By Spiritgod 1 Comments
A giant beast swinging his arms. Hoping to make contact with my fragile but agile body. He's a big obstacle standing in my way of fame and glory, but still my determination will overcome. All had been going well, that is, until he made that devastating blow where I now lay motionless upon the soil. Many would cry foul, that this beast cheated to have taken so much of my strength away from me, but only the smart know that war has no rules. I get back up as quickly as I fell. Bloody, bruised, aching to my core, yet I stand ready to die. I won't allow this thing, this crime against nature to see me cower in defeat. No, I will die with sword in hand.
Tera, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMORPG for short, is yet another fantasy MMO from Korea. Many had written this game off for the simple fact of it being "just another Korean MMO", but the few who kept interest found a somewhat diamond in the rough. Could this be a truly unique MMO that steers clear from all the other tropes of the genre? Well, yes and no.
One thing Tera doesn't steer away from is the mold of none co-operative play. Meaning if two people see the same enemy, only the player that strikes the enemy first will rip the benefits of the kill, making this a very friendly solo MMO. Though that doesn't mean you won't find gamers out there that won't help others. An example: I was fighting this giant beast monster, what the first paragraph is about. I was having my ass handed to me, with this being my third attempt. All seemed lost, and the only thought in my head was frustration and a hell of a lot of grinding in the future, that is until a complete stranger started attacking the beast from behind. They kept the monster's attention so that I could finish it off and earn my mission completion prompt. So in turn, when the beast re-spawned, I stuck around to help him kill it. Though he died before the monster was officially killed, I continued the attack until that fateful blow hit and the monster lay dead and the experience transferred to my new friend. We spoke not a word to one another, but I'm sure they knew as I that we were glad to have met each other. Little experiences like that go a long way in my eyes as a player.
Mission structure is pretty much what you'd expect from any MMO on the market. You have story quests that lead your character along a linear path to an end game, while side quests are plentiful and are really meant for leveling. What really brings Tera down to the level of the ordinary fit of MMOs already released is that most, if not all, side quests are nothing but grind-fests. Go here, kill ten of this, 20 of this, come back. Go here, pick up 5 of these, 6 of these, and come back. You'll never really find much interest in anything side quests have to offer. That is until you scroll down to see the rewards. I constantly found myself opened jawed at the amount of experience I'd receive from certain missions, that I'd quickly run out of quests to do in certain regions because I'd done them all. Also, missions are colored coated based on difficulty, and the game gives a very useful indicator on when a mission is team-based, and even gives a rough estimate on how many players the mission will take to complete. A very useful tool for those only wishing to play alone.
From the areas I've seen and traversed through, most of the game is bright and beautiful. There were certain times that it seemed as if I some how was transported onto the cover of a nine year old girls school folder, only there were no unicorns. All jokes aside, this is probably the best looking MMO I've seen...besides Guild Wars 2. The best example I can give is The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and its lush landscape.
Never before have I played such a game that currency is so flooded onto players. Sure I spoke of The Old Republic handing out credits left and right, but Tera does it in such a way that I was gaining more coin from fallen enemies than the mission they were based on. And the way currency drops is so random. One enemy I fought and killed, dropped 10 copper coins, the smallest value coin in the game, while another enemy five feet away dropped 81 sliver coins, the equivalent of 8100 copper coins. And most games level out the currency with prices in the shops, but I've found that if I couldn't buy a certain item that it wasn't because I couldn't afford it but because the item was level locked.
Enemies that make up the game world are incredibly unique to the regions you'll find them in. Sure there are few here and there with maybe a slight difference, but the majority of the enemies you see and fight will be different from region to region. Also, I was incredible surprised at the amount of thought that went into the design of each enemy. Most games I've played have the same ole cookie cutter enemy layout, that Tera is a nice change from the mundane.
Where the game truly takes a turn for the different is combat. In most MMOs, combat is basically run toward an enemy, click their body and your character begins to attack automatically while the control is taken away from the gamer. Tera controls much like a regular third-person game, where the W,A,S,D keys control character movement, the mouse controls the camera angle. And for those asking, the ALT key releases the mouse so that the player can control the mouse pointer on-screen. In fact, combat never feels tired or tedious. The gamer still has abilities to unleash, but Tera gives more control at dishing out pain. And what really makes the combat so much more different is that there isn't a math problem going on the background of combat. Where the players mouse reticle is, is where the attack will take place. There are no dodging or miss prompts to float above the enemies head.
Like many RPGs, Tera also has the small jobs hiding in the background of game-play. Though I haven't studied any of them thoroughly, I do know that there is enchanting for weapons and armor to add bonuses, crafting for creating weapons, armor, and potions. I can really only speak of enchanting, since I enchanted one sword. First you need the item you want enchanted, then the materials that encase the enchantment effect, and lastly you'll need another of the same item that will be destroyed. So in my case, I needed two swords, one to be enchanted and the other to be lost forever, with the item that gave better attack power, an increase in mana, and the ability to have my character run faster. Even though I haven't dove deep into the recess of enchanting and crafting, it definitely is something of interest for any gamer, and adds hours onto game-play.
Another factor with enchanting and crafting is the materials you need. Around the world you'll find ore pockets and plants to be harvested, each having a level of difficulty. With each successful harvest, your character levels in gathering. The higher the players gathering skill, the greater chance at success at harvesting materials.
I might actually be in the minority in this view, but every female class in this game is a bit tasteless. Gamers literally have to try extensively hard to craft a female character with the appropriate amount of clothing to be considered "covered up", while male characters have a wide arrange of body types to pick from. Also, every human character suffers from pretty people syndrome, as each one, even ones with scars, look like models in a beauty magazine. A small complaint from me, but I'm sure there are people out there that find this a bit offensive...thankfully I'm not easily offended.
Like I said before, Tera has abilities that players can use in a strategic way to have an upper hand in combat, but where I believe Tera does things different, is that players can purchase glyphs that add special attributes to each skill. For an example, if I can remember correctly, I have a skill that if I'm knocked down in combat, I can use a specific skill that allows me to jump back up and immediately attack. With a specific added glyph, I have a 50% chance that when I use that skill my cool-down time will be exempt. Little added bonuses such as that add a bit of spice to the mix of the game, and with many skills having many different sockets for glyphs, then the player is given more customization and added freedom to truly create a unique character.
If you've played any MMO before, you may have run into the problem of constantly hitting the wrong numbered keys which house specific skils. Tera adds a bit of twist in this area. Players can now chain skills together in a very long line of murder and destruction. An example: I have a chained set of skills that poisons an enemy, unleashes a large line of attacks, rolls in the direction I hit the movement key, and then does a spinning sword attack. That's four skills I've chained together, which the game automatically configured for me. The game allows for chained customization as well, so if one set of chained skills don't work, then the player can mix and match to their hearts content. Basically once you use the first linked skill then the player will see a prompt on screen showing the next skill, if the player decides to continue on with the chain then they simply press the spacebar.
Another small difference that makes Tera unique is the introduction of campfires. These little bonfires are used to quickly regenerate mana, but also gives a very useful rested bonus which the game calls stamina. Stand next to a campfire long enough and the player gains a huge jump in health and mana. Though the more you fight, the quicker the bonus drops, but with a handful of campfires in your inventory, or even finding another player who has set up a campfire, you'll never lose this bonus.
One of my favorite hobbies growing up was searching soda machines and payphones for loose change. Nothing felt greater at age six like finding a quarter that someone left behind. In Tera I constantly find loot that others players forgot to pick up. The way the game handles this is there is a draw distance, that if a player walks away from their loot, at a certain distance that loot is up for grabs by any player. I've picked up crafting supplies, high level armor and weapons, and even an abundance of currency. Don't worry though, the draw distance spans a large area, so the only way you'd leave loot behind is if you truly didn't see it in the first place.
My truly favorite thing about Tera is the introduction of channels. Each server has anywhere between 4-6 different channels that act as crowd control. If you find yourself and ten other complete strangers doing the exact same quests, that it is becoming increasingly difficult in furthering your progress, then all you need to do is switch to another channel with a smaller population and viola, you can continue murdering and collecting with no other soul to bother you. Also, if you can't find that last plant or enemy, and don't want to wait for them to re-spawn, then you can again switch channels and that plant or enemy will be there waiting for you. Keep in mind though, switching channels take a little time to complete, nothing huge but don't expect it to be instantaneous.
Party and guild systems are much like other MMOs. You can join up with others for a brief amount of time or join a more permanent group where the bonuses are a shared bank, and fond memories of playing a game with other gamers.
The story, from what I can tell, isn't all that interesting. Two gods fell asleep and dreamed up the world in which you find yourself. Suddenly a mysterious island appears out of nowhere, and you and the rest of the world is sent to investigate. Though I haven't gotten very far with my level 27 warrior, I can't see the story leaping into the amazing anytime soon.
I know a lot of people have heard me complain that games don't give a lot in the form of tutorials, and if they do then the game does more hand holding then what I find tolerable. I know there is a balance that maybe game developers have a hard time hitting, but I can honestly say that Tera comes very close. You actually start the game off as a level 20 character with a good amount of skills. This addition gives players a glance into the future of whether or not the class they picked will be fun for them without needing to play countless hours. And at anytime during the game there is a help function that automatically pops up in the corner of the screen, complete with pictures, that the player can bring back up through the settings tab, which holds the hands of players that actually need it.
Teleporting in many games is set to a waypoint type system of finding a cities marker. Tera works in much the same way, but also gives players the ability to find or purchase scrolls that have the ability to automatically teleport them to the nearest city. From there the player can head over to the NPC labeled the 'teleport master' to search the world for the next destination they wish to go. This helps players from constantly needing to trek through the environments, and is a huge time saver.
The score that makes up the game is tantalizing and enjoyable to listen to, but don't be surprised if listening to the same music becomes tiring. Of course one could always fix this by muting the sound and listening to their favorite band or podcast. Trust me, muting the game isn't going to make the player miss much.
I'm not a huge fan of subscription based video games. In my head I already paid for the game, why should I have to continuously pay to play? But with Tera's amazing environments, friendly population, overly different and fun combat, and well rewarded mission structure, I can recommend Tera to any RPG gamer looking for something to sink their teeth into. And even though Tera doesn't sway too much from the MMO mold, it is different enough for many MMO veterans while also catering to any newcomers of the genre. So if you're looking for a huge playground to have a little fun in, and the possibility to meet new people with the same interest, then I highly recommend you give Tera a go. Do keep in mind though that this game has a monthly subscription of $15 a month, but comes with a free month of game time.
A few tips: For those easily offended, stay away from Tera. There is a race in the game that is nothing but little girls in somewhat skimpy clothing. The Internets are all ablaze on the subject, which with just a little research any soul could investigate. To me they look like anime children, but whatever. Don't worry about harvesting every single thing you find in the game, the world is filled with so much to harvest that you could literally find yourself doing nothing but that for hours. If you come across an enemy with a skull next to their name, stay far away, those enemies are meant to be defeated in a group and will murder anyone going in solo. If you do decide to tackle one of these hellish creature, do so responsibly, make sure you're several levels higher than it and have a lot of time to kill...they don't go down quickly or easily. Always look for loose loot, the game will let you know if that player is around somewhere, so don't worry about picking up someone else loot that might be close by. You obtain your first mount at level 11, roughly three hours of game-play, so don't worry if you find the speed at which your character moves a problem. Always, always, always pick up quests. Doesn't matter if you're never going to do them, the game has exclamation points over 90% of mission specific content. Don't be afraid to experiment all the game has to offer, sometimes it takes a small change to make the greatest character in the game. If you find yourself in need of help, or just want to complete quests that require more than one person, don't be afraid to ask those around you. Always carry campfires and teleporting scrolls, they give a much needed boost and save a lot of time in the long run. Up your inventory as soon as possible. Merchants can only be found in cities, so selling gear only happens every now and then, plus the first few inventory expansions are pretty cheap.