Massively multiplayer online games are collections of interlocking systems. A character's skills allow her to interact with the world, interacting with the world gives her experience points, experience points give her levels, levels give her skills, and so on. Inventory, items, professions, quests, and social interactions are also systems, layered on top of the core combat and gameplay mechanics.
When you have mastery over an MMO, you don't just have mastery over skill rotations; you have mastery over all of the systems underneath. By the time a normal person hits 60 in En Masse's TERA, for example, that person can probably tell the difference between good gear and bad gear, organize a character's inventory, and use the game's menus. This is the stuff you take for granted when you've been playing an MMO for weeks, months, or years.
Leaping into expansion content with a near-max-level character but little core game experience is, thus, not very smart. But I did it anyway, charging into TERA's Fate of Arun with a brand-new-yet-level-60 Castanic Warrior for Choose My Adventure.
It went okay.
Skills to pay the bills
As I noted last week, I have some experience with TERA. I previously leveled a Lancer to the mid-30s. However, I haven't played in over two years outside of the occasional stream. Thus, I understand very little of how modern TERA works. When I first logged on to the character En Masse created for me, I had a pretty tough time sorting out simple things like where my items were and how to get them, or the difference between the parcel post and the other item delivery system, the name of which I've already forgotten.
With a little help from global chat, I got everything figured out. I dumped my starting gear and hopped into the armor set En Masse provided, which I can only assume is good-to-great gear for my level. Next, I adventured out to the waypoint another player provided (why don't all MMOs have this feature!?) to start my Fate of Arun adventuring. Since I've never played a Warrior, I limited myself to the basic left-click attack, the right-click dive-roll, and the spacebar-prompted combo abilities. This proved more than effective enough to get me through the initial phases of the expansion, but I'd love some help from commenters on an effective Warrior rotation.
The main thought I have on Warrior so far is that it is much more dynamic than Lancer. Instead of just blocking big attacks, I am expected to avoid them while continuing to dish out damage. It almost feels like an entirely different game. I'm looking forward to deepening my understanding of the class, presumably by suffering many embarrassing deaths at the hands of quest mobs.
A slow, explosive start
Fate of Arun doesn't exactly kick off with a bang. The first series of quests involves gathering, killing a few bears, and talking to a bunch of NPCs. For a moment, it felt like one of Final Fantasy XIV's weird main story quest detours: "We really need you to save the world. But first can you make this stew for us?" There's even a poop quest, or at least a quest that involves gathering things that look very much like poop. Fate of Arun is markedly different from last December's Warlords of Draenor, where the action kicked off immediately and we found ourselves fighting new enemies right out of the gate.
Once I completed the essential on-the-ground quests, I boarded an airship to the first of Fate of Arun's new zones. That's where things got interesting. I assumed that boarding the airship would kick off some sort of big cinematic and then drop me in a quest hub. To my surprise, the airship itself is a small zone that has its own little collection of quests. Because this is TERA, the quests ranged from looting boxes and making dinner to reading poetry and killing things. The entire episode culminated in a massive battle on the deck with dozens of enemies running around and Fate of Arun's first BAM, or big-ass monster (note to readers: do not Google "big-ass monster").
Fighting the BAM didn't seem like too much work. It felt cinematic and climactic enough and required more than blind clicking, but wasn't nearly as difficult as some of the BAM fights I've faced on my lancer. I can't tell whether the Warrior class does tons of damage or this particular BAM was tuned low since he's expected to be soloed or my particular Warrior does tons of damage because En Masse was kind with the provided gear. I'll need to spend more time fighting things to truly be sure where the balance lands.
When the whole thing was done, I abandoned ship, landing in a pond in what I presume is the first actual Fate of Arun zone, a beautiful, steamy jungle strewn with the wreckage of my ride.
Choices to be made
Unfortunately for Choose My Adventure, there aren't many choices when you're standing in the very beginning of the very first zone of an expansion. However, no one says we have to go directly forward via the path provided. Level 60 was the cap in TERA for some time, and our Warrior has access to plenty of cool features, so why not spend a little time checking them out?
I'll mostly be investigating the expansion as that's the focus of this CMA, but I can make some time this week to visit some legacy content. Where should I go?
I'm streaming TERA every week this month. This week we're questing through Fate of Arun, but next week is entirely up to you:
That's it for this week. Get your votes in by Friday, January 16th, at 11:59 p.m. EST, and don't forget to check out our next TERA stream Thursday, January 15th, at 6:00 p.m. EST. Here's hoping I can find myself some BAMs to slay over the next few weeks!
Mike Foster is putting you in the driving seat of Choose My Adventure, the Massively column in which you make the rules, call the shots, and take the blame when things go horribly awry. Stop by every Wednesday to help Mike as he explores the ins and outs of games big and small and to see what happens when one man tries to take on a world of online games armed only with a solar keyboard and the power of spellcheck.