When En Masse Entertainment's TERA was released for the PC in 2012, it entered an MMORPG market beset by World of Warcraft clones and contenders. Although incredibly grind-heavy and plagued by an uninspired story and quests, TERA distinguished itself through its action-based combat and - for its time - lush visuals. Six years later, TERA has made its way to current gen consoles.
TERA's combat is still the most outstanding feature of the game. Thanks to lock-on targeting and a relatively smart controller implementation, fighting mobs and BAMs (big-ass monsters) is still a lot of fun, with each class having a unique fighting style, move set, and control scheme to learn. While it isn't quite as elegant or visceral as that of Black Desert Online, TERA's "true action combat" system includes a varied catalog of attacks, dodges, rolls and special moves and chaining them together is fluid and engaging. Unfortunately, it can also feel just a bit sluggish and slow to respond.
Whether this is due to the controller or a generally unrefined port to the PS4 is anybody's guess. Although characterized by a colorful palette and large variety of landscapes and locations, TERA's graphics no longer look anything close to cutting edge and there are pretty egregious problems with texture pop-in and framerate consistency. Like many Korean MMORPGs, TERA's races feature hyper-sexualized character models and costumes and monsters with little grounding in biological reality or story context. They simply spawn in and wait for the player to kill them.
While many action MMOs have moved on include a varied selection of quest types, the console version of TERA retains the original's limited fetch, kill and escort quests that were one of the least successful aspects of the release in 2012. There's a lot of uninspired and exposition-laden dialogue to read in service of a story and characters that are not very interesting. To be fair, they weren't interesting six years ago either.
En Masse has done a good job of moving the controls to gamepad, including the ability to access four different hotbars, a radial menu, and adding in-game voice chat to the mix. Best of all, the game's combat and special abilities have made the move to gamepad in a way that makes TERA feel like a real action game.
Had TERA appeared on console in 2012, it would have been an impressive and unique product. It still looks pretty good and plays well - its two biggest selling points at launch - but the endless grind, old-school quest structure, and bland story and characters make it harder to sell in 2018. Of course, the social and co-operative aspects of any MMO are important and they may help elevate the experience when the game launches, but TERA's core feels a bit hollow, dated, and irrelevant.