Whoops. Seem to have forgotten to actually get this out last week. Let’s just blame Varus and call it a day. I’m seriously putting Meddler up with Xypherous as my two favorite designers. But that’s enough about angry-bow-man for a while, he has his own post coming up. Now it’s time for TERA! All the good things I’ve been waiting to say, it’s time to put to light.

First, and most obvious, is the combat. I know, I know, I harp on this all the time, but trust me, it truly is worth it. There is no such thing as tab-targetting or “spell-hit/accuracy” or whatever. If you want to hit it, you have to aim at it. There are a few auto-lock skills, but these are mostly in the realm of healing or AoE skills, like archer’s volley, oddly enough. Monsters actually take direct location into account, it’s very easy to dodge some attacks simply by moving away. This is easy to practice in the start zone, watch for the telegraphed attack and then walk back a few feet.  Unlike all it’ contemporaries, monsters in TERA will miss if they do not physically connect with you.

Aggression from players also carries positional based rewards. A lancer has the largest melee-attack range in the game, but at its longest you’ll only tap an opponent once. Attack when they’re in your face? The lance will proc up to three hits on that target. And any other target you hit, there is no “damage  cap” that reduces outgoing damage. If you can line up one-hundred minions (and not die), you’ll nail all of them for the same damage as any other, with any melee weapon. Caster’s have their attacks stop at one target, but gain powerful long-range abilities to compensate. There are literally endless combinations of play-styles, classes, and monsters to interact with in the game. No two players will ever approach a problem the same way, even if they are the same class! I’ve seen tank and damage lancers who are soloing, and those that augment different skills when dungeon running. The possibilities are endless.
Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I utterly adore the combat. What other game would I go out of my way to kill something just because I want to? Well, besides Monster Hunter, smart alec. Really, I would never do something like… this:

in any other game. I do it for the thrill of combat, for the zen-like mind state it sometimes brings about. Combat is a delicate dance, full of push and pull. Act out of your turn, and more than your toes will be stepped on. Follow the flow perfectly, and the greatest kills will fall before you.

While the combat won’t be immediately evident (you have to go kill things), the first thing any player will notice is just how drop-dead gorgeous the game world is. Colors are bright and vibrant, while zones manage to be distinct in atmosphere, which has always been a pain for MMOs before. Oblivion Woods actually feels like a decaying forest that’s struggling to stay alive. Pora Elinu has an utterly serene setting, that makes you just want to lounge about and take in the scenery. I could go on, but showing is better than telling:

Prologue area (and me!)

Really? Look at that waterfall. I’m just sad I didn’t get a shot in the rain (because there is no way in hell I’m going back to the prologue area).

Island of Dawn

Breathtaking scenery, isn’t it? And it stays like this, the whole way though. One more for the road!

Pora Elinu

So finally, we’ve come to the end game. Unlike other MMOs, TERA (currently) has no raids, instead focusing on hard-mode dungeon runs for content and difficulty. And if that doesn’t sound hard to you, stop thinking about hard modes in WoW and start thinking about something like the Alatreon fight from Monster Hunter Tri. Multiple times. With more people. Bosses can be massive and each have distinct patterns and tells, abilities to watch out for. Some even have a skill so damaging even lancers have to dodge. It does that much damage, you will be guard-crushed for taking it.

World bosses also roam the.. uh, world, and are currently the closest thing to a rain boss. You’ll want more than a single group to tackle some of these, but the rewards are top-tier crafting goods and wondrous loot, not to mention the thrill of open-world boss combat. Just make sure to have a lookout on a PvP server, or you’ll quickly run into the other end-game combat appeal: Player versus Player combat.

Finally, and most interesting, is the Vanarch system. What is the Vanarch system, you may ask? Basically, getting to role-play being the president. Top-level guild leaders can run for the position of being a Vanarch over a certain providence (Such as Oblivion Woods), opening up new shops and NPC’s. However, the Vanarch has control over their domain, being able to massively hike prices on their good, even having the potential to enable pvp combat (So it was supposed to be, at any rate. Don’t play on PvP servers, so I haven’t gotten to see this yet), along with various guild and guild-leader perks for the ruling Vanarch. Don’t think this gives free rein though, or you’ll swiftly be booted out of office next election.