So, today marks the head-start event for TERA and will, presumably, be the last time we get spammed beta invites from En Masse, so I figured now would be the perfect time to start up a new three-part series, similar to what happened with rift. This will be called the same thing, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. So why start with the worst category? Well, because TERA has a lot of problems. So this isn’t the game for everyone, and if any of this sounds like a deal breaker already, then go ahead and skip the game. It won’t get much better. However, just because I’m about to verbally assassinate the game doesn’t mean I’m not going to play it. Far from it. The combat truly is great enough for me to deal with these issues. Mostly.

Now, you might be thinking, “Kana, what could possibly be that wrong with the game?”, and the answer always comes back to the same thing, time and time again. This is a game designed from the ground up and maximum level play and only max level play. Every major complaint I or anyone else has ever had has been BS’d around by the community going, “oh, it’s that way for the high level players!”

Last time I checked, the Korean and Japanese players got their own server, and won’t be coming over here. So why is it that this game still has such a terrible design even though no one is even at the level to exploit it? I’m talking about things like…

Wrecked Economy:

There are a lot of things to do in TERA with your character. Glyphs, Crystals, crafting, dyes, armor remodeling, and even more. And TERA wants you to do absolutely none of it until you get of your lazy bum and go grind a few dozen levels. I came out of the Island of Dawn with close to two-hundred pieces of ore, to practice weaponsmithing with. I almost broke my newbie character doing it. You might think, “well, don’t buy expensive recipes then!” The recipe I was using? Yeah, the game gave that to me for free. I wasn’t making weapons, I was just trying to smelt all that ore. And that took almost all my money. Crafting recipes are even more ludicrously expensive, and all rely entirely on the player flat-out buying most of the components anyways.

So yeah, it’s a good thing this isn’t an rpg or anything, or it would be troble trying to convince myself my character has any skill what so ever when she has to continuously buy half the pieces to a weapon instead of just making them herself. Feels like cheating when I keep buying metal handles and shield pieces.  Seriously, what was the point of getting all that ore if the game was just going to break my bank and then still not do anything with it?

Crystals and Glyphs can be just as bad. Glyphs at least get by somewhat by preventing you from even using them until level 20, but they’re still insanely expensive (even though you can only glyph skills you already have: e.g. low level skills) at that point, and you get one for free. Sounds awesome, right? It would be, if the game told you about it at all. Instead you get a random quest update, and if you don’t drop everything to do it, that’s a chunk of change gone buying that glyph. Why is it even for sale in the first place? Am I going to buy 50 of them now that I’ve got a spare one and make a whole bank page into random art using all of them? Crystals aren’t so bad, and can be a decent price. Too bad they stand a decent chance of breaking if you die. So you’ll want to buy plenty of spares, which ramps up the price on things even more.

Finally that whole deal with dyes and remodeling? Don’t even look at those vendors, they might give you the stink eye and shrivel your wallet from that alone. Dyes cost a massive amount of money for just one, literally more than any other game (proportionally) that I’ve played. Dyes in RIFT cost 10 to 20 gold, but at least back then I had a good chunk of it by the time I got to the city. Wasn’t even a point looking at dyes after I spent my time tossing silver coins into the furnace at the foundry for the giggles of it. Oh, and dyes also fade and go away completely after a certain amount of in-game time. I’m not even going to touch on remodeling. Mostly because I can’t seeing as how all the money I’ve ever acquired on this name would be about enough to pay for half of a template piece.  Template, not the actual remodel. Just buying the piece to remodel onto.

These guys aren't evil, they just failed to pay up on time.

Every single one of these is usually met with “high levels need gold sinks!”, which just sounds like petty whinning when nothing in this game is set that way for any balance. You want high level gold sinks? Boom, rare, more expensive dyes. Hey, look at that. New players have a small list of basic colors, letting them, you know, try the system, and high level players have a much wider array to pick from with more permutations at an increased price. Stop making crafting take tons of required items to make basic ingots, at least at the low levels. Last time I checked, you can make iron and just use the iron. No one ever said you’re required to use steel instead, and it seems bizarre that we’re required to learn alloy mixing first. Shouldn’t I be learning how to make an ingot in the first place, then move to advanced smithing? Though, speaking about crafting again…

Wonky Balance: 

So, story time. Th first dungeon you can run goes by the name Bastion of Lok. Fairly simple place, it’s got a nice set up for introducing dungeons to newbies and has two simple, but entertaining, bosses. And the first boss drops the best loot in the dungeon. See, TERA has an enchanting system that lets you ‘level up’ pieces of gear. This lets the gear gain damage and stats along with bonus abilities at every milestone (3, 6, 9, and 12 for masterwork, respectively) and functions as a cool way to reward a player for sticking with one piece of gear… at late game. Down here where you’re leveling, enchanting is more of a “for giggles” thing that you do when a really nice piece of gear comes along, or you just want to boost whatever gear you’ve got because you like it.

Back to our story, there are two lances from this dungeon. One is called “Demontongue Lance” and the other is “Bloodspitter.” Now, unless you specifically dump tons of money (oh look, back here again) into the latter, the former lance is better in every possible case. Demontongue has high damage, amplifier, block mitigation, and many more stat bonuses than Bloodspitter. You’d have to enchant the other lance to at least level 6 before it can even compare with Demontongue. Remember now, enchanting isn’t a 1:1 thing, you can easily fail and lose what item you were using to enchant along with the dust required, leaving you staring mournfully at a +2 or +5 weapon, silently cursing the mad god of RNG as he torments you further.

Up to level 24 so far, and there is no reason to bother with the enchanted loot yet. It’s not good enough and requires way too much of an investment to be worthwhile, and that’s tenuous because gear comes and goes as you level up. But isn’t Enchantment a selling point of this game? Something to make your weapon better, and visibly different at high levels? So… why are we being punished for trying the system out as opposed to ignoring it for better gear? Oh, right. Money again. So far, every crafting recipe has fallen into this trap. First weapon you make is pretty decent. Then you can ‘updrade’ it by stripping out damage for the ability to… upgrade it and get that damage back?  No thanks, I’ll just skip the whole thing now and focus on enjoying my sweet Demontongue Lance for the time being. If you do get into crafting, know this isn’t going to get better any time soon. It may even be worse and for longer than just dungeon-running for gear.

Terrible Combat Mechanic (Crushing Blow):

This one is a little more personal, but still a massive problem to me. Namely, there is still that retarded Crush system that punishes you for fighting high level enemies. This has zero place in a skill-based combat system like TERA. Monsters should not win because of an asspull mechanic that keeps me in a ‘level appropriate’ zone until I am deemed ready to fight them. To give an example: if you have a lance with enough block value to tank anything a Basalisk can do, well congrats. Hope you’re level 20 as well. At 18 at least two of their skills do significant damage through your shield, when it’s blocking the damage entirely.

At level 18, a basalisk could hit for around one-thousand damage on his little jump. At level 19, that dropped to about four-hundred. Nothing but my level changed. Same weapons, same armor, same crystals, same strategy, but suddenly I’m ‘allowed’ to fight these mobs, and so the game is going to be nicer about it. If you’re going to have a skill based system, then reward skillful play. Do not punish it with outdated mechanics meant to force people along a linear path of quests and tedium.

Now, remember what I said before. I still really like this game. It’s a lot of fun… in combat. When all that economy stuff is off faffing about somewhere else and it’s just me, my lance, and a gigantic monstrosity. Don’t believe me?

If there is one thing this game has nailed down, it’s that wonderful zen-like combat trance that Monster Hunter has trained me for over the years. So next week, finishing off TERA Tuesday’s class series, and I’ll even talk about what is nice in the game! Right before going back to the verbal beat-down. See you then!