While at PAX I had a chance to sit in on a game play demonstration for TERA, the upcoming fantasy action MMORPG brought to you by the good folks at En Masse Entertainment. “Oh Boy, another fantasy MMORPG,” is a thought sure to be shared by most readers (well that's the clean version of what some folks are thinking). While there is no denying that there are many elements of TERA that will coincide with its brethren, the gameplay certainly isn't one of them.
The folks at En Masse Entertainment definitely put on one of the best gameplay displays I've come across. For those of you who may have had the chance to demo a game at any convention, the time you are generally allotted isn't that much. Generally you get to take a quick look at the game and just have enough time to generate the most basic yea or nay opinion. This gameplay experience was certainly an outstanding change of pace. Rather than your standard sit at the terminal and strut around some starter zones, players were immersed into a coordinated five member party. Only four of the eight classes were available for play and I was thrust into the role of the Lancer. (The Lancer certainly seems to be getting a lot of coverage lately, for a more detailed description of the character read last week's Lancer write up). The other demo players consisted of another melee and two ranged classes. The fifth member of the party was from En Masse, fortunately for us playing the role of healer. I can't speak for the other players but I certainly would be in need of an experienced healer.
Once the party was formed we headed forth on our predetermined demonstration quest. This was your standard “someone's missing and they happen to be in that castle” quest. The game controls were straightforward, no major surprises. WASD directional movement and hot-bar action attacks. TERA gives players the option of using either keyboard/mouse or compatible console controller. For this demonstration we were limited to keyboard/mouse. After playing a while, I do think the console controller may be the way to go. I would have liked the opportunity to try both, hopefully the next demonstration will allow me to do just that.
TERA steers away from your run of the mill “point and click” style of play. There is no sticky targeting, forcing the player to constantly be on the move. Players will take aim on their target through the use of a targeting reticle, or that little cross-like doohickey in the middle of the screen. After years of MMORPG point and click targeting, this took a little getting used to.
As mentioned before I was in the role of the Lancer, a melee tank, a role I'm not that familiar with. I've seen tanking done, grab aggro, turn the mob away from the group and sit in a corner and spam your hot keys. TERA wasn't going to make it that easy. Positional combat is without a doubt more dynamic than your average MMO. Here you need to worry about not only your position on the run, but that of your party members as well.
In other games it's all well and good to stand within your healer’s area of effect, but in TERA you really need to be aware of where your healer is. Well if I was a more considerate player I would. During this demonstration the healer really had his hands full keeping us alive. As luck would have it the demonstration did come with some coaching. As one demonstrators kept us healed, another would look over the machines and give... suggestions. The combat is fast paced, making positioning a little difficult. While I had all the intention of trying to stay in a certain area, a few poorly timed charge attacks can bring you across a room in moments. The basic mobs faced during the demonstration behaved in standard gaming fashion. They are just fodder to get to the bigger bosses. This particular quest allowed us to combat a number of bosses, ranging in intensity. Boss combat in TERA looks to be promising. Nobody likes to die during a demo and I'm sure our characters were jacked up for the fights we faced. Boss combat was more reminiscent of console gaming in my opinion. Each boss goes through a number of phases until their ultimate defeat. Although I suppose that can be said of any gaming boss.
The most important aspect of the demonstration is that the gameplay is fun. It reminded me of a lot of co-op console gaming. There is no doubt that strategy will play a role in the full version of TERA, but there is a lot to be said for just jumping in and hacking and slashing. Everything about TERA’s game play is dynamic, not just that you have to move but additionally how you move. TERA makes some of the mundane aspects of gaming more spectacular. In the end, will there be a certain amount of spamming action keys? The short answer is yes. Will spamming these keys make you look like you're kicking a certain amount of ass? HELL YES.
While there are certainly many other questions about TERA to see if it will be a game that interests you, I do think the the gameplay is solid enough to at least keep your interest on watching how this game develops.
Will this type of gameplay be enough to separate TERA from the herd? Do you think it's just a gimmick? Share your thoughts with your fellow readers in the forum.
Keep an eye out here for more on TERA or check em out online at the official TERA site.