My second week of TERA has come to a close, and as promised, we’re logging each week into our “journal of adventures” to give us a final verdict after our first month in the land of Arborea. MMOs are tricky business. Typically, they require the continued efforts of the player to get the most out of them and usually need a lot our attention before their many initial flaws either crack open to reveal perfections or just shove more failures into your eye sockets and leave you suing the company for all the wasted time. That’s why we’re doing this over a month period, and who knows what we’ll think at the end of it! If you haven’t read last weeks adventure, then go do that so we can continue. Done? Good.
I honestly didn’t get a whole lot done this week – I could just end this journal entry right now if I wanted to. Being the busy bees that the majority of us are, things happen, and you can’t always confirm your place in a game following the days activities. That being said, my downtime in Arborea this week gives me a chance to experience the game from the casual player’s perspective. Whether I enjoyed the approach or not is a story for about 5 paragraphs down – that’s just an estimation!
Last week we saw my sexy Castanic Archer level alongside our artsy friend across the plains of Arborea’s rightmost landmass. The forests of the land turned into, well… more forests. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going back on my word about how visually stunning Arborea is for the eyes, but forest after forest can get a little underwhelming when you’re spending a good portion of your relaxation time after work running chores around the trees for lazy NPCs. They’re still a great treat for the eyes, but we really want to see what the team managed to imagine and build for other environments. Golden sand, anyone?
Our love for the combat system grew ever more this week. Once our characters hit level 20 we gained access to a simple, yet effective poison arrow. As much as we loved running and gunning with the bows, we needed a quick tweak to keeps things exciting and the poison arrow skill did just that. The simple damage over time skill was able to stack its toxic effect up to 3 times on a single monster for around 10 seconds. This meant we had to start focusing more on the cooldowns and cast times of all our skills to get a well-placed poison barb arrow flying to the enemy to keep the stack going throughout the fight. With our team setup being a double archer combo, we managed to put Skype to the test and devise and execute a combat strategy able to rally stack monitoring duties across each other while we loaded the mobs up with our other array of flashy projectiles. It really kept us on our toes and stopped us from drifting off into subconscious playing as we memorised attack patterns and combat procedures over the past two weeks.
Yes, level 20 gave us a fresh take on combat again with the poison arrow, but it also meant something would begin to affect our normal routine; dungeons. Not too early or too late in the game, a single dungeon had become available to us on the queueing system. As we brushed off a few quests a team was automatically formed and we dove straight into the ‘Bastion of Lok’ for our first taste of 5-man TERA instancing. And boy was it fun.
The overall design may seem the same as other MMOs here – room after room of small-sized army platoons waited for our arrival. Pulling back the groups without gaining the attention of the others remained top priority but proved to be harder than usual as each class in the group was busy trying to actually avoid each mob throwing balls of dark energy into their knee caps. As you can imagine, a party of 5 dodging enemies in a small room spells trouble in those environments and before we knew it, more little buggers had joined the kill party against us. The usual art of slow traps and fast feet got the better of them still with the rest of the team living up somewhat to their dungeon duties. Everything seemed the same as old here, only lot more hectic and lot more fun.
Pressing on, the dungeon denizens started to prove their worth. Getting progressively tougher in each room yet still falling victim to archer teamwork, we encounter our first real boss fight outside NPC backed up encounters, and he was a mean one. The giant stone monstrosity rose up in a rather nice cutscene. The hulking boulder swung its arms at our bodies and stomped ever closer. Noticing the gaping hole in it’s chest, we felt we knew exactly what he planned -”swing and stomp, the hole is a hole”. Well, we were wrong, at least somewhat. Despite use being walked all over and punched in a way that would most likely see a real human explode on impact, the beast surprised us with a little secret. That hole wasn’t just a hole. It channeled energy and shot it out like a cannon in under a second. It was fast. And it stung like a bitch. I died, our Mage died, and I’m sure one other dropped like a fly. Our confident dodging skills worked for the majority of the fight, but the surprise change of attack patterns caught us off guard and beat us to a pulp. A second attempt saw us get the better of the geographic construct though, and we left the place feeling pretty well rounded.
Lengthy fights were proving to be the highlight of TERA. The combat system mixed with huge monsters constantly reminds us of Capcom’s Monster Hunter. Only toned down ever so slightly and sped up just a smidge. And it’s good to see the crafting system tie this together in a nice little bow.
Back in the capital city of Velika is the trade district. A place housing all you’d ever need to craft your own gear in a system that seems no different from any other MMO. A pattern teaches you how to produce your perfect flameberge while the materials needed lie waiting in the fields of the land. You spend your time avoiding monsters to collect your needed catalysts and click through a few menus to finally land that elusive weapon. Seem the same, right? Not quite. While you do still need to collect ores and other goodies from the killing fields. You’ll also be spending a bit of time forming groups to farm some pretty powerful creatures in order to gather the rest. It may seem like a more cumbersome approach to the crafting procedure. But fighting huge basalisks for paverunes for a new bow left the finished product feeling much more personal to us, and defiantly well earned.
We’ll be switching to a few other classes for the next entry as we try to even out the combat moves of each and maybe take on the healer role for a bit. I like to get others killed and disappear to another channel, never to be seen again, and by god I will! I actaully jumped onto a freshly made Elin Sorcessor during the week but that just led to me shooting from the Island of Dawn bridge and falling through the map. You want to see that don’t you? Of course you do! So here it is!
Remember to come back next week for our week 3 lowdown!