PAX 2010: TERA Hands-On Impressions
The MMO market is a crowded space, but Bluehole’s TERA promises a different experience. It’s branded as the first true “Action MMORPG,” bringing a giant, persistent online fantasy world together with action game combat. At PAX, I had a chance to play through a short demo in a party with a few other folks.
Right away, you have to kind of stand back and admire TERA’s graphics. This is a truly beautiful game, especially for an MMO. The character models have really high detail, sporting very intricate armor and gear.
I was “Brutus,” a human Lancer class. The Lancer class carries a long spear, and has a giant shield which can be used to protect other members of the party. Hold “C,” and the Lancer will slam their shield down into ground 300-style, and put up a wall in front of the enemy.
This makes the Lancer the ideal front-lines tank, which is exactly how I played him. When we entered a new room full of baddies, I ran in, slammed down my shield and gave my casters some breathing room to launch some projectiles.
The Lancer can do more than block, though. Special abilities are mapped to the number keys on the keyboard. Pushing “1″ triggered a Leash Attack, which would throw out a chain, grab an enemy and pull them in close. The “2″ key triggered the Charge Attack, which sent Brutus into a mad dash across the map into the nearest enemy for a multi-hit combo.
Forget selecting an enemy, and watching auto-attacks unfold in front of you. TERA requires you to run around, jump, dodge, precisely time combos and special abilities, the whole action game package.
I think I loved this. The combat was fast, exciting, tricky, all things that can be lost on typical MMO combat. I also liked the JRPG-style hit point numbers that pop up for each heal/attack. There were numbers flying everywhere all the time, but it wasn’t too hard to follow.
You don’t have an infinite well of special abilities, though. Your blue mana meter will gradually decrease as you use special abilities. When you’re out of mana, you have to use regular attacks to build it back up. It’s a simple system that appears to be working well.
Timing is definitely key to contributing to the party. For instance, a poorly timed or aimed Charge Attack would send Brutus sprinting into an empty area of the map, while my team got pummeled behind me.
Also, enemies are extremely mobile in TERA. They’re flying and running all over the place, and you’ll need to watch their attack patterns to spot an opening for a carefully selected ability.
You can get knocked down and stunned in TERA, pretty easily too. If you’re not keeping a close on eye on a boss, expect to get leveled by some giant attack that puts you down for the count. If you do go down, TERA has a cool recovery feature. Hit “3,” and you’ll pop right back up and transition into a recovery attack on the way up.
I only had a short time with TERA, but I’m definitely eager to see more. How do all the other classes play? What does the world look like as a whole? How does leveling up work? Guilds? Crafts? All questions I can’t answer yet.
So far, TERA, looks like a refreshing take on the MMO genre with high production values. TERA is due out sometime in 2011, exclusively for the PC.