TERA, which stands for “The Exiled Realm of Arboria”, is a free to play third-person fantasy MMORPG set in the magical world of – okay, who am I kidding, this entire blog post is just going to be a rant about horrible, terrible armor design and if you don’t want to deal with this, just stop reading now.
History and Development
I’m going to pretend that I’m a professional and that I want to talk about other things so I’m going to go through all the sections here. TERA was developed by Bluehole Studio out of South Korea. There’s not a whole lot of info on the development process – Wikipedia is really failing me today – but I’m honestly just going to assume that it’s like all those other Korean MMOs and it just sort of happened for money.
Further research tells me that TERA uses the “Unreal Engine 3” which apparently allowed developers a lot of freedom in the creation of the game and stopped some issues they were having in 2007 development about productivity. They were using an early, slightly buggy version of the engine so they struggled with that side of game development. At the time of its release in 2011, the graphics were considered to be spectacular and they still hold up pretty okay. The quality of the graphics are not my complaint with this game visually.
Conceptual work on the game came from high fantasy (World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings were mentioned by name) and also from Greek and Roman mythology. Actually, now that I think about it, the Greco-Roman thing is really clear which is kind of cool to see that woven into the story.
You see it, right?
I was pretty…reticent to play this game. This actually marks the first game I picked up specifically to play for this blog and I did so because this game is massive. Everyone knows TERA, whether they like it or not. I’d never played it. A few years ago when I was looking for a new game, I glanced at it in sort of an “Oh, maybe that’d be nice” way but research showed me that I would honestly just be kind of ticked off about it.
But then here I was two years later downloading TERA.
It’s not an exciting story. It’s a mostly ticked off story.
Oh Lady Jesus on her throne, character creation.
Okay, so you have a lot of customization in TERA. There are seven races including: demons, more demons, giant round metallic dudes, elves, humans, fat dogs, and bunny girls. Insert a deep sigh of pain from the gamer feminist at this point because the Elins, the animal girls, cause me deep physical pain.
Can anyone guess why? It starts with “P” and ends with “edophelia”.
Then you have your eight to nine classes: Archer, Berserker, Lancer, Mystic, Priest, Slayer, Sorcerer, and Warrior, plus Reaper if you play an Elin and have a high level character already, and I guess they just added a Gunner class but I haven’t researched that. Your class determines the type of armor you wear (your race/gender determines how it looks) and what weapon you use. Each class has one type of weapon.
Physically it’s not bad. It’s a little basic and there are some sliders I would rather do without (like the “how much does my character hold their mouth slightly open like a porn star” slider, I’m not a fan of that one) and the faces pretty much stay close to the generic no matter how much you drag them around. It’s fun though. I had some fun making characters like “Tilda Swinton Elf” and “Ticked Off Five-Year-Old” so that was kind of a good time.
I honestly don’t know.
Okay, I sort of know. I haven’t looked it up specifically because I want to write my impressions. What I have is: there is a big god and he is an asshole and trying to frak shit up so stop him. There’s a lot of back story on the Gods and the world before the start of the game. There was a big war between the good guys and the bad guys and some of the bad guys joined the good guys and now there are seven good races and I guess a bunch of assholes. There’s a big government organization that keeps everyone sort of in line and also just spews quests at you.
The reason I have trouble figuring out the story line is that it’s all done through this really large blocks of text and sometimes it’s a little hard to follow what’s going on all the time. I will admit to just casually clicking through a lot of it because I coudn’t be bothered to care about why they were sending me off to kill ten tree monsters or lizards or whatever. I tried to read the main quest more but when every quest is introduced with “Oh my gosh, here’s a big write-up on my problem” but boils down to “kill some shit” I stop caring.
TERA is the most stereotypical MMO ever. Like, it’s more MMO than World of Warcraft is. It’s everything you think of when someone says “MMO”. There are like, three gameplay things that are interesting, but lets go through the ones that are not first.
Quests. Kill X number of Y creature and come back for a reward. That’s like, literally all it is. Over and over again. Kill, XP, get more quests. At least you don’t run out of quests so that’s nice. Very little unsupervised level grinding, and I’ve never had a time with no story quest, even if I wasn’t high enough level to do it yet.
Combat’s not half bad, but it’s a little stale. There’s this cool dodging mechanic that can actually be a lot of fun if you do it right, but I am apparently bad at it. Like, sometimes enemies telegraph their attacks but sometimes they don’t and it can be a little frustrating to be like “Are you gonna hit me or nah?” and then have a monster punch you right in the mouth.
Because I chose to play murder town characters (tanks, mostly, but at least heavy armor) I chose the Beserker which fits my play style pretty well. She’s slow as shit, don’t get me wrong, but when she hits, she hits hard. Sometimes it’s a pain to get my defenses up in time and I do get my ass handed to me on occasion, but it’s honestly kind of fun. I tried sorcerer too and I’m…not as good at that. But that’s always been my personal curse with mages so I’m not going to say it reflects on the game.
Combat and mechanics aren’t bad, though they’re a little unremarkable. Most of the good is a little unremarkable. There’s a lot of solid shit, sure, but on the other hand, there’s nothing I want to write home about. When I talk about TERA, I’m certainly not going to be talking about mediocre story and uninspired gameplay.
The design has a lot of potential. It’s got a unique style and gorgeous vistas that strech out over the whole game. It feels big. The vast majority of the monster designs are great (maybe a little cluttered for my taste, but it’s got something going on).
I mean, look how much detail they put into this guy here.
It’s a real pity they squander this later.
Story mostly. I mean, I want to care about the story, I really do. I tried and I can sort of keep up with it, but it’s iffy. It really does boil down to “kill some evil cultist dudes, go to the next town, kill some more dudes.” There are a couple of places where it clearly tries to break away from it and there’s some interesting betrayal stuff, but it really does just boil down to the same basic thing over and over again.
Some of the animation is a little weird. Some of the races run funny and you’re just like “Can we talk about your form here? I feel like you’d cover more ground if you didn’t flap your arms around like that all the time.”
LET’S TALK ARMOR.
This is what I really wanted to get to. TERA has what I am going to call literally the worst female armor design of any game I have ever seen. Like, individual sets from other games might be bad (lookin’ at you here Guild Wars 2) but every single goddamn piece of armor I pick up in TERA is absolutely terrible. I feel like the rest of this review should just be pictures of female armor interspersed with pictures of the Daily Show’s John Stewart making horrible faces but I’ll try to be a little more in depth about the horror here.
Not one to do things by halves, I chose to play a Castanic, a race of demon people with an aversion to clothing in general. And no, do not tell me I can “just play something else”, their lore and appearance is cool and I should never judge something on how good it can be but always on its low points.
Here are some examples of armor my Castanic Beserker (that’s a heavy armor class, mind you) has picked up.
Who did this?
I hope they’ve been fired.
Okay, if you don’t understand what’s wrong here, I can’t help you.
These are terrible and I honestly have nothing more to say than “Who allowed this to happen?” Like, why do we live in a world where this is a thing? (That question is rhetorical, I am a 23-year-old feminist, I know why) It’s so hard to focus on the game when I’m into this utter nonsense. I don’t buy the argument “but the men don’t wear much either” because like, at least they get pants. I clearly don’t get pants. I don’t think my character has had pants once since character creation. She has an axe that’s bigger than she is, but no, she doesn’t need any goddamn pants to go with it, apparently. It’s almost worse with the Elin who look like little girls and wear very little clothing as well or like, cutesie but sexy clothing. Very gross.
Here’s the weird thing. I kind of enjoy this game. Oh, not like, it’s good. It’s the potato chip of the gaming world. You just do it. It’s mindless and I don’t really give a shit about any of it, but then I look back and I’m level 20 or whatever. Like, don’t play this game. I’m not going to ever encourage anyone to play this game. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just boring as hell. There are better ones out there that do the same thing and keep your interest and don’t sexualize little girls.
Honestly, it reminds me most of WildStar, which is going free-to-play in the fall of 2015 so like…play that instead.
Next Month: Mass Effect! You can fight like a Krogan and run like a leopard but you’ll never be better than Commander Shepard.