20 Minutes in TERA (Europe) — AKA The Sneak Peek Stress Test Beta Thing

At the time of writing, I’ve actually had the chance to play more than 20 minutes of TERA, but I like the title of this article so much that I’m not going to change it. In reality, I’ve spent about 5 hours in TERA at home, and another few hours of high-level play during Gamescom and the TERA Press Event in Berlin. TLDR: it time I started talking about TERA.

The Sneak Peek event, in which several thousand keys were given to MMOgames readers last week, did not reach fruition. Technical difficulties prevented access to TERA for the entirety of the weekend, resulting in many wasted hours for many players. But we’re not going to go down that road. These things happen, and although many of us here at MMOgames aren’t impressed with how this situation was handled, we will, for the sake of progression, move on to more current events.

“TERA really good, and I want moar.”

Such as the new ‘Stress Test’ that appeared randomly on several TERA|Europe Social Media channels late Tuesday night. Lasting a little over an hour, some players were finally able to enjoy a small portion of lag-littered TERA gameplay. The following day, a 4 hour test was announced and made available (presumably to those without jobs or responsibilities), that was eventually extended throughout the night without warning. Yes, I’m still a little sore about it. Why? Because TERA really good, and I want moar.

My initial impression of TERA has always been ‘It WoW with active combat’, and I hold true to that today. The core gameplay elements of TERA are the same core gameplay elements used in almost every Fantasy MMORPG ever made, and forgive me, but I’m not altogether excited about playing the same game again. Yes, it prettier. So was Aion. Yes, the combat is better. It the same combat we’ve been using in Fantasy Action games for years. However, there something to be said about the awesomeness of combining the two together. It does make for a much more engaging MMORPG experience, and I completely understand why everyone enjoying playing.

“I’ve stopped on more than one occasion just to take in the view.”

First, it gorgeous. This goes without saying, but I’m going to anyway. It the brightest, richest world I’ve ever seen, and the character animations add to this effect like never before. The overuse of colour gives TERA a unique effect: it doesn’t look realistic, and it all the better for it. I’ve stopped on more than one occasion just to take in the view. I’m positive you will too.

Second, it very polished. The UI is logical and expansive, and suits the action style well. Pressing ALT disables the fixed camera and activates the typical mouse-mode, and tapping it again reverts. The quests, while lacking imagination and variety, offer story and logical progression. The race selection and customisation is considerably better than the norm, though the single starting zone draws greatly from the experience. All players begin on ‘the island’, having flown to it in as a group of adventurers searching for the source of evil, and while the story does justify (if poorly) the need for all players to begin in the same area, the sense of individuality that other MMORPGs provide with race-specific starting areas, and too, the sense of excitement when you see another race for the very first time, is noticeable and sorely missed. 

“It the same sh*t as every other Fantasy MMORPG.”

Speaking of story, TERA is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it properly translated, the font is nice and at times, it even a little funny. On the other, it the same sh*t as every other Fantasy MMORPG — the bad guys are doing bad things to the good guys. Are we ever going to see something new? Probably not, but hey, who reads quests anymore, amirite? There are cutscenes, too, but they also feel a little ‘seen it before’, though that could change in the higher levels of play.

Moving on to the more exciting areas of TERA — namely, the gameplay — it very much as expected. Level progression, skill acquisition and quest navigation are all very much the same as the genre standard, but the combat changes everything. In TERA, you’re required to attack your enemies using more than just the numbered keys (though, they’re definitely still an element). The left and right click on your mouse are available as skill slots, so shooting your bow, swinging your sword or casting a spell requires a click of the mouse. Additionally, enemies in TERA are also more active, and will attempt to dodge your attacks quite regularly. It sounds a lot better than it feels, and the normal ‘grind’ is still very noticeable, but there are many situations that definitely stand out from the pack.

“While it can’t be said that TERA is reinventing any wheels, the innovation doesn’t stop at active combat and pretty environments.”

Boss battles are a lot more interesting with this system, and though I’ve only had a chance to fight one (which, due to a lack of attack variety was a little underwhelming), I have high hopes for the dungeons and enemies to come.

While it can’t be said that TERA is reinventing any wheels, the innovation doesn’t stop at active combat and pretty environments. There are a number of small additions, such as the ‘group gathering system’ that are definitely worthy of a mention here, but due to a lack of playtime, I can’t yet go into any detail. I can say that the crafting system promises to add some ‘new’ to the mix, that the political system is sounding better every day, and, most importantly, that the PvP is going to be something worth talking about for a long time to come. I’ve watched a few players dueling at level 7, and even then, it seems like there a lot more ‘skill’ involved in keeping yourself alive long enough to make sure your opponent is dead.

But that a story for another day. Probably a day when we get a chance to try TERA for more than a few laggy, uninterrupted minutes at a time; here hoping that soon, because from what I’ve seen so far, TERA could just be the game we’ve all been looking for to bridge the gap between today and Guild Wars 2. ^^

I took way too many screenshots, so here’s a few extras, because they’re awesome.

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