The Massive Multiplayer Online, or MMO genre, has been dominated by a single game for so long that it’s not hard to see why so many newer games followed in its footsteps and never strayed from the safe path. Even some of the newer titles that I truly enjoyed such as The Lord of the Rings Online followed this archaic formula to a “T.” TERA which stands forThe Exiled Realm of Arborea is under attack from a mysterious race from the underworld – the Argons. Looking to break out of the MMO mold and provide a true action experience,TERA has everything it needs to put itself on top of the MMO genre.
The story follows two titans, Arun and Shara, that have turned their backs on their realm that was torn apart by war and strife and have instead created their own world…in their dreams. Yes, you are playing in a dream world, one that a mysterious race wishes to awaken the titans from which will end the world. It’s an intriguing concept that works well especially for an MMO. The side-quests have their own unrelated stories that some people will enjoy and some will simply skip over them.
Opening up with your character at level 20, there are plenty of skills to try out. If you haven’t already, check out our Day 1 coverage that covers the opening of the game in greater detail. This serves as a true tutorial to not only the game, but also gives you an inside look at your class down the road. You will later start again at level one; so don’t get too comfortable at starting at level 20. The combat is what truly separates TERA from every other MMO out on the market. Instead of the typical targeting system of other games, this one feels like a hack-and-slash action game. Easily moving in and out of combat, the different classes each take a different approach to combat. Tanks are forced to time their blocks with the enemy attacks as well as line themselves up with the enemies otherwise they risk taking damage. It’s refreshing to be playing an MMO title and interacting with thousands of other players, but also feel like you are playing an action game and not an MMO at the same time. Combos are a big part of the combat as these allow you to chain together different skills quickly. The chains are performed by hitting the spacebar at the correct moment, in a sort of quick-time event style. Wait too long and you may be jumping in the middle of fight instead, which will leave you open to knock backs.
From the get go, I knew that TERA was something special. At the end of the tutorial you are put up against a massive, and I mean massive boss, which you can see from our Day 1 article. Even at level 11, you must face a massive raid size boss (see it here in our Day 2 coverage), yet you will be facing it all by yourself! Did I also mention you gain your first mount at level 11? This in itself makes the lower levels less mind-numbing as you aren’t facing tiny rats or baby orcs for 30 levels, but full-fledged BAMs (big ass monsters, and yes, that is the official term) that could squash you with a single blow. You won’t just find these BAMs at the end of dungeons either, they roam around the world freely and can be attacked if you so dare at any time – I would recommend making some new friends first.
The vastly unique remaining races of the world must ban together if they are to defeat the Argons and save what is left of their world. Each of seven races has four to five traits that are unique to that respectful race. These can range from active skills that must be activated such as increased movement speed or restoring health to passive types such as increased resistances. One skill that each of the races do get is a teleportation to that race’s home city. Since the races are so different, I will briefly touch upon each one:
The Aman have descendant down from dragons and were slaves to the Giants. After the deity Kaia destroyed the seals that were enslaving them, the Aman rose up and fought the Giants for their freedom. Because of the dragon blood that flows through their veins they have a better resistance to damage-over-time effects (DoTs).
Descendants of the Giants are the peaceful and noble race known as the Baraka. When the Republic of Giants set out to rule the world, the Baraka chose a path of peace and knowledge. Doing so was a smart move as the gods spared them upon the destruction of the Giants. The Aman don’t always get along with the Baraka due to their history with the Giants. Using their intellect they are able to fully heal themselves with the use of magic.
Skilled with a blade, the Castanics are another race with a troubled past. Aligning themselves with Roak, a demon, the Castanics lost their home world and their trust in outsiders. Along with their skills with a blade on the battlefield, they are also skilled at forging strong weapons in a fraction of the time it would normally take.
Having to be censored for the release here in North America, the Elin are the divine “children” of the goddess Elinu. While having a child-like appearance the Elin are actually quite dark and vicious in their nature. Feeling like home in the water, they are able to swim faster than any other race, just don’t make baby faces at them or their cute and cuddly faces may be the last you ever see.
Having a special touch with alchemical Essences, the High Elves are extremely gifted with magic. Tall, slender and with pointy ears, the elves stick out no matter where they are. Racial traits allow them to fully gain back their mana making them a perfect choice for any of the magic classes.
The Humans are the Jacks-of-all-trades, master of none that wander the universe learning from other races. Forced to wander like nomads when the god Gidd turned its back on them, the humans survival instinct makes them hard to knock down or paralyze.
The final race in TERA is the Popori, a group of creatures that resemble raccoons. Created by the Elinu to help them rebuild their world, the Popori serve the Elinu for all time. Hating to waste precious time, the Popori can speed up their movement out of combat.
After deciding on a race, there are eight different classes to choose from. TERA uses the standard “Holy Trinity” of classes: Healer, Tank, and DPS. The Archer can provide sustainable damage per second (DPS) at a safe range, but due to their light armor they are vulnerable if targets get too close. The Warrior would be the close-quarters version of the Archer, providing sustained DPS while wearing Light Armor. If a Lancer isn’t available the Warrior is able to fill the role as an evasive tank by dodging attacks instead of using a shield to block attacks.
Playing as a Berserker you will be able to get all the benefits of heavy armor as well as burst DPS. The Berserkers get stronger as they take damage and are a true force to be reckoned with. Every game needs a defensive tank class and the Lancer fills that role beautifully. Instead of relaying on stat-based blocking, players are required to actually use their shield to block and protect other players. Using a lance as their weapon, players can dish out DPS as well as block attacks – the shield can also be used to bash skulls in, so be careful if you decide to challenge one to a duel and end up face to face.
Both the Mystic and the Priest class are able to heal themselves as well as others, which makes them invaluable to groups. While the Priest is known as the primary healer and can provide the maximum amount of healing, the Mystic is also capable of providing ranged DoTs as well as summoning thralls which makes it a very versatile class.
The last two classes the Slayer and Sorcerer both provide DPS to a group the former providing it at close range and the latter at long range using spells.
Quests are broken down into story driven quests, zone quests, guild quests and daily quests. Story quests, as it implies, follow the overarching narrative that you are taking part of, while zone quests follow the basic MMO style of killing and fetch quests. I’m not too bothered by them, as every MMO has them, and I don’t ever seeing them going away. There will always be players that want to rush through them without reading any of the dialogue and there are also those people that read every single word and really get into the lore. You might be sent off to kill tons of faeries, take care of pesky gnomes, or simply cure some meat in a barrel and give it to someone no more than a couple feet away. Due to the combat system, even these mundane quests never feel tiresome.
Instances, or dungeons, provide a good challenge for a group of five adventures. Inside you will face powerful enemies that will test your coordination and teamwork of your group. Making sure everyone is doing their job and not screwing up keeps things intense, but in the end you will have a few new buddies to complete quests with in the game.
TERA is a beautiful game. There is no other way to put it. It easily puts to shame other games of the genre and is able to do this while still performing well and not needing a “beast” of a PC. The environments are full of vivid colors and intriguing design while the characters are detailed with lights glimmering off armor pieces. Let’s not also forget to mention the aforementioned races and classes look vastly different to each other and it’s easy to see just how much work went into creating this world. Female characters on the other hand are scantily clad no matter what type of armor they are wearing. The child-like Elin have had tiny adjustments done to their outfits when compared to the Korean release due to an over exposure of skin. In the end it’s just a game and they aren’t really children except in appearance – you can also play as a panda so it is obvious it takes place in a fantasy setting
Developer Bluehole Studio has created a dream-like world, literally, with tons of content to explore. The art style combined with the combat system really put this game over on me. There are a number of features yet to be added to the game that were talked about prior to release, such as guild leaders voting on vanarchs in a political system. Elected vanarchs can collect taxes from vendor shops, set the tax rate and decide what specialty shops to open in a province. TERA’s future looks bright in a market that has been dominated by a single game for far too long. I for one am looking forward to all the new content and how the world of TERA unfolds right before my eyes.Note: TERA was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.