Last night the Tera open beta started for people who pre-ordered the game. Today everyone can get in.
In my online community the general reaction to Tera seems to be something like “Meh, I guess I’ll try it.” I don’t know too many people who are super-stoked to play but I think people are curious since it’s been in the works for so long, and since it has such a controversial art style (female armor tends to be very very tiny).
I’ve been known to play a game just so I can slag it with authenticity and I think some of my friends are playing Tera for just that reason.
So here’s a report on my level 1-8 experience.
Developer En Masse has added a prologue to the game. They labeled a blog post about it “Improved Early Play” and boyo, did they get that wrong.
The Prologue is done really poorly in my experience. You’re thrown into the game at level 20 with somewhere between 6 & 10 skills that you won’t understand. You’ll be trying to read help text that pops up in different places and formats while all kinds of in-game chaos is happening.
Now in all fairness I was attempting to play with a controller at this point which probably made things worse. MMO players all know that Space is Jump, but they don’t all know that the B button on the controller is Jump (if in fact it is…I don’t remember). So I was trying to figure out that when the on-screen prompts said “Press F to speak to this scantily clad NPC” I needed to pull the Left Trigger, plus I was figuring out the skills at the same time.
Anyway it was a real mess to me and I almost quit. I’m glad I didn’t though. The Prologue lasts a few minutes and then you go back to the original start of the game where you’ll be level 1, learn all that stuff again at a more measured pace, and gain experience with the skills as you earn them.
At that point I went back to mouse and keyboard but tonight I’m giving the controller another go. Any time I can avoid a lot of mousing it’s good for my arm.
I decided to play a Slayer. That’s a melee class carrying a sword that’s taller than he is. He’s pretty fun to play. Early on I just had a basic attack and a dodge. I found I can dodge through enemies, so what I’d normally do is smack the bad guy until I saw he was going to unleash an attack, then dodge through him. The mob would then land his attack on empty space and I’d attack his back. Fairly frequently you’ll knock a mob down, which feels pretty satisfying.
The combat in Tera is a little different from most MMOs. You don’t lock on a target (maybe you can, but I never did). Instead you have to aim and swing. It can take some getting used to but I felt a little more engaged in combat than I normally do. On the other hand, it’s no Kingdoms of Amalur. This isn’t super-fast-paced arcade combat.
The Slayer generates MP by attacking, and then expends it by firing off skills. I have my main attack on left mouse button, dodge on the right, and by the end of the night I had skills bound to 1, 2 & 3. They were a knockdown attack, a forward dash and a whirlwind area of attack skill.
I have the feeling ranged classes will feel a lot different than melee classes, but we’ll see.
Beyond the combat, Tera is an Asian MMO. You’ve got Story Quests that unlocked every few levels, and side quests to fill in the gaps. So far I haven’t had to do any “grinding” but I’m already seeing a lot of mob model reuse. Y’know “Fight 4 Young Foozles” then “Harvest the spleens from 5 Foozles” and then “Kill 4 Elder Foozles” and then “Bring me the pelts of 5 Ancient Foozles” and all the mobs look the same except for the name over their heads.
Everything so far has been pretty linear but it’s early days yet.
There’re systems I haven’t really dug into. Your health is related to your Morale. You improve Morale by hanging out at a Campfire. As Morale drops, you max health and MP drop too. You can find pre-existing campfires or you can carry them in your inventory.
While you’re gathered around a campfire you can toss in Charms that you get as drops and quest rewards. When you do this, you get some kind of buff…and so does everyone else at the Campfire with you. I guess the idea is to encourage people to gather together to max out buffs.
Likewise gathering with friends is supposed to get you more materials. Stuff like that.
We’ll see. So far Tera feels like exactly the ‘tourist game’ I thought it would be. I’ll play it to ogle the beautiful landscapes for a while, but don’t expect it’ll be a game that holds me for more than a few weeks. In a year it’ll go FreeToPlay and I’ll come back and do it all again. 🙂