Entries in tera (2)


A massive(ly multiplayer) realization

At some point when I wasn’t paying enough attention, I seem to have become an MMO player. What started out as an academic dalliance to figure out what this World of Warcraft thing was all about has slowly progressed to become a Thing I Enjoy. Over the past couple of years (which, not coincidentally, also represents the time frame since which I acquired a decently beefy gaming PC), I have slowly begun to notice that I’m actually paying attention to MMO launches. I might even go so far as to say I’ve looked forward to some of them.

I’ve not yet devolved to the point that I’m pulling all-nighters on launch day, chugging lukewarm pizza and Red Bull, trying to be the first to reach level 60. I’m not planning weekly raid events or drawing up spreadsheets with PvP stats. But, more and more, I’m treating big MMO launches as something to look forward to and participate in. This is something of a big deal given my prior disdain for the genre.

To be sure, I have not yet conquered my general tendency to hop about wildly from game to game and purchase the newest, shiniest thing that catches my attention. When considered along with that pesky “job” thing I’m forced to drag myself to, it’s little wonder I rarely make it to the big boy levels of these things before losing interest. Nonetheless, only recently I've seen The Old Republic, Tera, The Secret World, and Neverwinter come and go while dabbling in the early stages of Firefall and looking forward to The Elder Scrolls Online. I can keep telling myself I’m not going to play these things all I want, but it’s clearly not working.

I’ve written before on some of the reasons why I like this genre, despite my frequent criticisms of it, but the realization that it may have morphed into something more than a guilty pleasure is relatively recent. There are many possible reasons for this development. The acquisition of my gaming PC makes me more likely to hunt down interesting PC titles, of which new MMOs represent a significant chunk. The drought of JRPGs these days leaves fewer outlets for long adventures and the oh-so-satisfying thrill of seeing your level number increase than there once was (a niche that western RPGs can only sometimes fill in quite the same way). MMOs as a whole have also increased dramatically in quality, both mechanically and graphically, as well as, crucially, user friendliness. Even repetitive games like Tera can impress with a solid set of combat mechanics, or games with tired combat like The Secret World can thrill with a unique setting and focus on story.

There has always been a certain something to MMOs that I enjoyed that nothing else provided. That sense of grand adventure, of scale, and of permanence is an addicting concoction. I think, simply put, the genre has gotten better at capitalizing on those strengths while not getting on my nerves nearly as much as it used to. The future looks bright indeed for the genre, and I am becoming more and more comfortable with admitting to myself that I genuinely like these titles, because the titles are more and more worth liking.

Not so bright, however, is the outlook for my staggeringly large backlog of unfinished solo games. Not a pretty sight. 


Tera impressions - A slick, sexy, pervy action MMO romp

If there even exists such a thing as a “review” of the ever-changing beast that is an MMO, I shall not be the one to write it. My patience for repetition grows thin long before I’ve reached any level cap. I’ve never raided, nor participated in the elusive “endgame” that keeps so many hooked on these addictive treadmills. The MMO for me is a passing fling, a brief fulfillment of base urges to collect shiny loot and level up. 

Tera, I would guess, will turn out no differently. It always begins with grand ambitions. I always think this will be the time I find “the one” that sticks. Around the time I slaughter my forty-zillionth evil, spell-flinging walrus the magic wears off and I move on. Inevitably, the draw of spiffy virtual hats ceases to be compelling reason to go through the same tired combat routine again and again and again.

Surely Tera has repetition to spare. Its tedious “kill everything always” fetch quests make the rote drudgery of The Old Republic feel like a field trip, to say nothing of World of Warcraft’s spate of interesting excursions as of the Cataclysm revamp. The utterly forgettable story piles on the “taking a step backwards” bandwagon and provides plenty of incentive to quickly skip every boring text box in the game as fast as your index finger will let you. 

But the modern modus operandi when it comes to MMOs is one step forward for every step back, which brings me nicely to the reasons I started playing Tera in the first place. Tera is a genuinely gorgeous PC game with fun combat, two things near unheard of in the MMO space. 

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