I’ve played a lot of TERA over the course of the beta weekends, but rarely have I been able to get into full groups, and I’ve never seen a dungeon to date. I can’t wait for the OBT (Open Beta Test) to really begin my characters, especially after a taste of what dungoneering as a Lancer is like during PAX East. At the booth for TERA, we were brought into a secluded room with five individual PCs set up for one of five classes. I chose the Lancer, Mike chose the Slayer, a couple of other folks took the Sorcerer and Warrior, and an En Masse employee (Sam Kim, Producer) handled the healing. Thank God, too, because it turns out BAMs in high level dungeons aren’t exactly pushovers.
I’ve long been of the opinion that where TERA shines is in its group content, and this demo experience solidified that for me. The combat makes for a grand time solo-ing, but eventually grinding out kill 10 or collect 10 quests gets old (if it’s not already by the time you boot the game). It’s a good thing that the combat system lends itself so well to party-play, because I have a sneaking suspicion that the most fun we’ll all have in TERA will be with its dungeons and group content (BAMs included).
The Lancer himself was a ton of fun. It was my first time with the class and I think it just made me solidify it as my main this coming weekend for the OBT and beyond. The Twilight Valley is one of the game’s endgame instances, and while we just got a brief taste of its sprawling expanse, I have to say I was impressed by it. The questing in the open world left me hanging in TERA, but again (am I harping yet) the group content is its bread and butter.
I loved how my Lancer literally ran full-steam into the fray to take charge with AOE shouts, keeping the mobs facing me so my opponents took to the rear to maximize their damage output. It’s the truest definition of tanking, because as the mobs turn to face your allies, you really do have to be on the ball to work to get them to face you again. And when they do, your shield-button finger better be at the ready or you’ll wind up getting a lot of hate from your healers. Blocking really does mitigate a ton of damage, and it wasn’t long into our boss fight with a corrupted BAM turned Argon that I learned when I needed to raise the shield and when I needed to use my taunts… and when I could just lay into the bugger with my massive oversized lance.
If a lot of the other classes in TERA about movement, the Lancer is perhaps the slower and more methodically paced counterpart. You still move, but in group context, your goal is to make sure you always have the attention of your foes. So you move to draw them in, to shout nasty things at them and then bring up your shield while your allies do the stabbity-stab and castity-cast. I’m not sure just how well he’ll solo (my guess is well, but slowly), but this one brief little interlude into group play with the Lancer made it my main for launch. The dungeons in TERA really seem to be the cream of the crop for the game, so I can’t wait to use En Masse’s dungeon finder to get in there and mix it up. See you all on Valley of the Titans.
Like Bill, I also agree that TERA's PvE strengths lie in its group combat. My first experience with TERA was playing a Berserker at this year's GDC, and since then I've played the closed beta events several times as a Slayer. The run-of-the-mill overworld PvE isn't so hot outside of the moment-to-moment coolness of the game's combat system, but both of my high level experiences, first at GDC, and now at PAX, have convinced me that the dungeons definitely show a bit more promise on the PvE side of things. I jumped into the dungeon as a Slayer, whose job is fairly simple: don't die and do tons of damage. I was certainly up to the challenge! The trash leading up to the final boss was fairly easy, especially since we were a bit overleveled, so I focused on the Slayer's considerable AOE damage to help churn through the groups of mobs. All while keeping the larger mobs on their backs with knockdown strikes that enabled me to do extra damage to them. Once we got to the boss, things got a bit hairier. Bill did an awesome job keeping the creature's aggro, but my job was basically to stay behind the thing and pump out damage while avoiding his massive special attacks. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I kept missing the tells and got slammed around quite a bit. Luckily for me, our valiant healer, played by En Masse's Sam Kim, did an excellent job of making me look good and keeping me alive. If you're looking forward to TERA, I'd highly recommend the Slayer class for both PvE and PvP combat. But find the dungeons as soon as you can on the PvE side of things, as the game feels like a totally different experience when playing alongside others and tackling challenging encounters.