An action MMORPG, you say? Trying something new on a stale genre, you say? TERA, the upcoming MMORPG from En Masse Entertainment and Bluehole Studio, may be what you’re looking for, especially since it actually backs up all of the talk in regards to its combat system. In a style that plays somewhat similar to a hack n slash dungeon crawler, TERA is, indeed, an action oriented MMORPG.
Let me preface by saying this: I was a bit worried that despite all of the fun I had battling enemies in TERA, the questing system reminded me of an old ancient evil grind back from my vanilla WoW days; lots of walking back and forth. Add in the fact that the game first launched in South Korea, a region where MMOs are known to be grind fests, and the fact that the game is out next month, and there’s obviously little time for this error to be fixed. Hopefully I was just in a bad place in my demo, or the build we saw was focusing more on killing enemies. After all, I was the only person actually doing a quest.
Therefore, let us talk about the combat system, which is truly action oriented. You have two setups you can use, depending on your personal preference: the traditional keyboard and mouse, which MMORPG veterans will feel right at home with, or you are able to pick up and use an Xbox 360 controller for the console crowd, who will also feel right at home. After a few tweaks to my hotkeys, I was impressing staff members and the audience with my ease of control in combat.
One of the special features is the ability to chain your attacks. The demo was pre-set to proc a follow-up attack based on the one you just made, but there’s customization to make your own chain attacks. For example, after I jumped on top of someone as a warrior, the game prompted I should hit spacebar or X and do a follow up attack. I did, and I combo’ed my attacks to not only maximize my damage, but also have my character flow beautifully in battle; the combat choreography rivals that of Star Wars The Old Republic‘s.
I was able to try out three different classes today: warrior, sorcerer, and archer. While the latter two were all about destroying everything as fast and fancy as possible, the warrior did take some getting used to. The thing about TERA is that there’s no auto targeting whatsoever; the on site staff emphasized how important it was to actually block incoming attacks and face your enemies if you want to successfully land a hit. Thankfully, once I had everything under control, I was back to my killing ways.
TERA looks pretty damn slick; a few people behind me commented on how pretty one of the main cities looks in the distance as you approach it. That being said, the visual style is easily comparable to other Koren based MMORPG games. If this isn’t your thing, the visuals may not win you over, no matter how beautiful the environments are.
Going back to a topic of concern, as I mentioned earlier, was the questing. Not only that, but the amount of enemies that were popping up in areas. While we were on “live” servers specifically built for PAX East, I never encountered other players, which meant my sorcerer and archer ere mowing down everything in sight alone. The warrior didn’t have as many enemies to encounter, which was a bit disappointing, but it brings up the worry that there’ll be a greater emphasis on grinding and killing enemies than a story. This does stay in line with the planned end-game content to be groups of five hacking their way through dungeons, but in a day where MMORPGs are having larger emphasis on story, and you can look no further than across the PAX East showfloor with The Secret World (which we’ll talk about more tomorrow after we get some hands on with it) to see a story based MMO, and it seems like a step backwards in the genre.
It’s a step backwards that completely contradicts the step forward the combat system makes. If you were to, say, combine TERA‘s combat with WoW‘s lore and SWTOR‘s cinematics and narrative, and you’d have one hell of an MMORPG. Based on my brief time with TERA today, I can safely say that I’ll enjoy having combat over narrative and story questing, but I’m not sure how long that feeling will last. We do plan on getting into the final beta weekend coming up later this month; we’ll update you after we play through it in the comfort of our own homes.