After playing the Beta for the first day and reaching Level 22, I find myself on the fence, leaning towards not subscribing once the game is released. It is not that the game is terrible , but I find that there are too many fundamental flaws that give me pause to reconsider purchasing.
To start, I chose to play a Castanic Berserker, because the Castanic female is easy on the eyes and I like the idea of wiedling a REALLY BIG AXE (On a side note, my favorite racial model is the Amani female).
From the onset I found the combat to be a breath of fresh air after years of tab-targeting and non-interactive combat. The fact that I had to aim and attack much like an FPS was both fun and engaging, and leads me to my first problem: While it plays an FPS, it does control like an FPS.
The default control scheme in this game needs an adjustment, in that it mimics the FPS concept, but eschews the control structure for a semi-functional hybrid that in inefficient and moderately effective.
In any FPS, the control is pretty standard, the reticle at the center is where your attacks hit and the "player" is always behind the camera facing in that direction. In a sense the reticle are my eyes. If I point it in a general direction that is where I am looking. This combined with the standard 'WASD' control, allows me to focus on a target while moving in any direction. This has created a standard method of control that allows for dynamic movement and maneuvers such as "circle-strafing." But in TERA this isn't the case.
In TERA, 'WASD' moves the character in the direction you are pressing regardless of where the reticle is. Any time you move in a direction, the game turns your chracter in that direction and moves. In combat this can be a very frustrating and lethal if you aren't aware of it. Because of this setup, it prevents a player from circle-strafing an enemy to maxmize their mobility and combat potential. Now as a Berserker, the attacks come slower and have periods of vulnerability between animations requiring the player to play strategically and plan out their attacks. In most fights, I would find myself missing attacks not because I wasn't aware of this fact, but because instinctively I am using the reticle as my guide to where I am swinging. But what ends up happening is, after pressing any movement key while attacking, I will attack in that direction and not where my reticle is.
This setup goes against the basic design of FPS controls and is a problem for many players I have talked to. While we have adjusted, it simply is not an intuitive setup. The only reason I have to explain this flaw is maybe when TERA was first created by BHS, they didn't have a clear understanding of the FPS control scheme and how important it is. I can say this with some certainty, because it is something I have seen before in similar games created by Eastern developers. This is not a dig against them, but rather a simple observation based on the fact that they do not play nor create very many FPS games to begin with. Because of this basic lack of reference, a simple oversight like this can turn a small change into a frustrating problem.
In EME's localization of TERA (I hate the term "westernization," because it is both incorrect and unnecessary. What they are doing is localizing the game on a complete scale), they failed to recognize how the Western audience would play the game. To correct this, EME needs to implement and true FPS control scheme. But I fear in doing this, it may require more effort than is possible. Because to do so, BHS would have to program in actual strafing mechanics for the game and all that is connected to it ( character and enemy animations). I do hope they are aware of this, but I don't have much faith in them being able to change it easily.
My next concern with the game is its duality. TERA is a game that doesn't know who it wants to be. What I mean by that is, it is very apparent that this is an Eastern-developed MMORPG localized by a Western developer. From the Isle of Dawn all the way to the Valley of the Titans, the questing feels tacked on. What story that is present feels disjointed, unimportant, and ultimately does not engage the player at all. Its not that quest text is boring to read or some of the story scenes aren't interesting, but they do not draw you in at all.
Yes, many of the quests are "Kill X" and "Collect Y," but that isn't what I am talking about. When you look at most Western MMOs, the storylines are fluid and make sense as to how they are read and what they are saying. This doesn't mean they are all good, but you can tell that the story was crafted with a beginning, middle, and end. It helps to establish a time, place, and reason for the player to exist in the game world. In TERA this is the exact opposite. There is no compelling reason, no real "flow" or life to the story. It truly feels just like text. I can only ascertain that, because the original Korean release wasn't very content-rich and they had to add in more quests after the fact, what flow they had was essentially broken.
This disjointed nature makes it near impossible for me to truly enjoy the GORGEOUS environments and world BHS & EME have created. For as beautiful as the world is, it means nothing if the world itself is meaningless.
Other smaller problems that have compunded my disappointment with the game are as follows:
- The general pricing of items is too high. Yes, money is easy to come by at the endgame. The problem with that is, if pricing is based off the rate of acquisition at the end, it makes any lower level item essentially unattainable due to their high cost. For example, a Common identification scroll cost 5000g, yet I start getting unidentifiable items at Lv. 12 (I had a TON by the time I hit 15), where money is tight. With the buying of skills, the exorbitant pricing of flight/teleportation, and crafting costs, players might as well not buy anything until they reach higher levels.
- Crafting is pretty much not worth the effort. While I do like the system for the most part, most quest rewards and drops are much better, espcially considering the time, money, and effort in upgrading equipment.
- The radar seems rather useless and the minimap is always in th eway. Why these two were seprated is beyond me. The radar isn't that useful for what it does and the minimap can show you the general location of mobs. I never used the radar for tracking nodes, because the dots are too small. These should need to be merged.
- The UI needs a "snap-to" and alignment function to make it easier to layout the UI elements. I found it a bit difficult to align certain things like group portraits and buff indicators, because everything was free-floating.
- The personal pet shops are going to get annoying VERY fast. They are already spamming areas of high activity and cuasing lag spikes.
The things I liked about the game are as follows:
- Beautiful environments! Flying on a pegasus has to be one of the most breathtaking things in this game.
- Equipment presets.
- The character designs are, as we all know, AMAZING! The castanics females are gorgeous! The Amani males are imposing, the Popori are cute and fuzzy, and the Elves are...well, Elves. BTW, Amani females are the BEST!
Overall, I think TERA has some potential, but I feel it is going to take a lot of work to get this the game where it needs to be to compete effectively.