In choosing a class to play there is a lot people look for. I personally enjoy playing melee characters. I like to get in there and fight it out. It always made me feel like I was a real part of the action. With always choosing a melee class there is always the death from afar feeling when facing down mages or ranged opponents. MMOs have done a horrible job in balancing melee and ranged classes. TERA, on the other hand, has invested many classes into the Melee category. There is the Lancer, Berserker, Warrior, and Slayer. Each has a certain play style to it and al the classes are fun, at least based on the demos we have played. Today let us look at the Lancer.
So you want to be a tank? Take on the aggro and hold the keys to survival of your group? The Lancer fist the bill. Rarely in RPGs do we see lances as a weapon choice. The standard medieval hand weapons usually apply across the board. People forget that the lance dominated warfare for several hundred years of human history. Before guns, lances used on horseback were it. So with TERA we get an updated modern version of this weapon style on foot. The Lancer is a tank with all the trimmings and also has some serious charges to throw force behind a normally defensive game.
As MMOs evolve we see more classes being able to do more things. The Lancer does act as a tank in terms of defense, but also can throw in some charges, stabs, and knock down abilities to help his party as a whole. One area in TERA where this becomes critical is in the knock down ability. When a boss is knocked down, players can still attack. This opening allows DPS and ranged players to attack with their best abilities in order to bring that health bar down as quickly as possible. When the boss monster gets back up, he can still attack, but the time to bring him or her down has been cut down significantly. I often think of the stuns and tricks in WoW when bosses would run into a wall and stun themselves so the players can open up on damage.
The Lancer plays a big role in this area. The Berserker and Slayer also have some knock downs to use, but the Lancer really is the core of the fight. I do believe TERA allows other melee classes to tank, but the Lancer really can hold a fight down and protect his party. The shield is also a tool that comes heavily into play. The Warrior classes we have seen in demos all use two swords. The Berserker uses a giant axe. The Slayer uses a giant sword. The Lancer is the only one we have seen carry a shield in combat. This can bring extra protection when needed.
The other ability the Lancer has to offer is shouts. Battle type shouts are common in many RPG games so there are really no surprises here. However, with the fast paced action style combat in TERA shouts will become much more strategic. Knowing when to use them will be critical. As we have found in the TERA demos, because the game play moves fast, healers and special attacks need to be very strategic. Shouts fall into this category. They could make the difference between winning a boss fight and a total wipe.
Overall we liked what we saw with the Lancer. It is a good solid tank class with enough offense to make some great difference in a fight. They are not one dimensional, like every class in TERA there are some great options within the design. Lancers also look very cool with their lances on their backs and their shields. It is a unique look to a very core weapon. So if you are a melee fan, perhaps the Lancer has the right balance for your play style.