Huzzah! TERA has the community feel I was looking for and the UI that I was looking for. Seems very similar to the UI layout in FFXIV from the Alpha videos and I can finally cram my chat window nicely into the corner of the screen, which is a plus. There are also a lot of fun and new players since going F2P, which makes it very easy to find people at my skill level who want to explore and level and chat with me.
So far I’ve gotten to level 16, which is a pretty good point to be at to be familiar with the game. I’ve tried creating several characters on a couple of servers, but after trying a couple magic classes and getting a feel for the game play, I settled on a Popori sorcerer, reminiscent of my Lalafell black mage on FFXIV. And so far I am much less disappoint than I was playing WOW. The character creation tool is much more diverse and does a great job explaining each class’s role in the game. Many ways to customize the baddest ass character or the cutest fluffy character. Combine this with all of the elements that were good in WOW and replace some things that were not so good in WOW with things that are good, and TERA is a step up on my favorite MMORPG list. In fact, If I had to rate my favorite MMORPGs of all time in order of what I can tolerate, it would be FFXIV, then TERA, then WOW.
The graphics in TERA so far are amazing – much better than WOW and much more realistic looking, similar to how FFXIV tried to create the “real” feel of the environment with high-end textures and bump mapping and water graphics, shadows, and all the sort. Also when playing TERA in windowed full-screen mode I notice it is not making my computer scream so loudly with heat and processing power like WOW did.
TERA has a story and cut scenes too. Not as grand as FFXIV, but it does help tie the player into the story a little bit. However, my complaint on the cut scenes is that they feel so different from the rest of the game – almost like each one is a movie trailer with cinematics and an announcer, and it doesn’t fit the mood of the rest of the game. For example, on the Island of Dawn there is a mission where I have to kill a tree monster named Vekas. The battle is a simple one like slaying any other monster, however it cuts to a giant and dramatic cut scene. Imagine Morgan Freeman narrating Tetris before another level of just stacking bricks. Doesn’t really fit the mood of the game.
Speaking of mood – there are several annoyances of TERA that I hate, yet I can’t see them changing. First of all, all interactions in TERA are done through NPC’s with little exclamation points above their heads and walls of text with the mission objective and reward. Talk about tired mechanics for progressing the game. The game itself feels so rushed that I just burn through the walls of text because I know eventually it will end up being either “kill these mobs and return” or “collect these things and return” or “talk to that guy and return.” As much as I want to get into the lore and story, the world just seems too hectic and generic to really pull me in. I still have to give props to FFXIV for the use of dialogue boxes to progress the story and cut scenes that actually fit the game.
Another thing I hate are the mobs. There are so many of them and they keep spawning very quickly after defeating them. Great for the combat (which is great combat by the way) but annoying for exploring the world. The roads are as prone to mob attacks as the lands off the roads. It’s a very claustrophobic feeling to see many groups of mobs everywhere on the horizon no matter where you go, and knowing all those mobs will give chase as you pass by. ALL mobs seem to aggro ALL players ALL of the time. Everywhere you go, you’re either fighting mobs or running from them. There’s no system to have them ignore the player after they are leveled past the mob and there’s not enough space between mobs to sneak around them. Very annoying to have to run in a panic everywhere just to keep them from pecking away at your health as you pass by.
I also do not like the “segregated” area feel where there isn’t any reason to backtrack to a previous area after you’re past the level range. Something WOW and TERA have in common. Great for getting pushed through a factory line to level cap, but not great for the community and getting to know both new and old players in-world. There is also the system of seeing a trainer to learn abilities. I used to think this was a good thing and missed it when WOW no longer did this, but then I realized I was learning every ability I could when I was leveled enough, so there really wasn’t any point to seeing a trainer.
Well, I think that is enough to ramble on about for TERA for now. My next goal is going to be to try and get to level 20, which is where glyphs open up and I’ll probably have a good feel for the sorcerer class. I hear the sorcerer becomes pretty powerful later on, and it will be awesome to really get into combat as a party. It is easy to grind on mobs and easy to solo thus far, and I hear possible to solo the whole game, so we’ll see what I’m most comfortable with. Oh, and crafting also sucks in TERA.