TERA: First Impressions

Just to get this out of the way, I knew TERA (which stands for The Exiled Realm of Arborea) was in development, mostly due to the “upskirts” posts on Massively and other comments. I honestly had no plans to waste even a moment’s thought on the game since I am still mostly burned-out on traditional MMOs. But after everyone on Google+ was suddenly having so much fun, I figured what the heck and tried it out. And am I glad I did!

What TERA is:

Let’s make no bones about it, TERA is a full-on traditional vertical progression themepark, complete with the Trinity (Tank, Healer, DPS). You move in a linear fashion from one level-bracketed zone to the next, from one quest hub to the next. You pick up quests that are mostly the Kill N Monster variety. It could be considered “grindy” (and who knows, maybe it is at high levels?) since you’re doing so much combat, but the combat is the #1 attraction to the game! It’s why you are there in the first place.

What TERA is not:

Anything remotely resembling a “real” virtual world with meaningful crafting, economy, PvP or whatever else someone might be tempted to apply the “sandbox” label to. If you’re looking for that, and only that, then this is yet another of thousands of MMOs to skip over. These are not the droids you are looking for. Move along.

So why play?

Bluehole and En Masse claim TERA is the “first Action MMO” which is a highly debatable statement (hello over there, Vindictus and Dragon Nest) although to be fair it could be debatable just how “MMO” the two I just mentioned are, so… six of one, half-dozen of the other.

Linear theme park it may be, but make no mistake: TERA is absolutely gorgeous! The graphical quality, the art design, the colors, the effects… everything comes together and really pulls me in and I enjoy seeing everything. Unlike your typical Western game these days all about semi-realism with constantly killing wolves, spiders, and boars (oh my!) (with a healthy glance toward LOTRO in particular) the monsters in TERA are all bizarre creations that make you wonder what the modeler was smoking, but in a good way.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the character models already, especially the female ones. I normally have at least one female character in an MMO, but I’ve already deleted the female Castanic Archer I made. No idea where my personal line in the sand is, but that character crossed it with the whole “upskirts slut” thing. To be totally forthright, just before writing this I created (but not yet played) another female Castanic character, this time a Mystic. Not sure if it will take or if I end up re-rolling as a male Mystic.

TERA has seven races, and eight classes. Every race can be every class; there are no forced racial choices, unless you’re trying to min/max your build with racial abilities.

So far I have a Lancer and a Priest up to level 13 or so, fully completing the story on the Island of Dawn (ie. “noob island”) and moving onto the mainland. I have a Berzerker (two-handed axe melee DPS with block ability) and as mentioned above I have the not-yet-played Mystic (support and backup healer) and also a Warrior (dual-wield melee DPS or evasion tank; both very challenging but fun and rewarding).

Your two primary vitals are Health Points (HP) and Mana Points (MP). The way combat and class abilities work (so far) is balancing the two. Obviously you want your HP up or you’ll die, but I’ve seen certain skills on certain classes spend HP to pull off a devasting move, for example, much like the Necromancer in Guild Wars 1 (and presumably 2?).

For example, my Lancer comes with a full MP bar. Using hotbar skills spends MP but using his main attack gains MP to spend. Blocking spends a little MP as well. So it becomes a balancing act to gain and spend MP.

The Berzerker, on the other hand, starts off with an empty MP bar and I have to use my main attack to build it up so I can use hotbar abilities. Blocking also spends MP, and I think it costs more than blocking on the Lancer does?

The Priest starts with a full MP bar, but none of his attacks regain MP like the melee classes do. Instead he gets one ability early on that lets him regain a chunk of MP out of combat, then another around level 12 that lets him move full speed while recharging more MP.

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