Sunday, September 20, 2015

TERA Review – How does it stack up?

Since I can remember getting my first copy of World of Warcraft back in 2004 fall. I remember the excitement and the burning desire to jump right into a world of high fantasy and rich adventure with my brother and close friends. Yet there was still a massive air of curiosity and ignorance at the same time. The term MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer online Role playing game) was still relatively young with few predecessors with the exception of Everquest and Ultima Online the latter of which I never played. Needless to say, the experience for me was magical, it was engrossing and was an experience like none I had experienced in my gaming experience. I was hooked, the urge to progress and enjoy an adventure with close friends where you could conquer dungeons and enjoy the rewards and wonderful loot with friends stole many a sleepless night through university.

Fast forward 10 years later, there are now so many MMORPG's available to play it's like just a different flavored jellybean or like trying a new potato chip, you know the basic taste but you just need an experience of the new flavor just like the old Vanilla coke experience, you know it's technically the same but still different. This is the way I view all new MMO's with curiosity yet a strange sense of familiarity and here I am finding myself trying the not so new but free-to-play MMO known as TERA – Fate of Arun.

First impressions -

How do I begin? the game is simply beautiful, although I don't have the opportunity to enjoy the game in 4K glory, I am happy with playing at 1920 x1080 and the game is still very pretty. The textures are well animated and the character models are simply beautiful. The character customisation is relatively detailed, there is plenty of options for facial customisation . The facial sliders are a nice touch but I am disappointed that there is no option to change eye color, nor height/build of the character. Still, there is plenty to do such that you can tailor the character to your liking and the base models themselves are nice enough to look at. The enemies are equally impressive, although a lot of the enemies are re skinned or slightly re-textured variations there is enough of a variety to keep you visually engrossed. Moving on, the environments are also impressive, with a nice balance of green and built up areas to feast your eyes on. However, the areas do seem familiar and not as memorable as some landscapes that might be found in older games such as World of Warcraft or guild wars 2. The capital cities are nice in their own right, but they lack an outstanding sense of grandeur when compared to the warcraft capital cities and those of Guild Wars 2 they just seem far too linear and flat to trigger that memorable jaw dropping experience like when I first explored Stormwind nearly a decade ago, and Divinity's reach or Lion's Arch to name a few. It seems the scale was just not so impressive nor outstanding to me.

The Elf capital city of Allemantheia, Trade Broker district.
Combat mechanics and game play -

Like most MMO's the interface is similar and if you have even played one MMO, or any modern day RPG for that matter you can pretty much jump and hit the ground running with little or no learning curve necessary. Each individual class is created utilising their own special mechanic and skill set that has enough variations and skills to make no class too similar. The combat is well thought out and is a combination of an MMO with a ton of skills per class and also utilises a real-time combat system that allows for twitch/clutch game play given your ping is decent enough. My experiences with an average of 261 ms was definitely playable in PVE but I would assume PVP would be a different story when match made with a player below 100ms. Therefore, all ping arguments aside I am very impressed with the combat system, it's smooth enough to feel like guild wars 2, yet offer plenty of skills to challenge the skill set of a veteran World of Warcraft arena player. There is a happy medium with TERA's combat system that makes it stand-out enough for me to play the game continuously and not get bored. I must mention that I have not tired all the classes but from what I've tasted so far with the Lancer, Gunner and Sorcerer. Each are a treat to play and offer engrossing play styles without replicating one another's play style too much.

TERA UI - Fighting fantastic monsters known as BAM (Big Ass Monster)

A big question that tickled my curiosity before I even started playing was how much the game is going to be reliant on the holy trinity stereotype, one that was heavily a focus in World of Warcraft, but rather abandoned in such games like Guild Wars 2. The holy trinity system, for those who are not familiar is a parties requirement for a tank, healer and damage dealer roles when adventuring in parties greater than two. It wasn't much of a surprise that it eventually dawned: whilst the trinity system is alive and well, it is not so dependent to dub a lot the mainstream content unplayable such as experienced in games where the trinity is a must and the logic is upheld beyond one's skill requirement. I think the TERA development has done a fine job in retaining it's heritage but not to put extreme emphasis on the requirement for all roles except maybe in the very endgame raids.  

Some Cool stuff can be obtained through the online store.

TERA does not adopt a pay to win model, but ELITE status definitely saves time and assists with the levelling process. The vast majority of real money purchases is based on aesthetic and vanity items for you characters, not to mention fantastic mounts.

In conclusion, I can say that TERA is not for everyone, it definitely is a great free to play MMO, but it falls short in areas of depth. If you are a sucker for pretty characters and especially like playing a female character with all the crazy costume customisations which I honestly think is awesome, then certainly go ahead and give it go. Another note for players outside the US you may have a difficult time against other players if you are into PVP as the NA players will most definitely carry the advantage in ping, Lastly, the western version of TERA is influenced by it's Korean heritage but because Enmasse owns the rights to the US release, content will likely be lagging by around 6 months or so for new classes just like the brawler and gunner. On the bright side, it does give players a chance to prepare what might be install for the near future. TERA is definitely a game worth trying but far from the best MMORPG's currently available. 

Tell me what you think? :)

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