When TERA originally launched in 2012 on the western market, it didn’t have the best start; barely one year later, publisher En Masse Entertainment switched from a subscription-based payment model to free-to-play, in order to make the title more accessible to a wider player base. The much discussed Elin race and toned down sexy armors for the NA and EU adaptions fueled a fire of discord and scorn in mainstream MMO media which made it hard to win any favors from within some quarters of the MMO player community. For quite some time, I did not take up TERA myself for this reason despite some of the title’s commendable features, like a great action combat and drop-dead gorgeous world to explore.
What I always appreciated about TERA however is its beautiful soundtrack, composed by industry veterans Inon Zur (Dragon Age, Fallout 3) and Rod Abernethy (RAGE, The Hobbit) who were hired by Bluehole Studio for their extensive know-how of different styles of music and live orchestration. Recorded with the Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra, TERA therefore brings one high quality soundtrack to fans of evocative and more folkloric MMO music. In an old interview with ZAM, Rod and Inon shed some light on their approach to composing for TERA, the materials they were given and their cooperative process on the different racial themes in the game. The characteristic acoustic guitar segments that come up in a variety of different tracks, are addressed as well in the interview.
The official TERA soundtrack counts 50 tracks and has been made available by En Masse Entertainment on youtube, as well as a couple of expansion tracks that were added from Fate of Arun. As indicated in the composer interview and respective youtube credits, composer Cris Velasco (God of War) appears to have had some part in the production of TERA’s expansion music too.
Five Tracks for an Introduction to the Music of TERA
There’s a familiar high fantasy approach to all of TERA’s compositions which range from uplifting and magical dances to the monumental feeling that greets players at entering big MMO cities. In addition to the familiar, TERA’s music shines with a more exotic flavor, clear ethnic influences and traditional acoustic instruments adding a special spice. Overall, it is a very “happy” soundtrack that ranges from merry and atmospheric tunes to the decidedly heroic. Rarely do we get to hear sad or alternatively broody and dark tones in original TERA, a direction which seems to have changed somewhat with the expansion.
1. Nature Knows
A track devised for the more whimsical and fluffy races of TERA, Nature Knows (very much like Elinu’s Dance) stands iconic for the very distinct character that sets this soundtrack apart from other MMOs. With its folky vibe and merry melody, it makes players feel right at home and ready to go on a fantastic adventure. Fun fact: The name of the Popori race was derived from the word potpourri; the magical animal-kin come in the shape of cats, dogs, bears, raccoons and other animals for players to select as their online alter egos.
2. The Children of Karas
With few exceptions, the MMORPG genre fully embraces its elves as beautiful and spiritual beings of light and TERA is no different. This atmospheric and pensive track was dedicated to the elven children of the male god Karas who, as official lore teaches us, was married to goddess Elinu who in turn mothered the Elin race. Race creation seems to be a complicated thing in TERA which makes The Children of Karas no less of a enjoyable track on the very ethereal and sparkly end of the spectrum.
Not often do titles of MMO tracks get it this right – such a homecoming it is when players enter the grand city of Velika for the first time! One of my favorite moments from playing TERA myself, I will never forget how the music hit me as I flew into the city on my mount and went exploring its many corners, nooks and crannies. Homecoming brings both the epic, grandiose feels expected from such a great track, yet also manages to alternate with quieter bits so the music never gets too overpowering. Together with City of Truth for Allemantheia, this is one of the most fantastic city tracks of all time!
Because I said TERA rarely gets sad and heartbreaking further up, Godspeed deserves a mention for deviating from the rule. This track is almost impossible to listen to in a sombre mood and really brings out the melancholic side of MMO journeys for me personally. Having never encountered this tune ingame myself, I trust the youtube commenters who place it as background music for the server selection screen of TERA, which seems an odd choice at first but all things considered, maybe really isn’t.
5. By Oriyn’s Light
Not the prettiest of TERA’s races, the Baraka never received much love from the player base despite representing such noble qualities as strength, honor and knowledge. After losing their homeland, the Baraka turned their back on their giant ancestors to roam the world ever in search of wisdom and peace. Having found out about this race’s tragic background, I feel like they were given a very appropriate track to underline their sacred journey in search of a new home and their more solemn and serious character.
Would I buy? – Yes!
Who is it for? – Lovers of high fantasy and more folkloric MMO tunes
The TERA soundtrack, albeit relatively short considering the title’s age, is one of the most accomplished MMO soundtracks out there as far as composition and production goes. The official tracks can be found on TERA’s youtube page and there are players who have mined the game for additional ambient and boss music which are just as formidable for the most part. Due to TERA’s limited popularity here in the west, the soundtrack never received the attention it deserves – so if you enjoy the music of TERA, be sure to direct your friends and fellow MMO music aficionados this way!
Related: A Bard's Tale, Column, Music, Soundtrack, TERA