TERA PS4/Xbox One Review: A Faithful Transition from PC to Console
TERA is one MMO I have spent a great deal of time with. I played the beta, got the Collector's Edition when it first came out and was pay to play, and played for two months before it went free to play and two months after.
The game has changed a lot over the years. BAMs (big-ass monsters) have been made smaller and easier time and time again, the leveling experience has been completely revamped to skyrocket players to endgame, and Lumbertown is no longer chill-and-kill central.
My opinions on TERA as it currently is are a little biased because I've been there for many of its largest milestones and its most content-lacking periods. I prefer slower leveling experiences, the adventure of leveling, and the struggle of survival. That is not what the current state of the game is, and that is something any potential TERA player needs to know before diving in.
En Masse was kind enough to grant us a review Founder's Pack on PS4, and I did what I seem to do best: grinded away the hours in TERA once again. This time it was different from the last, but I'm not sure if its current state is for me.
From PC to console
To be very, very clear, the PS4 and Xbox One ports of the game are as faithful as one can ask for in terms of an MMORPG console port.
Though the game has always been an "action combat MMORPG," it has always relied on hotbars and always will. I've no issue with hotbars; you probably don't either. You get a lot of skills and crucial consumables in TERA, and you need a bunch of bars to put that "hot" onto.
You can have up to four separate hotbars on console, which you access using a combination of standard button presses, L1/L2 plus other buttons, and a selection wheel for less urgent skills and items. It works well, and combat retains its fluidity from the PC version, though I will admit it takes some time to adjust once you have a healthy number of skills to work with.
Selection wheel not pictured. Don't put the wheel as L2+R2/LT+RT. It's terrible.
The UI for TERA on console is more bulky than its PC brethren, but it is fully functional and easy to learn to navigate. This is one aspect I initially hated but grew to like pretty quickly, if only because almost everything is just a few button presses away. It looks harder to use than it is, let's put it that way.
At the time of writing, the PS4 and Xbox One versions of TERA are a full year behind the PC version. This is notable because there are fewer classes to choose from to start, and Elite Status does not offer all the same benefits on console as it does on PC.
Currently, PC Elite Status grants 15 EMP (cash shop currency) per login day, 24 Complete Veteran's Crystalbinds, and a flying mount. These are absent in the console version but are likely to be added as it catches up to the current PC patch.
Even with the above in mind, TERA on PS4 and Xbox One is nearly identical to the PC version. That should relieve PC players considering migrating or newcomers considering jumping into the TERA pool for the first time with the console release.
One final thing to note about the transition is that the console release still has some heavy slowdown, no matter which console you're using. PS4 Pro? You're still going to get slowdown in Velika and in certain dungeons just like standard PS4 users. The game is optimized about the same as the PC version.
From old to new
There's a certain depressive element to seeing a game you used to love implement sweeping changes you're not too keen on. As with a number of other older Korean MMORPGs, TERA has taken the easy route in "modernizing" the leveling experience.
In this context, "modernizing" essentially equates to "gutting." The game has been retooled to push players through the leveling experience as quickly as possible, with minimal effort on the developers' part. There's this whole big world to play with, and it is all woefully neglected and empty.
This isn't something that can be blamed on En Masse and, depending on your point of view, may not be something to blame anyone for. TERA never had the most immersive or entertaining leveling treadmill.
Every hardcore TERA player knows the best way to play is to stand in populated areas and spam their mount sound until everyone in the vicinity goes deaf.
The problem here is that new players are barely given a chance to learn to play their class before they ding the big six-five. Hitting max level takes only a few days of even semi-casual play, and by then players are not ready for the grueling endgame dungeons and grind. Endgame content is going to be true pain on console.
Those who played TERA when it was pay to play or in its early free to play days will find the game offering minimal challenge until they hit endgame. Had I not played it back then, I doubt I'd be giving it a chance in its current state. Endgame dungeons and PvP are more fun and challenging than the leveling period lets on.
If you're willing to put the effort forth and push through the less-than-stellar leveling experience, TERA still stands as a solid action combat game once you reach 65. Yes, it's grindy. And yes, it will stomp your face in until you actually learn how to play. That's not all that much different from the older iterations of the game, in which you grinded to level cap and got your face stomped in at every turn instead.
TERA is not perfect in any form, but it's a game that has a place, and the console ports are spot-on. If you've been waiting until it launched on your console of choice, you don't have much to lose in giving it a shot. Its combat is still ace, even if leveling isn't great.
The first dungeon, Bastion of Lok, complete with trophy. Hurrah!
PC players considering migrating may want to rethink that decision, as the console release is behind in comparison -- but if your primary goal in switching is to get away from the PC playerbase, it's a good option. You can use your keyboard to chat in-game, and it has voice chat functionality, but the less pleasant aspects of the PC community will inevitably be reduced here on console.
It's taken a long time for TERA to finally make its way to console, and those who enjoy the PC version in its current state will find few qualms with the console version outside of the patch differences. Those looking for a more traditional MMORPG experience may want to look elsewhere.
I am granting this game a 6 overall. Though the console developers did a great job porting from PC, the fact remains TERA's current state is far from what many would typically call an MMORPG. Much like NCSoft's Aion, it took the easiest route possible in updating for a broader audience, and it shows.
Endgame content is fun, but not everyone wants to spend the vast majority of their time in an MMO grinding enhancement materials to maybe get one extra +1 to their gear. There is something to be said for the journey of getting there that this game has regrettably forgotten. But, hey, at least slamming other 65s into the dirt will be easier than ever for a while.
(Disclosure: Writer was granted a review copy from the publisher for review.)