So why have I been playing TERA lately? It’s free, and kinda weird, and my elf is pretty. I guess I’m fairly easy to please, at least for a little while. As the latest AAA title to go free-to-play, TERA has seen a resurgence in the past couple of weeks. Want to check it out yourself? The following tips might help.
TERA’s payment model is surprisingly playable. All content is free without restrictions, and the game never nags you about buying things. The new cash shop has the usual features for sale like extra bag slots and appearance changes, along with fancy costumes and weapon skins. “Founders”, or folks who paid money for the game previously, get to queue skip on busy servers.
Lost and confused? The quest log holds many answers. If you’re looking for a certain mob for a quest or an NPC, open your quest log (“L”) and click on any of the blue links in the description. You should see symbols pop up on your map telling you where to go.
You can also check the log to see where you are in a quest chain: future quests will be marked with “Not Yet Unlocked”, and clicking on them will show their pre-requisite quest.
Turn off Area chat. (Global chat is generally more reasonable.) Man, okay, so I know you have seen some version of this tip for just about every multiplayer online game ever, but I have never quite so sincerely meant it. If you want to know what you’d be missing, I have a summary below.
lOrd.420: I’m 14 and I learned how to swear damn hell shit bollocks
Juicer: I WILL FIGHT YOU IRL BRO DO YOU EVEN LIFT?
NiceGuy: um, it’s ephebophile, please
I am not even kidding. Save yourself, leave area chat. This brings us to…
Problematic shit! TERA’s got it. To be fair as Talarian pointed out in comments here the other day there are also hyper-sexualized male characters who are not traditional power fantasies.. although they have those, too. Basically while there is a wardrobe system that allows you to eventually attain some degree of pants, if you play TERA you have to be prepared for all the ladies to fight in heels and ride side-saddle. If that’s not your bag, I certainly understand.
Level 11 is a good level. At level 11 you can take a pegasus to the first major city. If you follow the breadcrumb quests from Newbie Island you’ll then get a free fast horse mount, and you can start learning professions from trainers. (Although you can begin harvesting almost immediately at level 1, and you get XP for it too.)
The mailbox is a dude. For some reason both sending and receiving mail is done through Banker characters, who have a little key symbol on your map. Talk to him and select the “Parcel Post” option.
This week on Cat Context we talk about Tiny Tina, argue over convenience changes in MMOs, and then mock Liore for playing World of Warcraft. (Hey!)
Elly owns at least 6 copies of Borderlands 2, so we figured he’d be a good person to ask about the Tiny Tina racism controversy. One thing is certain — when people in the game industry start to lose their jobs over raising difficult questions it’s bad for all of us. Meanwhile in RIFT, Trion Worlds removed falling damage and everyone freaked out. Liore is in favor of the removal, while Aro and Elly argue that falling damage adds flavor to virtual worlds. They’re wrong, but it’s always interesting to hear different perspectives. We also talk about some other big quality of life changes in MMOs in the past, and whether they too upset a delicate game ecosystem.
Also, Liore defends TERA! Aro reminisces about Sega Genesis! Elly plays something called “Battle Cats”!
It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)
* PC Gamer on the Tiny Tina controversy
* RIFTJunkies on the removal of falling damage
* Break music is “Good Enough (Geminis Psychosis Mix)” from the 1995 Wipeout soundtrack
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
(Don’t forget to leave 5 stars!)
We’re well into February now and it seems like every day more and more MMO publishers are willing to come out and declare their intention to launch in “late 2013″. If you had asked me six weeks ago what the hot MMO titles this year would be I’m not sure I’d have much to say in response, but now I feel like we’ve actually got a pretty good sense of what’s to come.
So let me put my enthusiast’s pride on the line and make totally scientific predictions on the fate of 2013′s hottest MMO titles!
Why we care: It’s a big Intellectual Property making a break into the modern MMO market and with an early-ish launch NWN could be a bellwether of things to come. Strong, old school ties to the gaming community. Early buzz about The Foundry, a distribution system for player-generated content.
Prediction: Possibly profitable — I’m not sure how much they’ve spent on development — but ultimately not more successful than Turbine’s Dungeons & Dragons Online. The disappointing character creator videos and unpleasant beta access scheme (“double secret headstart access!”) do not inspire confidence.
Why we care: The second in-house MMO from Trion Worlds, Defiance will be both a game and a television show on the SyFy network. Synergy! It’s happening right now!
Prediction: I want this to be a runaway hit because Trion Worlds are my bros, but I just don’t see it happening. The show is gonna have to be real good to carry its part of the hype machine and I feel like the game’s “action MMO” design was scooped by Planetside 2 months ago. I give the show 6 months, the game 10.
Why we care: Because everyone says we should! This is the game that’s riding the hype wave right now. Wildstar is being called a “sandpark” (ugh, really? are we making “sandpark” happen?) with different “paths” for Settlers, Explorers, Soldiers, and Scientists. The animation is unique and highly stylized.
Prediction: This will be the second-most popular MMO of 2013, and I think a lot of people will give it the ol’ six months. Wildstar will be a big fat win for NCSoft (and Carbine), but less so than Guild Wars 2. Assuming it’s free-to-play, I’d say 750k active accounts right after launch is quite possible (500k if subscription).
Why we care: One of the first names in MMOs gets a fresh start. EQNext was apparently already scrapped once and rebuilt from the ground up, and it’s now being billed as “the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed”. Bold words.
Prediction: I would play the hell out of something that’s basically EQII with a modern interface, but the fact is that I’m weird. Also, SOE just never seem to handle their games very well. I think EQNext will kill Everquest classic within six months of launch, but never really break out of the Everquest audience.
Why we care: Created by Jake Song of Lineage fame, this Korean-style MMO has got a surprising amount of traction with North American audiences. Slated to be distributed here by Trion Worlds, ArcheAge is in the rapidly expanding but currently under-staffed “themepark sandbox hybrid” market.
Prediction: Superduper niche, but profitable if free-to-play. Serious, open world PvP is a tough sell in the casual market.
The Elder Scrolls Online
Why we care: Because just about everyone with a computer has played an Elder Scrolls game at some point. This is an IP with a built-in base of extremely loyal fans, branching into MMO territory for the first time. And really, who hasn’t looked up from Skyrim and thought that it would be so cool to have friends in the game with you?
Prediction: If you haven’t guessed yet, this is going to be the most popular MMO of 2013.. at least for a while. It’s part of a huge franchise, and it has 20 years worth of lore to build upon. The problem is that the game has yet to explain its own existence — what special stuff is TESO bringing to the table? Without that, I predict a SWTOR-like rise and fall within six months.
I kind of fell out with MMOs for a bit. Back in December I had a million new single player games from the Steam Sale taking up my leisure time. In January I just kind of lost the urge to play games, and instead I spent most of my hobby time trying to cook the perfect chili. (FYI: No beans, lots of home-roasted chili peppers.) I think that happens often in long-term hobbies though, and I figured the urge to play games would return when it was ready.
Boy, was I ever right. I now find myself involved to some degree with three different MMOs at the same time!
Before Christmas I hit 60, the new level cap, in RIFT, and I was sort of feeling directionless. Fortunately around then I also joined the RIFT chapter of AIE, and those good folks recently started organizing retro raids of “Chocolate RIFT” content that most of us had never seen in its prime. My love of group content is no secret, but even I was surprised by how revitalizing it was to spend two hours running around killing dudes with 19 other pleasant people on Ventrilo. The bosses weren’t hard, but doing something that vaguely resembled raiding put a spring in my virtual step.
I’ve logged on RIFT regularly since then, my interest in character development renewed. I’m also looking for more large group event opportunities, as clearly that’s where my heart lies in a “main MMO”.
But as I wrote about earlier this week, not every day is right for engaging content. Sometimes you just wanna run around and kill some junk, and for those times there’s World of Warcraft. Liore (the original Liore!) is up to level 87, and currently.. defending turnips from evil rabbits, as far as I can tell. The quests in Pandaria are occasionally less than epic in scope.
I enjoyed the Jade Forest plotline, in the first expansion zone, although I think it highlighted one of the problems with standard MMO questing which is that we’re really just helpless bystanders in the story. I knew right away that creating armies of monkey dudes and fish people to fight each other would cause nothing but problems, but no one asked me! There also seem to be more cut scenes so far in Pandaria questing than in previous expansions, and again I feel like it’s just wresting control of my own character from me for the most part. (It ain’t no Wrathgate.)
My loose WoW plans are to “12433″ my way to level 90 whenever I get the fancy to play. I have no idea what will happen then, but I’m not worrying about it either.
MMO producers and business people, if you’ve ever wondered about the true power of social ties when it comes to getting people to play your game, ponder this: I, Liore, renowned hater of catgirls in tiny skirts, downloaded and occasionally play TERA entirely because an awesome friend is enthusiastic about it and I want to hang out with them. The power of peers, ladies and gentlemen! The game went free-to-play a couple of days ago, so in my defense at least I’m not paying for it.
TERA, if you’re not already familiar with it, was likely based on the stolen codebase of Lineage 3, which means it’s strong in the tradition of grindy Asian MMOs. It is also ludicrously obsessed with sexualizing the female figure. My goat-lady started out in a skirt with NO BACK. Look design people, if I wanted to stare at lady ass every moment of my gaming I would put a mirror on my chair.
The mildly concerning “little girl” race aside, truth be told the male gaze in TERA’s design is so over the top that I find it hard to take seriously or offensively. I mean look, even their fountains are suggestive! It’s pretty hysterical, if eye-rolling.
The gameplay thus far (at my advanced age of level 5) is.. grindy! I have a Sorcerer (mage) who shoots things with spells. The much vaunted “action combat” is essentially circle-strafing although it certainly requires more movement than the average “hotbar” driven MMO.
But hey, as I said before the player company is great, and that is what counts in any MMO.
Note: Flu and work are kickin’ my ass again this week, so I probably won’t be around much for a bit.
In general, I try to lead my life as a mature, intellectual-ish adult. I am in the habit of cooking good healthy dinners every day with lots of vegetables. I gave up on commercial television a few years ago and filled those hours with what I felt were more worthy, engaging pursuits. I like to play video games with interesting narratives or challenging gameplay.
There are some days though when I’m tired and rushed and stressed out, and I just curl up on the couch with a pint of ice cream for dinner and an episode of America’s Next Top Model. These, I have learned, are also the days when I play WoW. World of Warcraft is a junk food MMO.
Certainly part of it is that I’m not in a guild in WoW so I don’t have any overhead of social obligation. But also it’s really undeniable at this point that WoW is much, much easier to pick up than other MMOs. The gameplay is smooth and any bumps in the UI have long been sorted out, but there’s also very little to worry about while playing. If we compare the lowbie leveling experience, which arguably is the least taxing part of modern MMOs, WoW requires the least amount of thought.
When I level in SWTOR, I’m listening to dialog and thinking about which choice best represents the story I want to play. When I level in RIFT, I have an endless number of decisions to make about what soul tree to use and how certain spells and abilities can work together. When I level in The Secret World (as much as one “levels”) the content is quite challenging and often requires a plan. Even single player games require a certain amount of personal involvement and energy expenditure.
I have now leveled from 1-10 as a panda and 85-87 as Shadow Liore, and I am struck by how simple WoW is in comparison. There are no more character builds, only a handful of choices that were designed to be more fun than effective. The new quests are overwhelmingly “kill 10 of x”, and often not even dressed up to be something else. Pick up quest, look at the map to see where the mobs are, hit “12433″ 10-15 times until done. I level in WoW while watching cooking shows (I am a Top Chef fanatic) on the other monitor, and I honestly cannot even fathom how someone could level without an additional distraction.
(Which is probably the point. Seriously playing WoW seems to require adding your own “nutritional value”, to poorly carry on my own metaphor, whether it’s strong social ties or hardcore raiding or guild wrangling or watching TV or whatever. There’s very little to think about in the basic gameplay itself.)
But what about once I hit level 90? I don’t see why it still won’t be junk food. Dailies (if I do them, which I probably won’t because dailies generally irritate me) are just more kill quests. LFR is group content with a bunch of individuals who will never see each other again and don’t really care anyway. I will share the healing or DPS burden with 4-19 other people, and if we wipe we’ll just get a 5% output buff, up to 10 wipes and 50%. 50% output increase! That sounds like a great time to turn on a cooking show.
It probably sounds like I’m insulting WoW, but I really don’t mean it that way. In a market with a myriad of options, there’s nothing wrong with being the simple, comforting game. If you look at my Raptr profile, in fact, you’ll see that I’ve played a great deal of WoW in the last couple of weeks! There are absolutely times for everyone when life is kicking their butt and they just want to sit down and play a game and hit “12433″ a few times without really having to think about anything.
I just think that, much like eating too much junk food, it’s a good idea to get some fibre in your gaming diet, too.