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Hello, I’m Kaedis from MMO-Mechanics.com, and today we’re going to be talking about TERA!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to beta test this innovative new MMO developed by Bluehole Studios and distributed by En Masse Entertainment (the North American wing of Bluehole Studios). Now, I’ll be honest here: after Aion, I went into TERA fully expecting to hate the game. Aion and most other Asian-originated MMOs tend to descend into essentially nothing but grindfests fairly quickly. To an extent, all MMOs have elements of grind to them, most Western gamers prefer that those elements be minimized.
TERA surprised me. Granted, it doesn’t have much in the way of innovation on the questing side. It’s very reminiscent of World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions, as far as quests go. There are relatively few cinematic sequences, no conversations or decision points like there are in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Quests still pretty much boil down to “go talk to Person A”, “go kill X amount of Monster B”, or “go interact with Y amount of Object C”, as most MMOs previously have had.
The part that really grabs your attention, however, isn’t the questing: its the gameplay. The gameplay and combat mechanics in TERA absolutely blows other MMOs out of the water. No longer is combat boiled down to the age-old target enemy -> press buttons to trigger spells. Instead, TERA uses what they call an “Action Combat System”. No more targeting of enemies.
Instead, you have a target reticle in the center of your screen, akin to a first-person-shooter game. When you trigger a spell (using traditional keybinding format, though the left and right mouse buttons are now their own independent spell binds), it fires toward that reticle. Some abilities, like an archer’s Radiant Arrow, fly in a straight line toward that reticle until they hit a target or reach their maximum range. Other abilities lob a projectile a certain distance in front of you, like a Sorcerer’s Magma Bomb, hitting whatever is in range of the explosion where it lands. Still other abilities give you a few second window to “lock on” to enemies by mousing over them, then hitting the button again to fire directed projectiles at those target (these type of abilities are fairly rare for dps, though).
In addition, every class in the game gets some sort of very short cooldown (1-6 second) active block or dodge mechanic. Ranged classes, like archers and sorcerers, get a dodge ability that throws them backwards a few meters. Melee classes gain a forward roll instead, throwing them through the target to avoid attacks. Lancers, the “tank” of TERA, instead gain an active block ability called Stand Fast which drastically reduces the damage taken by abilities from the frontal arc, even granting some of that damage reduction to allies standing behind you.
It is this active attacking and dodging mechanic that makes TERA so dynamic and fun to play. Instead of bright icons over enemy heads, or colored circles appearing on the ground, you must learn to read your enemy. When the mob rears back and raises their arms, it’s time to dodge out of the way as they hammer the ground. As a mob opens their mouth and breaths in, its time to move off to the side to avoid their caustic breath attack. The same goes in reverse, however. There are a number of times when I would be charging an arrow attack on my archer, only to have the mob suddenly roll to the side as I fire the powerful shot through the empty space he was just standing in.
Another change TERA has over standard MMOs is the lack of a fixed global cooldown. Instead, the majority of abilities (but not all of them) have an “animation delay”. This is the time it takes your character to complete the animation involved with firing the ability. For example, if I fire Radiant Arrow on my archer, he will do a sideways cartwheel kick as he absorbs the recoil from the shot, throwing him back by a couple yards. This takes place over about a second’s time period, during which I can’t fire other abilities. This animation delay is a different length for different abilities, so combat isn’t about 1.5 second windows like many other MMOs. Some abilities also have a “cast time” before the ability, but instead of having a cast-bar, these are based around animation durations as well. Since all of these abilities have animations associated with them that govern how long the ability takes to “cast” (regardless of whether it actually has a cast or charge time), combat feels fluid and real.
Now, these animation times aren’t set in stone. Gear stat can augment your animation speed rather significantly by end-game, meaning attacks that used to take 2+ seconds to animate can take barely a second with gear.
Now this is starting to turn into a wall of text, so I’m going to summarize the remainder of my experiences with the beta into nice neat Pro and Con bullet lists:
Overall, however, I have to give this game an 8/10 review. There are some things I dislike about it (as you can see above), but the gameplay itself sells the game. After a weekend at it, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the combat system in this game. If I had to directly compare it to anything, it would be Mass Effect’s gameplay (specifically, Mass Effect 3, since you can dodge in that one). TERA, however, takes it to a whole new level, with powerful and short-cooldown active dodges (and a combat system that emphasizes them), as well as relatively few self-guided/tracking projectiles.
While players of nearly every MMO like to claim that skill > gear, this is the first MMO I’ve played where this axiom is quite so literally true. PvP, instead of being about who can run their rotation quickest and time CC the best (as well as who has the best gear), becomes a question of who can aim the best, who can anticipate and and preempt opponent actions the best, who can maneuver the best, and who can dodge the best.
If you’re interested in getting in to TERA, it releases this coming Tuesday (May 1st). However, a headstart is available starting April 28th at 8:00 AM PDT for those that have pre-ordered it. Pre-ordering can be done through retail establishments (though many of them are out of pre-order codes by now), or directly through En Masse’s pre-order page. Keep checking back here as well, as we may end up starting a TERA mechanics section of the site if it becomes popular enough!blog comments powered by Disqus