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TERA Hands-on and Interview [PAX Prime 2011]

During our trip down to PAX we were invited out to En Masse’s studio for a look at the upcoming TERA. You might remember that our team previously checked out TERA at EAST, had some pretty kindly things about the game when he saw it back at PAX East… so with the opportunity to check it out ourselves presented, we made a point to swing by their offices and check things out. As an added bonus we got a chance to speak afterwards with Brian Knox the game’s Senior Producer about how TERA brings quite a bit of originality to the world of the MMORPG (video included below).

Watch it here in HD!

When we got to the studio we were treated to a short presentation by a couple of the game’s creators, Stefan Ramirez (Associate Producer) and Chris Hager (Producer), who explained a little bit about the aim of TERA as opposed to other MMOs out there currently. The big points of pride amongst the En Masse crew are their active combat system, server vs. server PVP and a political system.

For someone that plays a fair number of MMOs, but was never able to really enjoy the combat, the action-oriented gameplay is what grabbed my attention immediately. TERA focuses on keeping the player engaged in a variety of ways, you’ll have your basic attacks, mapped to left and right mouse buttons, which can just be held down to combo, but beyond that customized combos, skills and using your cursor to scout for weak points and do critical damage on the fly is what keeps things flowing.

In our play through, we were given the ‘hot seat’ of trying to tank for the five-man dungeon run. Corey and I would swap out half-way through the dungeon so we could each give a try, with me starting (and swapping out after the first boss fight).

I’ve never really tanked in an MMO before, my home is with DPS class. I prefer to rock a ranged character and chill at the back of the pack dealing massive damage through a series of sharpshooter/trick shots. Thankfully, TERA managed to make tanking a bit easier for me and a WHOLE lot more fun.

Starting out in the dungeon I got a brief coaching from one of the game creators who advised me that the ‘C’ key was going to be my best friend; in TERA the ‘C’ is how you drop your shield as a tank. I promptly went about making it my home base, and wonder of wonders, managed to survive my first encounter. Of course a tank has to do a little more than survive, so I got introduced to a couple of other points of the game including the combo/skill system and the action-oriented targeting system.

Unlike most other MMORPGs where as long as you’ve clicked onto the enemy that you want to attack you’ll be hitting them for damage of some-kind, TERA requires you to keep your ‘sight’ on the enemy at all times in order to connect. It took a little bit of getting used to – I may have missed a few swings by forgetting to narrow my lance in on the opponent – but once I got used to it, it became a much more rewarding system.

Advancing once step farther, I started to figure out the combo system, unique in of itself. Instead of your classic “press 1, then 2, then 3” keys, or variations of the provided, you’ll build up your own combos with skills that your character has earned. This means that the combos are reactive. So while I can be mashing out 1, 2, 3, on the keys to launch a combo with my tank, I can also, in between, get prompts to press the space bar an add a pre-selected move to the reactive combo. It also came up a few times when I was attacked at certain angles, or there was an opportunity to strike when getting up from a knock-down or as a counter from a recently blocked strike. The system is super-dynamic, and keeps the players on their toes the entire fight.

Of course there are plenty of other standard tank-tools, like your shout for aggro, leashes to kite or redirect the opponent, and plenty of items to assist with everything you might be doing along the way.

Because we were given a dungeon run/walk through it’s really only the combat that I can talk about from personal experience. So I will say that what TERA has done with the combat so far is pretty damn exciting. If they can bring that same shine to the political system and server vs. server PVP then I think they really might have something truly unique and fun on their hands. We’re definitely going to continue to keep a personal eye on this one…