Last month in MMO Reroll I took a trip back to the Dark Ages of gaming - the early 2000s - and gave the aptly named Dark Ages of Camelot a try. I found I didn’t like what it had to offer - a clunky interface, boring combat, and empty low-level PVP battlegrounds. For my time and effort I was called lazy and told I was a bad player because I didn’t even try out the level 50 realm versus realm combat, which I was informed is the fun part of the game. I was even chided for choosing to roll up a Cleric since it’s the “worst class in the game.” My favorite comment, though, was someone suggesting these “reviews” be done by someone over the age of thirty. I’m fifty.
From those comments I realized we have a disconnect here. MMO Reroll is not about spending the time to do a full review of old games. Although the column is published once a month and I pick a single MMO to play, there’s no minimum amount of time I’m expected to spend on any given game, and experiencing all a game has to offer was never the purpose of MMO Reroll. My only goal as I play is to judge whether the end reward - catching up to the established player base and spending day after day playing the same end-game content - is worth the time and effort it would take to get there. It’s more about the journey than the destination. In fact, I haven’t made it to the end game content for any of the games I’ve covered.
Some areas that catch my attention along the way may be character creation or whether the early parts of the game are solo or group friendly. I spend some time perusing the game’s website to see if the developer is still actively targeting new players or merely trying to appease and hold onto as much of their dwindling player base as possible. I also check to see if the official forums and third-party sites are still active, a sure sign of a healthy player base. These topics, along with others, may or may not be included each month as I condense my experience down to something short enough to keep the reader’s attention to the end.
If nothing else, take MMO Reroll as a way to start some much-needed discussion about an older game that has been forgotten by many. You, the reader, probably have more knowledge than I about the game, seeing as how I either quit playing all of these games long ago or never even took the time to try them when they were at their peak. Let everyone know why I am right, or more likely wrong, about whether the game at hand is worth playing in its current state. Just don’t remind me of how old I am.
But enough about November’s slog through DAoC, let’s move on to a new Reroll.
Tera - A Realm In Turmoil
So far, each month there has been some sort of rhyme or reason behind the game I’ve chosen to play. FFXIV had just expanded its free to play content, Blade & Soul released a new class, and someone suggested I try out an older game like DAoC. This month it was all about the turmoil surrounding Tera. For those unaware, Tera’s North American and console publisher, En Mass Entertainment (EME), shuttered their windows in October. The PC version was picked up by Gameforge, Tera’s publisher in the UK. The console version took a different route and Bluehole, the game’s original developer, took over the publishing duties.
With all the news swirling around about the changes and the window for character migration from EME to the Gameforge servers coming to a close on December 18, I figured I might as well preserve my account and check out what Tera has to offer in 2020. Would there be wide-sweeping changes? Are these changes the final death throes of Tera, a last attempt to keep the game afloat and grab a few more dollars in the process? Nah, it doesn’t seem like much has really changed.
Tera - My MMO Side Hustle
My first go around with Tera took place right at launch. I never fully devoted my time to Tera since I was still playing Dungeons And Dragons Online as my main gig, but Tera replaced Rift as my side hustle for a little while. With limited play time, it took a couple of months to get through the grind of leveling up a Priest. I went as far as dabbling in the high level dungeons but, in the end, there wasn’t enough to tear me away from my first true love. The one-two punch of Neverwinter and FFXIV launching in the summer of 2013 was the end of the Tera affair, though I did make a 3am booty call at some point to push my Priest up to level 65 when the level cap increased.
When I first tried Tera I was pleasantly surprised. It had good graphics for the time along with what initially felt like a large open world filled with tons of mobs. The world didn’t really turn out to be as open as I first thought, with leveling being a fairly linear affair with some side quests sprinkled along your main path. There was also the occasional low level dungeon to complete along the way but the big highlight while leveling were the BAMs (Big Ass Monsters).
I've always liked the choice of creatures for Tera, having a more demonic flaving than the regular orcs and trolls of prior MMOs I had played. It didn't make combat any harder but I also liked how many of the regular creatures had groups of minions fighting alongside them. All of the damage numbers flying across the screen really made it feel like you were some amazing badass adventurer that was saving the world from the Argon invasion all by yourself.
Tera - The Here And Now
I’m not up to date on what’s been happening in Tera since I last visited it, but other than a new (for me) level cap and the associated gear grind it still looks and feels like the game I played years ago. There were also some new classes to check out, bringing the total available for play to 13 strewn across 7 races. I could go into a rant about race and gender locked classes but I went into that in length last month, so let’s suffice it to say that anyone who can’t live with this limitation at character creation probably needs to find a new genre of games.
Tera’s classes cover a wide range of play styles, and the character creation process does a good job of helping new players match their preferred style to the classes available. It’s a good thing that primary roles, key skills, and class complexity are covered in-game; finding current information about Tera on the web is hit and miss at this time. Searches for best classes, new user guides, or practically anything at all about Tera are littered with broken links to the En Mass forums and web pages. Much of what you do find is dated and provides contradictory results, thanks in part to the PC and console versions being developed on separate paths.
That doesn’t mean useful information isn’t out there for those willing to search for it. Gameforge’s site is a good starting point for any new adventurer looking for answers. The North American forums are still new and primarily flooded with questions about the migration from EME, but the EU section has information that pertains to the US servers as well. There are other third party sites that have useful information for those willing to dig for them. Like any new adventurer that wants to just get in and start playing, I quickly gave up the search and plunged headfirst into the game.
I had played a Priest on my first go around, so this time I wanted to pick something that could dish out a bunch of damage. I tried out a few damage dealing classes and finally settled on the Valkyrie. The class description shows a high complexity rating for the class but I wasn’t deterred by this since I had experience with the game. Tera allows you to chain skills together, making a string of combo attacks as simple as smashing a single button over and over. Your damage output will suffer so you’ll want to eventually wean yourself off the built in triggers. In the beginning, though, the chain system is a great way to start learning the intricacies of a class.
As I started playing through the lower levels I realized that a new player doesn’t need to concern themselves with class complexity any more. Any semblance of difficulty that was once there has been completely eradicated. Even bosses were nothing more than thin sheets of paper, and my Valkyrie was an industrial strength shredder. Tera never had the most difficult leveling structure but at least bosses required you to pay attention and avoid their more powerful attacks as you chipped away at their multiple health bars. Nowadays, regular mobs are one hit kills, two hits max. And even though bosses still have the same telegraphed attacks, I could easily stand my ground and mash my combo button to victory. I don’t think there was a single time before hitting level 30 that my health bar dipped below 50%.
I get that an older MMO is going to make leveling easier. Both Final Fantasy and Blade & Soul have made changes to expedite the leveling process. They did it by raising the experience given, reducing the amount of time spent running between NPCs, and even cutting out the more boring quests. What they didn’t do was dumb everything down so much that you lost sight of the game’s strengths. The joy I had back in the day with Tera was taking on groups of creatures and minions, and chaining together combo after combo to take out a BAM. It may not have been the hardest punching MMO but at least I felt like I was kicking ass and taking names. Now, well, it just feels empty.
Tera - It’s On Console Too
When Tera released on the PS4 and Xbox One in 2018 I gave it the same consideration I do for all MMO console versions - I chuckled at the ignorance of console players trying to play an MMO with a controller and moved on. Even with the news a few months ago about EME shutting down, plans for cross server play were still ongoing. The option to participate in crossplay between PS4 and Xbox One went live in November, and with my time on the PC side of things feeling a little stale, I figured I might as well do my due diligence and at least check out what Tera Console had to offer.
I generally avoid console ports because they never give the user interface and controls the attention they need. Many games will take the easy path and keep the same UI as the PC version, making you use the thumbstick to move a mouse pointer around the screen. Ugh, it’s the worst! Bluehole didn’t take the easy route, creating a whole new UI for the console version that harkens back to a menu driven system that us old folk from the pre-mouse era might remember. After a few minutes to adjust to the new interface, moving through the menu via the triggers, bumpers, and sticks on the controller is a breeze. Your inventory is automatically sorted into multiple tabs, making locating and using items easy. It was actually a better experience than the bloated inventory of the PC version.
Using the controller in combat was just as intuitive as using it in the UI screens. The chain attack system from the PC really shines here, helping to reduce the number of buttons needed to work through your most common combos. When switching between the PC and console versions, I actually found myself favoring the controller, something that almost never happens.
It also turns out that the console version is bustling with players. I didn’t play as deep into the game on console as I did on PC, but almost every step of the way I saw others running through the area with me. There were multiple times where I saw two or three players from the same guild blazing through the story quests, so some of this activity was obviously long term players leveling up alts, but I did notice a lot of solo players along the way as well.
The larger player presence was the one differentiator between the PC and console versions, at least in the low to mid levels. Just like the PC version, I crushed solo mobs everywhere I went. The larger number of players did mean I was able to find groups for some of the dungeons, though they turned out to be a shell of their former difficulty and barely offered any more challenge than the solo versions.
While Tera Console feels like it has more players than the PC version - I truly don’t know the actual active player numbers for either platform - I do know that it is well behind the PC content wise. The console version is still under development so it should continue to get content updates, just be mindful that the PC and console versions are not equal and it’s up to you to decide which one will suit your needs.
Tera - Final Verdict
At this point in time, I can't give Tera a thumbs up on console or PC. I always enjoyed the action combat that Tera and other games like it offer, but it's been ruined by the easy button treatment Tera has gotten over the years. It's not really action combat if all you have to do is stand in one spot and spam a couple attacks, not worrying about enemy attacks or dodging out of their telegraphs. In its current state, combat may as well be replaced by an auto attack system so I could skip combat altogether.
My other major issue has nothing to do with the game itself, but rather the difficulty in finding current information about the game. Searching for most anything about Tera on the internet brings up tons of broken links due to the En Mass shutdown. When you do find a working link there's a good chance the information will either be outdated or pertain to a different platform. I would expect this to improve as we move further away from the En Mass shutdown, but for now it's enough of a reason for me to look elsewhere for an MMO to play.
Playing Tera this month was like running into an old friend you hadn’t talked to in years. The encounter is friendly, you have a couple of laughs as you talk about the past, and then you say goodbye and go about the rest of your day.
I’m four months into this journey now. Tera was a good rebound from my rough time with Dark Age of Camelot but it still didn’t come close to my stellar start with FFXIV. If this is your first month checking out MMO Reroll, thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check out my previous adventures by clicking on the links in the rankings below. If you’ve been around the whole time, thanks for sticking with me through the good and the bad. No matter your tenure with MMO Reroll, be sure to speak up in the comments. Let me and everyone else know what I got right and what I got wrong, and be sure to get us all up to date on what the game of the month has to offer at level cap.
MMO Reroll Rankings
- Final Fantasy XIV - Square Enix still holds the crown out of this groups of MMOs. FFXIV is still the only game that gave me a good time as I leveled through the early areas and a strong community to keep me playing.
- Blade & Soul - The action combat of Blade & Soul gets even higher marks after the time spent in DAoC. I expected B&S to stay at the bottom of this list for a while but it only took a month to find a game that fared worse.
- Tera - The easy mode leveling has stripped Tera of its big ass monster identity. The fantastic action combat has been lost in the shuffle; hopefully it’s still around if you make it to the end game content. I never thought I would say this, but if i had to choose between the two, I would strongly recommend the larger player base of the console version to the extra dungeons the PC version has to offer.
- Dark Age of Camelot - Full of potential for anyone wanting the holy trinity of MMO classes, DAoC hasn’t aged well. Horribly slow and boring combat, an unrefined UI, and tedious questing could use an update. Dark Age of Camelot is better served being remembered through rose-colored glasses than being seen in motion on your computer screen. Maybe Camelot Unchained will be able to take what players back in 2001 liked about DAoC and give it the spit and polish it needs to be relevant in 2020, or whenever it finally releases.