sometimes you’re lucky and the hoard of mobs you hacked your way through aren’t a quest line you have to complete at the hub. Sometimes. Every 4 or 5 hubs you get an interesting encounter prefaced by one of these cutscenes. Not that it’s challenging, just something to get your attention. Usually an elite mob with a couple of adds that follow him around. Still solo-able.
Apparently, the Guild leveling systems work in a way that I wish ALL of the questing systems work. You get a kill X mobs quest, once you fill it up the counter keeps increasing. Killed double the mobs? Turn it in twice! Now take that concept and track the mobs I kill in an area, that way when I walk through 20 mobs, and you ask me to go kill 20 of them, I can just point at the entrails all over my body and collect my damn loot. Bears, bears, bears! /PaulBarnett Alternatively, all the random quest items lying on the ground should be pick-up-able so I can go up to the dude who asks me for 10 foozles, and dump my load on his face.
Combat. It’s different. I wouldn’t call it better, or an improvement over what I’m used to, but it’s different. It’s “action” oriented, which means instead of locking onto a target, your abilities just fire off in whatever direction you’re facing. Ditto for the mobs. Unless you’re fighting ranged mobs, or unless you’re also ranged. You see, when you shoot one of your ridiculously short range ranged abilities, you have to have your crosshairs right on the target. Also, you’re stand still during the animation which takes away some of the “action”. Melee have abilities that throw them around the screen which makes it a little more action-y, at least they can move out of the way while attacking. As a Mystic I didn’t have a whole lot of problems. I basically ran around mobs in a big circle and popped my two AOE’s as they came off cooldown until everything died. Oh, and the pets are basically useless, so there’s that.
The Slayer was more fun to play, but you also missed a lot more often. Attack animations fired off in whatever direction you were facing, often times dragging you along with it regardless of where your actual enemy might be. There’s no turning mid-swing to reposition, and if you’re swinging right into certain death, you can’t cancel and roll out of the way. This is why I’ve been quoting the “action” aspect of combat. Instead of there being actual action where you manipulate your character throughout the combat, really what you have is targetless combat animations that force you into planning the entire animation out as part of your movement strategy. That’s not MORE freedom in combat, it’s less. Decouple the combat animations from movement and you’d have a convincing “action” MMO, but instead you’re bound to predefined movements that you just “have to get used to”. So your basic combo moves you forward a bit during the animation and you can manipulate this into kiting enemies.
So that’s the action part of the MMO, sorry if I burst a bubble, but it’s really not as much action as I was expecting. Personally I think it’s a step back from tab targeting and ability spam. There’s still plenty of movement if the mobs are designed well, standard MMO’s could accomplish the same thing if they used the same gimmicky easy-to-dodge abilities instead of more persistant attacks. Turn all of your abilities into ones that work in a specific direction instead of being able to fire off on the fly. I just don’t understand why people see this as being more liberating.
Generally I try not to play MMO’s on my own. There’s two or three other guys that rock these things out with me on a regular basis and I have to say, with a party, this game is a joke. I was pulling multiple groups of mobs and watching them all get crushed nearly as fast as I could gather them up, often without a scratch landing on one of us. It was a novelty to just rol through content nearly uninhibited in a game, but it loses it’s allure quickly. The linear paths of the game are too easy to walk, let alone run down. There are a few areas that open up, but the game always feels like you’re fight in enclosed spaces. Even when you throw in extra instances to increase the mob population and lower the amount of other people getting them, it’s still full throttle slaughterfest with a buddy or two.
It’s just not something we’re looking for. Maybe the instances have some challenged in them, but to be honest, I couldn’t get those guys to stick around the 20 levels to see the inside of one, let alone in a single weekend. There’s too much out there waiting that beat out a post-Korean grinder. It’s not a beta people, they’ve had this thing released for a while now in Korea. All the normal bugs have already been worked out, that’s why it seems so polished. I can hardly credit it with a smooth beta experience when the full game has been in full production for over a year. If any bugs existed, it was in the translations they had to make. Not core elements of play.
Ending on a high note, I did have a few good things to say about it. The game was really quite good looking. Character models were top notch compared to other MMO’s out there right now. With the graphics kicked up to full detail the effects look great. The combo system looks great in theory, but I didn’t have much luck customizing it to my liking. The classes were widely varied and the ones I saw in action looked like good fun. This game will do fine, there’s enough in the way of aesthetics and a different combat system to keep players for a while. I’m not sure if the subscription will stick around for more than a year, but I’ve been wrong on a few occasions.
It’s just an opinion after all, my experiences are most likely not going to mirror anyone else.