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Ok, so let me premise my review so you know what to expect. Started playing Tera three weeks ago with a buddy, he's a Mystic, I'm a Slayer and we're playing on a pvp server VoT medium/high population. We both hit 46 last night and we play roughly 5 nights a week for roughly 3-5 hours each session.
Graphics - The graphics are top notch, the art style I'm not crazy about, but the actual quality of the graphics are excellent. The art style is very high anime, asian mmoish, think Aion on steroids. The animations are simply amazing, they really did a great job with combat animations. Environments and landscapes are also well done, lots of critters and partical effects that make the world feel alive. Monsters/mobs are also amazing from the little minions all the way to BAM's (big a** monsters) they are very impressive and also have cool animations. Once again, I'm not into anime art style, but you can't deny the game is damn pretty to look at.
Performance - The feel and control is very well done and is on par with WoW in terms of character responsiveness. The hit boxes and collision are also working very well for me so far. I have noticed issues with rubber banding and clipping here and there, but nothing game breaking. Also considering how impressive the graphics are, I'm very surprised how well the game performs. Note: I've only been in pvp battles with 10-15 people in one area so far.
Combat - So here's one of the big innovations/selling points of Tera. At first I wasn't really crazy about the combat, but the more I played it the more I enjoyed it. Having the combo system and hit box detection really adds that hack and slash style fun as an alternative to tab targeting systems. I'm a little worried that this will just be gimmicky and I'll eventually get bored, but so far the gimmick is working for my friend and I.
Questing/Dungeons - Standard quest types, go fetch this, go talk to this dude, go kill this other dude, etc. No innovations here, but so far all the quests have worked. Dungeons/instance work just like WoW, queue up or put a group together, kill some trash, kill a boss, kill some more trash, kill a boss. A standard dungeon will take about 30 - 40 mins to complete with a average group. My buddy and I have managed to do several runs without a tank because of the combat system and ability to dodge attacks. The fights can be harder without a tank, but they can be done easy enough.
Grinding/Leveling - You can grind BAM's or do quests, those are pretty much your main options for leveling. So far I think the pace is fine even for a casual gamer. Like I stated above, my friend and I have duoed the entire time aside for instances/dungeons and we are level 46 out of 60 after 60 hours of gaming. I can tell it has started to slow down, but not nearly as bad as other asian grinders. I'd say the game is appx 10-20% slower then WoW in terms of play time to max level.
Grouping vs Solo - Yes, you can solo, but grouping is definitely the more efficient way to get things done in Tera. I like that I can get stuff done on my own, but since this is an MMO I appreciate that En Masse has focused on rewarding those who group up.
PVP - (I'm on a pvp server) The only pvp I have encountered is open world pvp and duels. Outside of towns and quest hubs it's basically FFA pvp, you simply flag up and that allows you to attack or be attacked by anyone. Guilds can declare 24 hour wars on each other, autoflagging everyone involved until a leader forfeits or one of the guilds scores enough kills to win. The instance pvp/battlegrounds are currently offline and I've heard that En Masse is working on improving them for release later this summer. So far I don't see any incentive to pvp aside from just having fun killing another player. I think the performance and hit box combat of Tera would really shine with some organized or incentivized pvp. Depending on the battlegrounds and incentives that En Masse puts in place for pvp this could make or break the game for pvper's. Even if I let my Tera sub fall off for GW2, I'll definitely come back and check out Tera when/if they add battlegrounds.
Standard Features- Tera has most of the standard features you'll find in WoW, guild management, instance matching, trade brokers, banking, maps, quest guides, tons of chat channels. All these features are working fairly well, they just recently fixed the instance matching and so far so good.
UI - Standard UI is standard, group windows, chat windows, mini maps and interfaces for everything in the game. You can resize and move things around as necessary. It's not the holy grail of UI's, but it gets the job done.
Character Customization - Appearance wise I'd say Tera offers some pretty extensive ways to customize your character. The cash shop offers additional ways to change your looks if you're willing to pay real cash. As far as builds or specialization I'd say Tera really lacks in this dept. They have a glyph system that allows you to choose how and which skills to buff, but at the end of the day I think there are going to be cookie cutter glyphs that everyone will use making my Slayer play the exact same as every other Slayer. I normally don't get into customizing much until I hit end game so I'll revisit this after I've been 60 for a couple weeks.
Crafting - I haven't done enough of this to comment yet, but crafting does exist, it seems fairly easy and it appears that you can do all professions if you so choose.
Overall - In my opinion it really shines in three areas, combat system, graphics, and performance. These three things make the game fun for me and the more I played it the more it sucked me in. My primary concerns are end game pvp and pve and if there will be enough content to keep folks interested for too long. Getting battlegrounds in the game asap will be critical for En Masse to keep subscribers around. I'll be updating this review again after I have a couple weeks of end game under my belt, but for now I'll say this game was well worth the price of admission and I'm actually hoping GW2 doesn't release any time soon to give me more time with Tera.