MMOs come and go. Some stick around and go free-to-play (such as Everquest II), some begin as free-to-play intentionally and can be pretty fun (Spirit Tales
), while others still just drop off the face of the Earth (such Conan and Aion come to mind). Yes I understand people still play them, but when it comes to MMOs, one game stands out amongst the rest. One game that kind of serves as a benchmark for all other MMOs to compare to. That one game is World of Warcraft. However, I’m not here to review World of Warcraft. I’m here to review Tera and my experiences with it, but in my review I’ll be referring to World of Warcraft a bit.
Over the course of my playtime with Tera, I posted several “journals
” to describe my initial experiences with it, so now I get to take those and turn them into a full review. While writing my journals, I made many comparisons to World of Warcraft for two reasons. First, as stated before, World of Warcraft is the industry standard. It’s one of, if not the biggest MMORPG on the market today. Second, it’s really the only other MMO that I’ve played and actually enjoyed (pre-Cataclysm). I’ve tried Lord of the Rings Online, Everquest II, Guild Wars, and Final Fantasy XI. I’m not saying they’re bad MMOs, but I just didn’t get too into them. So what makes Tera any different from those other non-WoW MMOs? Well, let’s find out.
Once you create your character (as is the norm with me, I created a Sorcerer), you begin on an island after what I believe was a ship wreck. However, I was kind of busy noticing the fact that I started at a pretty decent level (20 I think) and had a good assortment of spells from the get go. I figured this was maybe because this was a review account, but soon learned why the scenario was called the Prologue. Basically, you’re asked (after a few starting quests and reading tips flashing by at the bottom of the screen) to find someone by the name of Elleon. When you do, you eventually take on your first boss fight, though with Elleon and his army by your side, it’s not much of a fight. Yeah it’ll take a while and you may “die”, but it’s not too bad. After that, another boss comes in, but before going too far, the game’s plot takes over and the monster wipes everyone out.
The game picks up quite a while later as you’re flying towards the Island of Dawn. Your goal is to find out Elleon’s fate and this must be a good place to start. Back at level one with very few abilities, now the main journey begins, and it’s a lot like other MMOs. You have your quests, your monsters you have to kill, spells and abilities to learn, you know, the usual MMO/RPG stuff. Typically when I review games here I write a few paragraphs about the mechanics of the game, do they work, do they suck, and so on. With Tera, if you’ve played an MMO like Everquest 2 or World of Warcraft, then you should get most of the mechanics right off, but I’ll discuss a few that might be different as I go along. This is where this review gets a bit different than my other reviews. Normally I just write a few paragraphs talking about how certain mechanics work and whether or not I think they’re good, bad, indifferent, etc. With Tera however, I think I’m going to split the rest of this up into what I liked about the game and what I didn’t, and if it turns out okay, I might make that my default way of writing reviews from now on, so let’s start with what I liked about the game.
The one major difference between Tera and other MMOs that I’ve seen in gameplay is the combat. In other MMOs, you approach your target, click on it, and then just unleash with whatever attacks you wish. With Tera, it’s quite different. You still have your basic attacks and spells/abilities you can use, but instead of just clicking the opponent and attacking, you have a targeting cursor you have to aim at the enemy and attack. This…I kind of like and kind of don’t. It is a challenge as you have to actually aim your attacks at an enemy and if you mis-aim your attack will just sail on by the enemy. However, it’s a pain when the enemy is right up next to you and is close to the ground. You now have two choices: back up and attack, or look straight down and attack. Backing up makes sense…until the enemy decides that it wants to be close to you and closes in again. That means you’re typically looking down to attack, and for me that’s a bit disruptive, as once I’m done I have to readjust to attack anything else near me that I might have aggroed. Still, it’s different than the standard “click an enemy, hit an attack button, enemy go boom” type of game, and adds a bit of a challenge to the game.
While the questing itself is so-so (I’ll get a bit more into that shortly), I did like how the mini-map displays enemies and quest objects and such. If I recall, WoW does that as well, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve played WoW, so I’m not sure how many similarities there are between the two here. With Tera, you can see on the mini-map where quest objects are located, and this includes enemies. The icons for the enemies are what make this stand out. Bigger icons mean the mob is an “elite” mob (to borrow a WoW term) that will require multiple people to take out, as I found out from experience. If an icon is orange, the creature is passive, meaning it’ll only attack you if you first attack it. If it’s red, the mob will attack if you get close enough. Something I noticed is that you can even track unique quest monsters, ie. monsters that only spawn in a couple spots or one at a time. This is something I wish I noticed before I spent half an hour running around the same area trying to find a quest monster that only spawned in one spot. Still, it makes questing quite a bit easier, but not to the point that it feels like someone’s holding your hand. No, that comes in a bit.
There’s quite a bit to like about this game, The gameplay is somewhat unique to other "click enemy and fire" MMOs, the music isn’t bad for your typical RPG “outdoorsy” music, and the graphics look incredible. However, there are a few things that “bug” me (pun somewhat intended), and the first of which is an issue that can plague any MMO to an extent: lag. Yes, it’s an MMO and all MMOs will have lag now and then, I’ve hardly played an MMO that almost always had some sort of lag. Going back to World of Warcraft for a moment, I had my days where my ping was over 1,000ms, but on the best days, my ping was less than 100ms, which is awesome. With Tera, I never found a way to see my exact ping rate, but every day I played there was lag to some degree, and once or twice it was almost unbearable to even play because it kept screwing me over with killing enemies. The most evident of this is trying to kill a boss or unique monster and having the game lag and display your health incorrectly. In fact, while playing I died maybe five times and two of those were due to stupidity and taking on more than I thought I could. The other three? All due to lag while fighting a boss or unique monster. While fighting I keep close attention to my life meter and if it even drops below a certain amount when in a big fight, I chug a potion or back off and heal myself. In all three of these scenarios my attacks were lagging a bit, but my health was doing okay at around 40-50%. Then out of nowhere, the monster makes an attack that downright kills me off in one hit. Maybe the monster has an incredibly powerful attack that can do that, but given the fact that the game had been lagging a bit prior to the fight, I chalked it up a bit to lag.
Another thing that kind of bothered me was the starting quests. Going back to Azeroth for a moment, every race would have their starting area (a couple may share one), and in that starting area you’d have a few quests to get you acquainted with how the game works, but they’d be quite easy, mainly because all of the mobs would be passive. After a few of those the mobs would become aggressive, but still kind of simple because you’re just starting out (this is pre-Cataclysm by the way, as after that came out the starting areas were entirely passive). After that, you move on and towards the race’s big city (ie. Stormwind for humans), but now you’re out in the real world where you’ll encounter aggressive enemies that can attack you on sight. At this point, you’re about level five on average. With Tera, it’s about the same…only a heck of a lot easier. Instead of a starting zone, you have a starting island. Seriously, I think I was around the mid to late teens before finally leaving the island. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except that every mob is passive. Yes…there is not a single enemy will attack you until you attack it, save for one mob that you have to defeat for a quest. Still, while I didn’t mind that too much, it seemed a bit easy and it left me wanting more of a challenge. Once you (finally) get past the starting area, things do get better. However, that’s when lag starts to catch up, but I already went into that.
There is a bit that unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to get into, such as politics and dungeons during my time with the game but I do wish I had the chance to experience them. I did have a chance to group with some people for quests and that turned out well.. This is a game that I do plan to go back to at some point to play more of. Overall, it’s not a bad game, but it does have its issues. Aside from the lag, the early going did start to get a bit boring as I felt it wasn’t too challenging. If you can get past that and past the lag, it’s a fun game if you’re into MMOs. Also, remember Elleon, that guy I mentioned much earlier in this review? Yeah, once I got off the starting island I don’t recall anyone mentioning him again. I’m sure it’ll come up much later in the story, but it almost feels like they started the story, wrote the end, and just said “eh, let them use their imagination for the middle of the game”. I think Tera has the potential to stick around for a while instead of falling by the wayside like a lot of other MMOs that tried to compete with WoW. Will Tera surpass WoW? It's hard to say, but if they fix the lag issues it would be a close competitor, but any MMO trying to compete with WoW has their work cut out for them, and Tera is no different. Again, it’s a fun game, but if possible play a trial if you’re unsure before paying full price for the game.