May 24, 2012
TERA is a whole new class of massive multiplayer online (MMO) game. The days of being able to just auto attack, get up, get a snack, and have none be the wiser are over. On May 1st, North Americans were finally able to get their hands on this new action MMO; which has been out in Korea for just over a year now.
The story for players starts out in the Age of Mortals; a time that takes place after the Divine War. All the gods have died, become weaker, or have chosen to no longer influence mortal affairs. A new land called the Island of Dawn has appeared between the two continents of TERA. As explorers, many people from the seven different races of the world traveled there, but only found danger.
If you chose to play the prologue you will get to see just how the first expedition to this new island went. In doing so you get a good taste of your character’s class and skills. The prologue doesn’t give you any experience, but gives you a hand full of the skills you can use to try out the class. Once you get off the beach you will start fighting monsters and bosses, or as the game calls them, Big-Ass Monsters (BAMs). It’s here you will quickly see how the gameplay is different than most MMOs.
In a typical MMO, you would select an enemy and then select your attack. In TERA when you are in combat you don’t have a cursor to point and click with, you have crosshairs. For any of your skills to actually hit your target they have to be in your crosshairs. In the case of ranged skills the target has to be so many meters away from you in the direction your crosshairs are aimed.
As for how the enemies are different, they really don’t like you trying to kill them; they will fight back with all they’ve got. They don’t stand still; they will jump and run all over the place. Luckily, there are warning signs or tells as to when a monster might try and jump on you or squish you. If you pick up on these tells fast enough you can use your defensive skills to either block the attack or just get out of the way.
After the prologue (which can be skipped) you will return to the Island of Dawn and start your journey through Tera. As you play through each area of the world you will pick up various types of quests such as storyline, zone, and guild quests. They will then have you go to certain areas and typically have you either kill or find things such as plants or missing people.
To help you find items or monsters that are for quests, there is a very nice tracker. Players can have a mini map display show up on their screen. By hitting the “alt” button to get the cursor you can then click on the underlined colored text in the quest and orange dots will appear on your mini map to mark the location.
In most MMOs players are given talent trees which force them into a subclass within their class. With eight different classes, TERA kind of leaves this out. There are certain skills that are designed either offense or defense but, through the use of glyphs players can pick and choice from all the skills which they like the best and want to buff up once they reach level 20. Glyphs do things like decrease the mana or MP cost of skills, shorten the cool down, or increase the duration. Depending on the players level, you may have many glyph points to spend.
Now lets not forget that classic time filler: crafting and gathering. There are three types of nodes you can gather materials from: plants, ore, and energy crystals. You never have to pay to upgrade gathering skills. As you gather, your skill level goes up; which in turn makes it easier to gather. There is also the possibility of getting a buff such as an attack speed boost or a gather boost. The materials you have gathered can be used in any of the six different crafting types: weaponsmithing, armorsmithing, tailoring, alchemy, leatherworking, and focus crafting. You can work on leveling any number of these crafts to max level.
One of my favorite things about TERA is how customizable the user interface (UI) is. In a typically MMO (without having to download add-ons) players can really only make the entire UI smaller or larger. In this game each part of the interface is individually customizable. Your health, mana, skill bar, etc can all be sized and moved separately.
Another interesting feature is that you can play either with a keyboard and mouse, or with a PC controller. Personally, I prefer the keyboard and mouse; I just feel like I have better control. However, I’m sure people who like consoles would disagree. Perhaps the possibility of using a controller will pull console fans into the world of PC gaming. Either way you choose to play, though, the controls are pretty straight forward.
Even the chains skills are easy to use. Certain skills will trigger another skill if they are part of a chain. Depending on how you have your UI set up, a notification will pop up when you have a chain skill become usable. Then all you have to do is press whatever button you have assigned as your hotkey and the next skill in the chain will be used. This can really be helpful to free up space on you skill bar.
Currently there are only 15 dungeons players can group up and play in. To complete storyline quests you will need to group up and enter them. Don’t worry too much, though, because there are a couple of ways to find groups. First there is the looking for group (LFG) chat channel, and secondly there is instance matching. At the moment instance matching does take much longer to find a group then what the estimated times says. However, with the new addition of cross-server matching hopefully the matches will come faster. It is still a good idea to check out LFG chat, or perhaps see if any of your friends or fellow guild members needs the same dungeon.
If you’re worried about people taking good loot from you for their other character, don’t worry. In TERA the party leader sets the loot rules to either free-for-all or round robin. If they set it to round robin they can they choose to have everyone roll for rare and superior items, but the rolls will be class specific. If you’re ranged you have no need for a sword. I personally think this should be the default setting instead of just round robin for all items. At least now, unlike other MMOs, you won’t have to worry about a ranged class taking a melee weapon.
Since groups become a necessity at higher levels it’s a good idea to find a good solid guild to join. Not only then will you get a group of people that can help you, but you also get the added benefits like more quests and a guild bank. Guilds that are level two can use Catharnach Awards, which are obtained by completing guild quest, to buy special items like potions or to just invest back into upgrading the guild. Once a guild is level three things get interesting. The guilds leader can then run to be Governor, or as the game calls it a Vanarch, over a province for the Valkyon Federation. The guild leader will have to rally votes server wide in order to gain the position. If your guild leader does this the whole guild will gain a few perks.
Guilds can also wage battle against other guilds. When a Guild vs. Guild battle is declared, for the next 24 hours members of each guild will be flagged for PvP (player vs. player) with each other. This is indicated by a player’s name being displayed in red, with a red pointer over them as well. When you see this and are in an area PvP is allowed, that’s a green light to kill. And of course if you are on a PvP server everyone is free game. However, if you see someone and their name is in red it means they have recently been killing other players so you might want to stay away from them.
Lastly, and definitely not least, are the graphics. They are just amazing. The water truly looks and act realistically. Looking at the water on the beach made me want to play in it as well as making me a little thirsty. Every thing is very sharp and clear. Even the sound matches up very well. For example, when you’re in a large city hall like building the voices will echo, or when fighting BAMs, there isn’t any kind of delay in sounds of your attacks hitting.
I really do enjoy everything about this game, and really see it going places. I think my only complaint would be the system for remodeling gear. You have to buy templates that you then will apply to your gear instead being able to just use an older piece of gear that you like the look of. That’s just a minor thing though. I would definitely recommend TERA to anyone who likes MMOs. Especially if they are looking for a challenge or just something a little different.
Out Of 5
The graphics are just amazing. Every thing just looks like it could be real.
The sounds are all placed right and fit. The music really helps to set the mood of the game play too. It does tend to kind of just blend into the background after a while though.
I was surprise to see how easy it was to pick up the control since I was so used to using my mouse to click and attack. There are no casting bars to indicate how much longer you have until your skill is casted so when you try to cast another spell it can be some lag.
There is tons to do in game you never really find yourself getting bored. Even gathering is kind of fun since you never now what buff you might get.
I didn’t want to stop playing. There is always something you can do whether is doing quests or helping out guild members or just leveling up crafting.