Review in Progress - Part One
With the launch of TERA, we’re doing something a bit different in terms of our reviews. Over the next few weeks, we’ll catalog our experience in the game, all leading up to our official review down the road. We call this series of articles “Review in Progress”, and we’ll be doing them for all of the big releases from here on out. But Bill, TERA was just in Open Beta, you say? Well, that’s okay. Characters are carrying over into launch, so this is sort of a prologue to our review (as are all Review in Progress pieces). So while this first bit is written on beta code, the next and subsequent ones will be written on the release code, and of course the review will only come after several full weeks with the game. So, let’s begin!
Now, let me tell you something: I didn’t find myself overly fond of TERA in its earlier beta tests. I enjoyed the combat, but found myself tired of the questing early on. But after this past weekend’s Open Beta? Well, I’m level 21, I’ve run Bastion of Lok several times with random groups and guild mates, can tank like a pro, and I’ve spent all my money leveling Alchemy to make helpful potions for solo-Bill. I’d say I’m finding myself quite attached to my Amani Lancer, and it just goes to show you what the right class and keeping an open mind with a new MMO can do.
GETTING PAST THE SAME OL’ QUESTS
The first thing I think one must come to grips with if they’re ever going to enjoy TERA is to expect that same ol’ quest grind you’ve gotten used to since 2004. It’s here again. The main bulk of open world play (at least until you start finding BAMs in the 20s) is going to be centered around: collect this, kill that, kill and collect those. The good news? Since early beta tests, they’ve really changed the amount of monsters you must kill (gone most of the time are the requirements to kill 15 or 20) to something less repetitive, and at the same time they’ve kept the experience earned from quests rather high. So folks who prefer to just kill mobs might be disappointed, but the best way to level if you’re going solo is to quest your butt off.
If you can get past the fact that said quests are the same sorts of things you’ve been doing for years, you won’t be disappointed with the rest of the game. Admittedly, for seasoned veterans, this one might take a little grudging work. For my own part, I found that learning to group and leaning on the social aspects of the game really helped me get over the idea of a “boring quest grind”. Still, they’re here. You will kill 10 of this and collect 10 of that. Just get used to it, and freely accept it or move along. Me? I’ve gotten past it, and hopefully I can keep it that way.
THE CURRENT UP-SIDES
The questing is one of the biggest bummers. But what about those parts which suddenly have me dying to log in and stay on for hours? Well for one, the leveling to 21 has been evenly paced. The curve is slight, and ramping up. I still expect TERA to be a quick jaunt to the max of 60, and while that may be worrisome for some, I have hopes that the GvG and Political system at the endgame will be enticing enough to stick around after 60 (especially since raids aren’t in the cards, and PVE content is mostly about dungeons and Nexus events). Right now though, I find the quick pacing of the game just right for my needs.
I also really enjoy the combat. There have been tweaks leading into launch, and while you still can’t break animations (this is for balance and PVP reasons, just think of DCUO’s hacks if you don’t believe me), I’ve learned to go with it. The skill of TERA is in learning when to use attacks, when to dodge or block, and if you have to rely on breaking your animations you’re not doing it right. It’s just that simple. The combat is engaging, it makes you think on your toes, and in group content it becomes something sublime.
I also find myself enjoying the crafting, slowly but surely. It’s also partly a downer, mainly because of the fact that it’s still “collect materials, press make”. But I like that I can just do all of the professions and not limit myself to one. I like the notion of being able to break down items for components, and being able to enchant lesser items to make them something awesome. There are trade brokers in every major town, so auctioning is always there too. And you’ll need tons of money in the early levels if you want to level crafting… believe you me.
THE DEBBY DOWNERS
No, this isn’t about those MMO gamers who are already poo-pooing the game. They’re entitled to their opinion, just as I’m entitled to find myself liking it more and more. But that’s part of the issue I think with TERA. The new introduction sequence where you fight alongside the hero Elleon with a group of NPC allies against a BAM is a great way to tease people with what’s to come. But the drawback is that once they’re out of the intro, it’s back to 10 levels of killing trees and people asking where Vekas is. It’s off-putting, and maybe this is because I’ve done it so many times. But the fun starts after the early levels… and that’s not so good.
Another problem I have so far with the game deals with the look of male and female characters alike. Both are ridiculously clothed. Like nearly naked. The Aman, Popori, and even the newly dressed Elin are fine. It’s the damned Castanics that are all either bare-chested or bare-cheeked. It’s just… disturbing. I know it’s the Korean aesthetic, but still. I’ll take my weird dragon-like Aman or the adorable Popori any day.
WHEN IT CLICKS, IT CLICKS.
I’m not sure how long my crush on TERA will last. I can freely admit that I’m greatly looking forward to both the TSW beta (which has to start sometime for press and fans, right?) and Diablo 3’s launch. Let’s not forget about GW2’s weekends either. But right now? Since last weekend? All I can think about is playing TERA. I want to keep running dungeons with our guild on Dragonfall. I want to group up and tackle BAMs with friends, and I want to spend more money on alchemy and armor dye than I’ll ever possibly make back. I also want to try to get favor enough with the MMORPG guild to win at least one area over in the political system… I want to be a Vanarch and make sure there are free hugs for everyone. I can already see the politics in this game setting it apart from others. I don’t expect TERA will take off and sky-rocket in the West like some second coming, and perhaps that’s better for the title. Every game of late to come out with so much hype ahead of it has gloriously crashed and burned not long after.
Maybe, just maybe TERA’s lack of true hype is working for it. All I know is I can’t stop wanting to play it when I sit down at my desk. Everything else goes to the wayside, and I want to log in and keep forging on with my Lancer. Will it last? I’m not sure. But right now, I can say that TERA’s got its hooks in me.
Next week, we’ll talk about the dungeons, the BAMs, and some other goodies. All leading up to our full review later in May!