Saturday, May 18, 2013

M6 - TERA REVIEW



Hello and welcome to my first blog game review. I have done several in the past, but mostly as a visitor on another website. I highly encourage you to read through all of this, and then post your own review below! DEFY ME! CHALLENGE ME! but most importantly, speak out and support or give other aspects otherwise missed here. Trolling is welcome as well! Ok, here we go:

A little info of my relationship with TERA. I used to visit the site during closed beta, and followed news feeds when it was under development. Launched as a subscription based game, I did not play it because I was engaged in another subscription game. I dropped out of the news until early 2012 when I would see news bits and arguments around the sites about RIFT vs TERA vs ...(WoW of course). People's responses always seemed to conclude it was a hate or love, and if you loved TERA you loved it for one thing. The combat. And the rest was a "Korean Grind Fest". Then late 2012 it goes F2P. I read up again, waited, and was hesitant as the same kind of argument was being had. After reading Forums and actual mmorpg site reviews, they all seem to have concluded this:
Pros
Absolutely fantastic combat
Excellent group play
Superb visuals
Cons
Lacking UI functionality
Terribly old-hat questing
Vanarch for the elite only?
(TAKEN FROM MMORPG.COM)

And the support in the comments by readers all shared this same sort of general conclusion. So I stayed away. I also read by the comments of the community: "The classes are horrible. You can really only play without grind with a lancer. His Combat animations are the best." - "There is no story."

I also hopped into the official TERA forums to hear what community had to say about F2P turn: "This is horrible. I am quitting the game. But before I do, I want to gather as many current subscribers to camp the nooby bridge to gank all new F2P crowd."

SIGH! This kept me out of the game at least another month or two. But a few things pushed me to try it out. 1)I had just finished my stunt with AION EU(save that for another review) and was checking out the payment tier model of TERA and noted, suprisingly, that EU wasn't getting as ripped off as US (au contraire to AION). Soooo why not. Let's do this. I even told myself if it installs slow I will just cancel it and wait longer. I was super bummed, and super critical, but very curious.
So the install was fast on my end. And I got in.
So let's get to it. The first thing I fell in love with was the CLASS - RACE - SEX FREEDOM! I can mix and match whatever I wanted. Want to be a idget tank! Go for it! Want to be a giant priest? go for it! Male Female...your choice! Thanks Tera!

I created a Popori Priest, Male. That is the animal race which can be altered to look like a panda, cat, dog, racoon, ewok, thing. I am not going to delve to much into the class selection because allot of trolls created this stigma that if you play Eline, the little girl class (ONLY GENDER LOCKED CLASS) that you are a pedo bear. I think not. There is enough variety in the races that this was a for fun, cutsy, anime, like class. Same models are found in other asian developed themed games like Prius online (reborn recently as Arcane Saga). I get it. It is mostly a cutsy asian thing, but yeah, pedo magnet, ok, but you do realize that there are pedo's in Mine Craft as well... like this really is going to change pedo gaming...WTF trolls.
Character Creation. Great! Not full customization, but enough to create enough diversity, that it is hard to find your clone in game.

The tutitorial was a little confusing but I under stood after it was over why things where what they where. I started on a shore during a storm and with about 7 spells slotted in my hot bar and the the little stor pushed me up the shore to teach me combat basics and spell casting. The first questions I had was "How long is this shore sequence? Is this really the tutorial? Whoa all these spells level 20 off the bat! What does what, and is this default the set up the best?" I
changed them around a bit to my liking, and moved on. Once the tutorial shore sequence is over, you start level one with NO spells. This kind of threw me off as I just got used to 1-4-2-1 casting as I skillfully dodged around. WTF? Ok, whatever, push on. As I leveled up I realized that the tutorial was EXCEPTIONALY USEFUL to get a feel for the FUTURE spells I would have and how to place them, because my journey though level 1-20, as I unlocked the spells, I knew exactly what they did already, where to put them on my bar, and what combo suited me best... THIS is the great part of the tutorial. ALLOT of people complained that is was dry, confusing, and useless and delayed the hoping right into level 1 phase to start playing... WOW...So recently, TERA has REMOVED the tutorial and you start on noob island at level 1. Thanks you whiny babies! You just gimped a game so you cna be insta rewarded and speed level. Sadly, this is the audience.
HYPOCRITICALLY the same cry babies also cry about LACK OF STORY. or BORING STORY. Ok...wait. There is a big cinematic story that kicks off on the beach that will lead on into the main city, yet you cried to remove that part to get right into leveling, so if you had no time for story...WTF are you complaining about?
It is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of situations. Sadly TERA is catering to these poor bastards.

Questing: I will disprove the myth right now. Most mmorpg reviews NEED negative points to seem "balanced" (even though they are paid to advertise). The story here is probably one of the richest stories I have been in, in a LONG TIME. This ties into the over all game desing which I will discuss in the next part. The critic was: "The story is bland and uninsteresting text, and nothing but quest hubs"....WOAH WOAH!
So here is how it works quickly: You follow a story to the main city around level 5. This is supported with epic CUTSCENES, and short story text. In fact the text is so short for each NPC that you never have to scroll more than 2 pages. The goals are amazing. Yes there are quests to kill X amount of things to level up to continue on the MAIN quest line. The quests of each region are APPROPRIATE for each region. That is, it is not "help the farm is in trouble". USually there is something related to the environment. Sometimes you interact with flora and fuana as you have to gather new plants of a new region. Sometimes you escort. Sometimes you interact. The point is, there is enough in the sub quest to keep it variety that it was never kill kill kill...
Also, around level 30 (takes 3 days to get to), you start to not only quest in a region, but you enter these "caves" or "castles" or "forts"... when my quests first dove me in these, I though "oh crap, dungeon like group content, here we come...and I don't want to pug"...but to my surprise it was never instanced, it was super ambient mini dungeon fun, NON INSTANCED (can't stress that enough). I was thinking, "Wow, I did not know this existed on the outside map, yet it is streamlined here and non instanced". Kind of like a living world that was nesting by you the whole time. It was solo able, and it was challenging, and it was ambient! Each place like this has a theme, a special environment sound, etc. For example, there is a Pirates cove you go into. A cave with 2 large boats in the center, this is about 3 stories in depth, all non INSTANCED, and quest givers scattered through out. You usually are given the quests to go in during regular "hub questing". In the cave you hear wood creaking, water dripping, chains dragging, very pirate cave ambiance. I encountered a Pirate Cave, a "academy" (sort of haunted library), An undead tomb. etc. And I know there is more to come! And it is all apart of natural quest taking! This is dynamic and the main story ties into it!
How clear is the main story? SUPER CLEAR! The MAIN QUEST LINE: You are of the main town gaining rank as a citizen soldier, you partake in espionage, and you even save a godess in a tower around level 15. You get knighted, there is a duty officer to give you orders...the main mission like consists of several main mission plots and are usually always CINEMATIC. How can a story get any more clear??? You have a friggin movie to explain it to you. The cutscenes are epic as you meet main story NPC's, etc. I was never lost and I felt apart of a live world. I think the bad rep on this game is hugely trolled.

The region quests, the heart of leveling up as you move around, are clear and easy. I can see how these can be seen as "Boring" because yes, to get out of one map and into another you follow these quest lines. But what mmorpg DOES NOT do that? There is none. They all do this, and TERA does it well (SEE GAME PLAY to tie this in). So what we have is:
MAIN QUESTS - REGION QUESTS / Region quests that put you in the "mini dungeon" quests - I have not spoken about guild quests, daily quests, repeat quests, etc... There is so many things to be busy and coins and achievements to be had... I really do not see the point people were trying bash TERA on here... Did they want Scratch and sniff odors to smell to get a full 4D gaming experience??
Just look at all the related videos to this. They are all epic and pretty clear!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYpgNLCk-RM

GAMEPLAY: This is where I have to tie in the questing. I have seen allot of false information on this. People saying this game is a GRIND, etc. NOPE. This game has so much diversity and map variety, you will be seeing new terrain often. I played casually, about 2 hours a day for 5 days a week. Everyday, I saw a new region, so about 2 hours of game play each map. You will be in a desert one time, a forest the next, a rocky area, etc etc... The quests are NEVER "kill 100" of this. It is always "KILL 5", The general rate of kill is 10 monsters, the MOST I have ever been asked on 1 quest I can remember is 20 monsters. But you know what? They have a patter, the higher the kill rate the easier to kill. For example, on kill 10 or 20 monsters, they usually are 1 mob of 5 tiny guys all attacking you, you kill them easily because they are like little baby monsters, so 1 mob of 5 in one kill = 4 to 5 kills only, which is the equivalent of the 5 kill ratio. Because when you are given 5 kills it is usually a monster one on one battle that is "challenging". Where as the little group of 5 baby mobs are just fodder to push back (usually they have a parent monster guiding them that adds the challenge). So this ties in to the questing, it is SMOOTH. You get in a region, take a few quests to kill about 5 monsters get rewarded, this pushes you around at a steady fast pace. This also creates MONSTER VARIETY! RARELY will you ever have to kill the same mob TWICE! It is usually a one deal affair and you move on to the next region and new story! HOW COOL IS THAT!?
Seriously, when I read the troll reviews...I wonder if they were ever playing this game...Maybe the Subscription model was bad and the F2P I played is better?
One word I can sum up game play, questing, and combat is SMOOTH. TERA is SMOOTH! That is the over all word to describe it. Everything just fits. I played a Priest class and of all the mmorpg's I have played, I have to say, this is the BEST PRIEST I have ever played! BALANCED! I can solo no problem with my handful of offensive skills, I have to adapt to larger fights with my healing abilities like a priest should. It also takes me longer to kill solo BAMs (explain later)as it should. In dungeons, I do nothing but debuff, heal, and assist damage if thigns going ok. But, my role is 100% Priest like. I sometimes wonder "Wow, I am a doing great solo, is this piest class unbalanced"? And when I am tested in pvp, dungeon, or group play, the response is "NOPE! I have to do my part or we fail". I love this! So many games fit a priest or mage in as an awkward piece or to compensate their inability to balance the class they tell us "Go light or dark priest". LOL! TERA has it DOWN!
Combat is great and is what separates if you stay with this game or not. It is Combat Camera. I played RaiderZ, and there was something a little to plastic and stiff feeling in it's combat when compared to TERA. TERA, again, is smooth, and right on. Back to that rumor: "Oh lancer is best". Nope, I am progressing like a boss and I love priest animations! I have seen Lancer, it is a little less in my oppinion. They have charges and swings. A few flashy but nothing that made me want to re roll...I do have an alt warrior that plays more like a rouge. Not bad attacks, all smooth. I recommend you play TERA with the class you want to play and do not play lancer because people tell you it is the only fun class.
BAM's. TERA has been criticized for over publishing to it's adult adolescent audience by copyrighting "BAM": Big Ass Monster... Ok, it is corny, but fucks sakes, it is not a negative point (again, the sensitive people who cry about chat). BAMS are the spice in the game. As if there was not enough to do in quests, there are BAM quests to be had. USually collect 3 pieces of X off a BAM so kill 3 BAMS. Group is best, they are like mini bosses, but I have a HELL of a lot of fun soloing it with my priest! You have to read the body langauge, counter, attack etc.. I have had good times. Sometimes it is a 5 or 10 min fight, depending on the difficulty. OF course, you cannot always find a group and have to wait to gain a few levels. But again, it is the spice in TERA and each BAM feels apart of it's environment etc. Well done, extra fun. If you were bored of questing, and no even going on, get a BAM party or try a few solo. ALSO, allot of people like to paint TERA as average MMORPG with BAMS as their only selling point. FALSE, BAMs can be hard to find. They are not around every corner, they are in some of the mini dungeons I speak about above, or in very special nooks of the map. The way it is weaved in feels, again, smooth, not "copy and paste mob here".


Sounds and Animations: Music is good. Environmental sounds are better, and character and mob sounds so so. Allot of mobs share the same kind of groan or voice. But they have their own ambiance. For example, one mob on the prarier has this sort of "ARGG" attack cry and a "gurgle" death cry. Same as a different looking mob in a cave...however, the mob in the cave might have a chain suit on so you hear the chains dragging as he takes steps... THAT sort of compensates the rather dull variety in mob voice scripting. Each environment sounds alive. Not allot to say there. Music is sub par, epic at times, calm at times, nothing that moves me in the chest area, like some other titles have.
Animations are the best. The world feels alive. Mobs REACT to you. If you are close they are "startled" before they get agro, it is possible to break a startle and avoid agro. Some animals are startled and run, others charge and threaten, but to not attack. This is especially heart stopping near BAMs, if you are navigating through a field full of BAMs, and you get close,, some will ROAR and CHARGE you, but wont attack, you have about 3 seconds to take that body langauge at move your ass out or else the agro kicks in and they will swing and chase you. THAT is ALIVE! And a new edge on game design I enjoyed. ALLOT of people overlook this. I feel people run in, power level up and ignore allot of what games have to offer. Kind of sad.

Crafting, banking, vending, and Enhancement: Very basic, and probably the worst part of this game. I do not like how it is set up. It is expensive to make things (don't expect to start crafting until later levels, and very slowly as 100 gold is hard to get and it can cost 50 just to make a few things). There is a short cut to level up the crafting. Buy the recepies, learn it, and then leave it alone. Gathering, on the other hand, can be done freely in the field. Level that up, chose a few things you want crafted, and make them if you want... Usually you have better gear and potions in game questing and venders so crafting is really a waste of time and money at the moment. That said, I have banked all my materials, and the list is not very long, but I am stocking up and put crafting as an end game thing to busy myself with.
The bank is free, slots generous. Auction house vending has no F2P limits and is active. I made ALLOT of gold selling non usable green and blue items. You are a little limited on how many items you can have on the market but it is generous. Not like other games of 1 item. or NONE at all.
Enhancing gear is pretty lack luster as well. There is no NPC to talk to. You simple press H (I believe) and that opens up this menu with an enhancing machine in it (your pockets are huge), and you plop your item in along with lower level items and press ENHANCE. POOF you get a +stats, of course there is a limit before it doesn't enhance anymore and probably a cash item to fix that, but gear has been strong along so far. I rarely enhance and again, end game goal. Also, there are gems to slot on your items if they have slots. Gems are drops, rewards, or sold at gem vendors. Click n drag em place. Build appropropiatly. You can take em out whenver you feel like it and swap em back in. No big difficulty there.



Dungeons, UI, and closing thoughs: Dungeons, a few good ones to run, not allot of variety and not allot to do between levels, but I am ok because of the "mini" dungeon areas I talk about above, and the fact yuo see so much and constantly moving in the questing that dungeons are kind of "well if I have too".
UI is smooth and great for what it is. I recommend hiding the ROUND minimap top right as it is only useful to spot gathering materials. PRESS N for the transparent region map. THAT is more usefull and I keep that bad boy open allot. Shrinking the round one also makes more room for my large quest list. Allot of people, especially the douchebag over at mmogrinder.com, apparently could not get his head around how to clean up his UI. Sad.
There is a button of standard options when you hit ESC or ALT (ALT breaks the free camera movement and pops up the cursor). In the social options there is a FIND GUILD choice. There is a list of all the guilds in the game and you can apply directly and be recruited on the spot if the GM approves! There is a voting system to give the guild a THUMBS up if you will. You can filter the list by "members, ratings, name, etc". This is VERY handy and avoids allot of forum recruiting etc. It gets you in and once again, SMOOTH menu and game play feature. Guilds can get a guild mount and that is as fast as cash mounts, so you upgrade right away from your brown quest given horse to a white stallion of the guild, double the speed.

OK, I love TERA! It is a great game! CASH SHOP is pure cosmetics and boosts. No game breaking features. If there is one negative to say about TERA, it would be the lack of content at the moment. I have allot of end game friends that log in less and less because they basically "beat the game". I play casually because I do not want to reach end all that fast. I have been playing one month casually and am level 40. I believe cap is 60 as I write this. I will not talk about the TERA chat, because you can read what I have to say about that here: http://debuffblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/m4-freedom-of-chat-in-game.html

I would rate this the best mmorpg of 2013 as a F2P Fantasy title. Everything you would want and more is in this game.
I just got done looking at some candidates, and it is sad and obvious marketing ploy: Check this out: http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature/7421

SAD sad sad. Those games are half built, half threatening to shut down already, and disappointing on all fronts. I will reserve the Secret World for my next review. And Guild Wars 2. As many great features they have, it is no secret they have base lined. That is why I will give TERA the 2013 title! It grew, steadied out, and only needs one natural addition (content) to get it's populations back up. Most games can't do that, Guild Wars 2 is promising content but so many left already due to bad mechanics that not even content can save it now. THAT is why I keep TERA on the top. I would also like to do an AION review soon as I feel that game is as close to TERA if I were to compare it to another title. But another time, this review is finished. IF you want to know on a star rating system, I will summarize below:

Game play: 5/5
Graphics: 5/5 - I can run this on my lap top ASUS i3 ATI Mobility Radeon HD5470, 5 year old machine on MEdium/high!
Sounds: 4/5
Social: 4/5 - although chat is troll, the mass amount of guilds and people willing to help is GREAT! I met some great friends. DOnt let the surface fool you. Calm the ADD, open your eyes, and youll find lots of great gamers inside.
Replay: 5/5 I almost want to say 4/5 until new content comes out as end game is meh.

I highly rate this game. I also know allot of you prefer the Hardcore, and the extensive crafting systems, if those and other features, are what you are looking for than of course, this game will be a 1/5 for you.

My popori:


What did you think of TERA?












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