|Pub: En Masse|
|Release: May 1, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Robert VerBruggen
TERA isn't a World of Warcraft killer, but it's not just another World of Warcraft ripoff, either. It's more like a World of Warcraft supplement, or a World of Warcraft successor: If you enjoy WoW and are up for a change of pace, TERA will be perfect for you. Most of it will feel immediately familiar, but there are enough changes to keep you interested, and all of the adjustments are for the better.
It's basically Saint's Row to WoW's Grand Theft Auto. You should never forget where it came from, but it's a step in the right direction.
Nearly all the basic infrastructure here is stolen directly from World of Warcraft. You're given a constant barrage of quests to accomplish—kill this, fetch that—and in the process you explore new areas one by one. You can team up with other players to take on dungeons and bosses that are too powerful for you. You collect new gear and sell your old stuff. You craft items you can't find. Even the color palette, the creature design, and the basic landscaping of the world have a distinctly Warcraftian feel to them, and the quest names are rife with whimsical pop culture references.
But there are some real differences, too, and the first and most important is the combat. All the clunkiness of fighting in World of Warcraft—and most other MMOs, for that matter—is gone, replaced by an action-based system that controls like an FPS. You can't just select a nearby enemy and tell your character to attack; instead, you have to place your crosshairs over your foe and press an action button. In addition, each character comes with a simple defensive maneuver you can use to avoid damage—and, of course, as you progress through the game you'll unlock plenty of extra spells and moves. TERA doesn't quite feel like an action game—I noticed that my projectiles still sometimes curve to meet their target—but it's a whole lot closer than WoW. At last, you feel like you're controlling your character, rather than just giving him instructions.
The precise mechanisms of combat will depend on which class you choose at the game's outset. I went with the archer, an easy-to-use damage dealer who specializes in ranged combat. The other options are berserkers (melee damage dealers), lancers (tanks), mystics (support healers), priests (primary healers), slayers (melee damage dealers), sorcerers (magicians who specialize in ranged damage dealing), and finally warriors (tanks and/or melee damage dealers).
Your race matters too. Different races come with different bonuses, different back stories, and different looks. The Popori are a particularly striking bunch; they're animals that have been made magical.
The underlying story here is somewhat bizarre—it starts with two gods dreaming up different races of creatures. But the bottom line is that your world is emerging from a contentious past—many of the races here faced serious challenges, including slavery. But now, all seven groups must work together to face a new enemy. The Argons have emerged from the underworld, and hope to take over TERA—which stands for The Exiled Realm of Arborea.
Of course, TERA comes with a full suite of multiplayer features—or at least it will, eventually. You can team up with other players through a matching system, or by joining guilds for organized raids. Unfortunately, the special PvP battleground areas won't be added to the game for about another month, but there are still PvP realms, deathmatches that take place right in the normal game world, and duels.
TERA also surpasses World of Warcraft in terms of graphics and sound—as it should, considering its higher system requirements. The visuals are a solid step up, with a bit more detail and clarity than WoW players will be used to. The sound effects and music are terrific, drawing the listener in to a fantasy world like few other games can.