Suzie and I recently had a chance to join our other colleagues in the press as well as the folks at En Masse Entertainment in taking TERA’s upcoming Corsairs’ Stronghold Battleground for a spin. The new 20v20 Battleground is available to players beginning at level 30 (no brackets, but a bolster effect is included) and features castle siege gameplay where players take turns playing attack and defense.
Defenders must repel attackers who are looking to break through the castle’s defenses in order to assault the enemy crystal. Players on the attacking team have a number of methods of assault.
A frontal assault is similar to what you’d expect doing a castle siege in just about any other MMO. You can bang on the front door until it goes down and then flood into the castle. Getting these doors down is key to ultimately winning the fight, but there are a number of other methods that will help speed up that eventuality and cause other issues for the enemy defenders.
In addition to the frontal assault, the attacking team can split some of their forces up to deal with enemy defenses. This is done by climbing up ladders alongside the castle’s outer walls, which allows the attacking team to clear out enemy defenders on the battlements as well as capture or destroy their defensive pieces such as tanks, cannons, and resurrection points.
Dropping in via airship will get you past the castle’s walls and let you wreak havoc, but splits you off from the rest of the attacking force. This is great for distractions, smaller skirmishes, and for making clutch plays in order to take out key enemy defenders. It can provide an alternate means to getting to vulnerable resurrection points or destroying or capturing enemy tanks and cannons. Tanks and cannons can be used to blast enemy players, castle doors, or even shoot down airships attempting to get through.
The match is ultimately decided by the health of each team’s crystal after both teams have taken their turns on attack or defense. If both crystals were destroyed or crystal health is tied then whichever team took the crystal out fastest or did the same damage fastest will decide the outcome.
I’ve always been a fan of TERA's PvP. There’s often a huge discussion here on the forums on action combat, and while it isn’t necessary for me in general, I definitely find that action combat lends well to PvP gameplay. TERA's PvP has always stood out to me for that reason and I feel Corsairs’ Stronghold really highlights this best of all. 20 vs. 20 appears to be a great sweet spot for this sort of gameplay and the play area in Corsairs’ Stronghold is absolutely massive. The mode feels like massive PvP while also allowing for tactical plays by breaking up the team into smaller units.
The castle is huge and there are multiple ways to assault the base, which is great because it ensures that the match doesn’t just devolve into blob vs. blob gameplay that we often see in more open world RvR type castle sieges.
I played a healer during our demo, something I’ve never done in TERA, and I found it to be pretty satisfying all throughout. The map is laid out such to reward solid positioning which is crucial as a healer if you don’t want to be taken out quickly. Elevation is used well to deter enemies from just rushing up to the enemy battlements. Defenders can cover typical entrances well, which means that the chaos caused by unpredictable airship insertions can be crucial in disrupting that defense and drawing players away.
In short, the map is well designed and the gameplay flowed very naturally, which was even more surprising when you consider we were essentially two PUGs made up of various press. While random PvP may be a fun diversion in TERA, Corsairs’ Stronghold will really give more tactical minded players some serious potential to shine.
For someone who is relatively new to the whole Player vs Player scene, I found that the new Corsair's Stronghold map to be a lot of fun with some interesting twists to typical domination-style game play.
En Masse has done a nice job making the map feel epic in scope and scale, another type of BAM (Big Ass Map) for TERA.Twenty vs twenty, in fact, almost feels like too few players for a map of the size of Corsairs’ Stronghold. It takes the attacking team forever to cross from spawn points to the gates in an effort to get inside the walls and mounts are absolutely a must, the faster the better. It's no less time consuming for the defending team to get to defensible positions from which to rain down whoop ass. There are also tons of places to hide, nooks and crannies that offer would be assassin types a great vantage point from which to choose the next victim.
The attacking team has one of several ways to get inside the gate: They can scale the walls via ladders (more on this in a minute), drive a siege tank and attempt to blast the gates down or hop aboard a zeppelin that quietly floats over the walls, ultimately arriving very near the enemy's crystal. Should the crystal be captured, that phase of the game ends and the teams reverse roles.
From my perspective, it will be interesting to see how much zeppelins and ladders will be used. Forming a conga-line up the ladder is a surefire way to get snuffed immediately as the attacking team can simply camp the top and blow the opponent away one at a time as each -slowly- steps off the ladder. I did it once and that was enough.
Siege tanks are interesting and were quite popular with our testing teams. They are slow and unwieldy but pack a punch. Inexplicably, however, they are very slow to blow down the gates of the stronghold. Sitting there blasting away left tankers vulnerable to cannon fire from the walls of the keep. Interestingly however, destroyed tanks can be repaired and reentered for another go-round. There are also tanks within the keep for the defending team to use to keep attackers at bay.
Zeppelins seemed to be little-used during our session. At least once, however, a sneaky (and quiet!) group took to the zeppelin and captured the opposing team's crystal. It's a slow way to get inside but it works wonders, at least for new players to the map who are not used to "looking up" to the sky for enemies.
All in all, Corsairs’ Stronghold is a terrific addition to the PvP gameplay for TERA. It will remain to be seen how much the additional features (siege tanks, cannons, zeppelins, and ladders) will be used as simply run and gun seemed to be the best way to get the job done. Still, with a good team strategy, these components will be popular. PUGs, however, may have a rough time of it as we did.
Be sure to check out Corsairs’ Stronghold when it hits live service in TERA in early July.
What interests you about Corsairs’ Stronghold? Let us know in the comments.
Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB
Suzie Ford / Suzie is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom.