The Massively Multiplayer Online title Tera recently switched to a free to play model, changing its name to Tera: Rising in the process, so we sent our contributing MMO addict Chris into the shiny new world of Arborea to see what its all about and to find out if its a world worth exploring.
First thing I noticed when starting Tera up were the graphics. I remember when I first saw screens for the game and thinking it looked like a prettier version of Aion, and I still think it looks like that. Tera has a fantasy “fairy” feel to its world, colors are bright and bold and monsters have a cool design to them, but much like a lot of games they extend one monsters domain too far into many area’s. This makes it seem like your always fighting the same three monsters in any given area. The music has been really good as well so far, it fits the mood just right without going overboard.
Now I haven’t made it very far into the game, but I have played several hours working with multiple classes. When I first start an MMO I like going through every class in the beginning and seeing which fits my fighting style best. Since I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2, I found that the dual bladed character would be the best to ease myself into the game with. The Warrior has a dodge roll just like Guild Wars, but it is limited to just two dodges in a row, i’m still not sure how I feel about this fact, and again being new to the game I don’t know if i’ll ever get a skill or a passive that lets me dodge more or takes less stamina to do it. Knowing the game is action based though I’d imagine they’d give me more options for defense then sit and wait for them to strike and then run behind them or dodge roll twice and then sit and wait and run behind them. It’s not my play style unless i’m playing Dark Souls.
The combat within Tera is action focused, so if your pointing in a direction and you hit any of the combat keys, even if nobody is around you your gonna strike in that direction. Its fun to play around with but I find myself swatting for bugs more then swatting at monsters. One of the main problems for this is the fact that you’ll shoot, dodge, or strike in the direction that your camera is facing, not the direction of your character. I may be looking at pretty landscapes and get hit from behind so i press down on my character and turn him around and press the attack button, but then i’m thinking since my toon is facing backwards even though i’m still looking out in the distance he’s suppose to strike at my camera, instead he’ll turn back around and fight towards the distance. In a split second he’s done a complete 360 and is now fighting the air instead of the guy trying to split his spine. Now for the most part it doesn’t happen too often, but then you use those skills that say it will do that in its description,which makes when it does happen just a little bit frustrating.
Though if this is an action based game why have skills that go in the direction of your camera and not where your pressing on the keyboard or gamepad? Some may say its for dodging or teleporting, but am I really gonna want to turn my camera around to back step when i’m fighting a mob of monsters trying to rip my head off? Why not make it easier and just press back or S and teleport backwards?
This brings me to my next topic, Tera is gamepad ready. Just plug in your gamepad, or Xbox controller and your ready to take on the world in a more familiar single player feel. The game does seem to be a bit easier to play with the controller when it comes to its action because it puts you in that single player mentality, but i’m not sure if this game was developed with a controller first and the keyboard as secondary, or if they just did a good port to the controller because they always wanted people to have the choice between the two. I say this because the game controls are a bit off when you first plug in your controller. The game auto assigns your buttons based on where you have your skills on your task bar. So if you put something in slots 1,3,and 5 because you like that rotation and then plug in your controller, they are now buttons X,Y, RB+X. You can change them by switching the skills around if you want to use X,A,B,Y, but then you need to find those select areas on your task bar, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t tell you which is which, so you just need to slot them and see where it goes on the HUD display on screen. This can be annoying because when you switch back to your keyboard all the your skills are at different places so then you need to change it to get your nice rotation back.
Selecting missions and awards is another place where the keyboard is faster to use. Using a mouse and keyboard you press ALT and your mouse cursor comes up and you then press the button you want, this also brings up the menu system and lets you read your moves. Using a controller you need to hit LT and your cursor comes up and your at the speed of your controller settings, which is far slower then someones mouse settings. On top of this, if you have an older controller and its a bit wobbly or it sticks then your fighting to get inside that thin strip of a mission button. While combat is simpler with a controller, the user interface is made frustrating, but the UI also just features some odd choices for regular keyboard use as well.
The surrounding landscapes, while great looking, are very high in any given area. This layout is nice to see at times but you cant help but feel like its everywhere you look to funnel you into smaller environments and to stop you from seeing the games draw distance. Even the backdrops are of high peaks which makes it look like you can see far off places but there just stand ins.
The game allows you to climb ladders and vines, a feature many MMO’s don’t let you do, but they also have invisible walls in places to stop you from jumping up too high or even jumping off certain areas, which to me just shouldn’t be in a game. If I want to die from falling off of a cliff, let me have my choice. This limitation doesn’t just cut you off of cliffs either, at one point i was trying to fight an enemy and I wanted to jump over a small rock to get to him and it wouldn’t let me jump over this three foot tall rock. These restrictions are everywhere and its annoying. Small things like this can ruin a game for anyone. You don’t really take fall damage either unless your super high up and even then it wont kill you, it will keep you with just enough health to get hit once more and then die from a monster in the area, so watch your landing zones.
The animations, just like the overall graphics, look great. I love how there are plenty of diverse racial selections and each holds their weapons a bit differently. This gives you a sense of uniqueness, even if there really isn’t any as the class options are the same no matter what race you play. Furthermore you cant seem to change your weapon type! If you like broadswords and you pick that character class, your playing broadswords for the entire game, I cant recall any game that makes you play only one weapon and doesn’t give you even a weaker secondary option…I mean what the hell is that crap? You can get bombs in the game which add a bit of flair but that doesn’t take over for a secondary weapon by any means.
Finally, the portrayal of woman in this game is absolutely ridiculous! Its easily evident that the animators spent more time on the breast physics than the hair movement, as they are far crazier. While every fantasy game always leaves some female skin noticeable, none are more perverse than Tera. Almost every piece of leg armor leaves just enough cut in it that you can see your girls ass cheeks with every jump, slice, or even full sprint you do, and going back to the ladders, they are extremely tall, so if you want to see how much longer your gonna be climbing you have to turn the camera angle just a little bit, leaving you with a blatant view up your girls short skirts and seeing their bottom. This comes off worse then most anime and extremely dirty, talk about degrading woman, this game does it in spades! Worst of all, one of the races looks no older then eleven years of age, and the same rules apply for their armor and animations, only with added “benefits” of cheerful schoolgirl sound effects and a running animation that purposely shows off their rump.
The main thing the developers have pushed with this game is the single player action focused fighting style, but even than they have run into some problems. If your looking for a FTP MMO there are others out there that are far better and more polished and with less restrictions. If your looking for a game that lets you play action based combat buy a single player RPG, you’ll get more enjoyment out of that. With a tired and old questing system, weapon restrictions and movie cut scenes that really don’t do anything to enhance the situation, Tera falls short of what it wanted to be. I get more aggravated with seeing the what could have been in this game then whats actually in the game. Again, far better Free to Play MMO’s out there nowadays. While these are just my feelings after playing several characters into their high teens, and ultimately just a Hands-On preview, here are some bullet points and an overall score for my time with the game. –Chris
- + Graphics and animations
- + Combat can be fun
- + Do not need crafting tools for gathering and teammates share loot
- + Large selection of races
- – Crafting nodes are one time use and then cool down,
- – Weapon diversity and options are limited
- – Invisible walls stop you from exploring or doing anything fun
- – Portrayal of female characters
- – Outside of combat, game feels dated