I got to try both this past weekend as they were both in open beta. TERA I played for maybe thirty minutes until I couldn’t stand it any longer. It was like an awkward FPS coupled with a very creepy presentation. To spite the game’s visual design I actually made a character that was a 12-14 yr old girl with fox ears and a fox tail; naturally she was fan-service-tastic and made me feel uncomfortable. The game is otherwise unremarkable. It didn’t catch me.
Diablo 3, on the other hand, surprised me a bit. My first foray was a Wizard to level 8 or so and it was rather “Diablo 2″ but prettier. I tried again later in the weekend as the Barbarian and had a rather different take away. Here’s my analogy:
Diablo 2 is to Diablo 3
Super Mario Bros. (8-bit Nintendo) is to Super Mario World (Super Nintendo)
Diablo 3 is still a dungeon hack. Super Mario World was still a platformer. They’re each substantial upgrades – both in presentation and mechanics – over their predecessors.
Maps are still randomly generated but they look and feel better. You still smash a lot of monsters but the control is more intuitive, the abilities all feel useful, and the customization is fun. The fact alone that my “pole barb” and my “sword’n'board barb” can now easily be the same character is remarkable to me. I can swap out equipment and ability mappings and in seconds I’m a different build. There’s absolutely no draw back to trying a new ability when you get it as – whether it jives with your play style and gear or not – you are not bound to it. You literally can’t make a game-breaking mistake in character building anymore. If something doesn’t work, try something else.
I don’t see myself playing it to the exclusion to all other games (as I did its predecessor) but as I have a host of friends picking it up that do not play SWTOR, I will buy it. It’ll be nice to play with those friends again, if nothing else.
Also, hitting things as a Barbarian is tremendously satisfying. The thwacks and wallops sound and feel perfect to me. Barbarian combat was more God-of-War-like than any dungeon hack ever.
One thing disappoints me: I don’t have a dog that will cart my stuff to town and sell it for me. I’m over it though.
Spinks (per usual) has a fantastic article on D3 over on her site; if you’d like more detail (and some valid criticism against the stupid shoes that the female Demon Hunter is wearing) you should head that-a-way.