Originally Posted on June 26th, 2010: Link.
I will say this right now: playing the TERA demo was perhaps one of the most enjoyable experiences I had at E3 (especially after my disappointing time at the Ubisoft booth). And you know why that is even more special? It just happened to be my last appointment of the event, ending less than an hour before the doors were going to be closed for the year. TERA is a game that many of you know I have been following since shortly after it had been announced last year; I even posted a lengthy article over it, so you can imagine my excitement over finally being able to get some hands-on time with this upcoming online title.
It was not an easy process to find the booth for En Masse Entertainment, the publisher in charge of bringing the MMO to the American audiences. I had made the mistake of trying to find their location on the main E3 website only to realize that instead of being under the name En Masse, they had decided to put themselves under TERA, the one and only game they had on display for the media. Not only that, but their booth was almost completely obstructed by the towering poster boards that Nexon Entertainment had erected to show off their games, though I am sure that was unexpected. But, for good reason, people were drawn to TERA’s fascinating booth and the enticing character designs drawn on its structure. A few stations had been set up around the outside for the people try out for themselves.
Finally, the time had arrived for me to step into the TERA booth and get a real taste of the game. After I had been ushered into the closed-off area inside the booth with three of my peers in the media, we were introduced to some of the key members of En Masse Entertainment including Sam Kim who was in charge of narrating the experience and as well as walking us through the controls. We had each taken our seats in front of some pretty nice high-end gaming computers, and were given a quick synopsis of the storyline.
The world that TERA takes place in was created around the bodies of Arun and Shara, two sleeping titans that now make up the two largest continents.. From their dreams, twelve gods and the masses of mortal beings were formed. Soon, rivalries developed amongst the gods, and the omnipotent beings often fought amongst each other, and now are either imprisoned, banished, or dead. The Federation has enlisted you to band together with the other races help protect TERA from a new threat, the Argons, a metallic race from the Underworld, who threaten to destroy the very dreams of the titans.
Next, we were introduced to the characters we were going to play today. Of the 8 total classes that were to be implemented into the game (along with 6 different races), we had our picks between the Berserker, the Warrior, the Lancer, and the Sorceror. Mine happened to be a sexy High Elf Berserker, the tank of the group whom was responsible of engaging with the enemy first and protecting the other classes from taking damage, especially the healer. For the Warrior, they were in charge of chipping away and stunning the beasts with quick hit-and-run tactics, the Lancer stood just behind the Berserker and inflict damage from medium range, and the Sorceror, of course, was responsible for casting spells from afar. I felt very comfortable in this role as it was the typical class I had chosen over the years during my time in online gaming.
For melee classes, character skills relied on a Mana bar that grows only after you have landed a few blows on the enemy. For spellcasters like the Sorceror, each spell had a cooldown timer that stopped players from spamming their magical abilities. However, they are able to utilize another skill that exponentially increases the Mana recovery time.
Although I had plenty of skills to choose from thanks to the leveled-up character I was using as part of any E3 demo, the two main skills I used for my class was a powerful spinning slash attack that did even greater damage than my normal attack, as well as a destructive blow that does more damage based on how long you hold the hotkey to charge up the skill.
The controls were pretty typical to anyone familiar with the MMO genre, especially those who have played a free-roaming game. The main keys we were taught to use frequently were the number keys that had the shortcuts to our powerful class-specific abilities and the C key, our guard skill. For me, that went using my weapon as a shield when the going gets tough. Fortunately, the rest of my group looked to also be veterans, and it wasn’t long before we headed out on our adventure and thrown immediately into the action.
Right away, it was easy to see that the developers made a great choice when deciding to use the Unreal Engine 3 as the technology to power their game. The character designs were absolutely amazing with the insane amount of detail they had. The landscapes themselves were drop-dead gorgeous. The monsters themselves even looked pretty intimidating, and always made you wonder if your character was up to the task of taking down some of these extraordinary beasts. According to the Sam Kim, TERA will boast more than 80 different landscapes including snowfields, forests, deserts, and tropical environments, along with the giant metropolises many of you have seen in the trailer videos, which are all rendered with the same attention to detail as the one we found ourselves in.
One of the staff members took on the role of Healer and tour guide. From our beginnings on a small pier overlooking a vast ocean after stepping off a boat, we traveled through trails over rolling foothills and around ominous-looking landscapes on a large landmass called the Mistmoar Island. Our objective was to find and destroy Captain Marduk, a giant centaur who, along with his gang, had been terrorizing the local peasants and putting them into slavery.
Due to the game being real-time, where your character stands on the battlefield is of utmost importance. Many times I found my character swiping at thin air where the boss used to be because he had just taken a giant leap over my head towards the healer. You will find yourself scrambling around a lot in order to adjust position and line up your attacks. It is also important to note that the proximity is also important. If you attack from the side or behind the monster, you will be far less likely to be noticed by the monster and “aggro’d” (basically, grabbing the full attention of the monster’s rage).
The monsters ranged from party-mobs, enemies that were made to be fought by groups of players, to easily-dispatched refuse. At one point, we even faced a mid-boss, a weaker version of Captain Marduk with the same abilities, which took a lot of our skill and tenacity in order to defeat. It was no wonder that at the beginning of the demo, Sam had told us that so far, only half of the people who had played the demo were able to defeat Captain Marduk. This certainly wasn’t going to be easy even with our powered-up characters. If you’re not at the top of your game, things can quickly turn from good to bad in a matter of a seconds.
After avoiding a good deal of the lower-level monsters towards the end, we soon crossed paths with the main baddie of the demo, Captain Marduk, in all of his giant centaur awesomeness.Feeling pretty confident about myself after getting the go-ahead, I attacked Captain Marduk head on and started the heavy abuse by throwing as many skills at the monster as I could. I quickly found out that I had made a pretty big mistake as large amounts of my health were being depleted. The Healer made sure to keep us alive with a spell that casts a circle on the field where anyone inside its circumference would restore our health bars. Unfortunately, during the very long and arduous battle, he found himself running out of Mana pretty fast, and we had to rely on ourselves to keep the beast away from him while he tried to recover.
Speaking of which, as Sam Kim mentioned, each boss has a “tell” when it comes to their most powerful attacks. For Captain Marduk, he stomps his front hooves twice before he rears onto his hind legs and comes down with a thunderous area blow that stuns anyone within the vicinity, and the only way to avoid this was to use the aforementioned C key to block or roll out of the way of the attack. Another frequent move he used was when he would suddenly slash out with his razor-sharp claws taking out huge gobs of health, which basically meant we were to keep on the flank or to the rear of Marduk at all times. Unfortunately, my timing tended to be off at times, and I could almost feel the groaning from my teammates as I neared death on more than one occasion (not that I was the only one having slip-ups).
The good thing is, the Warrior was doing an excellent job by constantly stunning Marduk before he could land any more blows, and the Sorceror was obviously a veteran after being able to keep up the spells and never drawing the monster’s attention at any time during the battle. If we landed enough damage, we were able to knock the creature to the ground and really lay the damage on.
After a good 10-20 minutes on this battle alone, we were able to finally defeat the baddy and save the people of Mistmoar Island. Parades would certainly be thrown by the peasants in our honor in remembrance of this day. In reality, many a high-five was passed among my team members and the staff in the booth.
During the entire experience, everyone in my group couldn’t help but laugh and cheer at many an occasion. It had been a long time since I had such an emotionally-driven experience as I had while playing TERA. Maybe it was because the staff members had made it such a personable experience, making sure to spend equal amounts of time with each of us to make sure we were getting a hang of everything and knowing our roles all the way to the final battle. Really, it was hard to come up with any real cons from the game itself because it felt so refreshing from the standard fare I had been playing over the years.
If I could come up with anything negative, it would have to be that this game relies very heavily on the teamplay aspect of the MMO. You have to make sure that the team you are taking with on a mission is made up of strong characters who are able to hold up their end of a battle and do their jobs appropriately. If even one player becomes a weak link, things can quickly turn awry and you may end up face-down in the dirt when trying to take on a big baddie like Captain Marduk. If you have one too many bad moments inside of a party, then it will be easy to see someone writing off one of the most rewarding experiences that the game has to offer in its team system. Be honest, MMO players – we have all been there many times.
For all of those that are reading this, seek out those that you can trust as soon as you can, even if that means being a part of a guild, so you too are able to enjoy this great feature that seems to do it so much better than a lot of MMO games. This is certainly a case where a small presence can make a big impact, and I left the booth feeling energized even after the long week. I am very much looking forward to an even better experience as the game continues to grow.
TERA is set to be released sometime next year exclusively on Windows PC. Please stay tuned to RPGSite as we bring you more on TERA as it nears its release.