TERA Journal: Levels 20-25
In my previous TERA entries, I noted that while TERA was certainly fun and the combat was rewarding, I was getting a little burned out by the "run here, kill that" methodology on which the game is built. TERA is a beautiful game, to be sure, and the combat it provides is more rewarding that any I've experienced in similar MMOs, but even the coolest of mechanics can't make up for hours upon hours of boring grinds.
Upon hitting level 20, however, my entire perspective changed. Sure, there were still plenty of boring, seemingly inconsequential quests. However, there was also a brand new instance to explore, new lands in which to adventure and ridiculously over-powered monsters to destroy. 20 is where TERA takes flight.
Levels 20-25 are nothing but a blur for me. I tanked the game's first instance, Bastion of Lok, probably ten times. It's a bit trash-heavy, but the boss fights are fun and satisfying. Naturally, they're a bit simpler than some of the fights that show up later in the game, but there's nothing quite like absorbing an enormous rock fist punch with just your shield.
Instancing and grouping to down BAMs (big-ass monsters) is where TERA truly excels. Since the game is built so heavily around combat, there's not much more you can do with quests beyond grind. But the presence of enormous, menacing creatures that require the aid of a group to destroy helps shake up the repetition and give the game a grander sense of scale. In TERA, your combat abilities are fairly important, but the punishment for failure is relatively low. When you're fighting a boss or BAM, however, the consequences of your actions are much more serious.
My character is a Lancer, TERA's primary tanking class. Because of my class selection, I don't really feel like I'm getting the most out of the game unless there's someone around to defend. Soloing as a tank provides me with the opportunity to down BAMs by myself (slowly), but I find it much more rewarding to keep a party alive and lead other players through tough encounters. BoL provided me with the first chance to try out my tank skillset, and I enjoyed it immensely. Aggro is a bit wonky and level 20 tanks don't have much beyond a simple shout to keep mobs pointed in the right direction, but the chaos and immediacy make for an engaging play experience.
And there's always the fact that the game is gorgeous. As I pushed through Arcadia's swamp-like Tuwangi Mire and the grassy plains of the Valley of Titans, I was once again taken aback by the incredible environmental design present in TERA. Players with nicer computers than me must be enjoying this even more-my machine can only run smoothly if everything is turned down about halfway.
Levels 20-25 saw me running back and forth through epic zones, and making more than a few pit stops at the local capital city of Velika to pick up glyphs, sell some things at auction and expand my inventory. I also purchased some dye, which allows me to change the color of my armor for 24 hours at a time. Hey, this is TERA-character aesthetics are one of the most important elements.
It's worth noting that leveling time definitely seems to have increased-the first 20 levels sort of blew by, but 23-25 took long enough for me to notice I wasn't leveling. With instances and quests, though, there are always a few options for adding a few bars to the old XP bar.
The more I play TERA, the more I enjoy it. As I find my place as a tank and improve my ability to perform that role, the satisfaction I get from playing the game increases exponentially. Tanking isn't the most fun way to play solo, but now that I'm able to play in groups I am having much more fun.
25-30 should be even more interesting.