TERA (The Exiled Realm of Arborea) is an action based MMO that has been out in Japan and Korea for some time and is set to release here early May. Recently the Sneak peek for the EU version has been going on and I’ve managed to play some of it (and recorded some videos) and decided to write some about the game and what makes it stand out from most MMO games.
The main thing that sets TERA apart from most other games in the genre is its action based combat system. While you could make arguments that the World of Warcraft like battle system is pretty action orientated, and I suppose you’d be right in a way, TERA’s combat is a much different beast. There is no auto attack in this game, instead each class has a basic combo that improves as you level up and train the skill. Hitting the key (or button if you choose to play with a pad) executes a string of attacks in a combo. Each class I played had a combo for their primary attack that came out fairly quick although the speed varies on a class by class basis. Apart from combos your position while fighting enemies is very important too. Unlike most MMOs, where it seems that enemies can always hit you with their attacks if you are in their range or can quickly turn to follow you unless they are stunned, the attacks of enemies in TERA are more deliberate. They also have tells, usually by glowing red or getting a red glint in their eye, that give away when you should block or dodge, either through a skill or by running around the enemy. There are also plenty of skills so learn and use that can be chained together to create combos through the games chain skill system.
The questing is the standard MMO fare of go here, kill X of this enemy, talk to this guy, interact with X things to get Y items, kill X of Monster Y for Z of Item W. You know the typical MMO questing stuff. At least it currently is as it appears early questing is getting revamped in the next major Korean update and when TERA is released here the game should also have the revamped early level quests. The thing that sets TERA apart from other MMOs is that thanks to its combat system killing enemies can be quite fun, especially when trying not to take damage. There was a fun quest where I was sent into a dungeon at the end of a chain of story quests on the starting island. I had to fight a pretty large boss monster and use everything I learnt to beat him. Hopefully there are more dungeon quests later on in the game as I really enjoyed the boss fight. I also hope there are tougher enemies that take more strategy to beat.
The world of TERA is also a beautiful one and could be the best looking MMO I’ve ever played. The areas are pretty sizable and you gain a mount at level 11 via a small quest that helps you move around the world a bit faster. I have no clue if you’ll eventually get your own flying mount (like you can in World of Warcraft) but you can take rides from place to place on flying pegasus’ that appear and disappear in a flash of pretty effects whenever anyone mounts of dismounts them which makes the flight platform areas very noisy and flashy.
The races of TERA are for the most part pretty interesting. You have the nomadic Humans; the beautiful High Elf who are trying to overcome their xenophobia; the impulsive yet loyal horned Castanic; the mighty Aman, descendants of dragons, the peaceful and knowledgeable giant Baraka; the cute, nature loving, animal race Popori and the petite, childlike Elin that have typical Anime like faces. Each race has unique traits and abilities that benefit certain classes or crafts over others, such as the Amani ‘Prospector’ skill that increases the speed of mining for ore. The Popori seemed to be the most versatile looking race due to the fact that they can look like cats or bunnies or dogs or even pandas and more. I personally quite like the Popori and Aman the most and will probably play as them in the main release and future betas.
The classes in TERA all have traits that you should be familiar with if you play MMOs. Some classes are physical damage dealers, some tanks, some support, some healers, some ranged damage dealing, the usual stuff. The classes fit these roles pretty easily and the game does a good job at spelling out what each class is good at when you crate your character. The Lancer is slow but thanks to their massive shields and heavy plate armour they make great tanks although they have low mobility. The Warrior is a damage dealer with quick attacks and high mobility and can act as ‘off-tanks’ by avoiding enemy attacks. The Archer is a ranged damage dealer that uses a bow and a variety of traps to combat enemies. The Sorcerer is the main magic damage dealer but also very fragile and has a few spells that slow or trap enemies allowing the sorcerer to keep distance from its target. The Slayer is a damage dealer that wields a big, two handed sword and uses wide, sweeping attacks. The Berserker is a slow, heavy damage dealing class that uses massive two handed axes and wear plate armour. The Priest is the main healing and support class in the game and is very fragile in its cloth robes. Finally the Mystic are the jack of all trades spell caster with heals, buffs, debuffs, damage spells and the ability to summon pets called Thralls. I played the Sneak Peek mostly as a lancer but also played some Warrior, Sorcerer, Berzerker and Slayer.
The melee between the classes I played felt very different. The Warrior was fast and nimble while the Berzerker was very slow and strong with some good AoE attacks. The Sorcerer was quite fun with it’s fireball and AoE fire spell that you needed to aim and a back-step ability to get out of range of enemies if they got too close. The Lancer was pretty slow and resilient but most of his attacks were just straight thrusts meaning he wasn’t that good when surrounded by enemies but great if they were lined up. The Slayer was pretty fun too being highly mobile while still packing a punch.
The game also features a stamina system that affects your max health and mana and fills up at campfires which can be found around the world or placed using an inventory item. The campfire items burn out after a while but the duration can be increased with firewood. When your stamina is below the normal level you get a debuff to mana and health and you lose all stamina upon death and must take time to recover it by standing around a campfire. You can also use Charms at campfires which boost the stats of you and everyone else around making campfires useful to hang around by so you can leech the charms used by other players.
In the end, TERA is shaping up to be pretty fun, aside from some technical issues that prevented the game from being played at the time of the first Sneak Peek (which later got rescheduled). The main problem I can see is in the quest design, they are the same old boring MMO quests we’ve had for years and I’m getting pretty tired of them. The combat does help in this regard by being engaging and fun but it’d be nice if the early quest line revamp spices things up a bit. I’m looking forward to this game and really want to play more of it and experience the endgame content.