The handful of you that drop by this blog regularly know that I don't pull any punches concerning any game unfortunate enough to fall into my clutches. If it's bad, I'll have no reservation in telling you just how bad it is and am quite blunt in doing so. My point of view is if we're all expected to spend money on a subscription or cash shop, the title in question had better be just as solid and complete as any you would buy for a console or manestream franchise. I don't have advertisers to coddle. I'm not going to sugar coat a review for the fanboys. I'm especially not going to waste your time and mine on fail, so hopefully my generally caustic and jaded attitude towards MMOs counts for soemthing in that.
Oh, and before we go any further, lets get this out of the way for some of the more overzealous mods out there. Per Enmass/Tera: "Are beta tests under NDA? No, beta tests are not under NDA. Share your excitement of TERA with your friends!"
I'll be honest; watching TERA load up for the first time left me stunned like few MMOs before. The hardware requirements are steeper than its predecessors, but damned if Enmass/Bluehole doesn't serve up a visual feast. We're talking exquisitly detailed characters posing against animated backdrops that all but demand your attention. In fact, I had to tour each and every race and class before I could settle on one, and even that was hard, because the attention to detail was so thorough. They all screamed "PICK ME!".
It's just that good
, but it also forces me to ask a very uncomfortable question: What the fuck happened, Bioware? This is a company with a budget of three hundred MILLION
sank into Old Republic and the best they came up with was something that looked trailing edge five years ago. And don't even tell me it helps with the hardware requirements, because both games insist on a dual core minimum
. When looking at TERA and then back to Old Republic, its hard to express just how utterly disappointed I am in the starwars MMO franchise, because TERA simply annihilates it in every
visual catagory; from graphics to idle character animations. Of course the tradeoff was hours and hours of voiceovers, but was it worth it? Was it worth 300 million and such a visually inferior game?
I have my doubts.
Back to TERA, there are elves and humans. While that fact may elicit a wailing and gnashing of teeth, they're beautifully rendered, as are the other races of TERA; from demons to golem like humanoids. There's even a race of lolies that give you the distinct impression Dateline NBC
will bust down your door with "To Catch a Predator
" filming live should you roll one up. The classes themselves run the usual gamut of tank, heal, dps and buff, which means if you've played any MMO in the last five years, you'll know how this goes even if the weapon sets aren't entirely standard. Notably, there is no stealth class or daggers to be found in TERA. Boo or cheer this decision at your leisure.
TERA once again takes Old Republic (and nearly every other MMO with it) out for a curb stomping in character generation. Customization options are beautifully rendered and plentiful with something for everybody... Well, that is unless your something is feminine modesty. There's really no such thing in this MMO, so be expecting copious amounts of NC-17 rated female breasts and skin. Don't worry though. Male toons aren't left by the wayside featuring plenty of pretty boy muscle realestate. At very least, TERA is an equal oppotunity employer.
The visual feast thankfully continues in-game, the most notable aspect of that feast being the backdrops and horizons. TERA went above and beyond, animating the skyline with birds, cascading waterfalls and shimmering rainbows. Even the sun isn't just 'the sun', but a glyphed jewel hanging in the sky. There is no shortage of attention to detail in this regard, so spend a few minutes and look around. It's a sight to behold. If I had to draw any immediete paralell it would be to NCSoft. This is the game Aion wished it was and without the need for a wings gimmick.
Visual pretties are fine and all, but if the gameplay fails, we're done. I'll tell you straight out that combat mechanics are going to be the most contensous aspect of TERA, since the franchise has billed itself as an Action Oriented MMORPG. What does that mean for you? Mouselook. Lots and lots of perma-enabled mouselook. Flashbacks of DC Universe came to mind, but this is fortunately not that. TERA doesn't foresake your keyboard like DC Universe did, nor does it turn combat exclusively into an A+B mash-fest. TERA's combat mechanics strive to achieve a middle ground, allowing techs to be mapped into the keyboard while retaining mouse-look as the primary means of movement.
I struggled with this at first and still do, though that's primarily because most MMOs we're used to run contrary to this setup. Still, it does facilitate the mission statement of rapid movement and combat. You'll need it too, because damage and techs can easily be avoided by those with the mind to simply move out of the way of an incoming attack. Its a dimention above and beyond most of the current crop of MMOs that have you set the parking brake next to a mob to spam techniques. Now that I think about it, playing melee reminds me of my Soul Caliber tourny days and that's not such a bad thing, though I always cringe a bit bringing that setup to caster classes. It inevitably favors anything that can deliver instant DPS as opposed to slow moving, slow casting spells. Buff and healing were of particular concern and those seem primarily handled by cone or area of effect mechanics, as well as some interesting beam on target (ala healgun) mechanics.
Only more time than a weekend's worth of play will determine how that bares out, but it's certainly workable from what I've seen and hardly the mouse destroying button masher DC Online turned out to be. I'll try and hit crafting, PvP and instancing in part two once I achieve higher levels, but so far this particular MMO looks promising; certainly displaying more demostrated promise than games with ten times the hype and 100x the budget.
If you're looking for the next generation MMO that so many have promised and utterly failed to deliver on, this very well might be your stop. It's one I'm seriously considering myself.