A quick side note before starting. Picked up Dark Souls earlier in the week and have been playing it a bit. Love the feeling and gameplay, but most importantly I love that the game is best experienced online, and I forgot to plug my internet cable into the Xbox. “Starting game in Offline Mode.”  See Blizz, this is how you sell a game, not by forcing a ton of garbage on them. Alright, that said, we’re moving back to TERA! Today is the weapon upgrading system. As a side point, I say weapons’ a lot, but armor works in the same way. I just like using weapons as an example because murder is fun. Now then, onwards!

Get to +10 for 'Summon Crab'

If you have ever played Phantasy Star Universe, you’ll be familiar with the weapon upgrade system of TERA. The basic gist of it if the ability to ‘feed’ weapons other weapons, and be able to grow in power. The thing is, only like-level items can be consumed, but any weapon that’s like level can be offered. So if you are trying to level up, say, a Great-axe, then you can feed it anything from another Great-axe to a Lance to even the caster weapons. Each weapon has a maximum of 9 levels, and each 3 levels will unlock a new enchantment for the weapon. Some weapons at higher enchanting levels even have special effects on the model, displaying their growing powers to all.

As a downside, not all items will be able to push you to the higher levels. Getting 1 to 3 wouldn’t be much of a problem, but you’d be better off buying a lotto ticket trying to use common items to get all the way up to +9. The better the materials fed into the weapon, the better the chance of success. Yes, success, which means there is always the chance of failure. TERA is more forgiving in this aspect than Phantasy Star Universe was however, the worst a failure can do will drop your weapons enchant level by one or two, as opposed to PSU where your weapon could just shatter into a million pieces. On a brighter side, a failure can also involve the weapon simply not going up or down, which will lose the fed item but leave your main stabbing apparatus of choice untouched. There are also special items you can buy that mitigate the chance of failure and boost your chances of slapping a new level on to your weapon.

The obvious downside to this system is the annoying tendency of ‘backsliding’, or having to keep a weapon that could be better than the current one, but only after it has been fed and leveled up as well. Will not be much of a problem when leveling up as weapons and gear usually fly by during the earlier levels, but towards late game when the curve starts to increase there is always the chance of running into something better than what you have at equal level, but inferior as it stands. Whether the player chooses to upgrade that weapon or just continuing to use the older one is up to them, but it seems slightly punishing for not letting players transfer at least one step up. Say, +7 being feed to a weapon with nothing at least giving 2 or 3 levels if the level up process succeeds. A little bit of RNG can bring a lot of joy to the table, but having it be too punishing (like PSU was) runs the risk of having players just not bother with the system until they are more of less required too.

As a side comparison, I’d have also loved to see a system similar to the one Monster Hunter uses, letting crafters open up a new way to increase their weapons rank. Say, you need to have 6 crab gills and 10 iron ore to make a Crab Lance, then have it so you can either feed it like-level or higher weapons or have a new upgrade system: building the weapon better with the materials as before, slowly scaling up. Levels 1 and 2 could use the same materials as before, level 3 taking a higher level ore to reach. 4 and 5 using higher level or rarer crab parts on top of the new ore, and so on up to the top. Gives crafters a nice satisfaction of homing their crafted weapons and armor to perfection, and gives me the perfect excuse to murder absolutely everything before settling in to get my craft on.

Pictured: Getting my craft on.

On a final note to the upgrade system, there is also the Seal and Unseal system in place. Purchasing special ‘Seal’ scrolls will seal the weapon up, more or less ‘deleting’ everything it had before and leaving it as a mystery item. These items can also be found from time to time and will require an ‘Unseal’ scroll to reveal. Sealing and Unsealing a weapon will delete all of the levels it has, but also give it completely new stats. And don’t worry about it screwing up your itemization, the system won’t spit out a Great-axe that benefits mages or a Lance with so little defense it’d break by sneezing on it. The system keeps track of your class and semi-randomly assigns new stats based on what you could possibly want.

However, unlike simply enchanting your weapon to higher levels repeated use of Seal and Unseal scrolls can cause the item to explode, losing it forever. Like enchanting, there are items to help mitigate the chance, but catastrophic failure is always a threat. So what would ever possess a player to put their weapons on the line like that? Two words: Emblem Weapon. The Emblem is a rare proc (The better scrolls are more expensive, but less failure and better chance of snagging one) that gives a special Emblem to the weapon’s stat page, granting it much higher stats… and the ability to enchant up to level twelve. That’s right, while everyone else is running around with their +9 weapons, the dedicated and/or possibly insane can be rocking a +12 enchantment level on their best weapon, opening a new world of enchants and power levels.

Wait… didn’t I mention +10 earlier?