Updated Thu, Jun 16, 2011 by Sardu
At each industry event that I attend – at least those with playable versions of MMOGs to check out – there ends up being one title that I find myself going back to play whenever I can manage to squeeze in a few extra minutes between appointments. That affords me the opportunity to get a broader perspective on what an in-development game has to offer, as well as the chance to gauge general attendee reactions to the show floor demo.
Mostly though, I’ll make a point of going back to play the games that I consider to be flat out fun experiences, and E3 2011 was certainly no exception.
I’ve had the chance to play TERA at numerous industry events now, but something about the game truly resonated with me this time around. The fact that this is the first time I had the chance to play not just one, but two of TERA’s melee classes, the Warrior and the Berserker, no doubt contributed.
For those of you who may have read through my hands-on experiences from PAX Prime 2010, you’ll recall that I loved the gameplay but felt as though our demo group had been thrown in at the deep end before getting a chance to learn how to swim. We wiped within minutes, had our loss marked up on a white board for all to see, and were sent on your merry way. Not only did it taint my overall impressions of group combat situations, but I barely felt I had a grasp on TERA’s unique approach to combat before my character took an everlasting dirt nap.
Thankfully, the group demo at E3 this year not only went much, much smoother, but it was a downright blast to play. Our group was pitted against one of TERA’s many BAMs (otherwise known as Big Ass Monsters) to help showcase one of the types of quests available to players as part of the newly unveiled political system.
For my role in our group, I ended up playing the Warrior. The warrior is one of the game’s two tanking classes, though unlike the main tank for our group – a Lancer – the warrior wields two swords and relies more on avoiding damage rather than absorbing it.
The avoidance factor became readily apparent with a quick tap of the “C” key which would let my character dive out of the way of incoming attacks. Between dodging the special abilities of the BAM we were up against (in this case a giant dragon) and scurrying around the immediate vicinity to peel adds off our group’s archer and casters, it was a breath of fresh air to play a tanking class that felt agile and able to do more than simply stand rooted in place going through a boring skill rotation.
An interesting takeaway from playing the warrior in particular is that it also punctuated how critical communication is for TERA’s group encounters. Since healers in TERA don’t simply stand in a corner playing a yawn-fest game of health bar whack-a-mole, that meant I had to pay close attention to when and where I was leaping and diving. On the one hand, it was critical to dive out of the way of incoming AoE attacks, but on the other you had to pay equally close attention to where AoE heals were being placed so that you didn’t completely avoid those as well.
Overall, our group encounter was one of the most satisfying I’ve had in ages. The fight itself was pretty intense from start to finish, but I was having so much fun the entire time that it seemed to pass by in a flash. By the time our appointment came to its inevitable conclusion, I was already trying to figure out when I would have room in my schedule to go back and play the game again on one of the show floor demo stations.
And as soon as I had a small block of free time, that’s exactly what I did.