Tera – Open Beta Hands On

As you might have heard, the MMO Tera had a free-to-play beta over the weekend and, like many a gamer, I decided to take a look.  I guess I must have missed my caffeine intake that morning because the five minutes it took to sign up and download the game had me thinking I was ready to play it.  In retrospect that’s absurd, as 75mb of file has no chance of being the game client, even if it were to start stream-playing (which is not how this works).  Thus began my 14-hour download to acquire the 20gb of “patches,” as the game launcher described it.  Please don’t take this as negative – I’m just describing the problems existing between keyboard and chair (PEBKAC, to those in the know).  With the download essentially taking all day, this gave me plenty of time to explore the details about my choices in classes, races, and a bit about the history of the world… and to go to work.

For the most part, they’ve done a good job in veering away from the standard set of fantasy races, instead going with their own.  I’d had my hopes set pretty high until I noticed the High Elves listed.  It would be nice to see more creativity, but I guess I’ll let it slide.  Racial choices consist of the aforementioned High Elf, Aman, Baraka, Castanic, Elin, Human, and Popori.  Each race has its own unique abilities and traits, along with a distinct appearance.  In some ways, the art style was somewhat reminiscent of Final Fantasy XI, which I do like quite a bit.  Popori are badger people which I found slightly odd, but it means Tera officially beat World of Warcraft in the race to get out a furry… race.

Class wise, players have the choice of being an Archer, Berserker, Lancer, Mystic, Priest, Sorcerer, Slayer, or Warrior.  Interestingly enough, each class has a difficulty rating indicating the complexity and skill level required to play it.  Warriors are ranked the most complex at 5/5, while Archers and Sorcerers sit at the other end of the spectrum with 2/5.

For my own interest’s sake, I decided to go with a Castanic Warrior, wanting to experience what En Mass considers the most challenging character.  One of the things that Tera touts as a major feature is to put more skill back into MMO combat, requiring players to expertly dodge and evade attacks as well as aim at targets, rather than letting the computer auto lock on for you.  I figure this is why the Warrior has such a high skill requirement.  In general, I can say this was a pleasant change to focusing on normal attacks at the monster and combining special abilities for damage, while keeping an eye out for their projected attacks in order to dodge-roll behind them, avoiding damage.

After customizing my character to my likeness, going through the wide selection of facial characteristics and body shapes, sizes, and colours, I was pleasantly surprised with the familiar voice of Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica, Mass Effect 2 and 3) narrating the opening cinematics.  A little Googling turned up that Claudia Black (Farscape, Stargate SG-1, Mass Effect 2 and 3) was also involved in the voice acting.  Those should make a few out there rather happy.

The beta starts off the player at level 20 with all abilities up to that point, working through a mission that has you stranded on a beach.  This introduces you to the movement mechanics and gets your character equipped for the first time through some initial quests.  In my case, this had me setup to run, jump, swing my swords (yes, I got two – mildly entertaining), and dodge-roll to avoid non-existent enemies.  Needless to say, I was ready to be introduced to my first dungeon instance, which you can do solo or find others to team up with.  Running through the instance results in introducing additional mechanics, namely, combination attacks, and ends up with a fight against a Big-Ass Monster (BAM).  Given that the beta was only for the weekend, this was a good opportunity for players to see a much more complete gameplay experience without having to spend hours leveling.

Once through the instance, players are sent right back to level one in a much nicer part of the realm.  Players of other MMOs will recognize the standard set of quests provided: going out and killing X monsters, acquiring Y items from Z type of monster, etc.  At least at low levels, there was nothing earth-shatteringly different than most MMOs’ leveling scheme.

As a whole, Tera has a decent amount of polish.  I remember when World of Warcraft first came out the servers were crashing often enough to be quite agitating.  The only glitch I noticed in Tera was a quest that had bugged out and the monster no longer spawned.  After a bit of frustration and some helpful players, it turns out you can change channels within the game to find less crowded instances of the world (and in my case, one where the monster actually spawned).  Players are provided with what seems to be the expected set of features available across most MMOs: combat, PvP, PvE, crafting, guilds, dungeons, and achievements.  Not a whole lot else I could ask for except maybe something I’ve not thought of yet (and if I did, I could make a mint for a new MMO idea!).

Browsing through the website for additional information provided an interesting set of features for end-game content – something that surprised me a bit.  Most MMOs tend to lack end-game content on release, focusing more on getting players there and bringing the rest in patches.  Tera offers players the usual slew of dungeons, bigger BAMs, PvP and interestingly enough, playing at politics.

Overall, does Tera seem to be a groundbreaking new type of MMO that will shake our very foundations? Probably not.  Is it worth the price? The recurring subscription seems to be less than WoW, but appears to lack the free-to-play subscription model for lower levels, so… potentially? Was it fun? Yes.  Will I see you online?  You tell me.



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April 25, 2012 - 8:00 am