With the onslaught of Massively Mutiplayer Online Games (MMO) hitting the scene as of late, En Masse Entertainment’s newest MMORPG, Tera, looked to me to be the most interesting. Initially, I was drawn to its sleek graphics style and action-oriented combat system, but after a month of playing, it seems that was really the only appeal. Tera hits the right spots in a few aspects of the game, giving you a certain satisfaction that you can’t get from other MMOs like World Of Warcraft (WOW), but its story is as compelling as a brick, and its quests are just as interesting.
Customization - When you first start the game, you are prompted with the character creation screen. The character creation is pretty extensive and customizable. You have to option of changing hair styles and skin colors like in other MMOs , but you can also adjust more intricate details such as width and height of your character’s nose or the jut of the jaw. This isn’t entirely new to MMOs, but it is definitely welcome. This sort of customization allows you to really feel like you character is unique rather than a cookie cutter model that just blends in with the crowd.
Combat - Probably my best experience in this game was the combat system. The action-RPG style of fighting really helps to liven up the gameplay. Unlike almost all other MMOs, in Tera you actually have to aim at what you are attacking. Your mouse acts as a cursor and you have abilities assigned to the mouse buttons. Because you aren’t standing in one spot clicking icons over and over, you can actually dodge enemy attacks. This combat system deals with a lot less abilities as well. You can assign your abilities to hot keys and put your main abilities on the mouse buttons. You also set abilities to string attacks so you can use one after another with just a tap of the spacebar. For instance, when I would use my “Penetrating Shot” ability, my string attack would link my leap ability to quickly jump backward away from the enemy by pressing spacebar, then I could use my “Multi Shot” to wail on my target from a distance by pressing spacebar once more. This is a very good way of implementing the use of other abilities that aren’t linked to your mouse buttons, so you can focus on aiming and dodging your target’s attacks.
Visuals - As far as graphics go, the game looks great. The world is fantastically rendered and looks awesome when set to max settings. At the lowest settings of course, the game doesn’t look too good, but it allows players with older computers to play the game pretty seamlessly. However, as most of us have learned by now, visuals are only as important as the weakest aspect of game play.
Roles - The classes are set up so that each one mostly plays a single role in a party. Unlike WOW, each class is defined as either a Guardian, Healer or Damage Dealer, rather than being able to branch out into specific skill trees to determine their role in a party. Warriors and Lancers serve as the tanks, Priests and Mystics are the healers, and Berserkers, Slayers, Sorcerers, and Archers are the damage dealers. I like the idea of classes having more than one option when it comes to their role in a party. This isn’t the case for all classes in WOW but most have at least two ways they can go.
Races - The races to choose from are interesting at first, but I found myself playing a human again. The races just seem to be mixtures of each other except the Popori (A chubby, short, animal race) and the Elin (a pre-pubescent race of little girls with furry animal ears and tails). The inclusion of the Elin still creeps me out a bit. Playing a race of little girls is odd in itself, but the fact that they are usually scantily clad makes it downright unsettling.
Story -The game begins mid-flight as your character rides on a winged horse toward a beautifully rendered island. The story at the beginning of the game is, as I stated earlier, lacking. The mediocre voice acting lends no hand to the lackluster story they are telling. You and your companions fly toward a newly discovered “Island of Dawn” to report for duty as you are a new recruit of the Federation. Nothing in the intro movie or opening sequence compels you to find out more about the story. It lacks that feeling of looming evil or destruction. This, of course, is how most MMO stories are. I can’t remember the last time in 5 years I actually took the time to read a quest in WOW. Star Wars: The Old Republic, however, proved to us that story in an MMO can be done well.
Tera got a few things right, but too many things are exactly the same. I think for an MMO to really take off and dethrone WOW (honestly, WOW isn’t doing as well as it was a few years ago, but it is still the biggest MMO out there) it needs to veer away from the formula that is being used for pretty much every other MMO out there. I find myself once again, choosing to play WOW over Tera. It’s hard to beat something that has been around so long because it’s had time to make necessary (and unnecessary) changes, but give it some time and it just might grow on you a bit. I just don’t have the time or desire to wait it out.
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*