I don’t really have a clever intro for this. Play TERA. If you are wondering if you should buy TERA, do it. If you are wondering what TERA is, go buy it. If you like to play MMOs, then this is the MMO for you. It has its share of faults just like any game, but unless you have some very specific MMO needs I can almost guarantee it’s better than whatever you’re currently playing. Seriously, I will list my complaints about TERA after three weeks of play:
1) It’s not free
2) There are no raid instances
3) UI customization is not shared across characters
This game just constantly impresses me with how fun it is to play. You remember fun, right? It was that thing you had in WoW before Valor points. A Korean-made game, levelling in TERA is a giant grindfest, and they’ve adopted none of the modern open/group based quests. On paper this sounds awful, as in my opinion leveling is approximately the worst thing ever. But it’s not. All the quests, even the “Go kill X of Y at Z” quests are enjoyable. Why? Because the combat is engaging. Every quest mob requires your focus, your active attention to beat. There’s no rightclick 1, 1, Shift+2, loot. The feel that your input matters, that even on a quest mob it’s you and not your gear winning the fight is a breath of fresh air. If you’re concerned about an active combat system, fear not. While it will demand more focus from you, the actual challenge curve is still in line with most modern MMO experiences. Plus you can always bring friends. My friends and I spend a great deal of our time dicking around with /commands, pulling BAMs, or RPing. The leveling just sort of happens along the way.
This being an MMO, and me being me, I have to talk about endgame of course. I was pretty worried about the lack of raiding going in, but I find that the more I play the less I care. PvE has 5mans and heroic 5mans, which should be interesting enough. They also have lots of world bosses for bigger, harder challenges with lots of people. Daily quests with their own rewards. Professions are leveled at will, with no training, and no cap on how many you can have. Party members share but do not split nodes, meaning two people get twice as much stuff as one. Crafting yields the best gear currently in the game. The materials for which are only obtainable by beating the hardest encounters in the game. I’d like to see real raids some time, but for now this is more than enough.
For PvPers, there’s world PvP, and no factions to restrict who you can knife. Battlegrounds are coming in the next patch (and we’re not talking 6 months here — EnMasse has already dropped a major patch since launch). Plus fully active attacks and dodges, meaning more player skill and less gear in victory. Guilds can declare war on each other. Short of Planetside 2, this is going to be the most skill-based MMO you’re going to get your hands on. I guess… there’s no arena? Darn.
And then there’s the social aspect of the game. Yes, we’re still in the engame section; you didn’t miss anything. Every month, each server elects leaders, or Vanarchs, by popular vote. Vanarchs get a sweet title, and rule over a section of the world. Their guildmates get special mounts and vanity items. Oh, and they can levy taxes. It is the single greatest player-controlled feedback system I have seen in a game. I play on both a PvP and an PvE-RP server, and elections are going on right now. On the PvP server, the largest, most badass guilds are contenders… provided they didn’t spend the first few weeks ganking other people like total assclowns. That tends to hurt their support. On the RP server, major cities are filled with players giving IC speeches to win the support of their fellow gamers (or at least their characters). It’s a very real reward (or punishment) system for your actions that has nothing to do with your ability to murder.
There’s also of plenty of the usual small innovations or artistic touches that come with a new game. Banks are shared across all of your characters on a server… and have almost 300 slots. Auctions go up for a week at a time, and the AH will tell you the average and minimum price for an item as you list it. Server transfers are free and instant (though you cannot go PvE -> PvP or vice versa). You can drop combat while still having a mob engaged. Some characters ride mounts sidesaddle. There is both an appearance tab on your character panel, and dyes. Oh, and despite modern graphics and a character creation system that has, you know, sliders, the game will run on very modest systems.
Really, my only hesitation is recommending this game would be that I want it to fail just enough to go F2P. So go, now. You’ve still got a week to pick up all the starter benefits, and the game itself is worth every penny.