Saturday, April 21, 2012

Not If You Paid Me: Tera, Diablo 3

Ironically perhaps, given my recent musings on the joys of beta-testing I've decided to forego two fairly major offerings this weekend.

I never played Diablo or Diablo 2. I don't really like Action RPGs. No, that's too weak. There's no "really" about it. The last action RPG I played was Dungeon Siege, which I bought on release back in 2002. I only played it a couple of times. I can see the case on the shelf from here; hasn't been opened in a decade.

Is it the gameplay that doesn't work for me? I don't think so. Dragon Nest is actiony as all get-out and I love that. Run into a pile of mobs, hammer the mouse button, slam them into the air, shoot a bunch of furniture and see it explode...what's not to like? Nor is it the over-the-shoulder three-quarter, third-person perspective or the relatively small characters and mobs. City of Steam has all that and I love it.

It's the pointlessness of it all, I think. I'm very aware that whatever "point" any of this stuff may have has to be self-imposed. I'm not about to argue that there's some ur-significance in playing MMOs that's absent in other forms of video-gaming. And I strongly believe that no leisure activity needs any more "point" than that when you've finished doing it you're glad you did and might even consider doing it again.

No miss, I am not "looking for action"
That's not a feeling I get  when I spend time on an action rpg. The sub-genre seems to strip-mine the larger, slower version (do we call that the Inaction RPG?) for the raw ore of killing stuff and grabbing loot. It's like having an iced bun without the bun.

Maybe I'm doing A-RPGs a disservice. I haven't really played one for a decade, after all. And I'm not going to start with the D3 Beta. I might take a run at Path of Exile though, if only to see how a New Zealand developer's take differs. I don't think I've ever played any kind of RPG from Down Under.

That's D3 out of the running, which leaves Tera as this weekend's possible free preview candidate. Tera is at least an MMO, which makes it inherently interesting, to me at least. I've read plenty about Tera and all its multifarious controversies, from the prurient character modelling to the legal catfights, the in-yer-face advertizing to the contested claims of originality. None of that bothers me enough to put me off giving it a look for free.

The screenshots and videos look attractive. Nice scenery, bright colors, amusing very large monsters. I do like a very large monster. Should be worth a download, no? Well, I got as far as reading the FAQ.  And I got as far down the FAQ as the part about using Alt or Esc to bring up a hotbar to do stuff and only using the mouse to attack. Oh, and "The one tip every TERA player needs to keep in mind is that survivability depends on not standing still." No. Not even No Thanks. Just No.

Big world, small horizons
I'm not interested in having to run about all the time. I'm not roleplaying the frigging Duracell bunny! If I have to dodge when something's coming my way, fine, that I can handle but don't tell me I have to keep moving or I'll move alright, all the way to another game. And don't force me to use the keyboard to open hotbars or menus when you could just put the goddam things onscreen and let me click them with the mouse. FFXIV tried that and look how well it worked out for them.

I'm already sufficiently apprehensive about the GW2 controls and combat. Acid test for that comes in just under a week. I don't need to spend this weekend trying to unlearn twelve years of MMO muscle memory for a couple of sessions in Tera only to have to do it all again only differently in a few days. For Guild Wars 2 I'll make the effort. For Tera? Not going to happen.

Just a boy and his skinned cat looking for adventure
Shame, really, because all SOE's games will be inaccessible for the whole of Monday and I might have given either of these a fair go. Not to worry, plenty more fish in the MMO sea. Maybe I'll take a look at LotRO's fifth anniversary party, explore Loong some more, pick back up where I left off in Allods, do some sub-20 Rifting, try to complete Eye of the North in Guild Wars, see if I can get out of the starting village in Aerrevan...


  1. It seems we are pretty much in the same boat when it comes to the games we like. Let me assure you, the TERA controls are fine. They are not the problem. Everything else is. Next.

    The GW2 controls are fine, too. No excessive menus there. As for weekend entertainment, I gave Aion a try (and posted about it on my blog). Perhaps it likes your graphics card better.

  2. Thanks for the reassurance! I'm guessing that since I was able to play DCUO and enjoy it, GW2 will be no problem. Bit of rolling and dodging is fine.

    Aion, for some reason, has never appealed to me at all. Something about the art direction, maybe.

  3. It will be a learning process for me too, but then GW2 is just so awesum overall that I am looking forward to it. after all there are lots of pro sides to that style of combat - I got very tired of WoW's "synchronized swimming".

    never ever gonna try TERA. as for D3, I am on the same boat as you, A-RPGs have never appealed to me. Diablo looks nice but I have an issue with isometric view and having tried similar games like Torchlight, it's just too much of hack'n slay for me in the end. good question too about what the "point" is; or rather, I just want to spend time immersing myself in a coherent, ongoing world and story with my character. that's just me.

    Really longing for next weekend. apart from that, I might give the SWTOR free trial a go. playing Legend of Grimrock atm to shorten the waiting time. :)

  4. I'm right there with you on both titles. I'm sure I could get a few hours of entertainment out of either, but not much more than that, and so to me neither is worth the investment in time or money to access and learn them.

  5. Your use of the word "ur-significance" has increased my enjoyment of this post by 100%.

  6. What game is the first screenshot from?

  7. The first and second are both from Dragon Nest, a very fun MMO that I really must get a bit further into.

  8. Once again, you've pretty much read my mind.

    I think, like me, you need a bit of backstory for your games or it all just seems like a *game*.

    Honestly, I think you do need to try Diablo 2 if you can at all stand the isometric point of view. It does have a storyline, albeit a rather weak one, but I'm a story whore too, and I wasted months of my life on that game. :P

  9. Is somebody threatening to pay you to play these games?

    One of the things about Diablo and Diablo II is that none of the knock-offs I ever tried... Titan's Quest, Dungeon Siege, or even Torchlight... really captured what made those two games great. They hit a magical mix of story/atmosphere/music/sounds that made them engaging beyond the sum of their parts.

    Path of Exile might come the closest, but still doesn't seem to be quite there. Being more MMO-ish, story seemed to suffer in the name of keeping people playing longer.

    I am disappointed with some of the choices Blizzard made with Diablo III, like going online only, but all they had to do was re-make Diablo II that supported larger screen resolutions and I would have bought it.

  10. @Wilhelm That's a marketing ploy they have yet to try, sadly.

    @Gina & Wilhelm I got as far as looking at the price of D2 on Amazon, but as usual the issue isn't "would I play it?" but "when would I play it?"

  11. Once you get access to Inferno mode, players who are at the level cap and have some of the good Hell-mode equipment will be able to handle Act 1. The idea behind Inferno is that Act 1 and 2 will have good gear but any of the further acts will be too hard for most players to get through. The players with less-skill may eventually get through Act 3 and 4 but not before collecting gear upgrades from Acts 1 and 2.

    Diablo 3


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