Archive for April, 2012

TERA: The Ugly

So, today marks the head-start event for TERA and will, presumably, be the last time we get spammed beta invites from En Masse, so I figured now would be the perfect time to start up a new three-part series, similar to what happened with rift. This will be called the same thing, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. So why start with the worst category? Well, because TERA has a lot of problems. So this isn’t the game for everyone, and if any of this sounds like a deal breaker already, then go ahead and skip the game. It won’t get much better. However, just because I’m about to verbally assassinate the game doesn’t mean I’m not going to play it. Far from it. The combat truly is great enough for me to deal with these issues. Mostly.

Now, you might be thinking, “Kana, what could possibly be that wrong with the game?”, and the answer always comes back to the same thing, time and time again. This is a game designed from the ground up and maximum level play and only max level play. Every major complaint I or anyone else has ever had has been BS’d around by the community going, “oh, it’s that way for the high level players!”

Last time I checked, the Korean and Japanese players got their own server, and won’t be coming over here. So why is it that this game still has such a terrible design even though no one is even at the level to exploit it? I’m talking about things like…

Wrecked Economy:

There are a lot of things to do in TERA with your character. Glyphs, Crystals, crafting, dyes, armor remodeling, and even more. And TERA wants you to do absolutely none of it until you get of your lazy bum and go grind a few dozen levels. I came out of the Island of Dawn with close to two-hundred pieces of ore, to practice weaponsmithing with. I almost broke my newbie character doing it. You might think, “well, don’t buy expensive recipes then!” The recipe I was using? Yeah, the game gave that to me for free. I wasn’t making weapons, I was just trying to smelt all that ore. And that took almost all my money. Crafting recipes are even more ludicrously expensive, and all rely entirely on the player flat-out buying most of the components anyways.

So yeah, it’s a good thing this isn’t an rpg or anything, or it would be troble trying to convince myself my character has any skill what so ever when she has to continuously buy half the pieces to a weapon instead of just making them herself. Feels like cheating when I keep buying metal handles and shield pieces.  Seriously, what was the point of getting all that ore if the game was just going to break my bank and then still not do anything with it?
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TERA Tuesday: Mystic Class

Time for another foray into the realms of Arboria, this time to look at the Mystic class. Promising ahead of time I won’t be so mean to this one, even if it is a support/healer class. Mystic is still boring compared to the other classes, but is miles ahead of the Priest in terms of fun. Mostly because of the area-drain vampire skill. But we’ll get to that in just a minute…

Role: Support/Healer
Difficulty: [*****]

Mystic is an odd little class, being a healer with more emphasis on damage than the Priest, and less on direct heals. They’re also the only class that gets a pet, so there is that. However, the little bugger is so annoying I found myself trying to commit suicide multiple times just to get rid of him, so there is that as well. Honestly, a first impressions on Mystic is kind of hard, simply because they’re supposed to be a support class, but you only get one support spell at all through the intro area. It is nifty though, so it’s alright for the time being. I’ve heard their player support comes in the form of summoned orbs, and if it’s anything like the first you get, then the orbs grant a unique and interesting mechanic to the class overall.

Unlike Priest, most of the skills a Mystic grabs are focused on hurting things. You share an AoE spell or two, but other than that the skills have a different emphasis. Heck, you even get a vampire-aura that boosts damage (and I’m assuming burst healing to you) the longer you channel the spell. Early levels can be very boring, falling into the same “hold basic-attack to win” strategy that plagues Priest. Since both classes start with a heal, there’s no punishment for just face-tanking everything. However, the Mystic’s heal differs from the Priest’s in two special ways: the Mystic’s heal is a heal-over time effect, and is “castable” on other players. In an interesting twist, it’s not a true spell at all, but is instead something of a creation spell. Once cast, the Mystic creates an orb that plonks down on the ground, and is usable by anyone nearby. Once used, the orb disappears and begins healing the person who used it over time. Likewise, the orbs last for a while, and there doesn’t appear to be a hard cap on how many you can toss out.
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TERA Online Guild

Hey guys, Kana here with some good news. With Open Beta on it’s last legs and head start quickly approaching, now would be the best time to announce that we’ve started a guild for players on the Arachnaea server. If you feel like stopping by, or making the server you home, send us a message. Black Lotus will always be up for more members!

Right now, with the game having just launched, we’re primarily focused on providing a friendly environment for people wanting to level up or just sit around and chat. Later on, we’ll probably shift to late game PvE content (hard mode 5-mans, maybe raids if they are ever implemented), and maybe some PvP on the side for fun. So we’ve got a little of everything either now or planned for down the road. Why not stop by and say hi?


TERA Tuesday: Priest Class

Okay, confession time. I hate healing. I like healers, don’t get me wrong. Having someone pull my ass out of the fire is great, and I’ll never underestimate a healer’s contribution to the team. But I hate playing one. Vehemently hate playing them. TERA probably takes this feeling and makes it even worse, so that’s your warning for this. Figured it’d be better to get the bad out of the way now so we can focus on the more fun Mystic later. If you want to see my first impressions (spoiler: it’s not pretty), keep reading. If you like healers and like playing them in this, skip on down to the bottom where I have the late game/crystal stuff.

Role: Healing
Difficulty: [*****]

The Priest is exactly what you’d expect for a class with the name of ‘priest’, only these don’t ever really get the chance to go around exorcising little girls or yelling about brimstone and fire. Though I guess you could role-play that with a friend who’s willing to play an Elin for the whole package. Priests have the biggest healing package of the two healers (the other being Mystic), and focus on support by keeping allies alive. There are various spells in their arsenal, and most of them involve keeping your little red bar as high up as possible for as long as possible. For everything else, there always is… the basic attack I guess.

Priests are a slow burner of a class, you won’t start getting any decent skills until you’ve nearly left the Isle of Dawn. By that time though, you’ll have at least 3 different heals up your sleeves. A self-cast, near instant ‘panic’ heal for yourself (that you’ll use a lot), a “pool” of light you can summon a few feet away that heals allied units standing inside of it over time, and a lock-on heal dual-target heal for precision moments. As for combat skills… there isn’t much to say. They feel weak and worthless, so grab a friend to kill for you. Otherwise you’ll be beating on mobs for a long time when going solo.

Combat is almost an embarrassment. Priests have to be the single worst class in the game for fighting anything. And you might think, “well, duh, it’s a healer!”, but I’m talking about a level of incompetence you can only imagine. The basic attack has a relatively long wind up and travel time, and it doesn’t track enemies. Nearly every other ranged character has some small measure of auto-correct in their attacks, usually to guarantee a hit after you’ve locked on and fired at a moving target. But the Priest doesn’t, so shooting at anything moving quickly becomes an exercise in frustration. The little area of effect you get is also weak and has a fair cooldown, so coupled with the very weak attack makes the whole class feel like you’re trying to kill with a pool noodle. Combat often devolves into a very boring slug-fest,  where just spamming the basic attack and occasionally using your panic heal is the best solution to everything. Like I said before, get a friend, preferably someone else not playing a priest or you might both die of frustration and/or boredom.

Crystals are a bog-standard choice. If you’re leveling, get health and mana regeneration. You’ll need literally nothing else, since nothing will be able to kill you with that self-target heal having no cast time and almost no cooldown. Glyphing for damage is a borderline waste, but if it keeps the tedium at bay, go for it. Otherwise if leveling with a friend, just glyph healing and pray they don’t get bored carrying you to the point you can do instances. Total mana is also a decent enough choice, with the class having a relatively early gotten mana-regen skill on a short cooldown. Health regen and damage reduction/bonus are just wasted on this class though.

So there it goes. Priests are a slow burner and a masochistic experience to play leveling up. They have no damage, single or multi-target, and no armor, so healing is about all they have. Late game they’re probably the best healer just because of the control they bring, consistently being able to keep health bars up and preventing party death with little involvement from the other players. If you like healing already, go for it. But if you’re wanting to try healing or looking for an alt, I can’t recommend this class in the slightest.

See you next week for the Mystic! For real this time, too.


League of Legends: Lulu

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now, and it just never felt like the right time. I was considering just skipping along past the crazed yordle, but with the delay to Hecarim, this brings up the perfect chance to get information on Lulu out there before the patch. That and I never get to play Lulu, so anything more than a first impressions on one game would take some time. I’m usually stuck in the jungle, and while you can do jungle Lulu, I’d rather just wait until I get good enough with the support role to know what in runeterra I’m doing.

So Lulu is a support champion and the most recent addition to the line up in League of Legends. While being support, she has no sustain mechanics and no in-built heal outside of her ultimate, so careful play is going to be required of both your carry and yourself if you take her out to lane. While sustain lanes can be a problem to deal with, Lulu has some of the greatest harass and control a support can give, only really being rivaled by Janna. To know why, let’s take a look at her skills.

(Passive) Pix, Fairy Companion: Pix is a fairy companion to Lulu, and will launch a barrage of attacks at anything Lulu attacks. These attacks scale per level to Lulu, and are delivered in a three-shot burst. Bullets from Pix do have hit detection, and will deal damage to the first target they hit, which may not be the target Lulu is attacking.

Glitterlance: Pix and Lulu both fire a bolt of magical energy that damages and heavily slows all targets it hits. An enemy can only be effected by one Glitterlance per cast.

Whimsy: Single target spell that can be cast on allies or enemies. If cast on an ally, Whimsy will give a boost to ability power and movement speed for a short time. If cast on an enemy, Lulu will polymorph them, silencing and preventing the enemy from attacking, while applying a very weak slow. Enemies still have full control of their movement.

Help, Pix!: Pix jumps to the target Lulu has chosen. If that target is an ally, they will gain a shield and Pix will attack for every basic attack from that ally instead any attack from Lulu for 6 seconds. If cast on an enemy, Pix deals damage and then follows that enemy, granting vision for 6 seconds.

(Ultimate) Wild Growth: Lulu enlarges an ally, granting bonus health and briefly knocking up all nearby enemies to that target. In addition, as long as Wild Growth lasts on a target, they will have a passive aura that slows all nearby enemies.
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TERA Tuesday: Sorcerer Class

So, before we get started there are a few things I need to cover. First, I know the last article said Archer would be this week, but there is a reason for the switch. Played and got the recorded footage for both Mystic and Priest, and doing both of those felt like jamming pins under my fingernails would have been more rewarding and less painful than ever having to level the healing classes (specifically Priest) ever again. Knowing how I feel, and how I’d write about that since this is a first impressions piece, I decided to mess around with the order. Originlly, it was supposed to be done in the order classes are presented when creating a new character, but now I’m going shake it up a little. The second reason is that, somehow, I’ve managed to lose any recording of the Sorcerer boss fight, and it wouldn’t be right to end this series of posts on a class without a proper video. So with all that said, let’s (finally) dig into the sorcerer.

Role: Damage
Difficulty: [****]

The Sorcerer is a pretty standard incarnation of the mage archetype, whose sole existence is dedicated to making things explode in bigger, flashier ways as the levels roll by. Of course, this also means they carry the same downside as the every mage in the classic trope: cloth armor. Armor for a Sorcerer offers bare minimum protection, but that’s all right because short of a named quest mob, everything else in the world will probably be ash and cinders at your feet before it can attack much. Unlike all the other classes before now, Sorcerer’s don’t actually start the game with an evasion spell, instead opting to have both the default attack and a point-blank, area-of-effect skill. It’s damage isn’t great for single targets, but never forget to break it out when the multiple-mob packs start showing up.

Sorcerer’s are the only class that starts without a way to deal with damage at the start of the game, so pay attention to what each skill does and how much damage you can put out. Without a block, dodge, or heal, you’ll have to rely on raw damage to keep you safe until you acquire the dodge skill, and never fear: raw damage is what the Sorcerer has. As you go higher in level, more and more area-of-effect skills are unlocked, each giving a more satisfying feeling to properly use than the last. The first is basically a flaming cannon ball, arcing up and then into the heads of whatever poor fool you decided has to die now. There’s even a trap for setting on the ground, detonating on whatever waltz’s in to the area. And when I say ‘trap,’ I don’t mean something like a bear trap sitting on the ground. I mean a 10-meter wide bombshell with unstable, pulsing arcana stuck in the middle. If all this still can’t keep monsters from giving a vicious hug, well don’t worry because the next skill is a massive range single-target slow shot.

Combat for a Sorcerer is usually about finding the most creative way to blow things up as you go along. While your starting spell isn’t much damage on one target, it is a flashy way to burn anything to death with the poor judgement to get close to you, making it an exciting finisher of sorts. Your cannonball of flaming doom makes for a great initiation skill, though it’s range is somewhat lacking compared to the 18 meter range of your basic attack. The traps and ice-spears all make for fun and interesting combat choices, and it won’t be long in leveling before you finally get the dodge skill of the class. Overall, properly using each of the Sorcerer’s spells gives a very satisfying feeling, though it lacks the visceral feel of melee combat. As a light-armor class, you have to be absolutely careful when dealing with mobs; if something closes the distance, odds are you’re going to die very quickly without any armor to mitigate those hits. Using slow-shots and dodges is key to extending your life. That or just burning everything down.

Being a pure damage class, glyphs are an easy enough choice. If a skill does tons of damage, glyph it for more. Or reduced cooldown, or mana cost or whatever. Utility and alternate roles don’t really kick in very much for a Sorcerer, so just focus on what the class already does best. For crystals, bonus mana and mana regen run king. Health regeneration is always nice, but the limiting factor for this class is how far your mana bar can take you, as opposed to how many hits the health bar can take. Keeping it full means free time to unload everything while boosting it’s max size means it will take you that much longer to run out. If you do feel a little too squishy, grabbing some bonus health runes can give a little more of a window of survival when things go bad.

The Sorcerer is a glass cannon, through and through, and parties will adore you if you are a good one. Having no defenses doesn’t mean much when everything in the world is already trying to pummel someone else to death, so your free to reign feiry death safely and happily from miles meters away. Soloing might be a bit of a challenge, especially on fast moving mobs, or something that has a lot of hit-points and can just soak the hits as it walks to you. Good use of the dodge and slows of your class will keep you alive, and always remember you don’t have the hit point count to go face to face with something and win. Of slight annoyance, there are zero targeting reticules in the game, so you’ll have to memorize how far each skill goes if it has a ranged animation. If you can get around that, functionally the Sorcerer is the same as any other mage from other games: big numbers and lots of maniacal laughter. If that’s your thing in other games, try it out with TERA’s action-oriented combat and see what you think. As mentioned before, I’ve lost the end boss fight’s footage, so here’s a bit footage from a stream I did.

See you next week for the Mystic class!

TERA Tuesday: Berserker Class

Alright, we’re back on time with another update from the wide world of TERA. This time, it’ll be a look at the armed and armored Berserker class, and what these rampaging lunatics bring to the table.

Role: Damage
Difficulty: [***]

The Berserker is the literal be-all, end-all for heavy damage. The class is a literal tank, being outfitted with the heaviest armor and crushing enemies with some of the highest damage-per-hits in the game. The major downside however… they’re slow. Super slow. Unlike all the other damage classes, Berserkers also have a block skill, instead of a dodge. Their block value is far below what a Lancer could take, but for a party of friends and a threat crystal, a Berserker could manage to be an alright tank. However, their main role is damage, and that is where they shine. Unlike Slayers, Berserker attacks are more constrained to a small cone in front of the player, but the majority of skills can massive area of effect components too them, making the Berserker a great choice for anyone who wants to feel like a rampaging lunatic.

Berserkers start the game off with all the skills you’ll ever need to pummel anything into the ground. Their basic attack, and the lovely block that keeps the trees from punching you in the face. At level two, you learn one of the most fun abilities the class will ever get. Hold the button to charge the skill, release once it’s charged to spin your massive axe and kill everything around you. A little later on comes the more “single”-target version of this, causing your character to do an overhead flip and slam the axe into the ground. Much smaller effect area, but a little higher damage to compensate. All of the skills chain together well, however you may notice a lag in activation similar to that with the Slayer. The difference is, the Berserker feels like a meaty, slow-moving/hard-hitting class, so the lag is less noticeable, even to the point of feeling like it is class flavor.
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Edit: For anyone else who may have had the same fears as me (either not having played the original, or not remembering it very well like me), I’m happy to point out the Developers were already on this. The original Planetside did a fantastic job of creating female player models, and I’m very eagerly awaiting on how we’ll get to look in Planetside 2. A massive thank you to Tramell, Higby, and everyone here and over on Reddit that confirmed what I dared to dream. Can’t to get my boots (never going to forget about that) dirty on the fields of Auraxis with you all!

Dear Planetside 2 Devs,

Do you mind if I call you devy? Too informal? Okay, I’ll keep that in mind. I don’t want to be too formal, because we’re all good friends around here, right? You guys work on the bestest game ever, and we salivate and jump around at all the tasty morsels you throw at us. Like sweet air vehicles or concept art of a human/transformer hybrid. And we absolutely love it. I love it. PlanetSide 2 is setting itself up to be one of the greatest games I could imagine playing, and I’m happily sitting here, PC Gamer beta key in hand, waiting to lovingly get into your game and tear it apart from the inside out. What, you called it a beta test. I’ll test it, even if it means jumping up and down for an hour to break the world geometry. And shooting. There will be shooting.

However… I’m now generating some doubts about a single aspect of the game. See, I was perfectly fine with PlanetSide 2 as a whole when I assumed that everyone would be a similar-ish Male type character, which is standard fare. You don’t see a female option in, say, Call of Duty. Or Tribes. Battlefield 3. I could go on, but the point is most of the time we’re given a homogenized ‘Man’ character, and that’s that. It’s not like we’re playing Dark Souls and spending an hour and a half crafting a face, it’s about the game play and guns, right? And since all of the war shooters are first person anyways, it’s simple enough to ignore the occasional grunt and pretend that I’m playing the game. But you see, I wasn’t born a guy. No, I was born as a space butterfly girl. A girl who likes war games, and likes to kick a little ass.

So, it seems perfect that PlanetSide 2 would offer a female model, right? I mean, that’s like a dream come true for me. You mean, I get to be in on the action this time? Not just as some faceless guy, but as a faceless girl? I love the choice, it brings a smile to my face. And having it would really cement PS2 in the top 5 ranking games ever in my heart (assuming game play is what I’m expecting roughly), but I am worried now. See, my half of the population has a pretty abysmal representation in gaming. Let’s look for a sec at another FPS coming into beta real quick, alright?
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