TERA: We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program
You may be wondering what I have been partaking in whilst all was quiet on the blogging front these past few days. Well, Laz and I ventured into TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea.
WoW is in a lull until Mists. Diablo 3 has seemed to lost some of its sparkle with Inferno mode still being more frustrating than fun. So in between raids, Laz and I have decided to dabble in something new.
We were looking through several of the new and upcoming online games over the past couple weeks: TERA, Secret World, and Guild Wars 2 being the most eye-catching. Well, Secret World sounds a lil too real-world and Sims-like for our taste (though the idea of no levels or classes was intriguing, as well as monsters in modern day) and GW2 is not out yet – not even having announced a date yet.
So when we saw that TERA has a demo and a 7 day free trial, this beautiful game we have both heard much about seemed the obvious choice.
Demo and Prologue
The demo is a Flash version of the game that plays in your browser.
What a neat concept! Though, I could not get the full screen option to work.
The demo takes you through TERA’s prologue. Which you also encounter on making your first character in the game itself.
Basically, the prologue allows you to play your character at Level 20 through some highly help-driven quests that focus you on interaction, movement, and combat. I found it slightly disorienting, because being temporarily Level 20, I had this full bar of skills that I did not know how to use yet.
But the demo/prologue was nice because it was quick and covered a lot. So it is a nice introduction to the game.
I would suggest for demo/prologue purposes to keep it simple for yourself – the demo presets your left and right mouse click with what are basically your main abilities. Use those primarily and you will be able to better focus on learning the movement and attacking – which is quite a bit different in TERA from anything I have played.
Play and Action
Mouse look and movement with W-A-S-D are key to point out, as the actions of your character really rely on this. That is because aiming is a critical part of interaction in TERA. You can cast a fireball, but if you are facing a tree instead of the mob, you will hit the tree. Or you can hit the ground. Or you can fire straight into the sky. Or you can send it careening to the right of the mob’s head and he will silently snicker at you.
Range is also key. You can still attack with a spell when a mob is out of range. And your ability will land at the mob’s feet and he will silently snicker at you.
This also goes for casting heals on party members.
Believe me, there were a lot of mobs snickering at me while I got used to the controls.
After you manage to master movement and targeting, then there is the matter of working a number of class skills into the mix. Luckily for me, I have a software customizable mouse with a number of buttons, which I am currently fiddling with to discover how best to setup my action keys.
This is working great for healing, as I have created a setup similar to how I setup my mouse to work with HealBot on WoW. The only difference is that this proves more interactive, because I target the actual character instead of lil green boxes. Which, in turn, means eyes more on the action than those boxes.
On default, TERA uses left-click, right-click, Tab, 1-6, and F1-F6 for action skill keys, which can be expanded to 1-0 (including “-” and “=”) and F1-F12. (I expanded mine prior to Level 20, as my skills were starting to get numerous).
The controls take some getting used to, but Laz and I picked it up fairly quickly. I am surprised at how well I adapted, being quite set in my ways, and having changed every MMO prior to my preferred way of playing. I think playing D3 helped some there.
TERA also takes procs and skill chaining to another level. Some abilities have a natural followup ability, and some can only be used in certain situations (ie. Retaliate when getting knocked down). When a chain or responsive ability becomes available, it appears toward the center-right of the screen, and allows a simple press of the Space Bar to activate.
No tracking down skills when they proc.
This actually makes for a few skills that can be removed from the action bars completely (such as Retaliate).
The other difference with TERA is that every class uses mana as a resource. Most classes use it as a normal caster would – skills cost mana and mana regens over time. A few of the melee classes, the Slayer and the Berserker, use it more like a rage resource – certain abilities generate mana, certain abilities use it, and their available pool decays over time when out of combat.
With all classes having health and mana pools, this seems to simplify regen abilities and make them more versatile.
Character Creation and Learning to Play
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.
When Laz saw how customizable the characters were in TERA, he knew I would be on the creation screens for a while. So thankfully and for the first time ever, I got a game installed first! and I was able to play around for a while.
I ended up discovering versions of each of the (female) races that were pleasing to me. This worked well alongside Laz and I creating and playing several race/class combinations to about Level 6-10ish.
With all the action and movement involved, the race/class combination and their accompanying animations were important to us. So as we were getting down the basic game mechanics, we made several “starter” toons.
First, was Archer/Priest. We tried a couple race combinations, and finally got a Human/High Elf to 10. Then, Laz started getting very distracted by every melee character who would cross our path. I immediately knew that since we had a better handle on how to play the game, it was past due time he try out the melee classes and see how they handled.
So Laz made a super cute Popori Berserker. I tried to play an Elin Mystic beside him, but quickly changed my mind and switched to a Human.
Right away I knew I preferred the feel of the Mystic over the Priest. At that point for me, it was just deciding on a race.
I even tried out melee.
I fiddled with a Lancer (the shield tanking class) for a bit on my own, while Laz rotated through some melee class/race combinations. It was the first time I was standing face to face with a mob to do damage. The Lancer is an interesting class, but I was dismayed at how much damage I was taking, even while shield blocking and trying to keep myself moving out of harder hitting mob abilities.
I was unsure if melee was for me at all…
Then, Laz and I tried out a Castanic Warrior pair. I am not usually much for melee DPS classes, but if I level one, I will likely be a Warrior. They actually feel more like a WoW Rogue (minus stealthing) than a Warrior from any RPG I have played.
And the Castanic are so graceful looking and quick.
Warriors are actually labeled as the hardest class to play – 5 stars. However, I think that is only in regards to their ability to evasion tank. Tanking on a Warrior would mean a lot of movement. DPS’ing was actually really fun. Warriors have combo abilities and evasive flips. Whee!
After creating the Warrior pair, Laz knew that was the class he wanted to play. The big, hard-hitting two-hander classes were nice, the big numbers and huge weapon animations were neat to watch. But the Warrior has a certain finesse that the other melee classes cannot match.
And so, the Warrior/Mystic pair was decided on.
OMG, Everything is So Pretty!
The best way for me to explain how well detailed the game is and how breath-taking I found the zones and well designed the characters and mobs are is to tell you what I told Laz after logging off for the night Tuesday:
My screenshots folder already contains about 700 screenshots since we started the free trial on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, it was not until Saturday that the initial “OMG, everything is so pretty!” wore off enough for me to go, “Huh, I wonder how I hide the UI for screenshots?”
Having the graphics turned up makes my aging computer lag some in higher populated (and prettier) areas. So I did turn them down to 50% for a bit. But TERA is just so gorgeous, I wanted to see it in all its glory and beauty. So my video settings are not all the way up, but currently at a compromising 75%.
Curious About Politics and Endgame
With how enjoyable the current content and action is, it made me wonder what the endgame for TERA looks like. So I looked up some information, and found this review and this endgame info on the TERA site.
The political system caught the eye of both Laz and myself.
There are Vanarch elections, which put the leader of one guild in charge of a game zone. They set taxes to maintain the zone, as well as spending time and resources to enhance the hubs there with more useful NPCs.
Very interesting stuff.
The world bosses, heroic dungeons, and the open world raid, The Nexus, all look like enjoyable endgame activities. Laz and I are looking forward to Level 60 and participating in some of this content.
Taking on a New (Old) Persona
How I present myself to the gaming world (AKA my avatar) is very important to me. My avatar represents the name I will respond to in group settings. It represents how people view me, without other visual aids, as the face of the person on the other side of the internet.
My avatar becomes an extension of myself.
So I tried very hard to create a character in TERA that said “Effy” to me. I did not succeed.
Effy is blue and of an alien race and above all a healer.
In TERA, the two most alien-looking races with females are the Castanic and the Aman. The two healer classes are the Priest and the Mystic.
The Castanic females have a wide variety of horns and a varied range of skin colors, so this was the first race I gravitated to in looking for a new incarnation of my avatar. However, no blue. And worse yet, no tails! The horror!
The Castanic look I favor the most is actually very Drow-inspired – dark, purplish skin with pale hair. But I also have become fond of a lighter skin tone with redhair.
But she was definitely not Effy.
The Aman are a draconic race, and very exotic looking. The females have hair/horn combinations that are very interesting. I was able to create a Aman female with pale blue skin and dark blue hair/horns that I was very fond of, but what class?
I tried her out as a Priest.
I tried her out as a Mystic.
I tried her out as a few melee classes.
I tried her as a Sorcerer.
I tried her as an Archer.
And as an Archer was where I found myself most comfortable with the Amani female.
Once again, she was definitely not Effy.
I also played some of both healer classes. First the Priest, because they sounded like more straight forward and powerful healers. Everyone on the TERA forums seems to think them the “better” healer. Mystics sounded like people just see them as a utility class, and less so a healer.
The Priest play style is okie, but it does not really seem to fit me. It is a lot of healing circles on the ground. For a game that is based on heavy movement, this did not seem highly logical to me. :/
Like I mentioned above, I knew immediately when I started a Mystic, they were more my style. (More on Mystics below.) So it was soon only a manner of discovering how best to represent myself as a Mystic AKA the race I would choose.
I tried all the female races as a Mystic while Laz tried out male Warriors, and oddly enough we both decided on Human characters.
So I created my Human Mystic in my own image, a redhead.
Laz created his Human Warrior, and let me convince him to make him look like Cary Elwes as Wesley in the Princess Bride, which he surprisingly matched quite well.
When Laz and I first started playing together was on Warhammer Online. I played a Cleric named Rosaelyn and he was at that time playing a Knight of the Blazing Sun named Edhin.
So Edhin and Rosaelyn became our new TERA avatars.
The Mystic Healer
As I level my Mystic, Rosaelyn, I am realizing more and more that she is very much like my Shaman! Mystics have Auras, which function similar to Totem auras. In fact, Mystics have a Healing Totem! Mystics also have several forms of CC, which I have started playing with, now that I am becoming more comfortable with TERA-style healing.
The healing element with Mystics is quite different. Mystics create healing globes that they leave on the ground for any party member to pick up – very much a one-shot Lightwell. They also at later levels (too high for me just yet) get the ability to passively regen Mana for the party and create mana globes which function the same way as the healing globes.
The Mystic’s main heal is a heal seemingly intended for the tank and the melee DPS. This fits my healing style perfectly, as I am most often focusing my Shaman’s Healing Rain and Chain Heal in that area. So the play style I am adapting is littering globes everywhere for myself and the ranged, and focusing my targeted heals on the melee.
I also find myself using my Corruption Ring to replenish group mana (especially when duo with Laz) often in my rotation of skills. It AoE damages and slows targets in the ring while I channel. Then afterwards, I release a burst of mana to everyone within range, based on the damage I did with the ring.
With all classes using mana, I find the Mystic to be a priceless addition to a party. Playing duo with Laz means he has no fear of using high-cost of mana abilities, as I can regen this, and he can even use skills that cost him health, as I can heal him.
Apparently, at higher levels, both our chosen classes receive party buffs to increase critical hit chance, which will mean nice damage buffs to everyone.
I feel I am adapting to the Mystic very well.
The characters and graphics drew me into TERA. The action style, the healing style, the Mystic class, and the feel of the game overall are so far keeping my interest.
I look forward to seeing more and seeing endgame soon.