The lights are on
The latest Korean import is clearly a cut above the wave of free-to-play shovelware that crossed the Pacific a few years ago, but can it stack up against triple-A western competition? At the very least, the combat certainly can.
Tera’s PvE experience through the first dozen levels or so is simple: Boring, by-the-numbers MMO quest design and walls of text telling a bland high fantasy tale getting in the way of the best combat the genre has ever seen. There aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to adequately express how tired I am of these kinds of bog-standard MMO kill/collection/delivery quests, but none of that matters in the slightest once my warrior pulls out his twin swords and starts going to town.
Autoattacks don’t exist in Tera. The closest analog is your basic left-click attack, which in most cases recharges your MP every time it connects. Standing there spamming left-click and firing off abilities as they come off cooldown will get you dead in a hurry, though. Attacks have ranges, and collision between entities in the world works just as you’d expect in a third-person action game. Some of the first monsters you fight love using a charged-up attack that teaches you in no uncertain terms that standing still is death.
(click any of the screenshots on this page to view the full-size image)
By level five, I was dancing around enemies using evasive rolls, basic strikes, and a mix of special attacks to murder my way across the Island of Dawn. Even garden-variety monsters punish a passive approach to combat with serious damage; only by timing my attacks well and avoiding the nastier assaults pointed in my direction was I able to keep a respectable kill rate and minimize downtime. Different encounters require different tactics, so I was often forced to think on my feet when engaging a new monster or group for the first time.
The whole trip through the newbie island is glorious. I have no problem crowning Tera’s combat system as the best I’ve ever come across in an MMO. The visual and audio impact sells the explosive action, and player skill is demanded and rewarded. Boss fights -- thankfully present within the solo progression -- are great fun, with spectacular attacks and epic clashes between seemingly overpowered opponents even at low levels. I have some concern about having several special strikes that are minor variations on “use sword on monster,” but so far each has had enough of a niche in combat.
The basics of MMO social interaction and other UI conveniences are handled well. A handy looking-for-group tool makes finding parties for dungeons or BAMs (Big Ass Monsters. No joke, this is the term the game uses. Think outdoor raid bosses) relatively painless. Guilds are well supported with shared bank storage, guild quests, guild perks, and more. An unfortunate chat bug nukes large swathes of conversations when switching between chat tabs, which is doubly frustrating when trying to escape the unbearably horrific general chat on the newbie island. Outside of that (hopefully soon-to-be-fixed) bug, though, I’m extremely happy with how Tera handles MMO conventions and the player expectations surrounding them.
Crafting, so far, is the usual “stare at interface window while progress bar fills up” money sink common to many MMOs. Gathering (the entirety of which is open to all players, no choosing between mutually exclusive professions necessary) on the other hand is a nice diversion while questing, and gives useful short-term buffs as well as money on the well-implemented auction house or grist for grinding out your own crafting skills.
Tera is well-executed on a technical level as far as I can tell. I’ve had no problems whatsoever with lag or my framerate. The servers have been stable with the exception of yesterday’s aborted upgrade, which gets somewhat of a pass since the game technically hadn’t launched yet.
In case you haven’t seen a screenshot of the game yet (there are several on this very page! What’s wrong with you?), rest assured that Tera is gorgeous in world design, animation, and every other way. The costume design for female characters is salacious even by fantasy standards, though, which strikes me as needless adolescent locker room fetishization of the female form, even if it’s nothing most gamers haven’t seen before. However, the awfully young-looking Elin race and their tiny dresses cross well into the realm of bad taste. I’m not one to go on crusades about gender politics, but the visual design of the Elin design is over the line for me.
The story may be banal and the writing average at best, but clicking through quest text without reading it except to click the hotlinked quest objectives so they show up on the map is a small price to pay to get back into Tera’s flat-out amazing combat. I’m excited to see how the PvP shakes out -- the potential is immense, especially with the player politics system that allows guild leaders to become governors of territories or even dictators over entire continents. For now, though, I’m having as good of a time leveling up and genociding my way through a solo progression as I’ve ever had.
Stay tuned for more on Tera as I get further in the game. Just don't expect a formal review -- we decided long ago that MMOs are practically impossible to assign scores to, as the nature of the genre makes them moving targets.
Haven't Heard Of It, Looks Cool!
A MMO veteran friend of mine played this....he enjoys the combat but as the article says hates the wall of text and the ULTRA BORING quest system..and for that reason he cannot see paying a subscription for this game. And everything that I read about this game tells me that also.
nice to see mmo's getting away from the wow model of ps2 era graphics and combat.
The combat sounds awesome. Now, I will give a few shillings and a rusty dagger if you will go and slay the beast that is using the coffee machine, fill a cup with coffee, and bring it back to me.
Been playing this since the beta and, besides the random maintenance they put up in game, and alot of errors that I get when trying to log in, they will all be fixed. This game has exceeded my expectations.. The questing isn't AS boring as it could be. I've read a few and came across several referances to movies and such. "Come out to Celestial Hills, we'll get together, have a few laughs."
I did lol. My only (personal) complaints would be the Elin (little girl) race. It's just creepy and unneeded IMO. Also the armor is a little too skimpy for my liking, but it is a Korean game...
I am not playing the game only took part in the beta back 2 or 3 weeks ago. What I saw was a game that had some great potential but left me concerned with how thing will play out at higher levels and end game. The first 2 hours of combat felt very good but by level 11 I was mostly just going through the rotations. It did require being more involved than a standard CD based MMO, but at no point did I feel like the game was difficult. For me personally I like a fair amount of difficulty, not crazy but be tough enough that I must try. This may happen at higher levels, I just didn't see it.
I 100% agree with the wall of text comment. I don't think I read any of the conversations at all. It was mostly click next as fast as I can so I can move on. I also had a tough time relating or finding much enjoyment in the art style. Graphically it looks very good for an MMO I am more talking that the entire art direction felt very Asian. Not a bad thing, just not my cup of tea or something that draws me in.
Sorry, storyline is 50% of my game, even in MMOs, so I think I'll pass on this one (even when the other 50% is combat mechanics).
I think far too many people have pre-judged this game to be not worth playing. I kept my eye on this game for 2 years, however was very cautious due to the mixed feedback it was receiving.
After playing the beta I realised for myself that this game is awesome. Yes the quests with how they have been presented are bland and for the most part are unengaging, but for me it was easily looked over as the actioned based game mechanics were a lot of fun and very refreshing in a MMO. Being able to actually dodge or block an attack yourself and build up combo chains, in real time really makes a difference. I personally see this as the future for MMOs. The other thing to remember is that once you get passed level 20 the game opens up considerably as you don’t have to focus on quests so much, but you can focus on taking down BAMs (Big A$$ed Monsters) which is extremely fun and offers high XP to help with levelling. This can be done by soling or in groups.
For those of you that have only seen video clips of TERA, all I can say is they really give the game no justice. Videos basically make the game look like a WOW/RIFT/INSERT MMO NAME HERE clone, but once you have actually played the game and know how its mechanics work there really is a huge difference.
For me I will be happy to pay a monthly sub providing the devs keep adding content as well as add interesting ways to keep the actioned based combat engaging i.e. unique and fun PVP game mechanics.
TLDR; If you are into MMOs and want something different from target/tab based combat and want something action and skill based, then make sure you give this game a second look and play the game yourself before you make your decision.
I was interested in this game, if only for the combat, but I decided to go with Guild Wars 2 though. :P
Tera sounds pretty good, especially the combat. I might check and see how it is one of these days.
Played TERA during a couple beta weekends and it's not something I would pay a monthly sub for. Combat was interesting enough, but I can get essentially the same thing in GW2. The gameworld and visuals were great, but there was a corny, kiddie anime tone to things that really turned me off. The unnecessary use of sex appeal in the game is also a turnoff.
And the Elim...ohhh the Elim. Just awful character design. Tt is just borderline pedo-love and WTF is up with the bunny ears? Good grief.
I just can't get into the game. The quest/leveling system is the worst, I can't think of a quest/leveling setup that was evre more boring than this one. And despite the great visuals there is little to no immersion for me; what little immersion I might find goes down the toilet with all the metrosexual looking elves, humans and demon horned chicks running around in outfits that are somewhere between lingerie and body paint, or the little bunny haired girls running around in nighties and "do me" dresses.
Looks great! I won't have a chance to actually play the game yet, as I'm waiting for my PC, and paying it will be a problem.
I'm not the one to cry out against pay-to-play MMOs, since I'm one of the few (outspoken) people who realize how much better it is or can be (Guild Wars handles it beautifully, though), but I can't see myself paying for this, SWTOR, and the other five dozen games I'm looking at.
Suffice to say, if they give a trial up to level 5 or whatever, I'll play it in a heartbeat.
Thanks for the read, Adam.