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TERA: Rising General Article: Review in Progress Part Four

By William Murphy on May 18, 2012

This will likely be the last installment of our TERA Review in Progress before our final score is handed out and we let you all argue over whether I’m right or wrong in the comments (hint: it’s subjective).  It’s been a grand few weeks of TERA, really. As you’ve seen from the first review in progress, all the way up until now, I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised by what Arborea has to offer, despite what roadblocks there were at first glance with the game’s beta.  I’m now level 30, I’ve done my fair share of questing, dungeons, and sought after the BAMs of the world like a pro with my guild at my back. This week, anxious guilds are vying for position in the game’s political Vanarch system, and next week we all start voting for the first group of territory rulers. In short, I’m still enthralled with TERA.  But there are some cracks in the veneer. 

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Ever-Questing

The one thing (and I truly mean this), the one thing that truly is a snore in TERA is its questing. Maybe I’m spoiled by recent offerings with cinematic views on story-telling, or maybe I’m spoiled by the investigative missions of The Secret World, but go kill this questing of TERA is old hat.  I’m sure the company didn’t see it coming when they began their design years ago, so I can’t really fault them.  A few years ago, we were pretty much content with written quests.  And it’s not like TERA can’t add more flavor to their quests through the use of different mechanics (I do like the missions where you’re teleported to a certain area and asked to defend something for a period of time).  But the truth is? Questing is bland in TERA.  If the combat weren’t so good, I’d not be as happy with it as I am now.

A Mini-Wall?

I’ll find out over the next week or so, but I’m hearing reports that post level 30, things change in TERA.  The monsters take inordinately longer to kill, leveling slows, and the game gets “harder”. But I’m also seeing plenty of people happily around level 50 and above too.  So I guess I’ll find out one way or another.  In any case, I’m not a fan of games that suddenly take the “steep curve” approach to leveling and combat.  I’ve loved the pace of TERA so far, so I’m hoping someone can come in the comments and reassure me.

Gear and Item Variation

I was thinking about it this week, and while I’ve leveled somewhat quickly for a guy on a serious time budget, I sure don’t seem to get a lot of different or unique items for my character.  In fact, I’m generally doing quests at or below my level, and therefore the rewards are never an upgrade.  I’d love to see more item variation and upgrades come at a steadier pace.  Right now, pretty much every Lancer at my level looks the same, with the exception of their race. 

Still Enthralled by the Action

Despite these flaws, though… I’m playing it as often as I can. I love the combat. I love party play, and I love dungeons. I do think the game needs some form of “official” PVP off of the PVP servers, and I wonder if the Political system will wind up being a game only the elite can partake in (equivalent to 40-man raids in WoW Vanilla).  And while I won’t likely see the Nexus events before I must publish our review, with well over 50 hours played, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp at what TERA has to offer us all.

Is it a perfect game? Not by any means. As another example the Guild Interface is lacking pretty badly in a game that puts so much focus on its guild system. But then its Dungeon Finder and LFG tools are quite awesome, and its crafting is rewarding (but expensive as hell).  Its quests are bland, but its dungeons and open world boss content are sublime.  TERA is a very polished and gorgeous game with a few rough edges, and I’m really honestly looking forward to writing my review next week to put the game “to the numbers test”.  I don’t actually have any idea where the average of our seven categories will land.  And while I’m personally enjoying it far more than SWTOR, that doesn’t mean it’s going to suddenly get an aggregate score of 9 out of 10. 

I know TERA’s flaws, and I appreciate its many strengths. And while the official review comes next week, I’d still heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a traditional theme-park MMORPG with fantastic combat and a few tricks up its sleeve.  Come back late next week for our full review, and see if you agree.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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