TERA Online (open beta)

Posted on Sat 21 April 2012 in video games

You might have noticed that I’ve mentioned TERA Online in the past. To be more precise I wanted to playtest it for a longer time after immediately liking the visual style and some of the gameplay mechanics at Gamescom 2011. I received a key for the closed beta last week but was unable to play there because I busy was otherwise - not that I regret that. After Ron told me that the open beta is this weekend I wasn’t so sure anymore. Of course it didn’t keep me from playing. Did anyone doubt that?

The Tera launcher needs some major streanlining. ~Kevin VanOrd
Also, streamlining. ~Kevin VanOrd

I don’t mind that it takes up a lot of screen estate. I mean, realistically speaking I won’t be using it for other activities than clicking the “Play” button, right?

As I’m not interested in PVP I picked a PVE server and set out on my journey. At least that’s what I thought I would do. During extensive character modification the game crashed. I sighed and tried again, because all progress was - of course - lost. Have you ever heard of auto-save, game devs? That might be a fine place to integrate it. Of course, you could also fix the bug that sends the game crashing when you extensively modify a character and enter your chosen name. This might not apply for both genders or all races, however I had said problem for both castanic1 and high elves2. I can’t tell if the problem is the same for humans3. After some time I figured out that I can enter the name first and start customizing after that to circumvent the crash.

Starting out

Starting to dig into the whole customization thing I figured one thing out fast: You may customize your characters head (hairstyle, makeup, beard, facial features) to a great extent. All that you may change about your body is the skin tone. Now, call me focused on female secondary gender features, but in a game in which you walk around in annoyingly skimpy clothing for a considerable amount of time, I’d like to actually enjoy looking at my character. Read: Either I have to endure the silly castanic running animation or put up with the high elves oversized breasts. No, playing a male character is not an option. Unless it’s a baraka .4

Before the whole customizing, however, you chose your class. I don’t want to be a support character because I prefer doing things solo, even in MMOs. I’m also not much for ranged classes. That meant that priest, mystic, archer and sorcerer were out. I’ve never been a fan of axes or defensive classes, so beserker and lancer were out too. I decided on slayer which is an offensive class wielding a greatsword.

Interestingly, En Masse decided to display the recommended player skill level on the class selection screen. I’m pretty sure I chose the slayer because it had 3/5 stars in contrast to the warrior with 5/5 stars. I played nearly all of my time as warrior anyway, but I’ll get to that later. After you’ve finished customization you’ll be asked wether to play the prologue or start at the Island of Dawn. At least after you’ve been forced to check out the prologue on your first character. I’m all for hands-on tutorials, but don’t get me wrong here. I’ve been so confused to suddenly find myself as a level 20 character that I checked the Internet to see why I didn’t start at level 1. Well, the prologue not only teaches you the basics of combat but also means to give some background information.

So I created another character to check if only specific classes start at level 20. And that was my high elf, which I’ve now played for several hours. She’s a warrior, dual wielding swords. I would’ve preferred daggers. After several hours of play I even got an armor that is not just a corset and panties. It’s still skimpy. She also wears combat heels. You know, for the time when you have to kick an enemy really hard. Gosh, they’re so incredibly ridiculous, it makes my head hurt everytime I see them in a video game.

I enjoy the combat. There’s not much to tell. Skills, combos, targeting via reticle, evasion, block. All in place.

What’s bad

The things I’ve mentioned above are not bad per se, however, those are things that don’t target my specific taste. That’s fine. Bad things follow in this section.

UI trouble

There’s an option to scale the UI. It does fine, except that it scales all UI elements, including the font-size. It’d be preferable to scale font-size and the size of UI elements like buttons independently. Combined with the scrubber that does that is another idiocy:

Let’s assume you have a window open and use the clickable lower right corner 5 to scale it:
Result: The window scales and everything within is blown up. Previously readable fonts are blown up to laughable sizes.
Expected result: The window scales and its content reflows. Font size does not change. Ever worked with CSS in web development? Then you know what it should behave like.

  • It might be a nice idea to allow individual preferences for the tabs in your chat UI. However the font-size for chat should be globally adjustable.

Inconsistency

  • There’s a sequence, right after the initiation into the army proper of uhm… the land starting with “V”. It’s Valkyon, I’ve checked. The audio and the subtitles don’t match up at all. This fact is made worse by the subs being on by default.
  • I realize having keyboard shortcuts in dialogue is equally helpful and awkward. It’s even more awkward if you don’t use variables to read the player’s set shortcuts and use the default bindings instead. Confused much?
  • On more shortcut trouble: Consistently colouring those would be preferred. Don’t colour it once and don’t another time.
  • Why the hell are keyboard configurations character-specific? If I want SPACE to be my interact, then let me. Don’t make me change everything for every new character again!

Other annoyances

  • Quest monster camping. TERA spawns monsters quite frequently. The condition for the orcan having the black feather (his name started with “A”…) spawning was actually his dead body disappearing. Still, there was a group of three people on my server who blocked that boss by targeting him with a ranged attack every time he spawned. Several other players were standing around cursing because those were stealing the boss every time, so no one was able to complete their quest. Considering that that group probably got the quest immediately since kills are shared within a group they were trolling. Quite successfully, I might add.
  • Armor colours are only applied for a limited time. Why shouldn’t dyeing your amor be permanent? Unless you want players to pay via micro-transactions for permanent armor colours I guess.
  • We’ve had several hours to be amazed by the Isle of Dawn during the introductory hours. Please refrain from making the pegasus fly all over it again and make it head straight through your Star Gate imitation.
  • For heaven’s sake, make the armor preview discoverable ingame! Put it into the help section 6 or armor remodelers’ dialogue. I had to google for several minutes to find out that the key combination is CTRL + RIGHT CLICK.

Conclusion

It is worrying that there was so much cynicism and “been there, done that” attitude before the game has even launched. ~Bozanimal

I’ll probably not be paying for this game, though I might give it a second look during the open beta and might even write a little follow-up article. You should however checkout this blog post I came across which just happens to point out how disappointing in terms of lore and devoid of replay value TERA is.


  1. Former demons, I gather. Have horns, tattoos, the skimpiest clothing, dry humor. May have red hair. Run stupid. Huge range of skin tones. Don’t have ridiculously oversized breasts. Are smaller than humans and high elves. 

  2. May I call them breast wonders? Also: may not have red hair, look rather generic, stand rather silly and have some hairstyles wish are nearly indistinguishable from each other. Abundance of hair colors which look frighteningly similar. 

  3. That’s because I find humans rather boring and they interestingly may not have red hair. That’s a minus. 

  4. But those are genderless colossi of stone (?) anyway. 

  5. A concept which is lifted from pre-Lion OSX. 

  6. The help section is quite lacking in several departments. Also it suffers from the bad UI like few other windows do. It has to split lessons with very little text into several slides and even though the text is tiny, it is in a scrollable compartment of the window. As far as I remember it’s also lacking a “search topic” feature.