TERA Journal: Levels 10-20
Last week, I wrote a bit about my experiences in TERA from the opening sequence through reaching level 10. It was my goal to give curious MMO fans an idea of what to expect from TERA's early player experience, and hopefully the folks that read it got some sort of useful information out of it.
Since writing that article, I've pushed my Lancer even further into TERA's early content and have reached level 20. Now that my experience with the game is a bit deeper, I felt it would be nice to check in again with you readers to let you know how (or if) my first impressions have changed.
So here's my TERA journal for levels 10-20.
An Expanding World
My first ten levels in TERA were spent in in a tiny area known as the Island of Dawn. It was a bright, cheerful place packed with neutral monsters, new characters and engaging quests. The zone provided the perfect opportunity to get used to TERA's combat system, and to develop a basic understanding of my class. It was also a little boring, as most starting zones tend to be.
The quest chain on the Island of Dawn took me through all of the TERA basics, like talking to vendors, using campfires and improving my skills as a young Lancer. All of the quest chains in this area dovetail nicely into hopping on a Pegasus and heading to the capital city of Velika. Once in the capital, I learned a bit about crafting and caught my first real glimpse at TERA's incredible city design (as well as at a few players well above my level). I was also treated to some cut-scenes that move the story forward and help establish my character as just one individual in a war-stricken world.
The longer I played, the more comfortable I felt with TERA's UI and control scheme--I even managed to sell some things through a Trade Broker, TERA's version of an auction house. But I didn't stay long in Velika, as my quest chains quickly carried me into the game's first real questing zone, Arcadia. I flew to Lumbertown and discovered a collection of NPCs, all in need of various favors. And here TERA began to show its true colors.
The Grind Rolls On
I have been told by higher-level players (and readers of my last post) that TERA doesn't really get interesting until level 20. I haven't done much since hitting 20 last night, but I can say with confidence that the levels preceding 20 aren't particularly engaging. The post-starting zone experience rolled out pretty much like this: Run to quest hub, pick up quests. Kill a bunch of stuff, return to quest hub. Pick up more quests. Repeat until next quest hub appears. TERA does a good job of guiding you from point to point, but it still feels a bit repetitive.
Of course, this is basic MMO fare. Killing monsters and gathering resources is the backbone of nearly every MMORPG's quest system. TERA sticks closely to the formula, linking the quests together to make them more interesting and pushing you towards increasingly difficult challenges. There are also a couple of one-off escort quests in Arcadia, both of which move at an excruciatingly slow pace. This is the real quandary with questing in TERA--quests flows very naturally and fluidly but have no sense of urgency or consequence.
TERA's combat, of course, makes up for the genericness of its questing system. And as my Lancer learned new abilities and my skill at playing her effectively improved, I felt great satisfaction even with the most simple of tasks. Killing a few mobs may not sound inspiring, but TERA somehow makes it into a blast, especially as the difficulty curve increases and monsters become less forgiving with their attacks.
I like a little world PVP in my MMOs, so I rolled on a PVP server in TERA. After all, what's an MMO without a hint of danger? It wasn't long after entering Arcadia that I received my first real taste of TERA PVP. Which, of course, was a player a dozen or so levels above me instantly sending me to my grave. Bummer.
I'm not one to complain about getting ganked—it's the chance you take on a PVP server. However, TERA's super-tight hub system and quest chokepoints (for instance, everyone waiting for a specific mob to spawn) provides campers and gankers with a veritable feast of defenseless noobs. I suspect this will get better as the game ages; lowbie areas will be less packed after the initial rush, and high-level players will have more to do besides waiting for everyone else to catch up.
Besides, ganking wasn't an epidemic. I suffered a mere three PVP deaths in ten levels of questing, which I wouldn't consider to be too rough at all. Sometimes when you play a PVP game, you just end up getting rolled. It's a fact of life.
Despite the occasional ganker, PVP does seem fun—I even managed to score myself a kill against a flagged player who jumped someone nearby. I'm excited to see how the system develops and will report back when I have more experience.
Most of my issues with levels 1-10 have been resolved thanks to learning the ropes a little better. Levels 10-20 were a touch grindy, but the action-based combat and a variety of locations and monsters helped keep them fun. And I absolutely love the gathering system, which allows all players to gather whatever they want without having to learn specific professions. So far, TERA seems like a very pretty, very engaging MMO with a lot to offer people who are willing to push through the early grind.
Sadly, I haven't yet been able to tank an instance and I've only encountered one of TERA's "BAMS," or "Bad-Ass Monsters," but I'm finding quite a bit to enjoy as I pull my character away from the struggles of a poor lowbie and into the duties of a powerful Lancer. I can't wait to run my first dungeon with a group, and I'm equally excited about seeing where my character gets to go next.
My TERA adventure will continue, and I'll be sure to keep you folks updated as it does.