Update: Part 2 is now online!
Update late 2013: obviously these posts are now somewhat out of date as it’s more than six months since they were written. I hope that you still find them helpful, but I recommend using them as just part of a healthy research breakfast!
TERA Online and Guild Wars 2 seem to be two games that people have been umming and aahing about. The question of which game to choose is one that I’ve seen posted a number of times on forums and about the web. Admittedly that was mostly last year, but I feel the issue is becoming relevant again thanks to TERA Online going F2P with TERA: Rising next month (yes, it is going free in Europe as well). It could be argued that TERA and GW2 will be the two most mainstream non-subscription MMORPGs out there. There’s also the fact that I tried the 7 day trial of TERA back in December, so it’s reasonably fresh in my grey matter!
I’m going to cover two things in this first post: the combat and the questing, the things that you will spend most of your time doing.
TERA Summary: Have you ever wanted to play Dante from Devil May Cry in an MMO? You can do that in TERA… sort of. Look at the Slayer class in action to see what I mean.
TERA Online’s combat system is full of real-time click-to-hit silliness with absolutely brilliant animations to boot. By click-to-hit I mean you have to physically move your character to the correct range, make sure you’re facing the enemy, and hold down the attack button to attack – there is no auto attack. As you may have heard, the twist in this game is that you can chain abilities together in real time – basically if you execute them in the correct order within a certain time period they fit together and execute more quickly than they would otherwise. They’re still on a hotbar like in WoW, but you have to hit the buttons in the right sequence at the right times. This can become stupidly satisfying very quickly. In the long term, I get the impression that you would need to be a bit hardcore on the action game front to get real enjoyment out of the game, as things are so dependant on dodging and hitting and kiting at all the right times. I tried a couple of boss fights very early on, and they were a bit tricky.
TERA’s combat actually reminds me a lot of Monster Hunter, so if you know that game and enjoyed it, this may be the MMO for you.
GW2 Summary: I don’t know about you, but I don’t have great reflexes and timing. If you’re like me, Guild Wars 2 may be the better choice!
Guild Wars 2 combat is a little bit more sedate, and also more of a hark back to good old World of Warcraft. You have to right click to select your target, at which point you’ll start to auto attack. Like TERA Online, the combat centres around dodging and weaving while getting in your attacks, though the lack of click to attack makes things feel a lot less visceral, but also simpler than TERA – your character will keep attacking until you hit ESC, you just have to be facing the right way. Again, your abilities sit in a hotbar, but it’s a fixed bar with no customisation, unlike TERA. This brings me to the issue with weapon skills – if you follow a particular build for your character (like those found on Noxxic), you’ll be using the same two sets of weapons from level 1-80. Each combination of weapons has its own set of 4 skills, and you learn them all almost immediately (like after killing about 10 enemies) and there’s no change after that. The other abilities that you learn are very situational and there will always be best ones for your chosen build. You’ll have absolutely everything you need for your chosen build by about level 20. As a result things can get surprisingly repetitive, and I get the impression this has put quite a few players off from playing. I’ve experienced this somewhat myself, but I have spent a LOT more time with GW2 than with TERA (dozens of hours as opposed to a one week trial) so I’m bound to feel more fatigued with the game than I am with TERA. In the end I think GW2 offers a much softer option in regards to combat and soloability long-term, as TERA is very reflex-based.
Yes, questing! This is what we spend most of our time doing in an MMORPG, so it had better be damn good, right? TERA first…
TERA Summary: If you’re used to Korean grindcore style gameplay and like it, then the fact that TERA Online’s quest system is a thin veil for farming enemy mobs probably won’t bother you. KILL MOAR STUFF!
This is an area in which TERA kind of trips over itself in my opinion. It’s very much a World of Warcraft clone, even down to the NPCs with yellow exclamation marks above their heads. It’s also very similar to Aion, which is a bit like TERA’s sister game but already F2P. The worst thing is, the quest system in TERA seems even MORE shallow than WoW’s. Almost every quest I encountered was a bit of text thrown over a task that was essentially just “go and kill these enemies and come back”. It’s undeniable that killing things in this game is very fun, but a bit of a break in pacing might be nice. At least WoW lets you jump in a cannon or throw poisonous elixirs at trolls once in a while!
GW2 Summary: Want something new and innovative? Guild Wars 2’s questing certainly feels that way to me, and it’s convenient and fast!
You’ve probably heard about Guild Wars 2 and its public quest system. This system means the end of hand-ins! You just get the XP when you’re done and they mail you the reward! And you can pick up the reward anywhere! For me this is a clear win over TERA. You just go into the area of a quest (called a heart quest), do quest relevant stuff there and watch a little bar in the corner fill until you’re done. Satisfying and simple! There’s also variety – along with heart quests you can join in on spontaneous events and mini challenges that increase your skill points (so you can buy more of those semi-useless situational skills). There are problems with this – some skill point quests are unsoloable which gets annoying as you have to bug others to come to a particular location, and also some areas are much more lacking in easily accessed events than others.
The Other Stuff
I felt that the combat and questing were the most important bits, as they’re what you spend most of your time doing – but what about the rest? I’ll cover all that in my next post.
Next time: character creation, the travel systems, dungeons/instances, death, the endgame, and possibly more! I’m not totally sure yet, I haven’t finished writing it!
I hope you liked this first post of mine. I doubt I have any readers at all yet, but if you happen to be looking at this, I’m interested in hearing your comments, even if it’s trolling. Well, maybe not, but it’d be fun to practice moderating comments!