Depending on perspective, TERA’s end game can be fulfilling or it can be just another tedious Korean grind. TERA has never advertised itself as more than an amusement park, boasting only its graphical accomplishment and amazing stylized combat. In fact, it is guilty of pandering to what most MMO gamers arguably look for in an end game experience – Gearing. The short and sweet version to the question of “what is TERA’s end game like?” is nothing more than the word, “Grind”.
The first thing on most potential new players’ minds is only one thing concerning PvE: Are there raids in TERA? Despite TERA’s adherence to the progression treadmill, the short answer is no. Rift’s Edge, at the time of writing, is the only instance available for players to exceed the standard 5-man party. With a 10-player requirement, this is the closest you will ever get to raiding in TERA and it isn’t even one that drops current gear. There isn’t any conventional raiding in the game akin to that of World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or WildStar, where there are instances specifically tuned for larger party sizes with mechanics that focus on such.
The primary highlight of TERA’s endgame is its 5-man dungeons that challenge the skill level and gear of players through a series of mostly tank and spank boss fights that are definitely worth getting into. While they will not at all win any awards in innovation, PvE-centric players will enjoy conquering the challenging end game dungeons like Bathysmal Rise and Skycruiser Endeavor, as well as their significance in being the primary source of gear progression. These instances have some very interesting mechanics that keep all players on their toes, not at all like the simplistic nature of earlier dungeons. Provided that they be done in order of item level requirement, it is readily apparent that a group with entry-level gear, complemented with decent jewelry obtained from lesser instances like the 3-man Ravenous Gorge and the solo Ghillieglade, and along with some average skills and reflexes, can completely dominate these existing challenges with ease, gearing surely at a moderate pace.
If one has a static party to go dungeoning with at end game, there really isn’t anything stopping a player from eventually achieving their Best-in-Slot (BiS) as quickly as possible other than bad RNG. Unfortunately, this is also TERA’s own downfall as you may run out of things to do concerning the gearing treadmill. But at a pace of 2 months max, the new content does get pushed in at quite a fast pace compared to other MMOs. However, this is the ideal way to pursue PvE content in the game and still far more players find themselves playing it solo for whatever reasons. Unfortunately, TERA’s end game isn’t too friendly with soloers and it muddles their experience with the Asian grinding standard.
It can be very difficult for a newbie to find a group willing to accept them through the LFG channels due to many players opting instead to give in to their “carry” sickness, asking for requirements that far exceed the recommended for an instance. There are many reasons for this, of course, and not all are too stupid to imagine, but it does hamper progress of anybody willing to commit to TERA’s end game.
This could possibly be bypassed by instance matching instead, but as most MMO veterans know, dungeon finders are a gamble most of the time, and you may end up with a group that can’t at all make it past the most basic of pulls or easiest of bosses. It can be a hit or a miss; instance matching can be a tedious exercise in futility and not to mention that one can potentially waste one or more limited daily entries for the dungeon.
This then makes TERA’s end game have an absurdly high barrier-to-entry. Combined with the above-average difficulty of the end game instances as well as the lack of experience drawn on from getting rejected from parties or failing miserably in instance matching, many are put-off trying to obtain gear from dungeons and, instead, opt for far worse alternatives.
The Daily Grind
Dailies aren’t a foreign concept in TERA either and, in fact, I think the developers relish it. The same with many other MMOs, TERA’s dailies award enchanting materials, faction currency, and/or a sum of meager gold, with a limit on how many you can do depending on player status of F2P or subbed with Elite. Faction currency or credits play a vital role in the end game as they are required to purchase end game crystals that of utmost significance if a player ever wants to succeed in end game dungeons. In fact, most newbies will have to begin end game doing dailies first to complete their crystal setup so that they can even be remotely considered to join parties. These credits also grant access to other peripheral pieces of gear like entry-level brooches and belts, as well as access to the first non-entry-level set of equipment, Ambition gear. This is where it gets bad.
Due to the reasons above on having difficulties finding decent parties and the innate difficulty of TERA’s dungeons, many newbies opt instead to grind these credits to an insane amount in order to acquire Ambition gear, solely for the reason that they’ll be accepted in a pre-made dungeon or even in instance matching parties. It makes the experience far worse due to the fact that dailies give only a meager amount of credits per clear (with the highest I’ve received of 104) that it makes this method horrible, considering that each piece requires thousands of credits with around 8000 needed for an Ambition weapon.
Another grind that folks may embark on are acquiring Ambition Tokens that drop from the lesser instances stated earlier. Each clear grants only one drop for each member and can be used to trade in for Ambition gear. This is also incredibly impractical due to the high cost of a single piece like the weapon going for a grand total of 58 tokens.
The Enchanting Grind
But perhaps the most frustrating grind in the game is not the manner in which gear is obtained, but how it is upgraded. Any player with a decent amount of knowledge will know, that an important part of gearing up is getting your gear enhanced to its maximum capacity through enchanting with the appropriate tier of feedstock and alkahests. While it might not be noticeable in the beginning, end game gear can be frustrating to max out due to low success rates and overall fickle RNG.
The standard max of +9 on equipment is hard enough to get and is driven to far worse levels (+12-15) once your gear is eligible for masterworking, requiring enigmatic scrolls and re-identification scrolls in addition to enchanting mats. Even the randomized stats on gear require additional resources in the form of spellbinds to keep a stat from changing after re-identification. These mats, while cheap individually, get very expensive in bulk and players really need a lot of them due to the frequency of failure rates. This requires a small fortune just to max out a single piece or trudging through a plethora of grinds for daily credits and random, meager drops from the end game instances. One might think that it isn’t necessary to max out every piece, but most fickle groups might decline you if they see that your weapon and gloves aren’t even masterworked yet, making it somewhat of a necessity just to avoid the headache of having to prove that you have the skill for it anyway. In short, gear upgrading is in the typical fashion of every Asian MMORPG – required, expensive, and grindy.
PvP remains the same from an actuarial standpoint, with nothing more to be enhanced upon its core ever since players are first introduced to it. Adhering to the same treadmill concept, Gearing is just as awful a grind as it is in PvE through the earning of currency for gear.
However, PvP end game is host to some great activities for open world PvP due to the increased significance of Alliances. Every day, alliance conflicts occur in designated zones where players compete for Noctenium extractors through a variety of different methods. The PvP here plays a large role in unlocking the PvE content of Alliance Vaults. These can only be accessed on how well an alliance does in the Noctenium competition, with performance dictating how many times within a day players can access this content. Unfortunately, the solo vault marks another grind needed for the stingy F2P player due to being the only source of innerwear in-game, via 80 Goldfinger tokens, that do not require a purchase of loot boxes in the cash shop or a heftily priced piece from the auctioneer.
But Alliances aren’t all simply just a group of guilds under one banner, but have their own political system that are dependent on individual and guild contribution, leading to promotions that give bonuses and some measure of power to influence the conflicts in the game, with the most power coming from an Exarch of an Alliance. These political positions change often among contributors in an Alliance and can be a great source of enjoyment at end game.
The Crusades And Gold
Perhaps the most notable end game feature in TERA is The Crusades. This is its own guild ranking ladder that pits guilds against one another through one of two leagues: Challenger(PvE) and Cutthroat(PvP). Guilds earn points through performances based on dungeons, battlegrounds, arenas, achievements and even through 30v30 Guild battles. At the very end, guilds who rank the highest in a season receive Skycastles, a flying fortress of swag. It’s a great feature in general and alleviates the repetitiveness of the amusement park by having something to work towards.
Gold is an ostensibly important resource in-game. Not only can it bypass the horrid grinds of enchanting, but one can simply bypass the treadmill altogether with the possibility of purchasing virtually anything obtainable in both the game and cash shop. Whether they are gear acquisition problems or enchanting woes, gold can make all of that go away. It presents another horrid grind option for players and, though not part of the treadmill, it certainly is something to expect at end game.
End of the Road
Past all this, there really isn’t anything to do other than level alts and gear them up too. Don’t expect any sort of interesting elements or innovations past what most of us MMO gamers already know. TERA has its own moments of brilliance, but it really isn’t anything more than an amusement park.Related: Bluehole Studio, Column, En Masse, End Game, MMORPG, TERA