PAX East 2012: TERA hands-on
Two weeks ago, GameZone had the opportunity to take part of Closed Beta for TERA, the upcoming action based MMORPG from Bluehole Studios and En Masse Entertainment. Though I had an awesome time playing the game, I did mention that when it came to playing the first five man instance, I was able to do it solo, and with a low defense class as well, and feared that this level of difficulty would continue, as long as you were slightly over-leveled. I can tell you that here, at PAX East, that fear was put to rest.
Our hands on time consisted of running a five man, fully leveled dungeon, where we were able to fill the roles of tank, ranged DPS, two melee DPS characters, and a healer played by one of the TERA team members. We were instructed that it was extremely important to keep the Lancer (tank) always ahead, and keep the priest and sorceress (healer and ranged DPS) in the back, while the Slayer and Warrior dealt out the damage up close (two melee DPS's).
With this tactic we started our romp through the dark cavern. The strategy that we were to follow proved very effective, as the Lancer, which was played by our very own Matt, took on most of the aggro, and had all the monsters following him and attacking him dead on. Since he was so heavily armored, he was able to take most of the incoming hits, and being able to withstand them long enough for the priest to heal him right back up. Both me, the Slayer and the Warrior had to effectively use our dodge skills to evade most of the incoming hits from the enemy monsters. This ensured that we dished out the damage, without the constant need of healing, and left the Priest focused on mainly healing the Lancer. Dodging and hitting the enemies with our special attacks made the game feel like an action game rather than an MMO, and that is probably what I loved the most about TERA.
Once we reached the end boss, things really started to get difficult. The first stage of the monster, though fairly difficult, was manageable to take down. It really did require every character to stay mindful of their role in battle, as the Lancer had to ensure to constantly aggro the monster, as the rest of the crew dished out the damage. His second form was deadly however. Not only did he have exponentially more life, his attacks were devastatingly brutal, and since he moved around the arena a bit more, he was able to concentrate on our other team members as well, and not mainly the Lancer. This resulted in us losing our Priest almost three quarters of the battle in, as the enemy only had 25% of health left, which meant our healer was no longer able to heal us from a distance. Our team persevered however, as the Lancer still was able to take most of the hits for us, and the rest of us just did the most amount of damage we could possibly do.
One helpful feature which I utilized a ton of in this hands on demo was the automatic combo button. After you do a specific move, the game prompts you to press the Space Bar to activate another skill, which is a great follow-up to your previous one. These combos can go on for four or five skills, letting you just press the Space Bar and watch as you unleash skill after skill in one damage dealing succession.
This hands on demo instilled the hope in me that teamwork is an essential part of TERA, and that no matter how leveled you are, you're going to need to party up with players if you hope to survive any of the dungeons found in the game. The game is set to release May 1st with a subscription fee of $14.99/month. Make sure to stay tuned for our full review after the official release.