PAX East 2012: TERA Preview & Hands On

What is up Platform Nation? It is PAX East time here again in Boston, and things are just getting started. First thing I would like to share with you from the show floor is TERA, the action MMO being developed by Bluehole Studio, and published by En Masse Entertainment. This is a game you may or may not have heard of, given the hype surrounding other MMO’s such as Guild Wars 2, or the recently released Star Wars The Old Republic, but it is certainly worthy of your attention. As a veteran MMO player who has dabbled in almost every MMO title available, I was whole heartily impressed by what I saw this afternoon. Plus, I even have a little beta give away for a handful of lucky readers, which I will mention toward the end of this article. So read on!

First off, what is TERA? Like Age of Conan, and DC Universe Online (sort of…), TERA is an ‘Action MMO’ that tries to create a similar experience to action console games. As you level up (max level is 60), you will unlock new abilities and combat moves, just like in other games of the genre, which you can then chain together into different combo moves. Thus, when you execute a given ability, you might be prompted to stream it together with the next ability in the comb or sequence. You can even customize your own skill combos to tailor to your play style by dragging and dropping your abilities into different combo slots. Some classes also have certain abilities that can be charged up, by holding down a button for a little extra damage. The game can be controlled with either the traditional keyboard and mouse, or with the Xbox 360 controller (though it is exclusively for PC).

The game’s visuals have been built using the Unreal 3 engine, but you might be surprised by what Bluehole has been able to do with it. With a huge in game map, the eighty plus zones are said to offer a wide variety of settings and environments for you to explore. Animations are very impressive as well (for an MMO), and are different for each of the game’s seven races (Human, Castanic, Aman, Popori, Elin, Baraka, and High Elf). This means that the attack and dodging animations for a Aman warrior will look and feel different from a Human, or Baraka’s animations. This is a great feature, because it helps add variety and style to the group combat.

There are no set factions within the game (such as Alliance and Horde), but there will still be plenty of world PvP available. Warzones are something that is being added with the first major patch after the game is released, but there are still a number of options available for fans of PvP. For example, guilds can openly challenge one another, as they strive to reach a set number of kills or points to achieve victory. This allows players to forge their own alliances and make their own enemies, which should create a more sandbox type of experience for online gamers to enjoy. Also, having no factions means finding groups for the game’s dungeons and world bosses will be much easier. And yes (thank God), there is a group finder.

As the developers walked me and several others through one of the game’s endgame instances, called Twilight Valley, I was given the chance to take on the role of DPS as a Slayer (dude with a giant sword). The first thing I noticed as my group made it’s way through the dungeon was that the style of combat was not only different from other MMO’s I have played in the past, but was also a lot of fun. There is no ‘tab selecting’ in this game, but there is still aggro to take into account, which meant that the tank had to concentrate on facing enemy attacks away from the group, while I hacked away at their back side with my great sword. The experience was not only engaging, but I was able to see how my own skill was taken into account as I dodged and streamed different combo attacks together. Even the healer was forced to focus on more than just health bars, as he placed his healing circles around the different members of the group. Stepping outside of the healing circle resulted in only a half or partial heal.

This game looks like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to dive into the open beta when I get back home to my gaming rig. Which brings me to the topic of GIVE AWAYS! I was able to snag some beta keys, which will entitle you to a special in-game lion mount when the game is officially released. The first seven people to leave a comment on this article and provide us with a valid email address will be the lucky winners. But even if you don’t get a beta code, be sure to keep an eye out for this game when it release on May 1st, just around the corner. Stay tuned for more PAX East coverage coming down the pipe here at Platform Nation! United we game.

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