If you are an MMORPG fan like I am, it is easy to become a little depressed, thanks to the seemingly endless discussions over the “death” of MMOs and studio closures or while reading the comments section. (Note to self: stop it.) Even with my Jedi-level “game journalist” training (I put that on all of my business cards) I still find myself occasionally feeling down. Blue. Sad. Wondering about the future of “real” MMO gaming.
No, seriously. I wonder if client-based, massive open worlds will survive. Logic tells me yes, but then I get a hold of my tablet and take part in the wonderfully seamless interaction that only a mobile game can offer and I think “Hmm, this IS much better than downloading and patching a game for a day!”
But then I get an offer to take a virtual tour through a game. In this case, TERA. In the case of this tour, I would be looking at the new content that is to be offered in the Fate of Arun expansion patch.
Well, lo and behold, the tour gave me that sense of wonderment and awe that serves as the fuel for my mania; I found myself smiling at the screen, wondering how in the hell I would be able to get through all of the levels of TERA just to take part in the incredible high-level stuff I was seeing on my screen?
I’m getting ahead of myself, sorry.
I was invited to check out a new dungeon called Sky Cruiser Endeavor. I was also going to be checking out the amazing Sky Castles, which are floating, well, castles in the freakin’ sky that guilds can earn by kicking tons of tail in dungeons like the one I was about to power through. (We really didn’t fight much, thanks to time constraints, but we did get a great tour and feel for the power of the B.A.M.s* inside.)
First, the dungeon.
Actually, it’s called the Sky Cruiser Endeavor instance, a dungeon set on a massive (as in TERA massive) airship. Players will fight their way along the corridors and open decks of the airship… if they pick their jaws off of the ground long enough to survive. Even the spot where the transportation NPC (who sends you to the instance) hangs out is amazing-looking. Some sort of beautiful volcano spews magic into a split, blue-gray sky nearby. You talk to the NPC and he sends you to your doom. Easy-peasy, right?
One of the key designs in this dungeon is that the boss mobs are waiting for you almost as soon as you enter. One in particular, the hideous one-armed (well, two-armed, technically, until he pulls one arm off to use as a baseball bat) monster sends waves and waves and waves of mobs at you and your party. We were told that many of the fights could easily take a half an hour. Even with our boosted party and GM hosts I died several times. Sure, I was controlling my character for only an hour beforehand, but it was obvious that it would take a very skilled party to shut this place down.
Eventually we made our way into the engine room, a truly ginormous place with another boss mob inside. After defeating him using a combination of awesome skill and GM cheats, we moved on the final mob, an innocent-enough looking mob called Darkan, the servant for the evil god Larkan who causes pretty much 98.6% of the mayhem in TERA.
We were warned that the mob would eventually show his real power once we knocked him down a few pegs. He sprouted massive wings, a flamey exterior and then committed himself to killing us all. Needless to say, we were whooped good. TERA is a hardcore game. Wimps like myself need not apply unless they also bring a GM. Guilds will be paid back for their efforts with rare crafting materials, Discovery and Generation gear, and other “surprises.”
Next we went to check on the Skycastles. These floating buildings are just what they sound like; massive, floating castles that hover outside of major cities around the world. The ones we visited floated above the PvP capital, and they served to show just how wonderful TERA can still look, even though the game is somewhat aging.
Players literally take flying Pegasus mounts on a scripted trip to the castles. Once there, they can hang out, plan guild activities or even use many different NPCs that are bought with points that are gained through member numbers and accumulated over time.