I decided to check out the TERA beta weekend this time around. I made a Popori Archer and jumped into the game knowing nothing but the impressions of my friends. Despite what might already be established fact or obvious to some, I’m going to run through my list of early first impressions.
TERA is beautiful. I wish this level of beauty could be obtained in all MMO’s. The art style isn’t exactly my favorite, but what they’ve done with it is create a vibrant world that invokes a “stare and drool” response. Animations, from what limited exposure I have to them, all seem very well done despite being attached to that eastern market style. The scenery is just gorgeous.
The UI is traditional, but functional and nice looking. I like the on-screen map. The controls are interesting for a MMO. As an archer, I have a reticle on-screen that I aim at the enemies. I had an Xbox360 controller plugged in when I booted up TERA and it was immediately detected. An on-screen transparent controller image appeared in the bottom right to help me learn the controls immediately. Surprising, the game worked quite well with the controller until I had to interact with NPC’s, at which point the joysticks moved the mouse cursor – a very odd feeling.
Combat is very active. Like I mentioned above, aiming and shooting is different than simple lock-on hotkey use. I’ve picked up a few abilities on my archer that are activated by pressing a hotkey. I press ’1′ to activate Volley, hover over up to five mobs to ‘highlight’ them, then press the left mouse button to volley arrows onto those targets. I also have a penetrate arrow mapped to ’2′ that fires right when I press the hotkey — this means I need to be aiming at something for it to actually hit. I like the combat. It’s different and fun.
The biggest downside of the game that I encountered was the obvious attempt to transition from a ‘grind monsters to level’ system to a more modernized-west market quest-centric game. It’s obvious right away when you are given quests with zilch story or reasoning and send you right out to kill five monsters. When you get back, the NPC practically thanks you and sends you right back out to kill 5 more of those monsters, this time for their claws. One quest in particular wanted me to kill this mean tree monster because he was hurting pigs… but the NPC next to him sent me to slaughter groups of the exact same pigs to practice my AOE.
Although beautiful and different in many ways, TERA has a very familiar generic feel. I’m confident that I would grow tired of grinding quests. I’d rather be let loose in the world to make my own way and kill monsters at my leisure like the old days of DAoC or EQ.
After a few hours of play, I realized the game lacks a soul. There’s nothing beneath the beautiful surface. I couldn’t figure out why I should keep playing or what my purpose of playing was even from a story perspective. I only hesitated logging off because my character was so dang cute. In the end, that’s not enough for me.
Graev mentions that it may be worth it if the game has a lot of big monsters that are hard to kill. I can agree with that. If TERA develops later on into something more like Monster Hunter, then I might be more inclined to continue playing. I need more convincing, though. After so many of these MMOs in the past years turning into 3 monthers for me, I want to really look hard at why I’ll be playing something before I invest emotionally and monetarily. If you have experience with TERA at later levels, please let me know how the end-game developers. What do I have to look forward to while leveling up? The lower levels paint a bleak picture of TERA’s future.
If shallow quest grinds don’t bother you, and killing lots of monsters ‘just because’ is your thing, then I can’t see any reason why TERA wouldn’t be an awesome game to try. It’s gorgeous, different and engaging with its approach to combat, and handles nicely. Anyone looking for something different in a MMO, though, should be hesitate before early adopting.