TERA Review

John Funk | 17 May 2012 17:00
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When it comes to the questing and leveling that makes up so much of the meat of an MMO experience, TERA doesn't earn many points. "Collect X (objects)" or "Kill Y (enemies)" quests are far and away the meat and potatoes of the game, and while this model might have held up perfectly fine eight years ago, it pales against things like Guild Wars 2's dynamic quests, The Old Republic's heavy emphasis on story, or even the updated quests added in WoW: Cataclysm. There's rarely anything that genuinely mixes the formula up, which is why the group quests to take on the aforementioned BAMs in exhilarating fights feel like precious treats.

Oddly, for a game that looks as nice as this one, TERA feels rough around the edges. The prologue masquerades as a tutorial sequence but puts you in the shoes of a level 20 character with a full loadout of skills that you've never encountered before, making for a rather surreal experience. Using the in-game auction house system and the various crafting tradeskills isn't nearly as daunting as it first looks, but it could have severely benefited from a proper tutorial system.

Even something as simple as using menus can be occasionally frustrating - since moving the mouse moves the targeting reticule, you need to enter an entirely different control mode to click on anything or adjust your options. Moving, however, sends you back into combat mode, meaning that it's impossible to browse menus or your inventory while trying to do anything else - like fighting, for instance. I've accidentally instigated duels or trades with other players by simply moving at the wrong time while clicking on them.

With its Unreal 3 engine, TERA certainly looks gorgeous with wide-open vistas and majestic skyboxes. Its races are mostly imaginative, with the towering draconic Amani, lithe Castanics and childlike Elin feeling more unique than the mundane humans or high elves, and the character creation provides tools if you're the type who likes to tweak your character's facial structure just so. Any character can be any of the game's classes, which is a nice bit of freedom, but players who love to roll "alt" characters may find themselves frustrated, since there's only a single starting zone for all classes and races. For that matter, I've played through thirty-some-odd levels of TERA right now, and I've yet to encounter any sort of branching paths or options to make my leveling experience different than anybody else's. It works perfectly fine for a single playthrough, but if you're the type who likes to test out new things, it'll probably get old very quickly.

MMOs are constantly evolving beasts, and it's impossible to hand down a true, final judgment on one, let alone so soon. TERA boasts an impressive set of endgame features beyond the standard dungeon raids, like in-game politics that give players the option to rule whole provinces and dynamic world challenges a la Rift. They may well compensate for TERA's deficiencies while leveling, but they may not. Time is the judge of all things, especially MMOs.

Bottom Line: TERA is a game caught between MMO past and MMO future. Its action-based combat is a breath of fresh air for the genre, and makes tackling its giant enemy monsters all the more thrilling, but its quests are formulaic and repetitious, serving no real purpose other than to move you through zones while anticipating the next giant boss fight. Rough around the corners and boasting some theoretically nifty endgame features, time will either make TERA great or see it slip below the waves like so many others.

Recommendation: MMO players who feel the genre is growing stale should give TERA a try, or hold out for Guild Wars 2. If the relatively dull combat turns you off WoW or TOR, it might be up your alley.

Game: TERA
Genre: RPG
Developer: Bluehole Studio
Publisher: En Masse Entertainment
Platform(s): PC
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK),


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