Developed by Korean Bluehole Studio, TERA – The Exiled Realm of Arborea — a new entry to the MMORPG market is competing in the same leagues of World of Warcraft as well as the upcoming Guild Wars 2, making it sort of three-way battle between the games.
Coming down with facts, Bluehole Studio isn’t exactly a well-known name, nor is TERA, so the title is definitely at a disadvantage when it comes to being known to the masses. Yet, TERA Online holds it’s ground well against these gaming giants which has all the fame and hype that has been generated over the years of marketing and playing. What makes TERA Online so popular then?
TERA Online which runs on a typical MMORPG formula of questing, crafting, fighting, leveling and others, which might look a little bland for veterans of this particular genre, but that’s just the surface of it.
Starting off; Races & Character
TERA is unique. So unique that the game offers a wide range of races (7 in total, but 6 in actual) for players to choose from. Each race have their own special unique skills that could be activated whenever needed, but is usually tied with long periods of cooldown.
On a side note, it seems like each race of TERA is likely associated with some interests that people have these days…
Races of TERA:
- Human: Humans are… well, humans. Nothing special about them! Humans have a sizable presence in the world of TERA, being of the more hardy race in the whole game.
- Castanic: Looks like dark elves. They are even completed with horns! Castanics are an engineer/warrior race. They usually deal with arcane technology and are generally have a more adventurous spirit than other races.
- Elves: Like humans, elves are simply what you would expect. Elves, or High Elves in the game, are an elegant race that has some of the most powerful magics in the lore.
- Aman: A brute-like race that strives on the warrior spirit. It’s hard to find any kind of Aman that’s not a fighter of sorts.
- Popori: A race that resembles animals. They are fierce warriors for nature. According to lore, they are created by Elins to assist them in their fight to protect nature.
- Elin: An animal race that resembles little girls. They would stop at nothing to protect nature.
- Baraka: A golem-like race that is extremely wise. They hold the most amount of knowledge compared to the other races of similar lifespan.
Players are also given the freedom to customize their characters. While full-bodied customization (like Phantasy Star Online character creation) is not available, a wide range of customization on the character’s facial feature should give players a different look on each and every of their characters. Just a note: hats/headgears aren’t very common in TERA Online, so a character’s facial feature and expressions are usually open for everyone else to see!
The Classes of TERA
While TERA boasts 7 different races, it also boasts 8 different classes, each unique from each other. When you’ve got so much classes in the game, there’s bound to be some roles conflicts when gaming starts, but TERA handles that “conflict” pretty well (to be explained later on).
Creating a character, a player would have to choose their class first (sorry, there’s no class advancement or something like that!) and that defines their role for the entire playthrough of that character.
In the world of TERA, other than attacking monsters, there’s something else that players would press regularly: their action button. The action button is split into two different categories: blocking and dodging, which can mean life or death for many battle situations that players would encounter in the game. Think Monster Hunter, if you’ve played it before.
Each class uses a specific weapon, so there’s absolutely no conflict when it comes to weaponry that each class uses. Armors, on the other hand, are grouped into 3 different categories from toughest to weakest (Metal, Cloth and Robe), each offering a different level of protection, with the heaviest going towards the blocking classes.
The dodging classes are:
- Warrior, a dual-sword wielding DPSer who can also serve as a dodge tank.
- Slayer, a great-sword wielding DPSer.
- Archer, a bow wielding ranged DPSer.
- Mystic, a support mage that focuses on restorative powers and summons.
- Priest, a support mage that focuses on restorative powers and damage.
- Sorcerer, a DPS mage that uses devastating magics.
The blocking classes are:
- Berserker, a great-axe wielding burst DPSer.
- Lancer, tanker of the game, uses gigantic shields and lances.
You probably get an idea what these classes are about by reading their description and they certainly are unique from each other. A quick glance seems to tell us that TERA has several overlapping class roles, but on the contrary, that’s not the case. For example, a Warrior could pick up the tanking role, but tanking as a Warrior will require a significant amount of player-skill to dodge-tank all the time. Not to mention that a Warrior who uses cloth armor and will end up with less overall defense than a Lancer who has metal armor. That and a huge margin for error due to the forgiving mechanics of blocking.
Same goes to Mystic and Priest, both of which has restorative powers, but has very different sub-roles. Priests could do damage while helping out with healing and Mystics could use their summoning powers to aid battles.
Others might think that a Berserker could replace a Lancer as a tanker because of the similar blocking mechanics both classes shares, but when a Berserker blocks with their Axe and a Lancer blocks with a shield, it’s pretty obvious who has more blocking prowess. Not to mention how the classes’s HP scales up when they level too.
The Setting and Gameplay of TERA
Starting off the game, you will find themselves in world of trouble; shipwrecked on a mysterious island called Island of Dawn with absolutely nothing but lots of moaning NPCs around them. That, well, is how TERA starts off the game for first-time player. The whole shipwreck part is considered the “prologue” of the game and serves as a tutorial system for you to learn about game and character mechanics. Setting a base cap of Level 20 (max level is 60), the tutorial allows you to get a glimpse of what you can expect in the game as they progress.
Right after that, all newly created characters will be given the choice to skip the prologue and get into the game immediately.
TERA runs off Unreal Engine 3, bringing some of the most beautiful landscape and models you’ll ever see in a MMORPG. The game boasts all sorts of places and terrain, ranging from cities, palaces, villages, jungles, forests, sewers, frozen tundra, volcanic areas to even ridiculously complex cave networks and many more, TERA’s areas are all unique and distinctive.
Spanning two continent-wide, the game area is so damn big that it’s more or less a requirement for people to use the Flight service that the game has to travel between sectors. While it’s still entirely possible for people to ride their mount to travel between areas, but why would one run when one could fly?
Remember how cinematics would play before you fight an extremely difficult or iconic boss in any RPG games you play these days? You don’t just simply walk in to the boss’s lair and start whacking away without any kind of introduction on the boss’s side and TERA understands that. Even bosses needs some limelight too! These cinematics also happens during certain quests where explanation requires a little more action than what mere words could convey!
The music of the game, however, is nothing impressive and would probably be mediocre at best. The only memorable parts of the game when it comes to music is when a player engages an boss-monster. You know how your background music will change whenever you fight a boss in a RPG game? TERA does it in a similar manner, bringing some pretty epic boss battle music once you start a boss fight.
Getting into the game, you character will land at the Island of Dawn again. Almost immediately you will realize that there had been some significant changes since you last visit (during prologue) of the place. Starting from there, you will be thrown into a series of quests — both story and zone — as well as town visiting. You time in the Island of Dawn roughly sets the formula of how the game will play out as you go along. Talk to some NPCs, read the details, accept questions, finish them, get rewards and stuffs like that is extremely common in TERA.
Might sound pretty plain to you, but that’s how TERA guides players along their leveling process. You will never find yourself lost on what to train or kill, because all you really have to do is to follow the quest list, which will progressively bring you to other places as the list expands.
Placing focus on quests, TERA encourages players to pick up quests by offer extremely attractive rewards, coming in forms of rare and powerful equipment (that can’t be sold to other players), as well as the more traditional rewards of currency and EXP. More often than not, all these quest equipments are generally stronger than equipments obtained from monsters but have a drawback of being not upgradable, limiting the equipment’s potential.
In the middle of this quest-centric game are the story quests. Despite being an online game, TERA has an extremely solid storyline attached to it that is meant to intrigue and interest players from start to finish. All the quests in the story quests coincides with the places the player would visit at that time. The story quest spans throughout the whole game (yes, starting from level 1 all the way up) and are presented in a singleplayer-ish point of view. There’s a whole bunch of NPCs involved in the story and there’s even titles, achievements and cinematics to be unlocked as you go along!
As you progresses through the game and visit through different cities, stuff such as mounts, BAMs (big ass monsters, as TERA defines them) and instances starts to get unlocked bit by bit. BAMs are, generally speaking, ridiculously big monsters that encourages party play to bring them down. While it’s entirely possible for certain classes to solo one of these BAMs, it would take a ridiculously equal amount of effort to bring one down. If you’ve played Monster Hunter before, think BAMs as the boss monster you would encounter during your hunting missions.
Questing and killing monster aren’t the only way to gain EXP in TERA Online though. There are many other ways of gaining EXP and one of them is via gathering materials in the world. Gathering points are spawned randomly throughout the world of TERA and these gathering points serves as either giving players valuable materials for crafting or, well, a place for them to gain quest item for their quests.
While the EXP gained from gathering and crafting aren’t exactly stellar, it’s still EXP after all. Players could sit around in the workshop for several hours, creating their favourite or wanted equipment and still be able to get closer to the next level.
Another way of gaining EXP fast is a “rested EXP” system that TERA has in place. Went for a trip or have school for half the day and barely have any time for TERA? Afraid that you would lag behind your buddies because of that? Well, TERA has it covered for you.
The “rested EXP” is a system that gives “rested EXP” to a character that is not online, this EXP can then be converted into real EXP for your character while you kill monsters once you get that character back online. What’s so great about it is that even if you’re playing another character instead of your main character, your main character will continue to receive rested EXP while you’re enjoying the game with another character!
Partying, Instances and BAMs
As you progress through the game, you’ll probably come to realize that partying is an integral part of the game (such as tackling BAMs). Partying brings about a whole bunch of benefits, such as increased XP gain, shared quest kill counter and many more. Since TERA is such a quest-orientated game, partying to complete quests will allow you to level much faster than trying to slowly solo through all the monsters.
In TERA, a party of 5 is made up of a classic mix of 1 tanker, 1 healer and 3 damage dealers. It’s entirely possible to have any other kind of combination such as 5 damage dealers, but as far the game is concerned, the optimal party would be classic mix of roles which will allow the party to tackle any kind of situations from taking down BAMs to instances.
Instances, or the dungeons of TERA, is made available to player starting from Level 20, a new experience from the questing and grinding that was present in the starting levels. Players will definitely need to team up to succeed in instances and more often than not, instances are tied to the story quests throughout the game.
TERA Online features a rich community experience, providing players with a number of ways to interact with other players in the game. Asides from the usual party, guild, chat and stuffs like that, TERA Online has a unique governing system, called the Varnachy System.
Varnachy allows the guild leaders of their particular guild exercise a certain amount of control over a region in TERA Online. In the world of TERA, there are several different regions which are distinct from each other. Each of these regions can be governed by a player called the “Varnach”. The varnach has the power ranging from influencing the tax rates of shops, services such as skill instructors and marketplace being made available to players or not to making special announcements in the region.
Varnachy is decided by voting in-game, as well as combat in certain situations and only guild leaders of guild can apply for a chance in being a varnach of an area. Players who are in the guilds of varnachs will also gain access to special mounts, as well as other benefits.
In a sense, this allows the in-game community to create a government of sorts via voting and this also allows them to have a chance to be at the top of the game, shaping the game’s economics and experience as they wish.
As instances are an integral part of TERA Online, the game offers instance matching throughout the game-worlds. That means instance matching aren’t limited to the server that players are on; matching is done on a game-level basis. Any characters from other game-worlds are eligible to join forces together to tackle an instance!
Currently, I’ve invested almost a month into the game, whipping out a Lv60 Lancer, pretty decent timing for a maxed level character. Apparently, from what I’ve seen in game, it’s entirely possible to get to max level within two weeks based on questing!
Boasting some incredible graphics as well as an action-based combat system that is not commonly seen in MMORPGs (I can only think up of Dragon Nest right now), TERA Online gives player unprecedented amount of freedom to during combat to move and attack whenever they want and even dares to present single-player elements into a highly multiplayer focused game.
TERA is currently being offered in two flavours, either the European server, or the North American server. While there’s really not much difference based on content, I’m sure TERA veterans would agree with me that the NA server is the way to go! Lesser censorship, bigger community, better connectivity around the world… and all that jazz.
Of course, if you’re a little more hardcore than the rest of the English-speaking guys out there, you might find yourself fancy in Japan TERA or Korean TERA.
Regardless, TERA is a game that anyone should give a try. NA TERA had launched a trial version for the game, so why not give it a try? It doesn’t hurt your wallet and you might even find yourself a fan of TERA not before long!
~ ♫ Cute little Eli– *ahem* ♫ ~