Tera sells itself as a “different breed of MMO.” So does it run with the pack, or is Tera its own animal?
Originally from Korea, Tera has gotten the localization treatment and is being brought to a Western audience, thanks to Enmasse Entertainment and Atari.
It’s a huge game, with a lot to do. Having played the game for more than a week, and passing the mid-way point of level 30, I can confidently say this game is worth your attention.
Tera is truly a sight to behold.
Environments are richly detailed, with majestic distant views, and magical artifacts that dot the landscape. Locations range from familiar windswept planes inhabited by troubled farmers, to glowing alien worlds that defy realty. There are forests shrouded in darkness, home to the undead, and red blasted lands where hulking Nagas tower over our heroes.
That’s just a small sample of nearly eighty different zones. Starkly different locations make the world feel truly alive—it’s a feast for the eyes.
Enemies in the game are just as artistically creative as the environments. Mobs range from “when cute critters attack” to “wtf burn it with fire!” Giant roaming monsters in the game are classified as “Big Ass Monsters” or BAMs (their words not mine). They tower over your party as you struggle to take them down.
Seeing one of these enormous creatures for the first time is certain to make you pause.
Clothing and armor look like something a glam-rock or metal band would don on stage. Many armors are sleeveless and devoid of protection for six-packs. For the ladies there’s skirts, stockings and (of course) cleavage. It’s ‘chain mail-bikini-armor,’ and won’t be appealing to all members of the audience. It certainly isn’t very realistic.
Personally, I’m already detached from what constitutes “armor,” since I ran around as a shark faced lancer on a floating island, while Pegasus’s flew overhead and trees tried to kill me. If anything it’s stylish, and like the environments, it looks nice.
The UI is completely customizable. Every piece of the UI can be moved and locked down anywhere you like. I love the hell out of this. I hope all other mmo makers take note.
I was thrilled to find Tera ran in ATI’s Eyefinity (aka triple-wide monitors). So if you’re rig is on the bleeding edge, Tera’s got you covered.
Undeniably, the player characters are “anime” in style, similar to that of other Korean MMOs.
Stone-skinned Baraka, and beast-faced Aman are imposingly large. Humans are brawny, looking like Gears of War protagonists. Elves and Castanics are lithe and elegant. Popori look like adorable stuffed animals with a killer instinct.
Elin, on the other hand look like cosplaying children, and often beg the question “shouldn’t you be in school?” In the lore, they are actually nine-hundred year old forest spirits. To the average Western gamer, they’re probably just plain weird. But, after playing the game for a week, I have found they blend into the high fantasy world of Tera along with the other strange denizens.
You can read more about the Playable Races Here.
Classes come in a variety of flavors, most fit into traditional mmo roles of DPS, tank, nuker, and healer. A couple being a bit of both.
Warriors wield two swords, using quick hit-and-run tactics, it’s “death by a thousand cuts” for the enemy. Lancers stab from a distance, hold enemy attention and use giant shields to block damage. Slayers cleave two-handed swords through a swathe of enemies, with broad heavy-hitting attacks. Berzerkers charge up two handed axes for massive damage, and weather blows with heavy armor.
Sorcerers scorch their foes from a distance with elemental attacks, burning them to a crisp. Archers charge up their arrows with special abilities, and may lay traps for their prey. Priests keep the group alive with well timed heals, and blast holy attacks. Mystics support with buffs and debuffs, and can summon thralls to their aid.
Having run the prologue (where you get a level 20 to test drive) with each class I can honestly say they are all fun. They play differently enough that you will probably make a few characters before you are done with Tera.
You can read more about the Classes Here.
The game contains a very deep and well animated guide. Any time I was confused about something I simply opened it and had my answer.
Combat is action oriented in Tera. You don’t simply highlight an enemy and attack it. You must line up your shots and strikes. Timing is crucial. You can also string attacks together into combos, with a very intuitive assist system. All classes require twitch skill to use, compared to traditional mmo gameplay. You need to be able to maneuver into position, and respond to attacks with a timely dodge or block.
Timing your dodge with a well placed knock down, followed by a series of pummeling blows is gratifying. A hundred times later, it still feels good.
Enemies will attack in real time, just like you. They have “tells” such a red glint in their eye, or a particular movement that hints at an attack.
This is where the game shows its brilliance. It tears out the stale mmo combat of mundane clicks, and replaces it with a superior interactive experience.
It’s like going from a black and white silent film, to one with HD and surround sound—I doubt I can go back to the old ways.
The rest of the game is like every other mmo you’ve played: Loot, crafting, auction houses, resource collection, item enhancing crystals, skill enhancing glyphs, teleporting system, mounts, Guilds, PvP, and item enchanting— it’s all here, and familiar to any mmo veteran.
Much is streamlined and more accessible, such as the ability to change an item’s appearance with templates, or the fact that several players can collect from the same resource node together, gaining a bonus for doing so.
It’s said that “Gameplay is King.” If so, long live King Tera.
Quests and Story:
Quests play out like every other mmo you’ve played. Kill “x” of these and collect “y” of those. This formula is repeated in each zone. The game (especially early on) can be a bit of a grind. It’s not terrible, it’s just identical to the existing mmo formula. It seems starkly bland, given the innovative combat system.
Teaming up with others to take on a dungeon, and slay the bosses within is a highlight in Tera. These large battles get chaotic and teamwork becomes critical. When a team finally takes down that end-boss, it’s very rewarding. Concluding a successful dungeon run often ends with digital hi-fives, and expanded friends lists.
Animated sequences pop up occasionally. Sometimes it’s a boss intro, or the discovery of a mighty weapon. Before seeing these, I pretty much skipped reading the NPC’s quests. Those movies really helped spark an interest in the lore, and frankly, Tera needs more of them. Reading blocks of text has become passe’, given that so many games now feature voice-overs from beginning to end.
Quests are translated well, with tales of traitors and demonic incursions threatening the world. Some are pretty funny, such as the manipulative Popori’s son, who tricked me into stealing him some fairy dust, so he could be “glow-y”. Humor can be a difficult thing to translate, yet Enmasse pulled it off.
Tera weaves a decent tale, if you take the time to read it.
Sound and Music:
Weapons clang and slash, fireballs burn the air, arrows zip towards the target, and monsters roar menacingly. When a “Bam” leaps into the air and narrowly misses you, crushing the earth where you once stood, you’ll feel it. Attack sounds get a bit repetitive, but that’s to be expected of a game where you will have likely slashed thousands of times to level 60.
Music is comprised of sweeping orchestral epics, that infuse your adventures with emotion. Boss fights are made larger by heavy use of percussion and intense crescendos. Visiting a safe haven is made more soothing by a calming woodwind melody. One bubbly Disney’esq tune made me feel a bit twisted, as I slay forest critters with an over-sized sword, but maybe that’s what they were going for.
Different zones have theme-songs, which make them feel unique, beyond visuals alone.
Tera sounds as pretty as it looks.
Tera is a brilliant game with dazzling visuals and dynamic gameplay. Pulling off crazy combos and cutting (or burning) through your enemies is fun. Taking on dungeons with a group is a blast. It’s a vibrant world with a lot of character. All the mmo standards are there, but more accessible and streamlined. Music is epic and sound effects are impactful. Quests are nothing new, and seem mundane compared to the revolutionary combat.
Call you’re local Zoologist, because Tera is indeed the “new breed of mmo” it claims to be.