50 MMOs in 50 Days #46: TERA

Last played: 2012
Experience: Minimal

Ah, TERA. Good ol’ TERA.

If you’ve been following along this far, you probably know my opinion of the game. It has all the great elements that I love: dreadful early leveling experience, but with the promise that you’ll do the really cool stuff soon(tm); insistence that it’s got an amazing system – in this case, action combat – that’s so erection-inducing spectacular that you’ll wonder why you ever played anything else; all wrapped up in a bundle of hype that was guaranteed to make its elitist hipster Korean MMO fans thumb their noses at those “tab-targeting carebears who can’t handle a real game.”

I have to give the En Masse marketing team credit: They really do come up with some spectacular ideas for promoting the game. Some of them are spectacularly bad, like insulting MMO players by way of a musclebound jock and simultaneously hoping they’ll like your game:

Some are better, but still seem to have that “we’re aiming for the teenage boy demographic” feel to them:

The point that “broke” TERA for me was, when I was around level 18, I noticed that, for all my abilities, for all the promise of action combat, I was carving through my enemies with ease – not uncommon for the early-ish levels of an MMO, especially for the heavy-armor melee class I was running, but for a game that overwhelmed us with the promise of super-orgasmic action combat, I expected more. They told me there would be more!

So my experiment was this: I collected my quests, used WASD to move from one group of mobs to another, and, once I was in attack range, I removed my left hand from the keyboard. My only controls were on my mouse, and all I did was move it around to change my facing and hold down left-click to attack.

Half an hour later, I had completed a bunch of quests and was only down to half life. “Challenging action combat,” my ass.

I recognize that this is all my opinion, and that some people absolutely love TERA, as is the case with any game. I won’t even say that it’s outright bad – when I got to play a little high-level group content at GDC 2012, I rather enjoyed it. And as much as I’ll make fun of the marketing, I found En Masse’s guys to be friendly and they tried really hard. Kudos to them.

But TERA is the ultimate “bait-and-switch” MMO, passionately luring you in with one thing and giving you another for the vast majority of your gaming experience. As long as we’re complacent in accepting these kind of games, they’ll keep shoving them down our throats, telling us how much we’ll love them, and we’ll keep believing them and getting them. I don’t mean to say TERA should die, but I don’t want to see its likes again.

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2 Responses to 50 MMOs in 50 Days #46: TERA

  1. The thing I found strangest about TERA — aside from the Elin and their “fans,” which had me reaching for the phone to call Chris Hansen — was how they worked so hard to make action combat the selling feature of their game, and then basically had the player do everything but fight. Delivery quests, collection quests, long travel time.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to design a game that only does one thing well — combat in this case, and while I agree it wasn’t actually that hard, I did still find combat in TERA very visceral and enjoyable. But if you’re going to do that, your “one thing” better damn well be front and center throughout the entire game.

    If TERA had been a stripped-down dungeon crawler like Neverwinter or Vindictus, I think it actually could have been a pretty good game. But in the WoW clone mould they forced it into, it’s more tedious than anything.

    Also, it is incredibly hard to take a game seriously when it uses “Big Ass Monster” as a technical term.

    • jasonwinter says:

      What was the most stunning thing to me was when I was on noob island, maybe the week the game launched, and there were people saying they already had 6 or 7 characters they’d run through that area. Once was almost more than I could handle.

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