Exclusive TERA Preview at GDC 2010

One game at GDC that had piqued our interest prior to the event was TERA developed by Bluehole Studio and published by En Masse Entertainment. The news of
One game at GDC that had piqued our interest prior to the event was TERA developed by Bluehole Studio and published by En Masse Entertainment. The news of the game’s development hit the internet recently and we were curious. En Masse has brought together an impressive list of industry vets and screenshots of the modified Unreal 3 engine used to power the game looked equally impressive. So when Ten Ton Hammer got a chance to check out the game at GDC this year it wasn’t surprising that we became excited by the look, feel and polish of the game. Senior Producer Bryan Knox (formerly of the Aion team with NCsoft) gave us a guided tour of the game and answered our questions.

We would be amiss if we didn’t first point out the game’s most powerful aspect-- its combat system. The game is action focused and although TERA isn’t the only game we saw this year that uses collision detection with player positioning, timing and aim (be sure to check out our upcoming articles on two games from Nexon this weekend for more of these) it certainly was fast, intuitive, and fun. Think of TERA as a third person shooter in a fantasy environment with responsive action gameplay and you’ll have a bit of an idea of how the game feels. Your eyes will always be focused on what’s happening on the screen and you’ll never have to stare at a hotbar array while playing variations of whack-a-mole.

The game can be played with either a mouse and keyboard or if preferred, a controller. In our hands-on with the game we noticed that both methods felt very natural and took only seconds to pick up. Steering away from the traditional click-to-target gameplay players are instead given a targeting reticule for their spells, ranged shots, or melee strikes. Dodging blows is manual—simply step out of the way when the enemy is about to attack and you’ll be able to (hopefully) avoid its blows. How do you know when the monster is about to attack? Knox pointed out that every enemy in the game has animated tells, and once you learn the tells, attacks will be easier to avoid.

But where does this leave support classes? Wouldn’t it be more difficult to heal group members if you couldn’t target-lock them? Not at all. Simply drop a healing aura for your party to step into to regenerate their health. While equipment does play an equally important part in the game, actual player skill will dictate the level of difficulty each individual player will be able to face.

Although the game does have consensual PvP options including duels and battleground scenarios, the game is primarily PvE. No player races are natural enemies so players will not have to worry about picking the same side as their friends or guild in order to play with them. Don’t mistake this as a lack of conflict in the world, though. Knox indicated to us that the game will offer some extraordinarily intricate political structures which will shape the world around the players according to their decisions. No two servers will end up the same. This all sounded fascinating, but unfortunately that was all the info En Masse was willing to share about that system at this point.

The world itself offers players several options at all level ranges. There are open areas with persistent NPCs as well as several instances for solo or group play. Towns, cities and guild housing are also all in the game.

Even though the game seemed to come into the light rather suddenly, Knox assured us the Bluehole team has taken great care in its development. Work has been ongoing for three years by many of the same people that brought us Lineage 2. They have designed the game as a subscription-modeled title with paid services (such as server transfers).

TERA is set to launch in Korea the middle of this year and the European and North American audiences can look for it to hit shelves early 2011. We’ll definitely be watching this game so check Ten Ton Hammer for updates and information as it becomes available.

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