I’m Gonna Be Honest With You.
The first time I saw Tera was through screen shots alone. I saw the hotbar on the bottom. I saw the minimap on the top right. I had already judged and dismissed Tera within ten seconds after briefly glancing at a few pics. Last week is when I was invited by En Masse Entertainment to take a closer look at Tera. I could figuratively feel my smile growing to Grinch like proportions. “Oh,” I thought to myself, “I am going to grill these guys. The flames of my criticism will scorch the very Earth beneath those of En Masse’s feet. How dare they try and pass this obvious WoW clone off as something ‘New’ and/or ‘Awesomer’!”
I’m Man Enough To Admit I Was Wrong.
Look, I’ll just come out and say it, I was wrong. If admitting is the first step to recovery, then I’m well on my way. To be perfectly honest, not only am I okay with being initially wrong about Tera, I’m actually stoked that an MMO plays as good as it looks. The whole of my preview was the result of me being hurled at a computer terminal where I was instructed I would play the role as a DPS Warrior. Not just any DPS Warrior but one nearly maxed out. As anyone else that has played an MMO previously, let alone any RPG, can testify: playing as an advanced character without having done so before is analogous to riding a bike without training wheels before you even know what a ‘bicycle’ is.
One Part MMO, Four Parts Awesome
What you need to know about me is that I have an extremely low threshold for ‘MMO crap’. I’ve played a bunch of MMOs with varying degrees of play time. The MMO’s that I’ve dumped real time into are the relatively obscure MMO “The Realm” from Sierra Online (which is STILL running, naturally under new ownership). The masochistic Everquest. After EQ, I was very apprehensive to try any new MMO, but WoW seemed to have a lot of press so I decided to give it a try. For about a year straight. I stopped in 2009 and then picked up Rift when that became available.
Forgive me for being terse but my point is that MMOs went from extremely hardcore turn-based RPGs to extremely casual turn-based RPGs. The only real difference that happened between UO to WoW (hell, even Rift) is less frustration. Themes like ‘Grief-Killing’, ‘Forced Downtime’ and ‘Mandatory Groups’ have either been mitigated, adjusted or abolished respectively. Look at what WoW is doing right now with the “Scrolls of Resurrection” promotion. You can literally just invite a friend back to play and make one character level 80. These tactics reek of Free-To-Play strategies (and which, imo, are the pinnacle of Uber casual games). The idea that you can pay to win is simultaneously frustrating and perplexing to me. But I digress.
What Tera brings to the MMO genre is the idea that skill matters. The reason MMOs have predominantly been turn-based is because of internet connections. Things like client-side latency and bandwidth were serious considerations that had to be considered. To be fair, it’s not like MMO’s haven’t tried to do real time action before, the earliest one I can remember is PlanetSide. But, PlanetSide was a laggy mess when it came out (at least for me). Thankfully more and more homes now have broadband. And most importantly, the 25 minutes of playtime I had with Tera exhibited zero latency issues and was as smooth as butter.
The Fly In The Ointment?
Perhaps the only potential negative I can establish is that the Tera servers are wholly located in Chicago. As far as I learned while talking with En Masse, there are no satellite servers for West Coasters. If a West Coast player is going to join Tera, he is going to be hopping all the way to Chicago and back. Specifically speaking, North East players have the best advantage in terms of latency. I can’t tell you 100% that it will be a huge compromise for anyone outside of the Northeast US, but I would wager that it might prove problematic. The positive thing to note is that on April 20th, Tera will have an Open Beta before the game launches on May 1st.
So if you are interested in giving Tera a try, I can easily recommend giving it a go. En Masse was kind enough to give me some codes, so I’ll be trying out the beta to give a more in-depth review. I also have some extra codes available, so if anyone wants them, comment below or reach out to us on Twitter @BrainLazy.