Tera Beta First Impressions

Tera

This last weekend I was given the opportunity to participate in one of the string on ongoing beta test weekends for En Masse Entertainment’s action MMORPG Tera.  Tera is a Korean MMO that saw it’s initial release early in 2011 and is scheduled for a North American release on May 1st of this year.  The game features many of the same mechanics that have come to be standard among fantasy MMOs, but provides a few twists to the aging formula.

At First Glance

From the start it is obvious that Tera is not a game for the family. Tera takes the idea that sex sells and runs away with it.  From the first view of the character creation screen players are met with an outrageous amount of fan service.  While many modern MMORPGs provide players with ways to emphasize the sexuality of their characters, Tera embraces it completely, and goes so far as to provide very few ways to de-emphasize it.

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Elin Character Creation

While I could understand that En Masse was simply embracing their target audience, I found some of the character creation options to be so far over the top that before I had even begun playing the game I found myself biased against it. I found myself wondering if any game that seemed this reliant on sex could possibly have any depth to it, or was it attempting to sell itself on the scantily clad women (and men as well in certain cases) alone.

As I toured the character creation I found one race to be particularly disturbing.  The Elin appear to be an entire race comprised of hyper-sexualized young girls. Their costuming options no more indecent than any of the other race options, their character models were made to resemble adolescents. Combined with some very provocative animations, the Elin left little doubt in my head that the marketing department knows where their paychecks are coming from.

Digging Deeper

Despite my misgivings once I had created a character and got into the game, I found it’s world to be beautiful.  The environments, character models, and monsters created one of the most gorgeously crafted worlds I’ve played in thus far.  The fan service that was so evident at character creation remained an ever-present part of the world, but was in no way a focus of the game. In fact the game felt very well put together, and though I did not have the opportunity to advance very far into the game, I could see the beginnings of a well developed game world.

Players of WoW, or any of it’s predecessors or clones, will feel instantly familiar with many of the game’s systems, as it uses the same questing, inventory, stat, and UI systems that have become the standard of this generation of MMORPGs.

Where Tera deviates from those systems is combat.  Tera opts for an active combat system that includes no autoattack and no target lock on system.  The combat system takes some getting used to, and felt a bit unwieldy as acquiring a target at close range often felt like a game of chance.  Even with the targeting reticle placed directly over an engaged monster, the reticle often showed that it had no target.  In the early levels this seemed only a minor annoyance as many classes had abilities that could allow them to move easily away from most creatures, and even if stuck in range it seemed easy to survive attacks for some time without worrying about health.

Where this system really made me worry was when I began to play a priest character. Low level priests have no way to move, and few strong indirect attacks, meaning that in order to use a primary attack the player had to constantly work to keep an enemy targeted.  While this might be a decision by En Masse to force healers to group up when questing I find myself wondering how well this will work in a North American market where players seem often to enjoy solo questing and group only when the content requires it.

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to level a healing character far enough into the game to try healing for a group, so I did not learn how healing works without the ability to lock onto a target.

The Verdict

While I loved Tera’s beautiful environments, and could see the beginning of the depth the game could offer, I found nothing that really drew me in to the game.  The combat system was new to me and fairly unique, but felt frustrating and clunky. The game seems heavily oriented toward grinding, as many eastern MMORPGs are, and playing simply felt slow and unrewarding.  I found myself thinking as I played that Tera might be an interesting diversion and would be worth playing if it were to join the current Free to Play games market, but as a subscription based game I am not sure that it will find much success in the North American market.  I would be willing to predict that this game will make the switch to a F2P business model at some point in the future, as so many games have before it.

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Tera’s Other Assets

For players drawn to Tera’s action oriented gameplay, I would recommend waiting it out and picking up Guild Wars 2, which I feel is providing far better gameplay, and doesn’t’ require the subscription.

If you are simply interested in Tear for its…other assets, please keep that to yourself.

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Author: AxiomXIII View all posts by