Saturday, May 14, 2022

End of an MMO: TERA

Well, TERA is shutting down.


The game, which is an acronym for The Exiled Realm of Arborea, is one of those MMO titles that can bring out strong opinions among fans of the MMO genre. Yes, it has exciting action combat. Yes, the graphics are well done. 


Almost from Day One, TERA developed a reputation for what I'm politely calling "fanservice". If you thought my cheeky (!) commentary by Neve about the Stitched Trousers was something, imagine if she got a hold of the outfits I discovered in TERA.

This was one of the milder ones I encountered.

And this wasn't bringing in the so-called running form the Castanic females have:

Apparently running, bent over, with your panties out is a thing in Korean MMOs.

But the thing is, even if all that went away, TERA would have the reputation it does because of one thing only: the Elin.

I won't dignify a link to it, but the Elin are supposedly an ancient spirit race who just so happen to look like prepubescent girls. ALL OF THEM.

And then to top it off, TERA dresses the Elin up in sexualized outfits. BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DO.

The kicker is that the US release of TERA actually has the Elin's outfits toned down; the Korean release shows them even skimpier. If that isn't a call to a dark corner of the internet that "boy, have we got a game for you!" I don't know what does.

I can't simply justify TERA's behavior in this manner, because they had to know that the Elin would attract a certain crowd, but there it is. And because of it, I'm not sorry to see it go the way of the dodo.


While I'd like to spend more time musing about TERA, I think Josh Strife Hayes did a great job on the game with his Wost MMO Ever series when he took on TERA:

I think there's a good story somewhere in the game, but it's not engaging enough to overcome all the ridiculous outfits and the lolli creeper vibe I get from TERA. I mean, the graphics are great, the combat is fine, and the music is good. Why oh why did Bluehole make these design decisions?

If you'd have asked me which game would have died first, TERA or ArcheAge, I'd have picked ArcheAge. The rapid decline in server population coupled with missing pieces to the story from the get go usually would be the death knell of a game. I mean, both games share obvious fanservice elements, such as obvious boob physics and overly revealing costumes* and there's parts of the storyline in both games that make me feel like I'm in an anime. So there's a ton of similarities here. The biggest difference here is that TERA has the Elin, and ArcheAge doesn't. Full stop.

So I guess I can look at TERA and think "What if?" and shake my head.

*And let's be honest, more than just that. The walking and running motions of female toons, the exaggerated bustlines, and the tendency to wear high heels all the time are all hallmarks of Korean MMOs. Both games happen to have these in spades. 

But I think it needs to be said: I'm not a prude. If things such as the outfit options had a wide variety of available selections and you could choose what you liked to wear, whether sexy and revealing or more realistic armor, then I'd be fine with it. After all, everybody is different and has their own opinions on what to wear. It's the lack of choice that annoys me the most.


  1. Tera holds the record for the mainstream mmorpg I spent the shortest time in. I only tried it at all because it was one of the first to offer a remote gameplay option, where you could play a free trial via a cloud-based service without having to download and install the game.

    I was quite impressed by the remote service, which worked better than I expected, albeit nowhere near as well as similar services work now, but the game itself absolutely sucked. The primary reason I only played for however long the timed trial lasted (I think it was half an hour) was the action combat, which I detested but the incredibly offensive stooped-over running action for the female characters came a very close second.

    It wasn't just that you'd see that if you made a female character. I made a male character specifically so I wouldn't have to look at it but I still had to look at all the other female characters everyone else had made. I've played a lot of imported mmorpgs and many of them have sexualised female characters and childlike races but in no other game have I found either even close to being as difficult to contextualize as in Tera. Usually they either appear as either one of a range of options or can easily be adjusted to meet different cultural expectations but Tera just didn't seem to care about any of that.

    Still, it lasted a good while. It clearly had an audience. I just wasn't part of it. Obviously I won't miss it and in a way I'm happy to see it gone but I'm sure it was someone's safe space and the news will be devestating. It's never really a win when an mmorpg goes dark.

    1. Amen to that. I just don't get Bluehole's approach to this at all. If I didn't know any better, I'd think that Bluehole created TERA to round up as many pervs as they potentially could just so everybody in MMO space knew who they were. Or that Bluehole would end up being revealed as a group funded by Interpol to help round up sex criminals.