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I've recently started playing Tera, and I thought I'd give my thoughts and impressions on what I've experienced thus far. I've rolled two characters, a sorcerer and a berserker, both of which are now 30. I'll attempt to break this down into different sections, so my thoughts aren't too thrown about and all over the place.
Combat - Tera's combat is probably (to me) the best thing about the game. At first, I struggled with it a little due to being animation locked when using abilities, but after a while I started figuring it out. It seems that it's all about your timing (particularly with BAMs, more so than with your average mob). Waiting for the enemy to pause, knowing how long it takes to get a few hits off, knowing what the enemy is about to do based on it's animations, blocking/dodging/moving away at the right moment, etc. It has a fair bit of strategy involved and makes the fights most enjoyable. For me, the combat is fast enough that I don't feel like I'm just standing there face to face pressing 1-12, but slow enough as well so that I don't feel like I'm playing a button masher. I seriously don't think I can ever go back to tab-target MMO's again.
Questing - It's the tried and true method of go kill/collect/gather/etc. 'X' and come back. What more is there to say really? If you're looking for something different, you won't find it here. That said, the enjoyable combat and beautiful visuals certainly help with the blandness of questing.
Dungeons - I've done two so far. Bastion of Lok, and Sinestral Manor. While I've enjoyed them quite a bit, they are your typical dungeons. You got your packs of mobs thrown bout, then your bosses at the end of different rooms. That said, due to the combat and enemy mechanics, the boss fights were an absolute pleasure. There is a dungeon finder, which works like any other, but there are still quite a few people that use area chat to get groups together as it can sometimes be faster.
PvP - PvP opens up at level 30. I have yet to do any though. My plan was to wait until I was level 60 with all my skills and glyphs and then go into it. Apparently, from what I understand, entering in PvP upscales your level and gear to 60, as to even things out. I don't know much more about it, so I can't really comment.
Zones - So far I've been to Arcadia and Poporia. The zones are quite large, and are broken down into different sections (no loading screens for those who are wondering). For example Poporia is broken down into four different areas (Cliffs of Insanity, Vale of the Fang, Paraanon Ravine, and Lake of Tears) each with different recommended level requirements. It can be quite a long walk from place to place, so using the teleport guide, pegasus, and your mount (which you get for free at level 11) would certainly make getting around much faster.
Visuals - The art style itself is very high fantasy, nothing too out of the ordinary from what I've seen so far, but graphics wise, it's very good looking. I'm running the game on max settings, and I think it looks absolutely stunning. When I first took the pegasus to Velika and I saw the massive city and the area surrounding, I was in awe. I also found the leveling areas (like Valley of the Titans in Arcadia) to be quite gorgeous as well. The different races all seem to be very detailed and the animations look and feel smooth. Weapons and armor look fairly bland for the first 20 levels, but after that they start to become much more detailed and varied, especially the dungeon drops.
Races - There are seven different races in Tera. You have your standard ones like Human, High Elf. and Castanic (which seem to me to be the equivalent of dark elves but without the blue skin). Then you have the ones that stand out. First, there are the popori, who are small animal-esque creatures (think of little chubby teddy bears). Then there are the Baraka, they are descended from giants, are quite massive, and look to be made of stone and metal. Next is the Aman, giant horned creatures with clawed hands and a demon-like appearance. Finally, there are the Ellin. Probably the most controversial race, Ellin have the appearance of a small female child but with animal ears and tails. According to lore however, they are hundreds of years old, never age, and are guardians of nature. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with the Ellin, but I can certainly understand why they would make people feel uneasy or uncomfortable, which perhaps is a difference of cultures between the west and east (where things that are "kawaii" are very popular). When designing your character, you get plenty of options from skin color, face shape, adornments, etc. etc. etc. It's reletively in depth, but nothing too extreme like Aion, for example.
Classes - There are 8 classes you have to choose from. You have the Lancer, which is the pure tank class that wears metal armor, a shield and (as it's name would suggest) a lance. There's the Warrior, who is a both a tank or DPS class using leather armor and dual wielding swords. Next there's the sorcerer and archer, and they are both ranged DPS (not much to say about them really, one fires arrows, the other spells). Next is the Berserker and Slayer, both of which use two handed weapons for burst melee DPS, though the berserker wears metal armor and has less mobility (though can block with its axe), and the slayer wears leather armor and has more mobility. Finally there are the priest and the mystic, both of which are healers. The mystic however is more of a support healer that buffs and assists the party through buffs, auras, and minions.
Community - There's no denying it, global chat is, at times, a cesspool of hatred, racism, bigotry, and foul mouthed 'eleventeen' year olds. It's terrible. It's not like that constantly however, and there are bursts of people actually discussing the game, looking for help, buying/selling/trading/etc. But I'd say 6 out of 10 times, you'd be better to just ignore global. That said, outside of global, I have met and played with some WONDERFUL people. From my time in Arcadia and Poporia, area chat has been just fine, with people looking for dungeon groups, asking questions, getting help, etc. You have the occasional bad egg, but which game doesn't? I also joined a guild with some veterans who are extremely polite and helpful. I urge people who try this to not judge everyone playing by what you see in global. They are certainly the vocal minority.
Free To Play - From level 1 to 30 on two characters, I've not once been presented with anything telling me to subscribe, buy something, check out the store, etc. The store seems to be mostly comprised of cosmetic stuff (cotumes, mounts, etc.) and boosters. The only limit I've noticed so far is that I have a two character limit, which probably isn't a problem except for alt-aholics like myself.
In summation, I would recommend Tera to anyone looking for a themepark game and wants to get away from the tab-target combat, because that's what this game is. A standard themepark MMORPG, with some pretty damn good action combat. And hell, it's free to play, and with the streaming launcher, you can experience the first 10 levels in no time.
30-50 - So I just hit 50 on my Berserker, and I'd like to address my experiences and how things have changed (or not) over the last 20 levels. So I finally did a fair bit of PvP in the form of Corsairs Stronghold. It's a 20 versus 20 match with two rounds of attack and defend. The attackers try to use siege tanks and airships to break down gates and infiltrate the stronghold to take spawn points and eventually destroy the crystal before time runs out. Then the defenders, obviously, defend (they get canons on the outer wall). It's pretty fun, especially if you have a good group leader, but obviously not anything revolutionary.
Questing has been more of the same. If you follow the story (which I have kind of have, loosely) then the story quests get more interesting (not to mention giving decent EXP and rewards). But other than that, the rest of the quests are the same old. I also managed to get a few (2 or 3) levels through grinding out some BAMs and some higher level normal mobs. That was pretty boring, but it didn't take too long, and it's always nice to have that option for people who DO like that stuff.
Dungeons stayed fairly easy up through Necromancer Tomb. There was a definite spike in difficulty though once I hit Golden Labyrinth. I haven't done Akasha's Hideout yet, but it does offer a hard mode, so things are looking to pick up in terms of difficulty, which is always a good thing IMHO.
Combat, which I already liked, got a fair bit better. Abilities once they are trained high enough, allow you to move (albeit, slowly) instead of being animation locked. Then there are glyphs that remove the movement restriction for that ability. For example, I have a glyph for Thunder Strike that allows me to move at normal speed while charging it.
That's all for now. Will update more once I get to 60 and experience some end game content. My previous assessment still stands of course. Tera is a beautiful themepark MMORPG that offers some fairly good action combat, but won't be for those looking to break away from your standard themepark design.
60/End Game/Masterworking/Final Thoughts - I've been level 60 for several days now and have experienced a bit of end game content and feel I can give my thoughts on what I've experienced. So as a fresh 60 you'll need to gear up a bit to be able to queue for Channel Works, Shattered Fleet, Kezzels Gorge, and Wonderholme Normal Mode, the first three require an item level of 153, and Normal WH requires 155. You'll want to do these dungeons because they drop Molten Tokens, which you need to buy your Steadfast gear. So to gear up to be able to queue for those dungeons, I ran Balders Temple 1 man (there is a 5 man variant which I've not done), which consists of 3 bosses and takes about 10-15 minutes as a fresh level 60. You can also do your Jax Trust and UTI dailies to get gear from their reputation vendors.
After I ran Balders Temple Solo a few times, I finally hit item level 153, and could queue up for Channel Works (CW), Shattered Fleet (SF), and Kezzels Gorge (KG). CW is a 3 man dungeon consisting of three bosses you fight one after the other, while an NPC helps you out, and a second NPC (either for more damage, or for heals) appears during the last boss fight. It's pretty simple and straight forward. SF is a 5 man dungeon, again consisting of three bosses fought one after the other. The first boss of SF is constantly spawing adds, and eventually a monkey shows up and drops explosive barrels, so you basically just avoid the barrels, and it's no real issue. The second boss of SF is a big bug that likes to charge around and has a sleep mechanic, but nothing to complicated and is probably the easiest boss of the three. The third and final boss of SF is Barbosa, and every once in a while he will become damage immune, and spawn 4 adds, one in each corner of the ship. The adds will target one player at random and fire energy ball things at them, if the targeted player doesn't avoid the balls, he'l die very quick. So you just take down the adds, and go back to Barbosa. Again, pretty simple. Finally there's Kezzel's Gorge, a 7 man dungeon. KG has the players attacking a giant rock golem and trying to kill him before he breaks down the door at the end of the gorge path. Along the way there are cannons, explosive barrels, and finally at the door, drills on a 3min timer and a one use cannon. Once the door reaches 0%, you lose. It's not too hard, but a new player may have some trouble timing blocks and learning kezzel's movements and attack animations.
So after a few days of running those (I've yet to run Wonderholme Normal Mode, which is a 10 man dungeon) I finally got all my Steadfast pieces and have begun to masterwork them. Masterworking is making an enchantable item able to be enchanted beyond the normal +9 to +12. To do this you need Enigmatic Scrolls. Common ones can be bought from a vendor for 5 gold a piece but only have (IIRC) a .5% chance to masterwork your item. Master Enigmatic Scrolls however have a 3% chance to masterwork, but are either dropped at the end of level 58+ dungeons (Labyrinth of Terror and Ebon Tower) or bought from the Brokerage Auction House) and generally go for 150-200 gold a piece, so it can get VERY pricey, although Steadfast supposedly has a higher chance to masterwork than other gear.
So next up would be getting all my gear to as close to +12 as I can and then doing Wonderholme Hard Mode, which drops items that from what I understand, turn your Steadfast gear into Wonderholme Gear. I'll probably do normal mode a while and learn the fights, then move onto Hard Mode with my guild.
Also, speaking of hard modes, I did Manaya's Core Normal Mode, and fought the Argon Queen. It's only 5 man, and may say normal mode, but that is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, I've ever done (since maybe back in WoW TBC, maybe worse). We finally did it after 3 or 4 tries, but it still required a lot of ressing and it wasn't quick or clean in the slightest. Apparently MC Hard Mode is the toughest dungeon in the game, and I can only imagine that being true after experiencing normal mode.
I'd like to take a moment to talk about the F2P and Elite status some more. This games F2P model is wonderful, it's not in your face, it doesn't constantly remind you, you barely even notice it until you realize you're not spending any money. You can even progress at end game without elite. However! Elite does have it's perks, and they are quite good, especially for someone who doesn't play casually. For $15 a month you get access to double the amount of end game dungeons per day (so instead of 3 BT runs, you get 6, instead of 1 CW/SF/KG you get 2). Now you can always buy a reset instance scrolls from the broker for ~400g but it's still nice not having to (even though some people with elite still do, especially if you want your tokens faster). You also get these daily: 6 1 hour 100% increased exp from kills boost, 6 1 hour 100% increased gold from kills boost, 6 1 hour 100% increased quest gold boosts, 6 1 hour 100% increased reputation and credits boost, a village atlas that allows you to teleport to any major city or town in the game, a daily elite gift, and a 280 movement speed mount. So every day you get all those boosts. The exp one is great for leveling alts, and the quest gold boost is great for your dailies (which means ~800 gold for the very easy Jax Trust and UTI dailies, and that's only if you do them on just one character). So it all depends. If you play casually, you'll probably never need it, but if you play several hours a week, it;s certainly something to look into.
All in all, my thoughts, as before, are the same still. Absolutely stunning game. So many open and beautiful areas to explore and gaze at. The combat system is can be quite simple, or quite intricate depending on what you're doing and how good/bad you are. But in the end, the main core of the game is that of your typical themepark design. Will the combat, lore, story, races, classes, etc. be enough for some people? Maybe, maybe not.I know for sure though this is the game for me right now, and I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon. I definitely think it's worth the download and that anyone who is even the slightest bit curious should give it a shot.