The objectifying irreverence of TERA’s hypersexualized leitmotif offered an unexpected jewel of a protagonist: I created a preset character whose default looks were perfect. My customary habit of adjusting sliders and agonizing over proportions was forcibly sucker-punched. I hardly expected to find a female figure whose form expresses dignified power between the lines of the theatre adaptation of an effortlessly tiresome hentai hagiography.
Presumably because the target demographic – however one wishes to describe that – was expected to choose one of the more “exotic” female races, Humans were given a rather less overtly playful demeanor. One sees the lithe, lissome coquettishness of the Castanics as they lean back and rest on the palms of their hands, one leg crossed over the other with an idly swinging foot. Contrast this with the full-figured, sultry, buxom, haughty, self-important voluptuousness of the High Elven dilettantes whose seated posture is rather more sedate – leaning on an arm to one side, legs stretched out to the other – and whose animators must have collaborated with the world’s leading scientists to come up with a novel brand of physics in which the laws of gravity dictate that a chest not in motion stays in motion.
Were those descriptions painful to read? Good, because that’s what playing the game feels like.
As with any piece of fiction I write, I find myself coming back to the characters I create over and over to evaluate their suitability for presentation. When I come to the point that I’m no longer able to find flaws, I am done. My internal sense of “beauty” is satisfied. TERA’s cloying vapidity is counterbalanced, albeit insufficiently, by its exquisite beauty. I’d say it’s on par with Final Fantasy 14, which is hardly pithy praise.
Apart from my Warrior, the only other class that I was able to tolerate for any length of time was the Gunner, which is gender- and race-locked to the aforementioned Castanic and High Elf females. I haven’t yet tired of the satisfying thunk of projectiles hitting their mark, nor of chaining Time Bombs into explosive Scattershot rounds, nor of mercilessly machine-gunning waves of naughty faeries in a forest whose idyll is open to interpretation.
It may be tempting to level up characters just to see whether becoming more powerful entitles them to wear armor and outfits that cover more of their skin. From what I’ve seen around the marketplace in Velika, the City of Wheels, the available evidence points to the contrary. My Warrior must be in some sort of sweet spot at level 16 – her shirt offers minimal cleavage, perhaps to the dismay of the inhabitants of the chat channel who rattle off the names of unfamiliar “harem” anime series day and night.
J3w3l, who has played every game ever to maximum level or close to it, has hinted that TERA’s dungeons are worthwhile. The first dungeon becomes available at level 20 which would require me to endure four more levels of teeth-pulling. As in Guild Wars 2, all players – regardless of specialization – are responsible for positioning themselves correctly. In TERA, one observes the “eye glints” that precede uniquely animated, devastating attacks and reacts accordingly.
If I do decide to continue, you won’t hear about it. TERA’s one big eye glint and I might as well just dodge roll right off the grid lest I end up in Town Square wearing a one-piece thong bathing suit and wielding a pixelated, rainbow-gradient Minecraft battle axe while watching mini-Cooper-sized police cars engage in gymkhana around the fountains.