Date: 2012-05-01 06:32:14 Views:
|Author: Mike Foster|
|Mike loves all MMOs, but is especially partial to those involving fireballs. Mike spends his free time storming throguh EVE Online and investigating free-to-play titles. Mike loves helping new players find their bearings.|
|More Mike Foster Articles >>|
Hotly anticipated action-MMO TERA has officially launched, and with it comes a slew of reviews, streams, videos and player comments. It’s nothing particularly new, especially when you consider the fact that the Korean version of the game has been available for months—we Westerners are just a bit late to the party (though it’s worth noting that En Masse made significant changes to the game for Western release).
That being said, there are probably plenty of curious MMO fans who want to know what they can expect from TERA’s first few levels. Often, the early parts of an MMO are the most critical, as those are the moments in which players decide whether the game is worth their time. Now that I’ve worked my Lancer up to an impressive level 10, I feel comfortable giving you a basic rundown of what makes TERA different from other MMOs, for better and for worse, in those early stages.
When you first launch TERA, you’re dropped into an intense battle packed with other players and NPCs. You’re sitting comfortably at level 20, and have all of the class-appropriate skills you’d expect from being such a level. It’s a bit overwhelming, as there’s no real explanation given for what any of those abilities do and the environment is extremely chaotic.
You’ll see a quest giver ahead, and for the next 30 minutes or so will plow through a combination tutorial/story opener, which gives you an idea of what your class will be like at higher levels. As a Lancer, for example, I was commanded to taunt a massive monster away from a group of fighters. It was confusing and hectic, but it gave me a sense of what Lancers were actually like beyond level 1 questing.
It’s a very cool idea. Essentially, the opening moments of TERA help you to decide if the play style of your chosen class is going to be something you enjoy, or something you hate. Letting you experience level 20 skills right off the bat saves you from creating and leveling a character that just doesn’t work with your preferences. You won’t know exactly how to use everything, but you’ll get a strong preview of what lies ahead.
After the opening, of course, you’re bounced back into a starting zone at level 1, with very few abilities. This allows for the much more natural accumulation and mastery of abilities we’ve grown accustomed to in other MMOs. Events in this zone roll out in a manner any gamer will be comfortable with: Talk to an NPC, pick up a quest, kill X number of bad guys and turn the quest in.
TERA’s combat system is different than traditional MMOs in that you have to stay pointed at your target (like an FPS) and you have to continually use your abilities to do damage. There’s no auto-attack, and damage is delivered through specially tuned combos. It’s a little tricky at first, but once you have a basic grasp of the timing and mechanics, it will feel like second nature.
Because TERA’s primary focus is action, the great majority of quests seem to revolve around grinding. Quests certainly have different objectives (gather X number of feathers, kill X number of rock monsters), but the objectives are almost exclusively accomplished by storming into battle and laying waste to foes. In other MMOs this might be boring, but TERA’s fast-paced combat helps pad the experience and keeps it interesting.
The starter zone takes you through a series of quests designed to introduce you to the game’s mechanics. Combat, gathering, campfires, crafting and teleporting are all included, so even if you have no TERA experience whatsoever you’ll leave the opening areas with a pretty firm grasp on how everything works. It’s one of the most informative and natural starting chains I’ve ever seen in an MMO.
There’s a lot that TERA does right. It provides deep control customization, gives you a fun, action-packed experience and eases new players into MMO-style games with ease. The game leans heavily on titles like WoW and RIFT, providing players with quest trackers, detailed maps and simple, easy-to-follow quest text. It also works to add a sense of the epic to every quest, with voiced characters and periodic in-game cut-scenes. The game does an incredible job of walking players through the essentials while still making the early levels feel fun and unique.
Of course, there are definitely some areas that need improving. Talking to other players is a chore, as is selecting someone with whom you’d like to start a party. Dealing with invites is also convoluted, and the achievement system provides no simple way to check out an achievement you’ve just earned. Also, plenty of MMO players will miss the ability to freely look around while running—since the mouse determines your direction, you have to keep it pointed forward.
Overall, TERA is an experience worth checking out. And I’ve only dipped my toe into the surface of the game--I’m excited to see how group play works and what it’s like to be an action-oriented tank. Here’s hoping the next 50 levels are just as fun as the first 10.
Declare Outlaw feature
General guide to TERA crafting
TERA Lancer Tanking Guide (for beginners)
TERA Enchanting Guide
Priest Mystic Comparison (NA CB2)
3 days of adventures in Tera CBT
Tips & Tricks for new players (NA Edition)