After having a so-so time playing DC Universe Online, my search for easy-going, console-based multiplayer/MMORPG ventures continued. I had made a short list of possibilities, and after a quick round of eenie, meenie, miny, moe, I ended up at another decades-old game, TERA. I knew nothing about the game save for the fact that I had seen it pop up on lists of popular MMORPGs. After checking out a few videos and reading about the basics of the game, I decided to just dive in, figuring that if I thought about it too much, I would probably end up talking myself out of it.
As my worthless luck had it, a couple days after I downloaded the game to my Xbox One, news broke that TERA was shutting down at the end of June.
I still started up the game, made a character, and played through its tutorial. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it wasn’t terrible either. Upon reaching the game proper though, I wondered if it was worth continuing. As it turned out, news of the shutdown wasn’t exactly new news.
TERA was originally released on PC in 2011 and on consoles in 2018. As I gathered from various outlets, its PC developer closed up shop in late 2020, at which point TERA moved to two other companies, one responsible for the game on PC, the other for the game on consoles. From what I read, only the PC version would be shutting down come June 30; the console versions seemed…safe? TERA’s website for consoles shows recent server maintenance and minor recent game news, so that means the game is still active on console, right? Must admit that I’m not sure. Everything I’ve read suggests that the PC and console versions of the game differ, but I can only imagine that the lion’s share of subscribers/players live on PC. Still, I didn’t delete the game and have since continued my journey in it. I guess we’ll see what happens at the end of this month.
Until then, let’s talk a little about the game. In TERA, or The Exiled Realms of Arborea, players take the helm as denizens of Arborea, which are at war with a race of creature called the Argons. Between the Argons and monsters that now roam the lands, there’s no shortage of enemies to battle and things to fetch, find, and explore. And…that’s about it. Or, perhaps I should say that’s how it started. As with MMOs, it seems TERA’s storyline went off in all sort of unusual directions with later expansions, but the general structure and mechanics remain as one would expect. Start a main story that leads to various places with various quest-givers. Complete said main story quest in one place, which includes a dungeon delve at the end, and then move onto the next. Or, if one isn’t ready to move on, pick up a multitude of small area-related sidequests and work on those until they are all done, or done enough.
Since I’m not exactly sure what will come of TERA, I’ve been sampling different classes out of sheer curiosity. (The game gives two free character slots, and I picked up two additional ones.) The one I like the most is the gunner class, which involves, well…shooting things with a magnificently huge gun. It’s with my gunner than I’ve mode the most progress so far. I gave the archer (bow and arrows, obviously) and berserker (giant axe-wielder) classes a shot, and I like them both. Classes that haven’t stuck so far are valkyrie (hacker-slasher?), slayer (broadsword) and brawler (fists of steel!). There are thirteen classes in the game, some of which are locked to certain races/genders, which stinks. Save for the classes that are locked to the game’s child-like Elin race (sorry, I just can’t), I may aim to try the others at least once in case things go belly up.
As to the game itself, I’ve so far just been bumping around from main quest to main quest, fighting monsters, picking up loot, and dungeon delving. While I’ve no idea how to use any of the game’s deeper mechanics, general adventuring and fighting has been easy to manage and understand. The game has been touted for having great combat, and I have to agree that it’s pretty darn great. Combat is intuitive, and fights look flashy and exciting. My gunner has picked up loads of different skills, though I’m mostly sticking to and upgrading just the ones she had from the start. Gear progression is mildly interesting, and not knowing what’s “good” or “bad” makes for less worry. That’s fine because most of my effort in the game has been put forth in trying to follow the story. While the game offers up occasional cutscenes that help illustrate particular events, which are entertaining, none of the NPCs are fully voiced. This means that if you want to know why you are being asked to gather up ten vials of monster essence, you are going to have to read at least one small wall of text. That’s…not great.
While there are good things about TERA, I can’t go without noting that some of the characters’ visuals are off-putting and obnoxious at times. The women are barely covered, or worse, they appear covered until they turn around, which is the view you see the most. Also, they run (and stand, in the case of my gunner) like they have full bladders and can’t find a bathroom. As a result, apparently, they are forced to ride mounts in ridiculous side-saddle form. These issues might not seem like a big deal, but they have begun to sour my feelings towards the game.
One of the things that I like about this casual foray into free games is that there aren’t any strings attached. If I like it, it stays. If I don’t, it goes. Whether or not TERA is “dying” on consoles, I’ve no obligation to keep it in my library, and I don’t know that I’ll want to. The character visuals annoy me a little more each time I log on, and the questing has been only okay at best. I did mange to complete one of the game’s main stories fully with my gunner, and it was fine, I guess. I’ve since been sent off in a new direction. I will admit that I’m not sure why, and I don’t know that I care to find out. I will probably flit in an out of the game for a while, because I really enjoy the combat it offers. If nothing else, TERA has provided me with another perspective on MMORPGs and will help inform what I chose to try next.
All images, including lede, were captured by author during Xbox One gameplay of TERA (© Bluehole Studio, Inc.)