Yesterday, I went in to my local Gamestop to cancel my pre-order of Tera. Upon telling this to the man behind the counter, he laughed and said, "I don't blame you." He and I proceeded to agree on the reason why I would do this. This cancellation was not done easily, mind you. Tera and Guild Wars 2 were two of the few MMOs coming out that actually managed to pick up some interest from me, as they looked to be standing above the mindless wasteland that the entire genre and its players seems to be content with. So, why did I cancel my pre-order, effectively sealing off my interest in the game?
In a nutshell, the problem is everything except for the combat. More specifically, what I do between combat encounters, and why I'm doing these combat encounters. Now, I did enjoy the combat system, and I thought that the world and characters looked fantastic. But these two good elements (the latter one being superficial, to boot) doesn't make up for the bulk of the game being a gauntlet of same-y quests that all follow the generic MMO questing archetypes. In the very first quest hub, I found myself being told to go kill a certain number of mobs, then told to go back and kill a few more of the same exact mob, as part of a completely different quest, as if the game needed to test my ability to retain the knowledge of, "circle around the bad thing and click until it's dead."
In my mind, this sort of game design is unacceptable. I've played more than my fair share of MMOs, and I'm simply sick and tired of game design built solely around wasting my time with a high number of repetitive, menial tasks. Ideally, the moment I can prove that I'm capable of overcoming a challenge, the game should have me move on to the next bit of content. The only content I found myself enjoying was the instances and large mobs (or BAMs), where the BAMs were starting to become a bit boring after having to kill multiple of the same beast for a single quest. I like games that evoke a David and Goliath mentality, but the original story would not have been nearly as interesting if David continued on to kill Goliath's six brothers. I can't help but feel that Tera would have been better if it focused less on having dozens of boring generic quests in each zone, and instead focused on a few quests that were more in-depth, or simply less quests, but with higher rewards
For full disclosure, over the course of the three closed beta weekends I played, I rolled a new character each time. First, as a popori slayer, then a high elf archer, and finally with a high elf warrior. Each time I played with a new character I got a little bit further, and each time I would stop after roughly a day and a half of my casual play, ultimately reaching the esteemed level 24 with my warrior. This wasn't particularly far, but I didn't feel as if the game really engaged me enough to warrant any further look. It may get better, but Tera's not the only game in existence, and I'm more than capable of playing games where I'm not forced to play through boring content in order to have fun. I have a job, and I'm going to college. I need entertainment, not another source of frustration and boredom.
As much as I liked the few bits and pieces of Tera, it simply did not make up for the huge amounts of pointless filler. As a result, I cancelled my pre-order, and am now looking forward to the first Guild Wars 2 beta weekend. It may not be the exact game I'm looking for, but to ArenaNet's credit, they don't seem concerned with wasting what precious little time I still have. I can't say the same of Bluehole and En Masse.