When I first saw Tera, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had just come off of Star Wars the Old Republic, which while I thoroughly enjoyed the cinematic experience the combat left some things to be desired. I had also been playing Guild Wars 2 whose departure from the normal quest system was refreshing to say the least – even though the lore couldn’t have captured less of my attention. Throwing another MMO into the mix so soon after playing the others may seem crazy to some people who stick to one game and never try anything else, but I was intrigued by Tera. For one, the art style completely reminded me of my second favorite MMO that I had ever played – Lineage 2. I don’t know if that is just the Korean art style in these kind of games, but I swear that character and enemy models (not to mention the environments) could have been switched between games and no one would know the difference. Mind you, that’s not a bad thing either. The art of Lineage 2 was beautiful at the time it was released, and Tera looks like a high definition version – beautiful by today’s standards. If you love any of these games, you’ll want to read our Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit review (PC) too. We also recommend our post on the best video games.
The artwork is nice, but Tera’s biggest selling point is how its real time combat works. Now it isn’t completely as action orientated as they might try to make it seem, but it is a lot different than your normal MMO combat. Position, distance, and timing all matter in Tera, and being able to stay mobile while attacking makes all the difference. Normally in an MMO it’s fine to just stand in one place and hammer on buttons, as unless you are kiting an enemy there’s no real reason to move. In Tera though, being able to get to your opponent’s sides of rear is extremely important, and every attack can be dodged if you are quick enough. Another big thing with the combat system is the ability to set up combos – skills that lead into other skills, that can be then enhanced after level 20 to gain chain bonuses. It is really neat to use a skill, and then see a button prompt flash on screen to allow you to go into your next skill quickly, and it really does make things feel much more action packed.
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Unfortunately though the combat and the art stylings are the best parts of Tera. The lore is completely uninspired, and I found myself just clicking the accept button on quests without even reading them after the first ten hours. Maybe I got spoiled by The Old Republic with everything being fully voiced, but even the parts that were voiced here were voiced poorly. Another thing that irked me were the sheer amount of “grindy” quests in Tera. Pretty much every one was “Go kill X number of Y”, or “Bring X to Y”, with very little variety on those themes. At first it isn’t a big deal, but after hour twenty you really start to feel the grind, and you realize that it isn’t going to stop until you hit max level.
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Now the press guild that was set up for us to be able to talk to members of the Tera team was on a PvE server, so I can not comment on the open world PvP servers yet – though I do plan on making another character on one of those worlds to see if even that feels like Lineage 2; I need to be able to suffer through the quests again first though. I also did not get involved in any of the guild politics (as the press guild wasn’t big enough to do so), but from my understanding guilds will vie for control of different provinces in the world of Tera, giving them bonuses and such. Again (and I don’t mean to keep going back to this, but it is right there) Lineage 2 did this with castle battles. I have fond memories of defending Aden on Gustin server with the rest of the Nightmare alliance, and I really hope that it ends up feeling the same here.
Something to note – there are no divergent or advanced classes. Once you pick a class, you will have the same skills that another player in your class at the same level has. While this may sound boring, Tera spices things up with the addition of “Glyphs” that you can use to augment your skills. You start gaining Glyph points at level 20 (your level minus ten is how many points you have), and each Glyph costs from 3 to (I think) 7 points.You have to definitely play the numbers and make sure you know what you want ahead of time because if you make a mistake it can cost a decent amount to reset your points. It is unfortunate that there isn’t any advanced classes, but there is always the option for them to be added at a later point in time, and right now there is a decent amount of diversity with the classes and races that there are. Some people will surely find one of those races to be “odd” though – at least if you’re not used to the culture of where this game was from, as the one race is a race of adult aged females who look like big breasted children. The comments during the first two days of the game’s launch was “colorful” to say the least about that race – but appears to have become more tame now.
Even with the few problems that Tera has, it is a damn fun MMO to play, and in the end, isn’t that the reason we play games? Yes it may feel like a grind at times, but the combat alone is such a breath of fresh air that I hope other future MMOs will take advantage of using it. The other thing I haven’t talked about yet is the whole monthly cost thing – now as I said this game is originally from Korea. In Korea, Tera has gone the Free to Play route, so what does that mean for the US version? As it turns out, nothing yet – the US version of Tera was in production long before the Korean version chose the Free to Play model, so we probably have a bit of a wait until that happens here (if it happens here). The subscriber numbers will tell the tale though – if enough people support Tera it will stay as is, and as long as that causes them to push out more content that’s a good thing.
The Bottom Line: If you need a good palate cleanser from a more traditional MMORPG, Tera is a fine choice with its revolutionary combat mechanics – just don’t expect to get wowed by the story or quests.
You can download a copy of Tera from Amazon for $49.99