Revisiting TERA in 2020: Is the MMORPG Worth Starting?
Mrs Stix and I have always been avid fans of TERA. I’m a Founder for the game, having played it way back when it was pay-to-play. To date, I still firmly believe TERA has some of the best action combat in the MMO scene, even if the classes I enjoy have changed substantially over the years.
Yet even in 2020, I continue to see the TERA subreddit spammed with posts asking if the game is worth playing. In videos I do I get asked what my thoughts of the game are currently – as of June 2020. So here I am, attempting to address everything at once.
Over the course of May 2020 Mrs Stix and I live streamed TERA on Twitch with all of you guys. We made it to level 68 before finally calling it quits, and these are my thoughts on the way there.
TERA is an open-world action MMORPG released in North America and Europe in 2012. The game began as a subscription-based MMO, requiring you pay a monthly fee, but after seeing poor subscription numbers, the game decided to change to a free-to-play business model the following year.
Since then, the game has continued to add new classes, new areas, new features all the while overhauling various aspects of the game including the leveling experience, which is what I’m going to address first.
To begin with, you’re met with a very dated “tutorial.” This introduction to the game shows you how to loot items, how to move your character, how to click your left-mouse button to attack.. all things that are mostly irrelevant in this day and age.
But we can look past that. The newbie zone has never really been very good, even back when it took twice as long to complete.
Shortly after leaving the tutorial zone, you’re able to begin running dungeons. And this is where the bulk of the game takes place on the course to what, max level I think?
You do a few introductory quests to hit the level requirement to enter dungeons, and then you farm them via Vanguard Requests, gaining several level-ups per dungeon all the way to.. level 65?
Then you take a few quests, learn of some of the new features that are now available to you, obtain really powerful new gear and then you continue grinding the Macellarius Catacombs dungeon until level 68, where you finally unlock a little more variety.
That’s it – that’s the entirety of the leveling experience in TERA. Sure, you can do quests out in the open-world if you really want to, but when it’s such an inferior way of leveling.. why would you, other than to experience the story?
Speaking of dungeons, though, I did a video on TERA and my experience in the game back in September 2019. Back then, you could group up with 4 other people I believe, with full-sized dungeon parties consisting of 5 players.
Now I get the population in TERA has declined quite substantially over the last 9 months, but upon queuing we learned that we couldn’t take 3 of our viewers with us, as dungeon party sizes were reduced down to 3 players only.
This – I couldn’t believe this was a thing. Placing a limit that small on a game built around a “massively multiplayer” aspect was such a foreign concept to me.
I feel like a better alternative would have been to set dungeons to scale per person, as opposed to reducing how many people could participate simultaneously. Kind of like how Blue Protocol is handling their dungeons.
When I played, dungeon queues didn’t take long at all. And I played on the North American servers, servers that are much more barren than their European counterparts.
Even entering with 3 players provided little to no effort, though. Rarely were we even required to make use of Mrs Stix’s healing as a Priest, yet dungeons are often a way with which you go about preparing for the more difficult encounters found at endgame.
That isn’t to say that all dungeons are easy though, just the dungeons on the way to level 68. I never attempted any of the dungeons after level 68, and with the new level 70 dungeon coming – or has it already came? Either way, I’m sure they scale to a much greater difficulty.
Leveling, either through dungeons or via the quests would suck if the combat sucked though, right? I know I mentioned earlier that I still firmly believe TERA has some of the best action combat in an MMO, and that is 100% my honest thought.
I’ve played every action MMO there is. I played Blade & Soul to endgame, having a Hongmoon 23 Zen Archer, have played hundreds of hours of Black Desert Online, have played hub-MMOs like PSO2, Soul Worker, Kritika and Vindictus quite extensively.
Yet at the end of the day, the combat in TERA has always been the type of combat I enjoy. I like the free-aiming aspect of the classes, and while, sure, other games do it, and some of them do it very well, TERA’s is just.. different in a way I can’t truly express through words.
Now I’ve only ever played 3 classes in TERA: Warrior, Gunner and Sorcerer. I played Warrior to endgame back when the game went free-to-play, and have played Gunner to endgame several times over the last few years. Yes, I’m of the opinion that the Gunner is an incredibly fun class, and I love my tiny little pocket healer.
Although I would like to note with the substantial increase in HP due the gear you obtain at level 65, my little heal-bot really doesn’t do much anymore, at least not at level 68 from what I could tell which is probably the most disappointing thing I encountered in-game.
I relied on him. He was my rock. He kept me alive. He got me through so many hard times. He and I had experienced everything the world had to offer and overcame ever trial, every tribulation thrown our way.
The one thing I never got to do though, at least in the last couple years, was PvP. I can’t say with any kind of certainty how Gunner fairs in PvP, as every time we’d try to queue nothing would ever pop.
I think the only time I ever participated in PvP was back within the first year or two of it going free-to-play. Back when PvP servers were still a thing, and players would camp you in Lumbertown. You guys remember those days? Yeah, those were awesome.
Back in 2019 I elaborated on my experience with other players, with the multiplayer aspect of TERA. I discussed how I had been kicked on more than one occasion because I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know the mechanics for each encounter – I wasn’t paying enough attention, I dunno.
It was my first time doing specific dungeons so I was taking things slowly so I could grasp what was going on and what I was required to do in the party – what my role was and how I could accurately and safely utilize my abilities while learning what I needed to do in the future.
But they wanted to zerg as fast as they could, and I get that mentality, I do. You’ve probably run the content so many times that it grates on your nerves. You just want to power through it as fast as you can.
However if it’s someone’s first time.. you’re ruining it for them, expecting them to research, in detail, what you need to do in advance. This isn’t how most players tackle new games, or new content. And that resulted in multiple kicks from dungeon groups.
Since they reduced the player party size from 5 down to 3, and we queued exclusively with our viewers, we never came across that issue, but I’m sure it’s still a very prevalent part of the game, especially when grouping with 2 complete strangers.
TERA has always been an incredible MMO. Truly. While it has continued to get consistently worse over the years, I still find myself coming back to it time and time again. And every time, I find a little more of what I loved about the game has been taken away from me.
So much of what made the game an amazing experience to play through has been pruned from the game. Gone are the days you’d see players out in the world questing. Gone are the players you used to be able to challenge out in the open world.
Gone is the need to do side-quests. Or, well, gone is the need to actually quest for the most part all together. There’s a noticeable pattern here, right? A lot of content is gone.
That’s not talking about the alterations to zones, or the dungeon nerfs that made dungeons – at least on the way to level 68, mind-numbingly easy and require absolutely no skill. Or attention, even.
TERA is probably in the worst shape it’s ever been in. I still love the game with a burning passion, which is why it was one of the first MMOs we chose to stream. This MMO helped shape my experience in the genre.
Without it, I wouldn’t appreciate action combat nearly as much as I currently do, nor would I compare so many games to it, or recommend it nearly as often as I do. Yet at the same time, I no longer think the game is really worth your time.
Sure, it still has its charms – it likely always will, but.. it’s such a drastic departure from what it once was and I don’t think it’ll ever achieve any sense of relevance again. But I’ll still continue to play it.
I’ll continue to come back to it in hopes that something changes for the better.