Before you rage out read the title, this is a beta review. It is based on my experience thus far with the beta of Tear online for North America. This is not a final review or ruling as the game is changing week to week, patch to patch. The developers have been putting a lot into the game, fixing translation problems, bugs, and all sorts of problems. The approach has been very proactive and very community involved which is a good thing. For all the flaws found thus far, the localization team has had an answer, or a forum post, or a patch note to address it with. This is once again a good thing, “They are listening to the players” to an extent of course. Ok let’s kick this off by explaining that my review will be broken into several categories to keep it simple.
What is Tera Online? Tera, also known as The Exiled Realm of Arborea is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game, developed by blueholestudio and published by En Masse Entertainment in the US and Frogster Interactive in the EU. TERA was released in Korea on the 25th of January 2011. The game is scheduled to be released in the US on the 1st of May 2012 and in the EU on the 3rd of May 2012. It features questing, player-versus-player combat, player-versus-environment combat as well as crafting. In short it’s a MMORPG, and you have your choice for open world PvP or just PVE with controlled PvP.
Graphics: The graphics are fantastic, the style is similar to Aion but more colorful, more rich and realistic and yet still unworldly. Looking at world of Warcraft or Rift will never be the same, but when comparing these games to each other is sort of like comparing revisions of Windows or cars over time. World of Warcraft for example looks terrible by comparison but I don’t play WoW for the graphics it’s about the story and game play, or Rift, well Rift is pretty buggy overall but at least it looks good. Tera looks modern, soft and detailed and runs like butter down hot corn. The view from the player’s perspective makes you feel real small, the players are highly detailed, and characters bounce and jiggle as they move and not just the girls. The shadows and animation are fluid and smooth, the sky and environment flows nicely, the world is very well laid out. The towns are huge, highly detailed and mapped nicely. The instances and zones are thus far all unique and the game has not recycled content or entire zones ‘cough FF14’. Overall I feel Tera has a very strong showing in the graphics department.
Character creation is great, you have several races to choose from 7 in total, several classes to choose from and of course gender. From there the options open up, from the base such as hair, eyes, face, features, skin color, hair color, feature color, and voice. It’s not the most powerful character creation I’ve seen but it’s not bad and it stands above most in terms of customization. I’m happy to report that all the classes have been brought back; initially two of the races were removed because they were too sexy for North Americans. I’m glad they decided to change their minds and listen to the players and not the ESRB.
Sound: The dub is a train wreck, many recycled voices for quest givers, NPC’s and shop keeps. Player sounds are better keeping some of the original sounds from the Korean version. Attack audio and combat related audio is good, and so is the emote sounds. The cut scene voice acting is ok but sounds like “IM ACTING!” it feels so forced, cheap, not grand or sincere. The script has been adjusted and I feel much of the story was lost in translation. The Music is good, but it gets a little droney, every time I engage in battle the cheesy sounding battle music would kick in, well that gets very old very fast so I shut it off. Overall the audio is average, nothing near World of Warcraft in terms of soundtrack but good.
Gameplay: Broken into several categories, the game play varies so much from class to class, group or solo, and situation to situation. I have spent time in groups and soloing the game for both PVP and PVE. Leveling solo is rather hard with some classes, warrior for example have a lot of down time and have to work hard to kill mobs where slayer or berserkers have aoe attacks and better armor, though warriors are stronger in one on one combat situation many mobs are in found in packs. This kind of mechanic is common in this game, some classes do better in groups others are solid solo, but in all cases groups are not needed to level or complete content until about level 20. Ranged classes have different advantages, and mages are little bit of both. Healing is completely different in this game, you cannot use health or mana pots in combat in the traditional way , or rather you can but they won’t save you, and you can’t sit to get health and you don’t recover fast without a fire or the correct gear or buff. Having a support class in your group is very necessary later in the game and nice to have at all times.
So how is the game play? Well it happens all in real time, yep no button waiting, no auto attack, you click you attack. Your attacks can miss, because you have to aim them, and yes shields and armor work how they would work in real life. So how does this play out, is it bad active combat like Conan? Nope the active combat is smooth, and thus far it has been pretty fair in PvP and Good in PVE. Combat is engaging, rewarding, and crisp, it keeps the grind down and lets you play around with your attacks and style.
Pros: Pretty Solid, fun group experience and plenty of quests to keep you busy.
Cons: Story is kind of dry, a lot of delivery quests, and sometimes gets boring and grindy.
Pros: Competitive, creative, rewarding in a different way, it’s fun at times, guild on guild wars
Cons: imbalanced classes, lots of ganking, no protection for low level players, murder is rewarded, player exploits are already emerging. Gear based endgame grind, much like any Korean based mmo, and this game will focus on PvP as a substitute for content. Honestly if this is not address I won’t be paying to play this game.
Crafting: Thus far the system is very much like WoW’s crafting system, but much more expensive and slightly less creative. Honestly the upfront cost for crafting gear from lvls 1 to 30 is not worth your time or coin. It’s really stupid overall, cost too much and produces crappy gear, again that is thus far not sure about gear beyond 30. Personally not a strong selling point for this game as pots are useless and the cost for items are daft. You can setup a shop to sell items, even when you’re not online, or you can list items for a fee on the auction house. These are great features, but the banking system sucks, overall the bad offsets the good, and lands an overall OK experience. Spam Shops are a problem, and shop load in some cities is a major problem, RMT is going to be a major issue with this game.
Interface: Creamy and nice at times, chunky and awkward at others. The GUI is much like Aions layout with a World of Warcraft touch and some unique features. Not creative at all, and very simple, this is not a bad thing considering how complicated some interfaces are. My one major gripe is that you can’t have your inventory open while moving, this annoys me a lot. Overall it’s a nice interface with just a few issues.
Firstly this game has some huge competition, such as: Diablo 2, Aion ‘now free to play, World of Warcraft Pandas, Rift, Guild Wars 2, and the list goes on. There are a ton of great free to play online games, and many games are not requiring you to purchase the game anymore. With Tera you will have to pay $60 for the game up front and then pay $15 per month. If I’m honest myself, my money is better spent on games that don’t cost me monthly.
Another Review I agree with on Zam
[spoiler title=”My Harsh Thoughts & Conclusion” open=”0″ style=”1″]Tera is nothing special, it’s a Korean made MMORPG, there is a sea of them out there, most of them are free to play, and are all pretty much all the same. This seems a bit harsh but sadly this game falls into that category, or rather trend. It boils down to gear grinding and pvp. The instances are nothing new, the mobs are cookie cutter, and the concepts are far from original. The strong points are the combat system and the character design, the story is weak, the quests are repetitive, and grind is bad. If this game was free to play, I’d say it would be worth the time and cost but it’s not. Overall it feels just like another updated Linage 2 clone. If you’re into heavy grind, dry story and unbalanced pvp this game is for you. If you’re looking for a good story, a friendly productive community, and balanced game look elsewhere.[/spoiler]