This weekend we were lucky enough to get into TERA for a preview of the game, during which I learned a lot about the game and the world that it exists in. For MMO fans, the game has a lot to offer and players will enjoy a high level of action combat. However, there were some interesting low points as well that I will try to explore. Let’s go through what we saw and work our way through this upcoming title.
For starters, the world of TERA is amazing. The colors and design of the zones truly are breathtaking and the environment will certainly appeal to aesthetic players. The game starts smoothly with character selection and creation. There are plenty of options for players, but some of the character models seemed a bit too over the top for Western audiences.
I created an Amani Archer and Warrior, and ran into my first complaint: the starting armor, it was some kind of jump suit with shorts. This style of clothing did not seem to work for a dual wielding Dragon Warrior. I expected something tougher and more rugged looking. As I browsed through the other races and classes, I saw similar styles which might appeal to some, but they definitely had a strong anime feel to them. This may cause an issue for some players who expect a much harder edge to their character. If anime is what you’re looking for though, thumbs up.
Once I entered the world, the game played extremely smoothly. Some players in the test were complaining about lag, but I did not have any issues. I spent some time exploring the opening zone and have to say again it looked amazing. Once I picked up my quests I was ready to go out and fight some monsters. The town set up was easy to figure out and NPCs had clear indicators on quests and rewards. Also the transparent map on the UI was great and helped you accomplish your goals easily. The set up has plenty or options to check your UI and create a play set up that works for you.
Now let’s talk controls and combat.
First of all the controls can take a little getting used to. The camera and movement are separate so you are in motion all the time between the mouse and movement keys. After some time to acclimatize, I found myself okay with it. The reason the interface does this is because your target is in the middle of the screen. It does not get in your way at all in terms of gameplay. Using the camera, you place your target onto a monster and attack. The Archer had some great shots and is a strong ranged class. The dodge mechanics for the game work very well and allow you a chance to escape combat to run a bit, then turn and finish off your foe with some arrows. The control and combat definitely keep you working in a fight, it does take some getting used too, but in the end I enjoyed the action style.
There is one draw back on the combat though.I found that while playing the Warrior, the combat became a bit repetitious. Now, this was all at low level, so you don’t have a long list of skills to start. However, as I was killing monsters to finish up my quests, it seemed to move quickly, yet I was doing the same moves over and over. The system was much improved however vs. typical MMO combat which just keeps you on a target the whole time. At least with TERA you can dodge, move and distract your foes. It made for a better fight overall, but I did feel limited in my options. Again, I must stress that it was low level. Aside from that the action combat graphics really are amazing.
This combat style will be very prevalent in upcoming MMOs as games are moving toward a much more action type of combat. My question here is how will players do when they have to use this type of action combat to kill five or six monsters for a quest? It can feel a bit limiting when you only have four or five moves on a hot bar and not fifteen or twenty.
During the preview of TERA I did have two doubts for the game and I wanted to talk about them a little bit here so that everyone gets the whole story:
The first is that the game has a much more Eastern feel than I thought it was going to while playing the demos at game shows. Games like Aion or Lineage II also have this look and feel which may not appeal to Western players. Some of the designs for the characters really need to be stronger and if changes can be made it would help make the shift for other audiences.
Second, the combat was very smooth (again I hit no lag) but may be tough to hold a player’s attention over the long term of an MMO. I don’t think the old way of doing MMO combat is perfect by any means, but adding in a much more action oriented element to a fight can have you doing the same thing over and over again on a smaller scale. I just do not know how it might work for players.
In the end though, TERA does play smoothly and have an amazing world to explore. Overall it was a good experience. I just hope the style can meet the appeal for Western players or that the developers have a large amount of non-language localization left to do before the game hits its North American launch.
Be sure to read Suzie Ford's impressions of the TERA Game Play Event.