Human Female Warrior on horseback.

Hidden Jewel

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.

Human Female Warrior on a pegasus.

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.

TERA

Blaugust 2015, Day 30 – And Now for Something Completely Different

Having posted something reasonably intelligent and well-received I must now inform you that it is my solemn duty to enforce my notion of cosmic balance by writing something completely terrible about absolutely unintelligent endeavors.

I downloaded and started playing TERA.

My first impression is that this is a game designed to be enjoyed primarily by those who would also take delight in watching old reruns of the anime saga Tenchi Muyo, a cartoon normally enjoyed by twelve-year-olds in the comfort of their living room after school and on the weekends. For good measure we’ll throw in Love Hina as well. I only know about these things because I was briefly obsessed with them in my early twenties. Don’t ask.

The central premise of these sorts of cartoons is that there is a Guy Who Is Cool Without Trying or a Hidden and Misunderstood Genius who is completely oblivious to the mob of female characters who are all in love with him and would love nothing more than to marry him and/or give him a soapy titwank.

Enter TERA, a very pretty and seemingly vapid quest-hub-grinder clone whose chief driving aesthetic is best and worst described as Sexpots in Slutmail and you can see the parallels between the types of viewers these two forms of entertainment appear to be directed at.

I did my best in rolling up a Human character who was more clothed than naked and chose the Warrior class, the bane of all non-generic classes. In this world they dual wield swords and can be used for “evasion” tanking which is said to require a high level of skill. I chose that over Lancer, an absorption tank, due to the fact that I did not want to be wielding a 25-foot jousting pole as my primary weapon.

My logic is flawless. Don’t question it.

The High Elves heave their chests too much in their default idling animation (in which they can’t possibly be idling), the Popori are nightmare fuel, and the pandas are only good for a silent chuckle when you see one riding a panda mount. I may try a Castanic in the near future (evil devil-women with horns who resemble Draenei) as they seem to have some sleek, stylish looks that boast the least pronounced bosoms. In other words, reasonably proportioned.

It should be clear from the text that I’m exploring this game primarily for the aesthetics. Everything else is rather standard. It’s got action combat with dodge rolls and a targeting reticle; the reticle seems to be most useful for the archer and gunner classes although the latter carry around weapons so large that it would seem they shouldn’t need to aim them at all. The action combat is referred to by some sources as “Stop-Motion Combat” due to the use of animation locks, i.e. the abilities you execute right before an enemy winds up a one-shot attack so that you die instantly when your animation is done.

I’ve found a new faffing game for now – not that I needed one – and will be happy to update you when I’ve made any significant amount of progress in this teenage pinup wet dream.

Don’t expect any updates.

Blaugust 2015 Initiative Page