As one of the more highly anticipated MMOs on the horizon, TERA has promised a new approach to a standard design. Touting itself as the first Action MMO, TERA requires players to become much more engaged in combat than other MMOs. Instead of standing by, auto-attacking and occasionally triggering a special ability, every swing or block or special move is triggered independently. TERA does a fine job of taking that standard MMO archetype and turning it on its head.
At PAX East, we met with the team from TERA who gave us our first look at one of the five-player endgame dungeons available in TERA. Myself, Hyasen and Ali from the GKick podcast all were allowed to represent roles in this dungeon while the staff present would assist in the remaining key roles. I took up the role of the Lancer, the main tank who wields a massive shield and lance; Hyasen took up the Warrior class, a melee DPS role and Ali played the ranged DPS Sorcerer. The demonstration today would take us through a few relatively trivial trash pulls before we faced off against the boss. Several key points that were given to me had to do with the reactionary nature of TERA’s tanking classes. While in most MMOs, a tank is actively generating threat, but is often passively defensive, save for a few cooldowns here and there. Most of the time, your dodges and parries and blocks are all automated. In TERA, everything is your doing.
As a Lancer, I had to learn when to appropriately plant my shield to block, when to time my threat generating attacks, when to do damage and how to successfully taunt off of an overzealous DPS or the healer. Because of the relative simplicity of the game’s control layout, we were also informed about the flexibility to play the game on a controller, but we chose to stick with the traditional mouse and keyboard. While the first few trash pulls were barely blips on the danger radar, they were good opportunities to learn the classes we were playing and what powers were at our disposal. The Sorcerer, for example, possesses the ability to plant a large circle on the ground to deliver increased damage, and it’s up to the tank and DPS to keep the targeted enemy in that circle. Same goes for healers, who often need to rely on close proximity to deliver certain heals, as was represented by the Priest class.
The boss fight was a fairly standard two-phase encounter that took surprisingly longer than I had expected to complete. Granted, if we were better at our classes – and had more than 3 minutes experience – it probably would have gone faster, but in the time it took us to kill the lone boss, many players could have likely cleared an entire 5-man World of Warcraft dungeon.
Mechanics-wise, the fight was simple. The boss had several quick melee attacks as well as a strong knockdown ability, in addition to the ability to sprint around the room and wipe threat with a successful knockdown. As a two phase fight, we began by dealing with the boss in his normal form. Roughly mid-way through the first phase’s health, the boss becomes infused with Argon technology and his health resets and he subsequently becomes more powerful.
As seasoned raiders, we didn’t have too much difficulty defeating the encounter, and we all felt that the more we played our roles, the better we got at the game. Learning the spells you have is an equal priority with simply learning how to time your attacks and master your core abilities. An important aspect of TERA is that every ability has an animation and those animations cannot be cancelled. Therefore, if you’re tanking and you trigger a special attack, you may lose the timing window to successfully block a boss’ strike. Spamming buttons, a trait from Warcraft, will cause you way more trouble in TERA. Learning to watch your animations, watch the boss, and focus on what you see on your screen and not what’s on your UI definitely make the game feel more visceral and engaging than traditional MMOs.
While we didn’t get to see much in the way of loot, the team did promise us that a strong endgame is on the way, including 11 dungeons (some with Hard and Normal difficulties) and multiple outdoor raid encounters. In fact, a new web page, tentatively titled “So What About The Endgame?” is planned to go live at tera.enmasse.com to ease many gamer’s fears about that critical end-game element.
We’ll have more from TERA, including some beta access giveaways, later this week! TERA will be available on May 1st for PC.