Updated Thu, Jun 16, 2011 by Sardu
For my solo experiences with TERA this time around, I lucked into playing the Berserker class. I say lucked, because I have a natural tendency to play casters when given the choice. But, much like my group experiences playing the warrior, spending some time with the berserker gave me an all new appreciation for what melee combat could and perhaps should feel like in an MMOG.
The berserker is one of TERA’s DPS classes and is instantly recognizable by the massive two-handed axes they wield. In sharp contrast to the warrior, the pace of the berserker’s combat style is much slower and more calculated. However, don’t take that to mean it’s any less engaging overall.
One of my favorite aspects of combat with the berserker is that, through clever use of animations paired with the sheer size of the weapon I had equipped, every swing of my axe felt genuine. In most MMOGs, a slower, heavier weapon basically means you auto attack less often but you never get the sense that your character is hefting around a massive chunk of metal. Not so in TERA.
Instead, each attack gave me a real sense that my character was exerting itself in direct proportion to the size and weight of the weapon it was wielding. The overall effect was that the berserker’s combat pacing may be a bit slower, but each and every attack felt nothing less than brutal, and I loved it.
Another key difference in combat was that the “C” key allowed me to plant my axe in front of me to block attacks rather than dodge them. Since all enemies in TERA have a “tell” (this even includes other players in PvP settings) when they’re about to unleash a larger attack, timing blocks played a critical role in survival.
A proper block would also stun my attacker briefly, making it much easier to follow up with a slower overhead attack, knocking my target to the ground in the process. It took a little bit to get used to timing my attacks vs. blocks, but in the meantime that also helped me get a feel for one of my favorite retaliation skills for the berserker.
Certain enemy attacks would send me flying back and leave me prone to follow-up attacks while pulling myself up off my butt. However, the game will also present you with contextually appropriate skills that can be used simply by tapping the space bar. In this case, my retaliation attack would send me leaping through the air and smacking my target over the head, turning the tables on them by planting them on their own ass instead.
Before wrapping things up, I did take a little bit of time to check out the options currently available during character creation. If you’ve been paying attention to TERA at all, then I probably don’t need to tell you just how expertly crafted the character models are in the game. You’ll have plenty of presets to choose from once you’ve selected a class and race, but the usual plethora of sliders is available for the obsessive eyebrow tweakers out there.
An interesting inclusion in the creation process that caught my eye though, is the rating system assigned to each class in the game. Each class is assigned between one and five stars to give you an idea of relative difficulty associated with its unique play style.
To give you an idea of what that means, I’ll use TERA’s two healing classes as an example. Since healing in the game is just as rooted in the “action combat” the title is known for, the Priest receives a four star rating in terms of overall skill needed to excel at playing the class.
By comparison, the Mystic receives a five star rating. As I learned from one of the many helpful devs from En Masse out on the show floor, this is due to the fact that mystics can also summon pets, so it adds another layer of depth to a class archetype that’s most commonly associated with drooling into a cup while watching little red bars go up and down.
Thankfully, TERA isn’t that kind of MMOG so expect your skills to truly be put to the test when opting to play either of the available healing classes.
We still don’t have a confirmed release date for TERA, but given the complexity of the newly unveiled political system I’m more than happy to wait a bit longer to play the live game if that means TERA’s metagame turns out to be just as compelling as its combat system.
Still, even after being one of my most played (and enjoyable) MMOG experiences at this year’s E3, the game has definitely got it’s hooks in me, and I can’t wait for my next chance to play it. In fact, TERA is my personal pick for Best MMOG at E3, and that says a lot considering the calibur or titles being shown at this year's event.