On the surface, there are no reasons why I should like TERA. I’m not a PC gamer, I’ve bought Macs exclusively for the past 15 years, and MMORPGs have not traditionally appealed to me. When I tried World of Warcraft, I just couldn’t get into it. I understood its appeal for other gamers, but the story didn’t hook me and the combat just didn’t feel very fun to me personally.
So how on earth did I get into TERA? To make a long story short: peer pressure! About a dozen of my co-workers took part in the open beta and couldn’t stop talking about it, so I decided to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunately, the only PC I own is a laptop that I won at a Guitar Hero tournament years ago. As it struggled and stuttered through the character creation process, I realized that playing the game at home would be unfeasible. Luckily, my employer allows us to install games on our workstations and play as long as we’re off duty. Soon enough, I found myself waking up earlier several days a week just so I could get to the office and spend some time on TERA before clocking in.
So now that I’ve explained how I had to overcome a fair amount of skepticism and hurdle some aggravating obstacles to play TERA at all, I’ll discuss my early impressions of the game.
First, it is just so darn pretty! It’s hard not to get a little screenshot happy on occasion. The races are aesthetically diverse, from the beastly Aman and devilish Castanics, to the more traditional Humans and High Elves, to the giant Baraka and childlike Elin. Then there’s the race that gets the most attention by far: the Popori, diminutive mischievous creatures that resemble rodents, cats, puppies, and pandas. Seeing a Popori galloping by on a massive armored stallion never fails to amuse.
If you think this image is ridiculously awesome, then you’d probably enjoy TERA.
[Image from http://www.teramounts.com]
Secondly, the controls feel great. One reason I’ve never been a PC gamer is that using a keyboard as a controller usually doesn’t feel good to me. In TERA, however, using my mouse to target enemies and attack feels dynamic and intuitive. I’ve heard that using a controller, or even a combination of keyboard and controller, works pretty well too but I haven’t felt any desire to switch to controller so far, which is saying something.
Next, the combat feels engaging. Being able to move strategically and evade enemy attacks reminds me a bit of one of my favorite old-school RPGs, Secret of Mana, which unlike traditional RPGs had a combat system where the player actually ran around actively fighting and dodging instead of selecting options from a menu. Skill, not just stats, could make a significant difference in the outcome.
Last, the story and other aspects of gameplay are so-so. The quests are the typical deliver-this-message, kill-this-many-creatures, escort-an-awkwardly-slow-NPC fare. These kinds of missions are the staples of MMORPGs, so I can’t entirely fault the game for following the status quo in this department. Thankfully, other aspects of the game are enough to keep me playing. When I have to slay a dozen Sporewalkers, I relish the action. Even when I have to put on my Pony Express hat, it’s mitigated somewhat by the fact that everything is so lovely to look at as I travel from town to town.
Leveling up looks pretty too.
As for downsides to this game, my biggest complaint so far is that the solo missions generally feel too easy, whereas the missions intended for parties are of course designed to be almost impossible to take on alone. This leaves a large difficulty gap that I wish could be better filled somehow. I often feel that I need to set my own challenges, like trying to fulfill a quest without taking any damage, or drawing aggro from multiple enemies and taking them all on at once.
I’ve heard some people critique the sexualized appearance of the characters, particularly the female ones, but TERA is not exactly the first game to put laughably skimpy armor on a woman with idealized proportions. The trope of female characters wearing less clothing the higher level they get is so familiar that there’s a whole blog (Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor) dedicated to sharing the rare examples of female characters who might be even remotely considered as appropriately dressed for battle. While I’d prefer having the option to dress my character more modestly, the revealing outfits in this game are not a dealbreaker for me.
If you find this “armor” objectionable, TERA may not be for you.
Overall, TERA seems like a solid game. Its combat system alone has the potential to appeal to a broad audience ranging from MMORPG first-timers to seasoned veterans looking for a fresh spin on the genre. If there’s one thing I could change about TERA, it’s that I wish the story engaged me more so that I felt personally invested in it. Then again, my enjoyment of this game helped tip the scale in my decision to get my first ever gaming PC for my upcoming birthday. If that isn’t a personal investment, I’m not sure what is.
get my first ever gaming PC for my upcoming birthday. If that isn’t a personal investment, I’m not sure what is.
Written by PMS Lammy, member of the PMS|H2O Editorial Team. You can follow her on Twitter!