TERA (PS4) Review in Progress

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TERA on PlayStation 4

Why an ongoing review for TERA? TERA, the long-running action-oriented MMORPG has finally arrived on consoles. While we may have gotten some time before launch, a big part of what’s important to properly evaluating an MMORPG is its endgame. The end game is where dedicated players will spend the vast majority of their time. It takes time to reach this point and exhaust all events available to players. Until we’ve done that, we’ll refrain from giving TERA for consoles a score. However, for now, we’ll give interested console gamers our first impressions from a brand-new player’s perspective, which will likely be the case for many of you reading this.

Back when TERA came out in 2011, I was still knee deep in Final Fantasy XI if you can believe it. Hell, I still am, although I switch between that and Final Fantasy XIV pretty often. Despite hearing good things, TERA wasn’t free to play right away and I wasn’t interested in paying for multiple MMORPGs at the time, so I moved on.

Here I am now in 2018 with a second chance. TERA isn’t just free now, it’s also finally arrived on consoles (a natural fit given the gameplay), and given the dearth of true MMORPGs on PlayStation 4 and especially Xbox One, TERA has certainly captured my attention, and it should capture yours too. While TERA still runs great on PC, Warframe has shown that content-rich free-to-play games can have lasting success on consoles and this is the chance for a second coming of gaming.

As the editor’s note mentions above, this ongoing review approaches TERA from the perspective of a brand new player going through the early game. I’ve never played TERA, and there are strong chances are you, the reader, probably don’t either, unless you’re a PC fan curious about how the console releases stack up.

TERA begins with a series of extensive tutorial/world-building quests meant to give you a feel for how TERA gameplay works. While TERA, like most MMORPGs, is all about spamming a rotation of abilities, it’s much more dependent on positioning and timing than many other MMORPGs on the market. In Final Fantasy XIV, once I am tapped and in range, all of my attacks will land assuming I have enough accuracy. In TERA, I have to make sure that if I shove my spear into an enemy, they haven’t just dodged me, or I’m not slightly off center otherwise I’m going to miss. It has nothing to do with an accuracy stat, I literally missed because I didn’t line up my attack properly. Coming from a more traditional MMORPG background, that’s a very distinct difference.

If you thought MMORPGs were boring primarily because of their combat, TERA, like The Elder Scrolls Online, is a game worth trying. I am very impressed with the dynamism and satisfaction of the fights. While FFXIV’s most difficult encounters keep you on the edge of your seat, anything that isn’t difficult is a nap fest. I chose to play as a Lancer (tank class), and even fighting low level enemies requires me to properly block, attack, and unleash powerful counterattacks that stem from me blocking attacks with my shield. I’m not used to having to actively think about shield blocks because in FFXIV and FFXI they happen automatically. In TERA, I actively participate in combat. Although it’s still early days, I’d bet this strength will be further enhanced once I start dealing with the toughest enemies in the game, the BAMs (Bad Monsters).

And, in case it wasn’t obvious based on the above, TERA is very well designed for consoles. Playing on a controller feels natural and easy to adjust. If you’ve played TESO or FFXIV on a controller, you’ll feel right at home with TERA. The only real technical issue I’ve had is that the frame rate sometimes jumps in a crowded area, like a city.

However, TERA isn’t the best, at least initially, at explaining the basics to new players. Hours later, I still haven’t really learned what to do with most of the stuff I pick up, other than just equipping the best armor and weapons I can. I didn’t see the need to regroup, and I don’t really know how even if I wanted to. The only thing I’ve played with others so far is the weird Kumas Royale Battleground PvP game mode. Technically, I buy skills as I level up, but so far I’ve had enough for each skill I’ve acquired as I’ve learned them. So this sort of economy is a bit confusing. I can, and have, just watched some of that stuff, but still, it’s worth noting that yes, if you’re a first time diver be prepared to be a bit lost at first about all that is not related to following the quest markers and killing what you need to kill.

Speaking of which, your progress as you level up is mostly tied to completing the game’s main story, as many MMORPGs are. The story is still under construction, but it got off to a very intriguing start in the game’s tutorial area on Stepstone Isle.

All seems well on this remote island despite things being a bit crappy on the outside. However, an attack on this island forces a gifted young girl, whom you greatly appreciate in this opening act, to sacrifice herself to save the all-important Sorrow Tree. It is also heavily implied that a traitor is what led to the attack. The fate of this girl, and who the traitor is, was left up in the air as I was fired and asked to feign ignorance to protect this investigation. I’m interested to see where this leads and was a good start for the story.

After this meteoric start, the pace of the story slows considerably. There are a LOT of filler quests that aren’t as interesting as this opening story arc. That’s it: go here, kill this person/talk to this person/gather X gear and go back to quests mostly from what I see. This is par for the course for MMORPGs, so it’s not necessarily a criticism as just a fact of life for MMORPGs, but TERA has yet to rise to the level of The Elder Scrolls Online or FFXIV (Heavensward and onwards) , when it comes to using interesting lore and dialogue/story developments to mask otherwise mundane fetch quests. It starts to feel pretty excessive after a while.

So, in summary, we are still working towards the end of the game and we will give a final verdict after we have spent some time with this. However, in the meantime, TERA is a low-risk game to try. Yes, the quests aren’t anything fancy, but it’s still a fast, free-to-play MMORPG that’s really fun to play thanks to its dynamic combat. How rewarding it is in the long run and whether it’s worth it compared to other options on consoles is something we’ll assess later.

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