TERA Rising is an oddly mixed bag. It's not just that the execution is great in some areas and lacking in others, but it's also rather shocking to see both the amount of creativity and cliché together in one game.
I first discovered TERA Rising by searching for MMOs with great character customization. This game does not disappoint in that area. Beyond offering a variety of anatomically different races (from humans to demons to raccoons), there is a fantastic amount of intricate customization, with sliders for facial features like bone structure and even nostril flare.
TERA Rising seems to have an unwarranted reputation for (as one player put it) "busty women, busty women everywhere". But compared to the bustiness of WoW's or DCUO's female models, TERA Rising is downright modest. It's mostly in the revealing clothing that some races and classes are prone to (particularly the light-armored classes) that make your female character into a pinup. This comes up much more rarely than you'd think.
Once you're past the exceptionally fine granular customization stage, you're treated to a beautiful cutscene that introduces most of the major races and their personalities. You also see how spectacular the graphics are overall. Well, after all, if you get to change the size of the bridge of your character's nose, you better be able to see it, right?
|Seriously, those six sliders on the right are all for just the mouth.|
TERA's combat system is wonderfully action-oriented. Although it's not quite as fluid as some other games, it is thankfully much faster than turn-based and time-based MMOs. Your enjoyment of the combat is really based on what class you pick. I tried out three classes before finding a fourth that I was comfortable with. But to each his own, and while some classes like Archer, Lancer, and Sorcerer aren't my cup of tea, I saw plenty of players enjoying those classes fully.
Some classes are traditional, with mana that refills automatically, while others require you to attack relentlessly to bring up your MP to fire even more devastating attacks.
Best of all, you are free to replace your mouse button attacks as if they were standard number keys. And I applaud Tera Rising enormously for being the first MMO the puts all attacks close to the WASD keys, using 1-6 and F1-F6, rather than 1-0. It takes some getting used to, but ultimately it makes far more sense.
|That attack bar on the bottom is a logical keyboard configuration. You heard me: logic!|
When picking your class, don't rely on their own difficulty rating system; I found the ones that claim to be easiest were kind of hard to use, while the moderate ones weren't so bad. I play my MMOs with a self-imposed permadeath, so I figured out quickly which class was best for me.
Certain aspects of TERA Rising aren't bad in their own right, but it's the combinations of elements that make me question their design choices.
For instance, some of the classes feel like the butt heads thematically. The Archer uses a bow that's large enough to see, but not so big it looks cartoonish. But Lancers and swordfighters use monstrosities of weapons, looking like someone played too much FF7. You practically drag the sword around like you're playing Silent Hill 2!
|Everyone is TERA is a world-record weight lifter.|
Another strangely disconcerting combination is the races. There is a race of neko little girls, and a race of pudgy raccoon-like creatures, and then there's a race of devil creatures and a race of rock monsters, and all are working together. While part of the plot is that seven disparate races must face some grander challenge, there very distinct styles make you feel like sometimes you're playing in a realistic high-fantasy setting, and other times you're in a cartoon.
The quest structure is far too basic and flat to carry much weight. Kill this many thats, collect this many doohickeys, talk to that guy over there. That's about it. Except for the escort missions, and one is far too many for that sort of thing.
Like other RPGs, the story primarily exists in mission briefing text boxes, which I don't bother to read. As far as I'm concerned, I went to a new island to find some guy, and as far as I know I came back empty-handed and continued on my way to do other repetitive quests that have nothing to do with the island.
Don't bother playing the tutorial. It's a waste of time, and it's more confusing to play it than to simply begin the game without it and learn to play as you go. Sometimes during loading screens you get a graphic of keyboard controls, and that shows you just about everything. It's basic MMO button controls; just press keys and see what happens.
|Guess how you open your Inventory. If you said "press I", give yourself a cookie.|
Speaking of loading screens, I think someone took some great concept art and threw a stupid Photoshop filter on them, ruining them. If that was all you saw of the game, you'd think it was an amateur production, and it makes me wince every time the game loads.
Lastly, I previously mentioned that there are some combinations that throw me off. Well, most of them just make me shrug, but the thing that really I feel is an awful choice is the combination of unique and cliché races. If you're going to add original races like rock monsters and even raccoon critters, why the heck would you go so unoriginal as elves? It seems like they had such a unique concept going, but then some exec who'd just seen Lord of the Rings said "This'll never sell without some elves. No, wait, make them high elves."
Overall, though, TERA Rising is worth a try, to see some of the new stuff they pulled off. Some of the new ideas don't always work, but when they get it right, they get it really right. What they get wrong, they get really wrong. But it's free to play, so it's worth a shot.
TERA Rising can be found here.