If I had to quickly describe TERA to someone, I’d say it was a grindy, standard MMORPG with great combat, unbelievable graphics and lots of potential, but since I’m writing a full review, I’ll dive in deeper.
Let’s start off with what I mean as a ‘standard MMORPG’. TERA has all the features you’d fine in any MMORPG today, linear questing system, so-so character creation, decent crafting and skill systems and or course a story-line. Nothing here is terrible, but nothing stands out. As far as story goes, even though I’m in my mid 40′s I still couldn’t tell you what’s happening, nor do I care.
Instead of talking about all the standard features, none of which make or break the game, I’ll talk about the features that do. However, before I begin, I want to say how impressed I am with En Masse for not only launching an extremely polished game, but a game that’s filled with features that many recent MMO games, months after release, still don’t’ have; a fully functional auction house, group/dungeon finder, fully customizable UI, customizable gear (dyes) and world events. Kudos to En Masse for pushing the bar with a fleshed out set of launch features.
I’ll begin with what TERA does right and that’s combat. En Masse advertised the hell out of its combat system and for good reason; it’s extremely fun and addictive. While there are other games out there that feature action combat, I’ve experienced none that are as good as TERA’s system. It’s a completely different way of playing when skill is the predominant factor instead of number crunching as with tab-targeting. Having had to go back to tab-targeting, even Guild Wars 2′s hybrid system during the beta weekends was painful. Going forward, tab-targeting for me is a deal-breaker for any new MMORPG after GW2 as I already pre-ordered it.
As I said, TERA’s questing system is extremely grinding and consists mainly of “kill x of this monster”, but it’s PvE systems isn’t all bad. BAMs and dungeons are a blast and since TERA already has a group/dungeon finder, finding groups to join is quick and easy…most of the time. Taking down BAMs, especially solo, were some of my favorite moments in TERA as En Masse seems to get it just right by making them difficult enough so you have to be on your toes, but not so hard that you’ll constantly die and get frustrated.
While dungeons for the most part contain the same types of grindy quests as the rest of the game, because you’re in such close quarters, you really have to be careful with pulls, especially if you were soloing. For me, the increased difficulty of soloing made them more enjoyable as some were extremely challenging and you know how much I enjoy a challenge.
TERA, even though it’s only a month and a half old, has already had massive invasion events where monsters lay siege to cities as players try to repel the attack for rewards. This is especially fun on PvP servers where not only are players fighting off the invading monsters, but other guilds they’re at war with. Some guilds would roll up in huge numbers to decimate another guilds PvE’ing during the invasion. Some nice scripted events intertwine with a bit of PvP chaos always makes for a fun time.
PvP of course is a big part of TERA and features open PvP, if you happen to join that type of server. However, on all servers guilds can declare war on other guilds and battle it out for bragging rights and points. Currently TERA’s open PvP system needs some updating as there are absolutely no incentives to kill anyone other than wanting to. Guild vs Guild also needs some added incentives. While wins and loses are recorded, the rewards are a bit lacking right now, much better than the open PvP system, but still not quite there. It’ll be exciting to see what En Masse does with this in the long term.
TERA also held its first political elections recently. Our guild leader ran, but we came in a distant 8th or something like that. While the political system sounds great, at this stage of the game, it’s almost irrelevant. The Vanarch (winner of the election) really doesn’t have much power to do anything other than open/close shops and change tax rates. The guilds that controls the territories needs to grind a lot of points just to keep shops open, so the Vanarch isn’t even making money when time is considered. I’d like to see En Masse introduce more powers for the Vanarch and some how incorporate PvP incentives against the ruling guilds, perhaps by adding control structure within the territories that can be taken over.
It’s sad to see a game like TERA lose out because of its absolutely horribly questing system, when it could have been the next big MMORPG, in my opinion. It’s combat system is near perfect, it’s graphics are absolutely gorgeous and it seems to be on track to turn into a great PvP game with integrated political system. BAM’s are an absolute blast to take down and dungeons, while pretty standard when compared to other MMORPG, are great fun.
En Masse’s great folly and the eventual downfall of TERA will be blamed on its questing system, which is the worst I’ve seen in a long time, possibly of all-time. My suggestion to En Masse is to rip the entire questing system out and leave only the story-line quests, dungeon quests and BAMs. Expand open PvP and the political system to create an atmosphere where player-driven content dominates and I’m confident it’ll become the go-to fantasy PvP game out there.