TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea, is a Korean developed Action-MMO, originally released in January of 2011. En Masse Studios picked up publishing rights for a North American Release;,now slated for May 1st 2012. While the game went through quite a few troubles upon release, along with legal issues, the game has finally made it into its first beta stage which was opened February 17th till the 19th. Currently En Masse plans on 4 more beta test weekends over the next few months, along with an open beta in early April and finally a head start event for pre-orders April 28th. After almost two years of waiting for some good news, I finally got a chance to take a look at TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea.
The World itself feels quite massive, especially when you get past the Isle of Dawn. Unfortunately the game starts very linear, with only 1 starting zone, and really doesn’t open up until almost level 20. However at this point the game starts giving you story quests in multiple zones, allowing you to make choices where to level and quest. The down side? Well you will need to get back and finish those story quests, so they are still fairly mandatory to go to each zone.
As you may have noticed, TERA does not have a very standard UI system… in fact you will not see a mouse on your screen a large majority of the time. This is due in part to the way combat works (which I will describe in detail later on). You may also notice the shortness of the hotbar, and the inclusion of tab, left click and right click. The game allows you to use these buttons as hotkeys and change them as needed. The last major difference is the mini map system. In the upper right you have a radar, which shows npcs, monsters, your field of vision, grouped players, and more. Next to your quest log you have the actual minimap, which is more of a see through road map with markings. These markings can be changed based on the monster or quest you are tracking, which allows for very easy questing as you no longer have to search online forums or through all the quest text to find where 1 guy is hiding out.
In total, there are seven races available and yes, your choice matters! Each race provides fairly unique racial abilities, and with that also comes the size advantage. While Elin and Popori are tiny races giving them the advantage of less hit boxes, they also have some of the poorest racial abilities. The Aman and Baraka on the other hand stand tall and will be much easier to hit; but in turn gain some very useful abilities making them much more resilient. So choose wisely!
One of the beauties of TERA is it actually allows players to level how they want. Monsters have fairly good drop rates and give a good amount of experience, so solo grinding is a viable option (if that is how you wish to play). Questing is still probably the best option as it advances the story, and it is fairly necessary to return to towns from time to time. When you start to find boss monsters the game returns presents you with another viable option of group grinding, as these monsters give very good experience, money, and drops. Combine this with the entertainment of the action combat and suddenly grinding isn't so much of a bother.
TERA moves away from the standard “tab and spam” combat that has been around since the 90’s. The game revolves heavily around a reticle targeting systme for all of your abilities, with some exception, and plays much more like one would expect from a monster hunter game. Why does this make such a big difference? It removes a large portion of RNG from the game, giving control of actually landing hits, or resisting them, to the player. The down side comes in the form of how lag will influence combat, most specificity PvP.
If you enjoy games like God of War, Monster Hunter, etc. Then you will likely be very happy with the combat provided in TERA. Melee combat revolves around closing the gap and really punishing your opponent while at the same time dodge rolling or blocking (yes, you actually have to hold your shield up to block!) to avoid taking damage. With many options to close distance, deal damage, and control the flow of battle, Melee combat becomes an incredibly fun way to play the game.
Ranged Combat/ Healing:
Ranged combat plays heavily on the reticle targeting system as melee does, however there are a few differences. Ranged combatants, depending on class, gain access to traps, ranged AOE, player based AoE, and heals. Due to the nature of the combat system, it would be almost impossible to land some of these abilities, thus making them fairly useless. To fix this some ranged abilities use a lock-on system to make them viable. Does this break the combat and make ranged overpowered? Unfortunately PvP has been very limited in the beta and thus it is hard to tell at this point. However, from my experience the debuffs, dots, and basic lock-on damage attacks do fairly low damage, similar to a players auto attack, and leans more towards not actually breaking PvP combat. However, this is something the developers need to monitor.
Boss Monsters / Dungeons /Group Play:
This is probably the most fun I have had in a game leveling in my 20’s. Grouping up with a few friends, we tempted to grind basilisks (the first abundant tough monster available). These monsters have around 5- 10 times the amount of HP as normal monsters, give less visible signs of the attacks they do, and really require players to pay attention, less get hit for a quarter to half their HP. I was very impressed with the group combat dynamics this early on, and only makes me excited for the challenges further down the road.
Unfortunately my group didn’t get to the point of doing the first major dungeon in the game, however I can only imagine it is scaled up from the dungeon on the Isle of Dawn; if so TERA will be a game that will both challenge PvE players in a brand new way, and be much less of a “farm” as so many other MMO games become.
Unfortunately I didn’t get into the crafting system too much. However from what I saw, it really isn’t anything too impressive at the basic level. If you played Aion, it is essentially the same system with the exception that you automatically have access to all gathering and crafting skills. Crafting appears to go up to a skill of 410, and while crafting it is possible to “bonus” giving you either more of what you craft or possibly better items.
A nice feature for gear upgrading, TERA gives players the option of using all the junk weapons and armor they find to upgrade their own equipment by use of the Enchanting system. The menu can be opened anywhere in the game, and as long as you carry around some alkahest (a common material found on general merchants) you plop your item in, some alkahest, and the excess gear, and you can start the process. It is important to note that not all gear is upgradable, so this isn't always the case to keep your gear updated.
Unfortunately not something I got around to, however there are a few things I picked up on. Guilds do have a leveling system to them. The way to level a guild up is via message boards (located in major towns) that provide guild quests. Likely bonuses will be provided through guild levels and will also likely be required to take part in the political system.
Most games use a Talent tree system, TERA instead uses Glyphs. Players are able to customize their abilities towards their play style with the use of adding glyphs to their abilities. This system works by giving an augment (some abilities have upwards of 7 choices) to specific abilities to either make them do more damage, additional effects, change the speed or damage of a follow-up ability, etc. To balance this system glyph points are used, giving value to each glyph and of course more points are avalible as you level.
The Way I See It:
Overall the game has some very strong content to offer, and an entertaining combat system to enjoy. There are plenty of elements that continue to add depth and entertainment to TERA. The combat system is a very nice change that has rarely been seen in the MMO industry thus far (exceptions would include Tabula Rasa, Vindictus, and Darkfall). If successful, it will add another layer of skill for all players. However there is one downfall; based on initial feedback players experienced lag issues, mainly with PvP. This is a very serious issue and may very well hinder the game if not fixed.
Several elements of the game I still would like to see more of; namely Open World PvP, Guilds, and the Political system; However even without that, the game could prove to be a very fun game with the PvE alone... as long as content can continue to prove entertaining and challenging. Of course this is no excuse to drop the other elements as an entire package is what I signed up for.