The first closed beta test for Tera is officially over. The next closed beta weekend takes place February 24-26, and we can presume it will include an increased level cap, additional content, and, potentially, the better high res textures. In case you missed it, I’ve already gone over my first thoughts of this beta weekend.
TG and I were able to get to the level cap this weekend (level 22), even after spending a good deal of time messing around on the different classes and races on Friday. We were able to take on our first BAMs (which, hilariously, actually stands for Big-Ass Monster) which really brought the game to a whole new plateau of awesome. A more competent blogger might have thought to get a screenshot or seventy at some point over the course of those fights, but, alas, competent I am not. The fight probably looked a little something like this YouTube trailer though.
But before we get too involved in really big things that hit ridiculously hard, I have been trying to look at Tera incredibly critically. After feeling like I’ve been hoodwinked by SWTOR, I’m really not sure I want to fall for another game only to have it let me down with a lack of content that I find fun. But, hearing that originally endgame content for Tera revolved around just the BAM content, we’re thinking that shouldn’t be a problem. So, TG and I both dug deep to find every flaw we could. We don’t want to glorify something (once again) that we shouldn’t.
I already mentioned the channel-changing-while-zoning issue in my previous post, which is really a small issue; fortunately, changing channels is really easy. Some players will be put off by the very basic quests available or the linearity of questing, and I’ve heard complaints of the lore lacking in depth. Some players might actually find combat off-putting for its difficulty later in the game, even though they complain about it being easymode on the starter island, because many seem to still be playing the rush-in-and-tank-because-the-healer’s-got-me game that Tera isn’t and most other MMOs are.
But, really, the biggest and only issue that we’ve got with Tera right now is the fact that we have to wait until the end of April for this game to be playable for more than just every other weekend. It’s like this weekend was one big tease.
Tera’s combat feels delightfully natural. It’s the kind of scheme that feels intuitive and comfortable under your fingers. People who haven’t gotten beyond level 20 won’t have experienced the full extent of the game’s combat system though. Once the game gets passed its opening tutorial difficulty level and opens up to BAMs, the first dungeon, and even just harder quest monsters, actively dodging and evading attacks becomes a need rather than a lark. Suddenly, the choices you make really matter, and it’s a really cool experience.
Because of this, the game isn’t gear focused. At 22, we’re still wearing white jewelry and have only started getting green gear quest rewards recently. Upgrading gear will improve your damage output, of course, but an extra 2 Defense isn’t going to help you dodge that last charge. This is something that we, as non-raiding, non-grouping “casuals”, love. We don’t have to feel unable to complete content just because we can’t get the Great Big Shield of Win or the Boots of Kick Ass. TG and I will be able to, even in our lousy, whatever-we-could-scrape-together gear, wander around and put the beat down on some BAMs, as long as TG can react and time his defenses well. That is a major selling point for us. And, better still, content can get harder for those who choose to group or raid just by adding in additional mechanics like you’d expect of such content.
While the quests do remain bland, stock quests, the environments are what really shine and breathe life into the game, and enemy character models fit the theme of their area. The art in this game is over-the-top, and I can’t stop looking at it. The trees and landscapes are definitely worth stopping to admire in each new area. New gear upgrades range from simple recolors of what you’re already wearing to a complete overhaul of your character’s outfit. I find myself envying characters in the game for their wardrobes. Fierce red heels with strappy buckle detail? Yellow ankle boots with fishnet stockings? Gorgeous! Okay, so I’m a shoe girl, what can I say?
Tera also has a few smaller features that are nice additions worth mentioning. The in-game quest tracker doesn’t show you on the map where the quest objective (enemies or things to loot off the ground) can be found unless you specifically click on that objectives name in the quest log. We love this since it helps avoid that Blindly Following the Map Syndrome that typical quest trackers spark.
You are given a mount shortly after the starter planet, which is a delightful bonus that makes traveling and questing that much easier. There are two excellent things about mounting in Tera. Females ride mounts side saddle (and with a grace and poise that is just full of charm, might I add) which I find awesome, and mounts appear to be instant cast. You don’t actually need to stop in any way shape or form to get on or get off your mount. This is big for me, as I’m the kind of girl who will run around on foot for quite long distances simply because I find stopping to mount to be a needless pain.
Load times are nearly non-existent on our middle-of-the-road machines, which I was pleasantly surprised by. If we’re in a very populated city or quest hub, it can take a few seconds for all the character models to pop into view. Often NPCs will show up as gray silhouettes until they’ve had a chance to load as well in those situations. This can actually prove helpful if you’re trying to pick out a quest NPC amongst a ton of questers in a major city.
Right now, Tera is flooring me every step of the way. We come to a new area and I’m either mystified by the scenery or the enemies or just the entertainment value of the game as a whole. I’m having fun with the game in ways that I haven’t in a long time. Yes, SWTOR is fun. Yes, WoW can be fun. Yes, Lego Harry Potter is fun, but Tera feels like something new and different instead of a new volume of the same old story. I can’t wait to see where Tera takes us, and I hope it’s able to maintain its current momentum.