Feedback on levelling from an MMO vet

I have played many MMO style games since the original Lineage 1. Here is my feedback from going 0-45 this week. (I am new to Tera.)

The summary is: levelling is way too fast; leaves many quests in the dust.

Recommendations:
- Require players to at least do the story quests and reach each dungeon naturally, before these dungeons become unlocked in Instance Matching.
- Get rid of the huge Kumas Battle XP rewards. You want people to level up by playing the game. Kumas is fun but players should have to earn their level, not get it gifted to them.
- NPCs at the main door of dungeons should not give out side quests until the player is at the parallel step of the related story quest. As it stands, you end up having to repeat the dungeons too much (especially annoying after all the enemies give no XP or loot).

My detailed analysis of this issue follows below. Millenial ADHD patients who hate walls of text, feel free to stop reading now, so I do not have to read lots of replies that say, “Holy wall of text... did not read.” (Of course now that I’ve said that, I’m sure this kind of reply will get posted anyway.)


Detailed Analysis


Your game seems to have been originally set up kinda like Borderlands 1 & 2 and Diablo 3, where there are leveled zones that you are evidently supposed to go through in a certain order and do the quests there when you are around a particular level.

However, at some point, from what I can gather reading past threads, the devs decided to add an Instance Finder that lets you skip past the story, and jump straight into the main “dungeon” of each zone, after which you can spam the same dungeon repeatedly until it has become a cakewalk with gray-name enemies that no longer yield any XP or loot.

I cannot fathom why this change was made. It really detracts from this game, which has a a surprisingly decent story, great artwork, well-done cut-scenes and voice acting, fantastic character animations, and marvelously designed enemies. Tera’s bones hold up quite well so many years after the first release. However then, the Instance Matching and Kumas Battles (as fun as it may be) ruined it.

Just as I was enjoying the initial hour or two of quests, following the story, and having a blast—suddenly I am level 47, and I got more XP from two rounds of Kumas battles than I got from doing all the quests from Circle the Wagons through the final fight at Sinistral Manner.

See, I made the mistake of doing Sinistral Manner as a Vanguard Instance Matching thing, not realizing it was a huge spoiler to one of the story-lines, and not realizing that by doing it this way, I was dooming myself to doing it a bunch more times if I ever wanted to complete all the related quests or learn the story behind it.

In fact, I did not even meet Jalena until my 12th time through this dungeon—even though she is the NPC who, as I finally learned, is how your character finds out about this dungeon in the first place! She is even supposed to be helping you destroy the main threat of the area! Before I discovered Jalena, I had not only been through this dungeon about 10 different times and done all the related side-quests offered by the NPCs at the front door, but also, I did not actually see the intro cutscenes for this dungeon or know anything about its role in the story until then.

Sadly, this kind of thing makes the vast majority of the quest content (especially side quests) basically pointless. Why do the devs want people to skip ahead to dungeons and dress up like baby Kumas’s sucking pacifiers instead of playing the wonderfully done quests in the proper sequence?

In this form, this is not an RPG. If it was an RPG, then my character would have to go through the story quests in order before discovering these dungeons. I should have to discover these locations by exploring the actual game world, not just going to the start menu!

It’s fine to have an Instance Matching for content you already unlocked by proper playing, but I have never seen an MMORPG or any decent RPG where you could just skip to the best dungeons like this.

Sure, glorified “RPG-esque” shooters and slashers like Diablo 3 and Borderlands let you join more advanced players in areas you have not yet found, buy they at least offer an automatic option for finding players who are on the same quests as you, and completing them together. They do not lure you into unwittingly skipping past all the content and doing the best boss fights without any character development or time between level-ups to learn the skills you keep unlocking and grow into your gear.

Tera has the same problem as Borderlands 2: “over-questification” with many side-quests that are likely to provide no significant reward by the time you get around to doing them, and only a very minor benefit at best, otherwise.

The side quests are everywhere and they do not add much if anything to the story. If you go back and do these at level 45, players should at least get some kind of scaled XP or similar reward. Maybe have higher-level instances of the same content that is auto-leveled to the player’s level.

Otherwise, unless you do all these little quests right when you are the exact level they were meant for, then if you want to finish them in order, it really seems ridiculously easy and there is no incentive beyond getting to see the beautifully done enemies and areas. You cannot even give away the quest rewards to noobs!

In conclusion, I really like the game, but it feels like some undesirable changes were made at some point that messed it up. I met a random player, and we were really shocked at how fast the levelling went. Even on a private Lineage 1 server with 16x XP rates, levelling goes about six million times slower than this.

What happened to Tera? On old forum posts I read people talking about Old Tera, where bosses were hard and required strategy, and levelling was something you actually had to try to do. But now, nobody has to learn how to use their character’s skills or tweak their gear to really survive. Maybe at endgame it’s better, but if so, why not just start everyone at 65, and get rid of levelling altogether?

I’m not sure what the problem was that you were trying to solve by making levelling this fast, but it really seems out of place especially in a F2P game. It honestly feels like the settings one might expect on a public beta server where the devs just want people to be able to level up fast so they can test everything.

Well, I hope this helps you tweak things.

Comments

  • HarimicHarimic ✭✭
    edited April 2018
    TRWWKDN739 wrote: »
    The summary is: levelling is way too fast; leaves many quests in the dust.

    I totally aggree with it. The leveling is way to fast. I have done only story quests and was always over the required level. I also missed 3 dungeons due to the level restriictions and my higher level. The level phase has a worse design at the moment.

    I'm already level 65 since the weekend and doing now also the "old" level 30+ story quests, just to see it ;)
  • LordMurasamaLordMurasama ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018
    TERA like many other MMO's, has gone through iterations of streamlining with its questing and leveling process. The original starter zone for example was the Island of Dawn and originally, the game didn't really hold your hand/guide you through which NPC's that had side quests, were really required for example. If you were just starting off, it was great since that discovery process is part of the adventure and journey. However, that lack of structuring could also confuse newer players (like the magic/tactics instructor where you learned your skills from was originally just a side quest NPC where you needed to run the side quests for some other NPC's first) and for veteran players, it could also get old once you began leveling additional characters. See the following for example where I need to pickup the side quest for archer training from another NPC.



    So the prologue and tutorial process (prior to the actual prologue, the game had an actual tutorial you could play through with any available class at the time with level 20 skills unlocked that once completed, would lead into the original prologue) was streamlined over the years (including the eventual replacement of the Island of Dawn starter zone to a much shorter Stepstone Island). Portions of the games story line quest has also undergone similar changes (a number of them were made to the questing leading up to Bastion of Lok for example leading into the console release which was also mirrored on the PC version).

    One solution which Bluehole will likely never implement is to have a "novice/rookie" or "veteran" option when creating a character. The former would put the game into a strictly story/quest line prioritization mode where progress requires completion of the main line quest chain and would only allow access to a dungeon where it made sense in that story line so as to not break any immersion (unfortunately, some changes has resulted in inconsistencies). The latter option would be like how it has been for awhile now where players can sort of deviate from having to level using the questing past level 20.

    Myself, I still like to level the "old fashioned" way on PC (and doing the same on console) so I never instance match BoL or Manor (I just bypass the dungeons prior to level 58 anyway and go back to do them later). I just hit the correct character levels to make sure the next main line quest is triggered.
  • Wi2ardWi2ard ✭✭✭
    The quests are boring and poorly written, involving mostly some iteration of kill x things. If all I'm going to be doing is killing things, I may as well do that while enjoying the best the game has to offer (psst, it's not the quests).

    You are absolutly right that Tera is not an RPG 'in it's current form'. It's an action-mmo with rpg like mechanics which, honestly, every game has now.

    In any case the vast majority of players like to level quickly. If they didn't, wouldn't there would be far fewer players? Don't you think a company that specializes in mmo's has some clue what their audience wants? They have far more data on what their players like than you do from your limited experience (compared to the massive ammount of industry data they have).

    Do you think these GAME developers are stupid? That they never saw or played a game before this? What about their experience, their cumulative experience, compared to you questionably informed opinons?

    You ask 'what happened to Tera?' They saved it from complete failure. They introduced a new race and a bunch of new classes and made it easier to get to the content that people wanted to play. They were successful, too! So much so they are bringing it to two other platforms.
  • Glad the leveling is fast. My ideal game starts at end game.
  • I play only the Storyline. My charakters use armoury level same douple Charakter level or Character level. So the fights stronger and i am not over poweret. So i die often. Thats a challange.
  • NorfairNorfair ✭✭
    edited April 2018
    Great post OP and subsequent posters. Having played Tera back in May of 2012 when it launched on PC I can't believe how much it's changed. As someone who started out with games like FFXI and Lineage 2 and then onto Vanilla WoW (which was in it's day a long journey to level cap - 22 days /played for me to be precise) I really dislike the speed at which you level currently and also the triviality of the questing by consequence of this speed.

    I enjoy doing quests and progressing organically through zones but with Tera in it's current form I simply out-level stuff far too fast. I understand the points the second poster is making about Blue Hole streamlining some in-game systems as all MMO's eventually do but I think they might have gone too far and somewhat butchered their game's natural progression system this time.

    Playing Tera finally gives me some insight on to what MMOs could be like on Console. However, I don't want them to be dumb'd down to the point where it's log in, turn brain off and grind Dungeons for 3 hours every night. That actually puts me to sleep. The Dungeons are really boring on multiple play through's. Especially considering the extremely long boss fights. I'd rather have more complex or treacherous Boss battles with less HP than the current damage sponges.

    Anyway, great post OP - agree with your opinions.
  • TRWWKDN739 wrote: »

    I’m not sure what the problem was that you were trying to solve by making levelling this fast, but it really seems out of place especially in a F2P game. It honestly feels like the settings one might expect on a public beta server where the devs just want people to be able to level up fast so they can test everything.

    Excellent post and pretty much sums up how i see it to... ill still keep playing, but they could have and should have picked a better way to fast track leveling for those that want it that way.
  • edited April 2018
    Basically, one of TERA's selling points (whether you agree with it or not) has become its ease of leveling. You can:

    1) Level through red story quests
    2) Level through dungeons
    3) Level through battlegrounds
    4) Level by grinding BAMs (and the related vanguard quests)

    Whatever method you choose, you can get gear (either via quest or tokens), so you'll be able to switch methods if you want. (So if you ever get stuck or bored doing one thing, you can just switch to do something else.)

    The point of all this is basically, as some others alluded, that TERA is not a very story-driven game and the quests are not uniformly engaging. A lot of people play this game largely because of the combat system. So increasing the ratio of time people spent in combat increased the player retention rate. Getting people to end-game more quickly got more people to participate in end-game instances (improving queue times) and allowed people to experience more of the newest things the dev team are working on. It also encourages people to create more alt characters, which ties into both longetivity (most things in end-game are subject to daily by-character caps, so people need to be willing to make alts or they'll run out of things to do), and monetization (everything on the cash shop is character-bound and based on increasing the amount of characters you have).

    Obviously there are other MMORPGs that are more story-driven (FFXIV comes to mind in particular), but TERA deliberately took a different path. If you want a more traditional RPG experience, you can try to force it by sticking strictly to the red story quests (although even that still moves very quickly). But I doubt TERA is going to fundamentally change their strategy at this point, as they honed it based on data over the years. In the launch PC TERA, tons of people never even made it past level 30 or 40 because they found the leveling grind too tedious and boring. Now, most people at least make it to the cap, and that's what they wanted. People who were really looking for a strong story-based experience and value immersion and plot continuity weren't the majority of the global playerbase, at least on PC anyway.
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