GDC11: TERA Is the MMO for Anti-MMO Gamers

By Allen Park

March 6, 2011

I don’t like MMOs. In fact, I might go so far as to say I despise MMOs. No disrespect to those who do play them, but I feel like most of them out there are just exercises in mouse-clicking and waiting for the cooldown to finish before I can click again. I like knowing that if I’m hitting someone in point blank range, it will be a guaranteed hit, and not somehow a miss because of some random dice roll. If someone were to make an MMO that were action oriented, with a battle system that felt like true combat, then maybe I would be interested.

Enter TERA. Bluehole Studios and En Masse Entertainment’s entry into the MMO market, TERA boasts having “True Action Combat”, with an immersive combat system and a breathtaking environment. Does it live up to that premise? After having a hands-on demo with the game at GDC, it most definitely does, and for the first time ever, I’m greatly looking forward to an MMORPG.

Even though it’s an MMO through and through, TERA reminds me more of the Monster Hunter series more than anything. It really is an MMO that’s invested heavily in its combat, with the left mouse button assigned to a basic attack, and the right button assigned to a special attack. There’s also other special attacks and abilities bound to the number and function keys, but of course, those can be re-bound at anytime. Using the basic attack, you can combo into the special attacks quite easily; when you chain attacks together successfully, a prompt for one of your special attacks will pop up, and at the press of the spacebar you’ll flow right into that attack with no delay. Further special attacks can be combo’d in as well, and it makes for a truly organic combat experience I would find in an action-centered RPG more than anything. The lack of any dice rolls doesn’t hurt either; what you see is what happens, so if you swing at someone right in front of you, they will be hit 100% of the time.

The Monster Hunter comparisons go even further thanks to the gameplay. This game is hard, with huge monsters and enemies that hit really hard and make a point to try to take you down. They’re being advertised as having true AI, with the ability to block, dodge, heal themselves, and call in other enemies to help. And if that wasn’t enough, the boss monsters are unbelievably huge and intimidating. Just like those massive beasts you’d slay in Monster Hunter, these guys are tough, and can take a long while to kill, even with a party of four players. It takes some great teamwork to dispose of these beasts, so it’s all the more satisfying to take them down. My hands-on demo concluded with the four of us taking down a huge rock golem like character that could shoot lava balls at us, and it took about ten minutes to actually bring the thing down.

It was perhaps the first real fun I’ve had with an MMO, and now I’m actually looking forward to TERA when it releases.  It just came out in Korea recently to some great great reception, which hopefully is a sign of things to come when it hits the US later this year.

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Allen Park

Allen is an utter whore of a gamer; he's completely open-minded to all games, be they AAA blockbusters or $5 casual children's games. His focus is on indie games specifically, valuing gameplay and ingenuity over sparkly visuals and ridiculous gimmicks. When he's not geeking out over the newest art game, he's out toning his sexy, sculpted shoulders while surfing epic 1.5ft waves, or having a good time with local, high-gravity microbrews.

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