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PAX East 2012: TERA hands-on impressions
by Andrew Testerman

This year looks to be great for action-oriented MMOs, and TERA is fixing things to make it even better.

We've already covered at least one hack-y, slash-y MMO from PAX, but while RaiderZ is all about tracking and hunting monsters, TERA adheres more closely to traditional MMO paradigms. That isn't to say that it's not incredibly fun, though.

Gamer's Guide to got a chance to check out one high-level raid encounter whilst at PAX East, and we came away impressed with what TERA had to offer.

TERA developer interview

TERA's combat is structured similarly to an action game rather than a traditional MMO, with nary an auto-attack to be found. Players can rely on their mobility to dodge enemy strikes or block them outright, and boss encounters play like something from a console brawler, with attack patterns and telegraphed special moves. This emphasis on reflex-testing mechanics guarantees that players will have to pay attention during combat, rather than faceroll through every encounter.

During the raid, I played as a Slayer, a mêlée DPS class with a sword so huge that it would make War from Darksiders jealous. The Slayer's special moves were tied to his MP, which replenished through taking damage and executing regular attacks, creating a fun strategy of alternating between special and normal attacks in order to maximise the punishment dealt out.

The Slayer's special moves helped highlight TERA's action-combat system. Far from the usual park-and-honk attack delivery seen in other MMOs, the Slayer's moves looked like something out of Devil May Cry, jumping and flipping all over the place with his sword swinging wildly through the air. I also had access to a Scorpion-like hook for pulling in enemies for further beatings, as well as a wind-up baseball swing for knocking down enemies.

Our raid started fairly low-key, with our path being filled with what the reps from En Masse Entertainment called 'warm-up monsters', designed to get players acclimatised to the area. After carving through so much digital chum, though, we started pulling larger and more heavy-hitting creatures, giving me an opportunity to dive into the Slayer's attack rhythms and strategies. Fortunately, with Slayers, the game offers easy combo-like rotations, and flashes button prompts of which move to follow-up with for further face-wrecking. I eventually settled into a nice rotation of dashing at an enemy, knocking it down, then performing a few jump-slashes on its hapless carcass. Bluehole even included support for Xbox 360 gamepads, which I used for our raid, and they gave TERA further resemblance to a console action game, rather than a straight-up MMO.

We didn't get to see much other than our raid, but I had a blast going God of War on trash mobs, and if the rest of the game is as compelling as the combat system, I may have to give the full release a shot.

TERA launches on 1 May in North America and 3 May in Europe.

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- Andrew Testerman

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