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E3 2010: Massively's hands-on with TERA

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Our Massively staffers have a busy schedule at E3 this week, including some hands-on time with En Masse Entertainment's upcoming title, TERA. We got our first hands-on back in March at GDC, so this was a great opportunity to see how things have progressed and experience more of the game.

The En Masse team at the TERA booth played host to a team of players who joined together to venture into the world of TERA. Each participant played a different role and learned how the classes work as well as how they interact with one another. In the midst of learning the game, we took some time to enjoy the landscapes -- it's a very well-designed and diverse world that merits attention between battles.

So how did it go? Follow along after the jump for a recap of our hands-on.

We started our overview with a look at a few of the classes. The Warrior is a fast, agile class that can dish out a ton of damage with attack combos. Warriors can't take much direct damage, so they're at their best dodging out of the way of attacks then jumping back into the fray to finish off a stunned or otherwise incapacitated foe. Slayers are similar to warriors, dealing heavy damage while using their dodge skill to stay out of the way of attacks. Slayer swords have a long, sweeping arc, making it unwise for enemies to venture too near. Sorcerers are, of course, the attack-from-afar class, flinging spells from a safe position back near the healer.

One of the En Masse team members jumped in as our healer, while the rest of us were off to do battle and save innocents. It was a crash course in gameplay, beginning with controls that we were all generally familiar with: WASD to move, left click to attack, and using the mouse to change the camera angle and turn. Right clicking unleashes a powerful class-based skill, and that was enough to get us started.

Our first battle with what was essentially a gigantic crab gave us a chance to try using group dynamics. The Berserker, being a very high-defense class, typically engages first, with the Warrior and Slayer running in to apply damage once the battle is underway. The Sorcerer and Healer hung back to provide their own damage and support well out of harm's way.

Combat in TERA relies heavily on skill and watching your surroundings: direction, placement, timing, where you're facing, where you're standing, what the monsters are doing. For example, enemies will often point at their intended target before they engage, or wind up before unleashing a powerful attack, giving you a chance to prepare. Even healing can rely on the target player keeping an eye on things. The Healer will throw a large healing circle on the ground, and it's up to the player to move and remain inside that glowing circle to receive heals.

Communication between players helps this quite a bit. If the healer calls out that he's going to throw out a heal, for example, the recipient will hopefully make an effort to jump and run around a bit less, giving the healer an easier target.

As we progressed through the game, we began experimenting with more complicated attacks. The number keys are bound to more powerful attacks, and can be added to the main left-click attack and the class-based right-click attack for some devastating combos. Knockdowns, stuns, and AoE attacks all made the group much stronger.

So what's the bottom line? Let's let Shawn give you his impressions from the floor:

The Good

- TERA is fun, and that's really what's important. The main focus of our demo was group-based dynamics in combat, and it was incredibly enjoyable.
- TERA is still gorgeous. Yep, it didn't suddenly get hit by the ugly stick since GDC. The characters, the environments, the spell effects: all breathtaking.
- Combat is dynamic and meaningful. I can hit auto-attack on most other MMOs and do the job, but it just doesn't feel important until you're dodging attacks and rolling out of the way of giant axes. It's especially scary when a boss points at you before firing off his extra powerful combo. Yep, that's when you move.

The Bad

- Can we move past the MMO rule that says mobs need to be standing around, waiting to be killed? This screams of grind, and that scares me.
- In two demos I've seen how much fun combat is. Can we see something else about the game yet? Because players will demand much more in a modern MMO than running around killing baddies.


TERA is a game that has sprouted from a Korean port into something definitely worth watching. It's a unique world with a few unique races and the combat is literally a blast to play. Once we get to see more about the game and what it offers to players beyond combat and lore, it should have a bright future among the strong crop of upcoming games.

I joked with the devs at the demo station about me hiding in the corner of the room, playing the game for the rest of the day. At GDC all I wanted to do was go back and play the game every chance I got. When a game can do that, they've already won.

Gallery: E3 2010: TERA screenshots | 25 Photos

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