As per the announcements on major MMO news websites, you probably have heard that Tera is going free-to-play soon. Just like with Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, owning the game will give me a bonus as a “Founder”, i.e. I get something for having invested in the game.
This was enough of a temptation for me to buy it online, though I had the added complication of buying the US digital download version – there is no official RP server in Europe and Gameforge (in EU) seem to be doing a particularly bad job of deploying patches vaguely ontime so I’m playing State-side.
I trialed the game last summer but wasn’t ready for another game and was somewhat underwhelmed by the graphics. I’m ready to re-appraise the game now though for one principal reason – the combat. Guild Wars 2 has pretty much ‘spoiled me’ for playing standard, static MMO combat now. I find the combat in Rift, WoW, LoTRO et al rather too static for my tastes. I want to double tap to dodge away, I want to use positioning and direction as part of the combat tactical equation. Of the MMOs currently released only Tera and RaiderZ (worse graphics and clunky combat) have this. The one advantage, depending on your perspective, for Tera over GW2 is that Tera has the trinity of tank, healer and damage dealer.
I’ve mentioned the graphics in Tera as a negative. It’s a weird mix really, the character models are lovely and very well animated. Probably not quite as good as Guild Wars 2 but certainly better than most MMOs. However the landscapes are spartan to understate the issue. I’m ignoring the issue for now and trying not to compare it to Guild Wars 2’s painted landscapes as there is no competition there.
There are some nice non-combat features in the game, however, such as buffs from gathering and cooperative gathering benefits (not tried this yet). The crafting system is slightly complex with subcomponents and an array of steps in the process, but it seems a lot more approachable than say Vanguard’s crafting and it offers a tiny bit more depth than crafting in Rift or WoW.
I’m playing a priest as my main, and so far loving the combat options. Yep, I’m not talking a rotation at least not yet, since creatures have behaviours in combat which you can ignore or react to. This means that I often vary the order of my attack skills in anticipation of or as a reaction to my opponent. I really love the disengage style skills, the equivalent of the dodge double-tap in GW2. This gives combat a fluidity that is lacking in most other games. It also means you need a certain awareness of surroundings – dodging backwards into a group of enemies is a bad idea!
The world also features the Big Ass Monsters, as the developer themselves refer to them. These mini-boss/elite monsters are out in the open world as a challenge for groups to take on. It’s possible to solo them on certain classes so I’ve read, but not really on a healer. I had my first grouping experience to complete a quest to kill five basilisks. It’s a nice introduction to group combat and a reason to group up pretty soon after you get past the tutorial.