If you're looking for a new fantasy MMO, look no further than TERA. With a fresh take on combat that forgoes a targeting system in favor of a simple crosshair, the game shines in both the visual and gameplay department.
- Intuitive and fun combat system that never gets old
- Familiar yet unique interface
- BIG ASS MONSTERS everywhere
- A couple of fairly frustrating classes
- Every female character looks a little, well, slutty
- Some really stupid early quests
I’ve played a number of MMOs, but others may argue that I didn’t really play them. Indeed, with most traditional MMOs, my main goal is leveling, so the gameplay, quests, story . . . none of these are enough to keep me around. Most MMOs favor strategy over gameplay, grinding over action. As such, once my character is maxed out I lose interest; however, in TERA, I found an MMO that will hold my attention long after I reach the level cap. The unique combat system, variety of classes and frequent huge bosses all make for a game with not only lasting appeal, but appeal to gamers that may not be traditional MMO fans.
You stay classy, Arborea
TERA’s prologue starts the character off at level 20 with a variety of skills and attributes. This allows the player to get a feel for a class without sinking two days into it. Initially the game feels familiar for any MMO fan, with a traditional third-person camera and a fairly standard interface. However, once you enter combat it is clear that TERA is in a class of its own. My first character was a Slayer class, which meant she delivered massive damage with her two-handed sword, but wasn’t really equipped to take much damage. As such, she has a dodge roll type ability which allows her to escape danger. The game also features quick time events, allowing you to perform devastating combos if you react in time.
Instead of a typical targeting battle system, the game utilizes something that feels like a standard third person action title. My first character made me feel like I was playing a hack-and-slash game, not an MMO. Combat is simple and intuitive, although at higher levels, a single mistake against a big-ass monster (an actual in-game term—BAM for short) can lead to an immediate death. Slayers have a number of tools in their arsenal. Beyond their speed and agility, they can also knock down enemies, allowing friendlies to quickly deal a huge amount of damage while the baddie is down. Further, they have a sweeping area attack useful when mobbed by a slew of boars or whatever forest creature you’ve pissed off.
At no time did this battle system feel tired or boring. Though it’s easy to pick up, a fair amount of skill is required past early levels. Though I spent most of the time with my Slayer, I did play all of the other classes, and was for the most part impressed. The main tank class, called the Lancer, doesn’t deal as much damage as the Slayer and doesn’t move nearly as quickly, but his blocking skill is pretty damn cool. Replacing the Slayer’s dodge roll ability with a block button, the player doesn’t simply press the button to block an incoming attack. Like any proper fighting game, the block’s success depends on if you’re facing the attacker and if you’ve timed it just right. Replacing the typical stand-around-and-be-a-damage-sponge mechanic of other MMOs, the Lancer’s block is actually rewarding and takes some talent.
Most other classes are equally cool, including the Warrior—another awesome melee class—and the Archer, which was undoubtedly my favorite ranged class. Her special moves include a barrage of arrows from above and a rapid-fire arrow attack. Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much affection for the other ranged classes. Both healer classes (Mystic and Priest) along with the ranged magic damage class, called Sorcerer felt underpowered and designed for support and support only. Later on, when the game is too difficult to enjoy alone, these classes are invaluable and greatly appreciated. However, the process of getting a weak Priest to this point is arduous and not very fun. With my Priest, I struggled to even get through the prologue, which makes me doubt if I wanted to stick with her for sixty levels.
BAM! Right in the kisser!
At lower levels, you complete a number of typical quests, allowing you to both level and learn the game at a manageable pace. This includes collecting plants, killing pesky forest-dwellers and delivering messages. Some of these are laughably stupid, such as an early quest in which you take pork from one character, salt it in your inventory, and deliver it to another person not five feet away. Nonetheless, with the fun combat system, these mindless quests never grow old or hackneyed.
Where TERA really shines is in its use of huge, super badass enemies—the aforementioned BAMs. These baddies take myriad forms, but the common thread is that you’ll be slaughtering them wholesale for the majority of the game. After you put in your time killing troublesome hyenas for local farmers, you quickly move on to killing monsters ten times your size, and far too powerful to take on alone (although, if you are judicious enough with your dodge roll, the Slayer can get through most ugly situations). These monsters are ubiquitous and set the gameapart. Whereas in other MMOs you may have to spend an hour in a dungeon to fight a huge boss, in TERA, they wander the forest with impunity.
Instances, or the game’s dungeons, provide a challenging and delightful opportunity for players to throw everything they’ve accumulated at powerful baddies and BAMs alike. With a difficulty level that forces teamwork and a smaller more intimate party cap of five, I felt a constant pressure not to let my party down and that earned me new friends and a reason to keep playing. Lone wolves beware: TERA will not be kind to you.
It’s getting hot in here, but only if you’re female
The story in TERA is unique and fairly easy to follow. Your entire world exists as a dream of two slumbering titans, and is threatened by a mysterious race determined to wake the titans, ending the world. As in any RPG, you spend time helping a vast variety of people unconnected to the main storyline, but in TERA, their stories are actually worth paying attention to. Your character takes the role of a soldier and one of the few survivors of an expedition to a new island that mysteriously arose from the sea. Exploring the island and the rest of Tera was fascinating, but if you’re like the two friends I played the game with and don’t give a shit about the story, the game is just as good.
Visually, the game shines. A step above most MMOs, the environments are vibrant and beautiful, and the baddies (especially the BAMs) are some of the coolest and most distinctive you’ll find in a fantasy game. Similarly, the different races you can make characters out of are equally awesome, save one complaint. As you may have noticed, all of my characters were girls. In fact, in any game where I’m given a choice, my character is always a girl. So I was distraught when I found that in TERA, no matter what race or class I chose (even the burly reptilian one), every character seemed determined to redefine the term “scantily clad.”
I know that people always gripe about female characters’ skimpy and impractical armor, but TERA takes it a bit far. The most modest outfit I could come up with for my Slayer featured a belt that was about 50 percent the size of the poor girl’s shorts. I felt like a pervert every time I watched her run. However, I did find it amusing that she rode side-saddle on her horse. You know, “modest is hottest.” And as long as we’re talking about perverts, the Elin race (intended to resemble children) are dressed just as poorly, and every time I saw one running around I couldn’t help but raise an inquisitive eyebrow. In the end, however I got over it because you can also play as a bunny, panda, kitty cat, or any other such cute furry animal. Nice save, En Masse.
It may be time to move to Tera
As I mentioned before, MMOs usually fail to hold my interest for long. Whether it’s the gameplay or repetitive quests, I’m back to other games in no time. However with TERA, I may have found a game to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. The combat is fun and intuitive, the story is fresh, and the monsters are truly monstrous. Now if I could just find a pair of pants for my Slayer, I’d be set.