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TERA Hands-on First Look

Posted Wed, Feb 15, 2012 by Shayalyn

Billed as “the first true action MMO,” TERA aims to keep you aiming (and dodging, and blocking). Does it deliver on its promise? And how does it stack up against its competitors in other departments? Our first look provides some answers.

The outcry from the MMO gaming community has existed for years—MMOGs haven’t changed much since the dawn of forbearers like EverQuest, and innovation has been scarce since World of Warcraft drew millions of players to Azeroth. It’s all the same old stuff—you build a character, hop into the world, start questing, and kill monsters by hitting tab to select your target, hitting auto-attack, and blasting off a string of abilities or macros using hotkeys. Arguably, the character development, questing and monster killing continue to exist because that’s simply how it works—we need things to do, bad guys to kill, and a cool avatar with which to accomplish it all. But what if a game developer changed up the tired tab/auto-attack/hotkeys combat rotation?

TERA, the upcoming Korean import from Blue Hole Studios and En Masse, aims to keep you aiming instead of tabbing as you fight the big, the bad and the ugly. From the moment we started hearing about TERA, we’ve heard its developers refer to it as “the first true action MMO.” And while it might not be the first strictly speaking—Vindictus did similar things, and so did DC Universe Online—it’s certainly one of the biggest titles to date to move away from the same old same combat scenario and change things up a bit, and the only one that’s unquestionably an MMO rather than a hub with instances or a console port.

I’ll admit up front that I hopped into TERA with some trepidation. I’m not an FPS player, and I’m actually pretty comfortable (okay, perhaps comfortably numb) when it comes to the standard MMO combat scenario. My fear was, well…that I’d suck at TERA. And perhaps I’m not great (I turned down every duel I was offered, and there were a few, because I don’t like to lose), but by the time I’d rolled through the early levels I was getting the hang of things and even beginning to feel twinges of uberosity.


Descriptive Text

Our early combat experience was not this badass, but this look at things to come seems promising.


TERA Does Combat Right


First off, let me say that if this game is going to have any longevity for me, I’m probably going to want to look into controlling it with a game pad rather than keyboard and mouse. The keyboard and mouse work well enough for all but one thing—moving around. And TERA is going to insist that its heroes (some classes more so than others) move around to avoid getting pummeled. For quick movement, the mouse and WASD movement controls can be a bit clumsy, but not impossible, to work with. Your mileage may vary. If you’re accustomed to going through the requisite gyrations with your mouse because of your experience with other movement-intensive games, then carry on.

When I arrived at TERA’s newbie area, The Isle of Dawn, after a brief (and not even remotely lip-synched) opening cinematic, I was greeted by an NPC and thrust into combat immediately. “Go, young recruit!” they told me, “Slaughter those ornery moving trees…for the Federation!” (I may be paraphrasing a bit.)

Combat requires a couple of things: you have to aim, and you have to be in range. Coming from a straight-up MMO background, my urge to tab-target was strong at first, but I overcame it. To attack, you’ll hover your cursor over a monster. If you’re in range, your targeting reticle will change to give you a sort of crosshairs and you’re ready to fire off one of your abilities. When playing with a mouse, your primary damage ability is automatically mapped to your left mouse button, and some sort of tactical save-your-ass skill is mapped to the right. In the case of my Priest, the left mouse button fired off a damage bolt and the right allowed me to throw myself a minor heal. As you acquire new skills, you’ll fetch them from your skill book and click-drag them to your menu bar, where they’re mapped to keyboard hotkeys. As you would expect, the UI itself is fairly customizable in settings, so you can remap hotkeys and arrange things as you see fit.

The critters you’ll kill early on in TERA are a cakewalk. For my priest, the ornery trees were barely able to swing a limb at me before I felled them. Even the caribou-like “noruks” I was asked to kill off were slow and plodding and found it pretty difficult to get close to me before I was able to add them to my list of species quickly vanishing (and yet somehow just as quickly replenished!) from the Isle of Dawn. Things got only a tad trickier when fighting clusters of monsters a couple levels later, but by that time I’d been given some sort of AoE skill to help me deal with them.

Did I fire shots that never hit their intended target? Absolutely. Mobs will slip out of range or move out of line-of-sight occasionally, and sometimes, when you’re simply not paying as much attention as you need to, you’ll find yourself missing your target because you forgot to take the time to aim. One thing TERA does well, though, is to ease you into this new(ish) form of MMO combat. Early mobs are easy to defeat, and the curve as they get progressively more difficult is a very gradual one. Only by level 7 or so did I start to feel as though, just maybe, things had gotten a hair more challenging. The first cluster of orcs I took on, for instance, had a ringleader who paced about the field. I found I couldn’t hit him very well when he was moving, even at a walk, and I had to wait for him to stand still before I could get one of my shots to land. I laughed at my newbitude, but this was my first glimpse of combat to come. I realized that hitting a moving target just might become a greater challenge as mobs got faster and their AI got smarter. Don’t get me wrong, though—easing into combat is a good thing, especially for someone like me from a non-console, non-shooter background. I never felt that I was over my head, but I did feel like the practice was preparing me for bigger and badder things to come.


TERA screenshot

Stopping to ponder the scenery on the Isle of Dawn.


What a Wonderful World


While no game is perfect, and neither is TERA (I’ll get to that in a moment), the world of TERA is nothing short of stunning. The visuals have that dreamy, colorful, otherworldly feel we’ve come to expect from Asian MMOs. There was no shortage of impressive sights to see, from a blossoming tree looming like an umbrella overhead to a great chasm (go take a look when you get there—you can’t fall) with flowing waterfalls.

Character models are attractive with decent customization options. There’s no shortage of cleavage on the female characters, and males are ripped, right down to the Castanics with their exposed 6-pack abs. Clothing options are skimpy, particularly for the female toons. If you like the sexy sexy, TERA has it. And, as is the way with a lot of things that come out of Asia, there’s no shortage of cute here, either, from the adorable (but fierce) Popori to the childlike (and a little creepy), big-eyed, all-female Elins, right down to the sweet little monsters you hate to kill (but have to, because some NPC demanded it.)

Not only is TERA graphically stunning, but it’s smooth. I run 64-bit Windows 7 with a 2.8 GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1055T, 4 GB of RAM, and an ATI Radeon 5700 series video card with 1 GB of video memory. Granted, my specs are reasonably decent, but TERA ran beautifully for me on high graphics settings with zero lag.

But Some Things Never Change…


So, we know that TERA’s combat is engaging. And, even from my initial low-level peek at the first beta weekend, I can tell that it’s going to get progressively more engaging as I level up. Even so, if you set aside the combat, TERA falls into the just-another-MMO category, which seems to indicate that our latest batch of MMO contenders just might be capable of only one innovation at a time. (Star Wars: The Old Republic players know what I mean. Strip away the voiceovers, cinematics and compelling storyline and you’ve got “space WoW,” amiright?)

I was disappointed to find that my first quest in TERA amounted to an NPC telling me that I should report to another NPC, just up the road, who told me that something was wonky with the creatures on the Isle of Dawn and I should probably go kill a few walking trees. After the trees were out of the way, it only made sense to gather some samples from the slow-moving caribou things. And the same system plays out as you level up—meet NPCs, meet more NPCs, and fetch/gather/kill things. We’ve been here before. Many times.


TERA screenshot

Let me guess--you’re going to ask me to fetch you something.


Except for occasional cinematics, the quest dialog is straight up MMO fodder, and not very interesting fodder at that. Sure, there are a few hooks here and there, but the quest dialog has a very been-there-done-that feel. If you’ve played an MMO in the past decade, you’ve seen similar storylines. At least where the newbie experience is concerned, its action-oriented combat style is TERA’s primary hook, not story. Despite a lack of innovative story, though, it needs to be said that TERA’s localization where dialog is concerned has been done well—even if there’s nothing new about TERA’s story, at least nothing’s lost in (bad) translation.

Summing it Up


At the end of my brief weekend look at TERA I came away thinking that its combat was fun, and its visuals were amazing, but its leveling structure and quest storyline looked like the same ol’ same. Could things change as the game opens up at levels beyond the newbie experience? Certainly—that happens in most games. And, with combat as engaging as TERA’s combat is, the chances if it becoming the same old grind are minimized.


You know darn well that if you're going to pay for WoW, you best be paying for this or ArcheAge instead. Right? :)

Need more coverage here on tentonhammer for ArcheAge, the only MMORPG i would gladly pre-order right now!

I can't really afford it but I do hope many others get much happiness out of this and this becomes industry leading.

No WoW for this girl. EQ2, yes...but I no longer have to pay for that. ;)

Good first look, based on the different combat, I will probably give this a try. But not till it's free, which it will be, probably within the first 6 month's. I doubt very much I'll buy a 'box' for a mmorpg again. Star Wars was the last and I didn't even make it past the free month.

It won't be going free, but there is an open beta. Should check it out :) There are a lot of comments regarding quests, but honestly, the combat is so damned fun to play, I'd rather just keep hunting and say screw the quests.

Ill wait for it goes f2p aswell, but by the time probably GW2 will be released. Im not so sure about your last sentence it WILL be the same old grind for sure but pvp and specially massive pvp will have to make the difference.

lol it will nver go f2p

It will. It's a pretty boring game.

Well first off i like to say thank for for been the first few people to review this game in honest opinion. I swear to god at all the review people done claimg stuff based of lvl 1-22...

As for people who waiting for Tera to go f2p well keep waiting, chance of it going there is pretty low.

Few thing i like to say though is yes i'll admit Tera lacks in its quest, however lets be honest, how much does quest matter in a mmorpg? For about a month or 2 tops to hit lvl cap. Whats after lvl cap? Combat. Which Tera did a pretty darn good job with, the good combat can make boring and meanless quest ok because hey might seem pointless you have to kill 50 dragons but at least your having a blast doing it. Also i think with all the bad mmorpg comeing out people are expecting some kind of perfect mmorpg to come out and chances are unless they put as much time and money as blizzard has on SC2 and the time it took for SC1 to be balance we are not going to get it.

Tera got its combat and graphics down, and it has lot of end game content for you to do. Down side it has standard questing, but is that bad? I mean its their first game meaning they have no more stablished game to draw money from to do whatever they want. I'm sure the dev team would have loved to have the time and money to have the quest SWTOR have but they don't, instead the polish up the key selling point of their game combat. We all saw how good only good quest did for SWTOR, and for anyone who play monster hunter or god eater burst this game will such you in like that later on ^_^ Also pvp server next cbt woooo open world pvp ftw or what?

I just wanted to say thank you because now I don't need to write a lengthy comment because you said everything I would have and more and made it shiny. All I got to say is good bye SWTOR and Aion.

Aw I so want to play this game, it looks amazing .... I'm a big fan of mmo's

Quoting from the review:

Not only is TERA graphically stunning, but it’s smooth. I run 64-bit Windows 7 with a 2.8 GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1055T, 4 GB of RAM, and an ATI Radeon 5700 series video card with 1 GB of video memory. Granted, my specs are reasonably decent, but TERA ran beautifully for me on high graphics settings with zero lag.

Just a heads up, this closed beta did not have the HD textures in it. They left them out to allow as many people to download the client as possible. They released the other 7gbs of content Monday which included the HD textures. However even on the medium specs the game still looks amazing. :)

In all honesty I could not tell much difference between NA and EU graphics wise or perfomance wise. Both looked great and ran very smooth.

So I played the game over the weekend, and the only thing I was impressed by was the combat. It was a blast. Especially the warrior and archer. The graphics will look better once they get the hi-res textures out, but as it is, the world is fairly pretty. The classes all look pretty good.

My main gripe with the hairstyles and "additions" was that they were bound together. So for example, if you wanted to be an fox-loli and wanted long curly hair, you couldnt. Or if you wanted a castanic girl with short hair and a specific horn style that too wasnt possible.

Running animation for Castanics was horrible, they looked like they were made of rubber, with their legs and arms flopping about. Totally ruined the allure of the race for me.

Quests were really bland, admittedly I only did the starter area as I was remaking my characters to play with the different classes. Highest I got to was 8, and the quests were reminiscent of Lineage 2 and WoW/Warhammer. Kill-x quests with little effort to disguise them as such.

With all that said, if you can ignore all that, the game play is amazing.

The game isn't going F2P. That would be completely absurd. They -will- be doing an open beta though, and are actively giving out beta invites for the closed beta phases right now. Do yourself a favor and pick up the game and try out a beta, I haven't had -fun- in an MMO for so long, gah, I'm actually having withdrawals from playing the game only a few hours over 3 days.

My input on this is as followed,

The games visual was amazing, but guess what! The high-res textures JUST now went in. So imagine how much better things will look now. Crazy huh?

As for combat, it is AWSOME! No other game has fun combat like Tera. Tera > Blade & Soul!
As for the leveling up and questing.. I mean really? How different can you really make it? I know you can add voice over like SWTOR, that 70-80% of people skip anyway. Questing and leveling has always been whatever to me. I think SWG had questing and getting skills right. It was simple and easy to do with a little bit of grinding.

I think this game has huge potential with the stuff they are adding already in the Korean version of the game. FFA-PvP, Arena, Battlegrounds, Deathmatchs, Guild vs Guild, Server vs Server, I mean that's already awsome right there. Deathmatchs let you bet money or items on the fight, winner takes all!

Political system is yet to be seen and what not. Seems awsome though!

The 1 single down side Tera has is quest, and BTW if anyone been keeping up with Korean Tera update their lvl 60 cap raise patch also include lvl 1-40 lvling revamp so you never know if that going to get changed or not ^_^. But lets be serious here, how important is quest to most players? None because my god most of the player don't game a damn about the story, they want to lvl, do dungeon, hit lvl cap, farm for good equip, pvp , and chill and show off. Quest make the lvling process seem less of a grind but with Tera the combat pretty much does that job as well and it give you one hella of an good end game. Even people who are complaining the quest, you know you going to blaze through all the lvl that your going to cap in a month, and never quest again in your life till cap raise. So yes good quest is nice but i hate how people think standard quest over shadow the awesome graphic, combat and kick ass end game by the simple fact the quest are standard. Seriously?

I'm not sure I follow when you talk about questing. * you there grab me 20 fruit * * grab me 10 animal hides * * defend my village kill 40 cows *

So just how would you do questing in mmo's?? All mmo's suffer from this draw back when you quest.. you must either * kill/gather/give/take *

I guess it's then just left down to the way you go about the quest, putting a good story into place so that killing 40 cows ( mad cows ) feels good and not a drag.

I specifically enjoyed two quests more than I have in recent memory. One was when I was teleported to the bridge to defend the Sorcha chick from wave after wave of monsters, the other was soloing the final dungeon boss on noob island. They gave me a healer to complete it, and he actually healed me and interacted with me! And bitched at me when I went out of range for him to heal, hah.

I've tryed the game, it's amazing. Now World of warcraft looks boring and I can't wait the next beta test, I'm not afraid to start my character again, you have so much fun during the fights.
I would leave world of warcraft for this game for sure if I had too, but maybe I'll play both xD

This game is beautifull and give me monster hunter gameplay in a wow-like game. I don't need more than this.

I just miss the soulshots explosions from lineage... haha

" I can't wait the next beta test, I'm not afraid to start my character again"

Your character stays with you between closed beta tests. They will only wipe them after the open beta weekend ends :)

This is only if you've preordered.

I did. It's just that I'm saying I won't feel bored to start again.

I need a better machine to run this game! played it on my dads computer for a few after work one day and decided I need to build my own computer so i can play it! x)

Haha, so questing is the only downside.... how many people slammed their spacebar in SWTOR? Of everyone else, who still plays that game? That's how much questing storyline really matters. Completing the quests is the real draw and in TERA each mob acts differently. So, when they send you off to kill 10 tree mobs, the mobs behavior evolve between the zones. They get smarter, faster, tougher. I'll take TERA questing over SWTOR any day!

I have one major gripe:

Being rooted in place while using abilities dumbs down the game a lot. A) It's hard to avoid power blows, B) it gives you less to do and think about.

I think they should give SERIOUS thought into changing this aspect, if not wholly, then atleast somewhat.

You are rooted for charge up abilities (some have glyphs that let you move at higher levels), but you can still use your right click ability to break it. Slayer/warrior dodge roll or berz/lancers block.

Charge up attacks give you more to think about during the fight. Plan and time when you can use the ability instead of button mashing a rotation.

I played a sorceror. Every single ability rooted me.

I understand that channelled spells and spells with casttime should root you. For example, her trap.

But her autoshot, frontal AoE attack and 10m bomb seem like instants to me - but mobile, I am not. Must wait for cast animation to finish.

I saw the same gripe in an otherwise splendid review.

I'm all for a new combat mechanic, and I like TERA. But being rooted for all my abilities feels limiting, gameplay wise.

The rooted part is to make you think, because if you make a mistake your going to be open for attack. Powerful attack aren't hard to dodge at all speically if people use them blindly because you can just block/dodge to avoid the dmg. And that leave them total open for counter attack. Its there to set balance between range and melee class but also there so that you think twice before making a move because you can't just back out in middle of it unless you use your block/dodge

The only downside of TERA are the quest...its wowish (kill x this,kill x that)
The world of Tera is simply AMAZING it is TRUE OPEN WORLD (wich btw is bigger than wow vanilla) its not like aion or others mmos wich u have to take ports to g oother zones...Its like wow u can travel on foot from one side to the other.

The pvp in this game is pure epicness..the L1-L2 hardcore lovers will LOVE TERA
PK/PVP guild vs guils,cross servers guild vs guild,battlegrounds,deathmatch

Graphics are simply amazing no need details u can see it urself
Animation are perfect
dungeons are awesome and with the new content coming for us in may it will be even more amazing..no more raging about no end content

new content has 3 new dungeons,new zones,raids, new skills,more world bosses mounts and more (new class confirmed but dunno for when and dynamic event also tba)

the best of all....no grind !!!i know right !!! a korean mmo and no grindfest???
thats right no grind.

Tera does everything right,the olny downside again...the questing...thats it

I want what this guy is smoking.

too bad he not smoking anything

TERA PvP imo is huge fail. Not being able to move and use an ability dumbs down the gameplay. Imo.

And how is it not a grind fest PvE?!

Graphics are nice. I also enjoy the sense of Bosses actually being massive, as opposed to other MMOs, where they just look like the bunch of pixels they're made of. Probably something to due with hit detection.

I wish TERA the best of luck.

Never play an action combat game before have you? Go play monster hunter or god eater burst or even freaken god of war before you make stupid statement like that -.-

Umm you cap with in 1-2 month tops, thats about same speed as WoW. If you consider that a grind fest i recommend you don't play mmorpg or rpgs period.

Have you ever tried casting a fireball on the run? Not even possible....

Gung is hoping for the infinite cc, nuke, OP as fuk mage.

Sorry, classes are balanced here!

All I read was: I WANT TO CAST MY STRONGEST ABILITY WHILE I'M JUMP-SPINNING AND BUNNYHOPPING MY WAY TO VICTORY

All I read was: I WANT TO CAST MY STRONGEST ABILITY WHILE I'M JUMP-SPINNING AND BUNNYHOPPING MY WAY TO VICTORY

Ya pretty much, i feel like there should be a requirement to play Tera and that is to play god eater burst or monster hunter first so people stop complaining about something they don't understand o.-

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