Published on July 28th, 2012 | by Matt Purser
TERA – Asian grind-fest or genre defining moment in MMO gaming?
I actually wanted to title this “TERA – 2000 year old sex objects and giant noses with hands” sadly though the Funsponge overlords soaked up my amusement and advised me that referring to the childlike Erin as sex objects would probably offend someone somewhere.
TERA is the latest in a very long line of fantasy based MMOs to hit these shores, it’s a subscription based model so you’ll actually have to fork out real folding coins to play it as well as buying the “box”.
Anyone who’s played an MMO in the last 5-6 years will recognise the format, hit buttons to perform actions in a sequence that makes the monster in front of you fall over. Stand at a crafting station clicking more buttons to create items which never sell on a virtual auction house. Smash face against a keyboard as your comrades can’t fathom the basics of “don’t stand in the fire”. That kind of thing, you get the picture.
Well TERA, bless its crazy knee-high Asian socks, does away with the old click on monster, click on number of buttons and wait for it to die routine and instead opts for a much more fluid, natural way of fighting. Why no one thought of this before is beyond me, after a few minutes you’re dancing around pulling off wild ninja-esque moves with reckless abandon. The graphics and animations of both your character and the bizarre creatures you face (more on those later) are incredibly well realised, each item you pick up, each bit of armour, basically everything you wear, wield, ride on or caress with your delicate fingers has been individually designed. From the usual rubbish “grey” loot to the “orange” loot (no purpehlz here) each piece of equipment has been designed/modelled/painted from the ground up. Hats off to the art department in this respect, as a visual spectacle it’s truly stunning, every zone you enter, every section of that zone, every dungeon, cave, lake, river etc. has been hand-crafted from an amazing palette of colours, textures and effects.
Despite all the effort put into the combat, which is truly different, innovative and at times downright spectacular, the rest of the game is ultimately yet another generic clone, if a hugely polished one. Butt loads of content and stuff to do, competently executed but lacking any real innovation. The quests… ahh yes the quests, before I skip over that. There are literally thousands of them, tens of thousands. But none of them between lvl 1 and 43, where I got before calling it quits, presented me with anything different other than the usual “kill x of these, then x of these, then camp a named mob that may or may not appear for a while whilst killing x of these” or the best ones “go chat to him right over there” *points to NPC right next door to the one you’re speaking to*.
Even the tutorial level gives it away somewhat. You start at level 20 with some skills to master which introduces you to the combat system. Then once you complete that mini-story it plunges you back to level 1 and the “find/kill/collect” grind begins and everything begins to feel very familiar.
And yet….despite that familiarity there’s something about it that compels me to play that little bit more to see what’s round the corner. Whether that be a beautiful vista, or a BAM (Big Ass Monster), TERA’s epic boss mobs which are both vast and bonkers, some of them are just an arse with arms!
This is not a game to be played alone, you’ll soon grow bored of the eternal quest grind and no matter how cool those spinny swords or fiery flames look attached to your arms, nothing will fill the void created by the feeling that you’ve done all this before 101 times. So unlike Guild Wars 2, which genuinely appears to be attempting something truly monumental in ripping up these tired tropes MMOs have been for the past two decades, TERA falls at the second hurdle, taking brave steps with the combat system but failing to revolutionise anything else.
It’s a fun diversion, as a long term project though, and lets face it only the game which shall not be named has managed to pull off the long term with any success in the last eight years. If you’ve played any MMO’s since, you’ve seen this all before barring the pretty graphics and flashy combat. Unless you happen to be really into Asian styled games, with all the grind and challenge that go along with them, and you have at least 4 friends to share those challenges with, you’ll probably tire of it fairly quickly.
If it’s just you and a spare £50 I would spend it on Guild Wars 2 and get way more bang for your buck.