Having spent 80+ hours on the recently Westenised TERA Online (aka The Exiled Realm of Arborea) from Bluehole Studio, I am kind of surprised to say that I have yet to form some sort of definitive opinions on the game. My feelings are kind of conflicted, since my experience with the game has been very mixed thus far.
There is of course the smooth gorgeous artstyle boosted by by its Unreal powered graphics. However, perhaps the most noteable part of TERA would be its active combat mechanics, which utilises a 3rd person targeting system reminescent of Richard Garriott’s Tabular Rasa. While the game still retains the traditional cliché skills and abilities found in other MMOs, it lacks an auto targeting lock on system, and instead relies on manual aiming on the players end.
In addition, the game also take adventage of a combo-chaining system, similar to the one found in games such as Funcom’s Age of Conan, which allows for a simple to control yet potentially complex combat system, using just a small number of ingame skill sets.
While the combat mechanics aren’t exactly new or revolutionary, the game’s more active manual nature does lend itself to more frentic, engaging combat engagements, with the ingame monsters dodging, jumping, and rolling around, and you having to do the same to keep up. What is interesting to note too is that the monsters’ attacks can also damage other mobs, meaning that it very possible to play multiple mobs off against each other, and using their own attacks against them, adding further (perhaps unintentional) depth to the combat.
On the downside however, the rest of the game is as cliché and generic as they come, with the same old kill-ten-rats and go-from-A-to-B quests, same cliché races of elves and humans, and the same old cliché trinity system of tank, healer and DPS. To be frank the lore and the world and the map designs in general just aren’t very fresh or interesting, and playing through the game I never got the sense that I was playing something new. One could even perhaps go as far as to say the game bores me, to a degree.
Community-wise TERA has the average fare also – for an idea on what the general playerbase is like, all I can say is that I have already left two seperate servers after having spent 15+ hours on each, and on the 3rd server I still find myself being plagued by idiots, with the same old immature WoW crowd running amock with their anal/murloc/Chuck Norris jokes; the same old antisocial asses making fun of and insulting everybody else; and the same old elitist groups looking down on the rest of the players.
While I cannot see myself playing this game long term at this stage, I also cannot deny the fact that I keep finding myself logging on into the game day after day. So how does TERA compare to all the other MMOs out there? Is the game worth the price of entry? And perhaps more importantly, am I having fun with the game? To be totally honest… I just don’t know.