I’ve been playing TERA for a week now, and I’m conflicted. I’ve made it to level 40, and the grind has begun. As with all good grinds, I’ve begun to see TERA without ‘honeymoon vision’; raw and unprotected by the new game hype that so often clouds my judgement.
And yet, I still can’t tell you if I like it. It seems that there are about as many things I like about TERA as I don’t, and so, in an obvious attempt to further reserve judgement, here’s a list of the things I like about TERA, and another list of things I don’t.
One of the many elements in TERA that is reminiscent of Lineage 2, non-instanced dungeons are, for the most part, in-door questing areas like ancient temples, pirate hideouts, haunted mansions – that sort of thing.
They’re filled with quests, enemies and mini-boss battles, and can be solo’d quite easily (though they’re definitely best experienced in a small group) – moreover, as they’re not instanced, they’re completely PvP compatible making for awesome hunting grounds, and gang-based world PvP rapage.
Skill Combo (Glyph) Mechanics
Though the notable lack of any ‘talent’ system is a major drawback to TERA role diversity, the combo system definitely helps make up for it. Essentially, all skills in TERA can be chained together manually to create a string of skills, or a combo, that best suits your personal play style.
This is further enhanced by the use of glyphs – equippable items that offer a variety of different effects based on what skill they’ve attached to, and which skill that follows in the chain. usually, these will increase a skills’ range or damage, low the mana cost or even increase casting speed.
Another ‘borrowed from L2’ element, the Outlaw System is, in essence, TERA’s version of open-world PvP. By casting the ‘outlaw’ spell, players can immediately become an outlaw – indicated by a red name above their head – making them attackable by any other player without consequence, but also allowing them to attack any other player, too.
However, killing another player that is more than 5 levels below you will result in you gaining Infamy, which will lock you in outlaw mode until enough time has passed (you lose something like 1 point of Infamy per minute, and gain something like 60 points for a reasonably low-level player kill).
This is one of TERAs most innovative features – in that, while it has been done before, it hasn’t been done like this, and it compliments Outlaw PvP perfectly. Essentially, alongside HP and MP, you have Stamina, which begins at 0 (upon death) and by standing near a campfire (or having it increased through other means) can be raised to 120.
Stamina slowly decreases whenever you engage in combat, and directly affects your total HP and MP; so, if 100 stamina gives you ‘your levels’ worth of HP and MP, booting that to 120 gives you a nice bonus. Gathering can give you a buff that increases it to 135 – but what I like so much is that it keeps you on guard.
Think of it like this: you die and appear back in town. You have 0 stamina. You now need to wait beside a campfire until it reaches 120 (a nice death penalty), or risk having an outlaw attack you when you’re not a full strength. So, you wait and let it fill. Then you leave town and quest/gather. You get a buff that allows it to reach 135 – so you pop out a campfire and let it restore before getting back to questing. 30 minutes later, your stamina is at 80, and you haven’t realised. An outlaw attacks you and you lose. Had you kept an eye on your stamina, and kept it at 135, you could might have survived. This creates fear – fear of forgetting – and I love it.
Environments and Visuals
One thing I’ve neglected to mention a lot are the visuals and environments in TERA, which are, for lack of a better adjective, gorgeous. Running on the dated, yet impressively awesome Unreal 3 engine, TERA is up there with the MMO industry’s finest looking models and environments.
It’s not a big thing, but every now and then, I stop and survey my current questing zone, and it looks fucking good.
I know it’s common for MMOs to reuse assets at an unprecedented rate – they say it’s because the worlds are so big that it’d be impossible to do it any other way, but personally, I think they’re just fucking lazy – regardless, the frequency of samey quests and enemies in TERA – which rival that of a PS1 Final Fantasy title – are abysmal.
I’d wager that 90% of the quests in TERA ask that you kill a group of enemies – and I’d wager again that at least HALF of those enemies are the same goddamn enemies as in the previous quest zone, most of them are even the same goddamn colour. This, ultimately, makes for some of the most bland, repetitive MMO gameplay currently available, and it’s the sole reason why I probably won’t be playing TERA for much longer. That said, if this doesn’t bother you, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It just really gets under my skin.
Equipment Crafting System
I could spend a year telling why this crafting system is the most ridiculous I’ve ever seen, but I don’t have a year so I’m going to give you the short version. Outside the fact that you don’t need to create anything to level your craft, and instead, are forced to simply create 25 of the base ingredient to reach your cap – making ANY piece of equipment, weapon or armour, requires that you grind out runes that only drop from 5-man elite enemies.
Sure, you can make smaller, even more useless crap with other runes that you’ll have in the thousands, but if you want to make anything halfway decent, you’ll need titan runes, and to get ‘em, you’ll need to find a group, and grind your days away on hard-arse elite mobs. Yes, that’s right, if you want to be a crafter, you need to be a badass fighter, too. Nice one.
No PvP Rankings/Rewards
I mentioned above that I love the Outlaw System. I do. What I don’t love, is the fact that NONE of my kills and deaths are recorded anywhere, NO achievements are available for Outlaw PvP (though, there’s plenty if you’re in a guild), and NO rewards are offered to those that excel at hunting down other players and ending their miserable lives.
It’s almost as though Bluehole don’t want you to use the Outlaw System at all – it’s an entirely redundant system that they’ve stolen from Lineage 2 (for the most part, at least), and made it carebear! In L2, if you gained Karma (Infamy) and you died – YOU LOST YO SHIT. This created a paradigm like no other – you had to REALLY want to kill a motherfucker, as the risk was so incredibly high that you’d suffer the consequences of your actions. In TERA, killing another player outside of a Guild War or Deathmatch is purely for your entertainment – you won’t be rewarded for your skill, hell, you won’t even be recognised. What’s the point again?
The Island of Dawn
One starting zone for 8 races. In 2012. What?
TERA has an annoying habit of giving me a bag-full of crappy equipment that I don’t need, every time I hand in a few quests. Often times, they’ll give me a new weapon, and then in the quest following, give me a better one. That’s a good scenario. A bad one will leave me with 5 different types of that item, all more useless than the one I nabbed in a quest earlier.
Why? The simple answer is extraction. Though, if the goal for extraction was to rip apart a bunch of items that they give you periodically, what’s the point of extraction? Just make the damn extraction items quest rewards and be done with it – at least that way I wouldn’t have to carry around 40 pairs of gloves with me everywhere I go. Also, most of the equipment design is rubbish, and as crafting is redundant, be prepared to see ‘that shirt of yours’ on every single person that’s your level and within the 3 class equipment type as you.
Well, there’s my rant for the evening. I’ll get back to you when I hit level 50 for The Mid-Game TERA Review, where I’ll likely whinge about the same shit again in a little more depth.
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