Home Editorial E3 2011: TERA Impressions

TERA Box Art

The greatest MMO you've probably never heard of

Today we met with En Masse entertainment to get a demo of TERA, their upcoming MMO. With their “All action, no faction” motto, En Masse is attempting to bring the fast paced combat of an action game to the depth of an MMO. And they seem to have done a fair job at it.

We got to hear all about their new political system, in standard overly dramatic “OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER IN VIDEO GAMEZ” fare, followed by a hands on demo of the combat. I got the chance to play as a spell caster, because as any of you who know, mages are the best class for everything.

The first thing we got was a video and lecture about the rather interesting player political system. The game world is divided into 3 continents, each of which has between 5 and 8 provinces. Each province is controlled by a player who holds a position called a Vanarch.

There’s two ways to become a Vanarch. You can either be a goody two shoes, help other players with quests, share your wealth, and become beloved by the people and elected into office. Or you can do what WiNGSPANTT did to my sand castle yesterday, and just punch the current Vanarch in the face and trample all over his shit and take it by force.

As the Vanarch, you control the taxes of a province, you are given the ability to open shops, you can chose whether to enable or disable open world PvP, and you are able to imprison assholes and fuckwads. Basically you make a shit ton of cash and are just the most badass mother fucker around, and you get a mount to show it, which will change in appearance to reflect what kind of badass you are.

To maintain control and make changes to the ecosystem, you need to have something called “Policy points”. These are either given to you from player recommendations, or they can be earned by completing extremely difficult Vanarch quests, which is what we got to do for our demo.

But first, a trailer!

So for our demo, we had a rep from En Masse playing our tank and healer. I was playing the ranged spell caster, and two other media type people were playing the melee DPS and archer classes. Our quest? TO FIND THE GRAIL! Or to kill the dragon so this asshole Vanarch wouldn’t get thrown out of office for not having enough policy points.

TERA controls a little bit differently than most MMOs. Your mouse controls the camera, and you have two main attacks bound to left and right mouse button as well as a additional spells bound to 1-6 and f1-f6. Holding down alt brings up an interface overlay for things like spell books and maps and actually being able to see what our spells do.

We had a few practice rounds of combat to get our feet wet and admire the graphics. The game is definitely fairly high fidelity, along the lines of Rift in terms of graphical quality. Poly counts are relatively high, and the game has a very eastern fantasy vibe in terms of style. OH LOOK SCREEN SHOTS!

Finally we reached the dragon and got a chance to do some big bad ass killing. Combat in TERA plays a lot more like Diablo than a standard MMO. The bosses have much more of an AI feel to than just attacking the tank. Positioning and avoiding abilities is key to the combat here. Every shot both by you and the NPCs has to be aimed, so timing and positioning are key.

Abilities all have short cooldowns. Certain abilities also have the possibility to be chained in combos, which results in a shorter casting animation letting you belt them out one after another. Some abilities can also be charged a la Fable, giving you differing levels of power based on how long you spend charging them.

Being a ranged class, I had to balance how much damage I wanted to do vs how much damage I was willing to risk taking, since my abilities had varying ranges. In addition to my left mouse button spammable fireball, I had a chargable arcane ball of death, an icy lance of doom, and a few area of effect circles of pants wetting.

Healing seemed to be more actioney, too. It wasn’t just clicking character portraits and casting spells. There were lots of short range and area of effect based spells going out, forcing the healer to dodge enemies while getting up close and personal to the other players in order to heal them. He was also able to resurrect us when we died (which happened quite often).

Eventually after lots of spamming of things, we managed to kill the dragon and were kicked out for Q&A time. They weren’t able to give me too much additional information, but I was able to find out that we’re also going to have something called Exarchs who control entire continents (everybody has a boss), and that they are going to have some level of add-on API for developers.

So that’s all for TERA. Expect more from us on this game as it comes into beta, and look for it on store shelves later this year.

8 replies to this post
  1. Wow. This is just amazing. Players will have a lot more control over their world’s with the politics. Plus it gives the game the medieval all-ruling monarch feel. And that, “I’m rule everything, nothing can go wr-OH HOLY SHIT I WAS JUST DETHRONED, why didn’t I pick fire Mage, Instead of night elf archer??”.

  2. I remember the first videos/previews of TERA. It seemed like the female character, especially from oen race in particular (can’t remember the name, sorry) were acting excessively sexy, to the point of ridicule. This offended quite a few gamers who don’t like to feel like they’re treated like a bunch of horny teenagers. The little I saw seemed quite excessive. How does that look now? Does it seem that bad when playing it?

    • We didn’t play any female characters, but no, I can’t imagine that they’ve fixed it. Keep in mind that this is an eastern MMO, and well… That’s just how they roll out there.

  3. Interesting.
    They have to, though, make the spagat between getting voted to and forcibly becoming the anarch.
    Honestly, I think it might hook into somebody with the best gear, since he won’t be beatable (if you raided him, who would become the next?) and can just raise taxes to the max, y’know, being a general asshole.
    And another player rising to the rank of the former terrorist by pacifist means…don’t make me laugh, I guess we all know how well players can cooperate, even when something is only of minor use to the one and would make minimal work to the other. IT WON’T WORK!
    I think there should be a 2-Week reset, replacing the anarch with an NPC, but making the peaceful way easier for the last anarch, so that you could be re-voted into power faster if the people were happy.

    There should also be balancing to prevent large guild trolling, and maybe a system that will count NPC votes…maybe that would be the way of letting good anarch come back to might after the reset.

    Once again, a comment with more saying than the blog itself, methinks.

    • We don’t know any of the details of the politics system, but basically the player in office will need support from players in order to stay in office. Either by giving recommendations for the policy points that I mentioned, or for getting a group together for the quests which will not be soloable. We’ll see what ends up happening, however. I was asking about what percentage of the player base would end up in office, but they couldn’t give me a straight answer on it.

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