As you may or may not have heard Tera has gone free to play… *tumbleweed*.. yes many did not play it or it may not even be on your radar at all, it wasn’t exactly a niche game per say it more just looked icky. Over the top styling, kind of out there design approach in regards to monster and clothing design, and then there was the straight up weird marketing approach that made it come off as the jock in a locker room of geeks… just waiting to give someone a wedgie for looking at it funny. People emphatically said do not want in regards paying for a box and a subscription when there were better sounding games out there and on the horizon.
But it is ftp now and you really should care.. just a little and this is why
Amazing Group Combat
Much of what you will do in the game is most definitely very very boring, killing mob after mob is just a very tiring way to level.. no arguments there but when people get together to tackle some of the bigger challenges it just becomes so much more then the sum of it’s parts.
Tera is all about action combat, yes the word has become rather meaningless lately as it is being thrown around by many other games but for Tera it is true. Actions are all aimed in some way either by having a cleave range, targeting reticule or needing you to lock on, it keeps you very active and engaged during a fight as you are constantly positioning yourself in order to hit the target properly. The good part though is how this combat style interacts with the way monster attacks are designed, all of their attacks will have specific tells coming from their movements that give you an indication on what is going to happen soon and you need to react according. For the regular monster types it really doesn’t matter too much and you will be able to take a few hits, even my cloth wearing mystic was able to stand and take a beating and just keeping up with the damage by using minimal healing.
This all changes when facing Bams or in dungeons as these guys hurt a lot and sometimes, especially in the later zones and dungeons there is very little room for error. But if your paying attention these attacks are always avoidable by knowing your enemy and watching for attacks. Each class has certain movement skills like a dodge or teleport that allows you to traverse terrain quickly, with these and timing it is very easy to avoid most if not all attacks. Fights are about paying attention and executing it properly, it is a system that rewards skill.
The thing with the Bams and bosses is that because of the various attack tells I never really felt I was being unduly punished by RNG mechanics or anything like that, there was no raid wipe mechanics that would come out of nowhere and collection of attacks that were unachievable, everything was attainable and each boss beatable. The funny thing was that if you had been exploring the world and completing the Bam missions you were basically getting a training exercise on how to beat the end game bosses, all the monsters in the game are from certain category types and these types share many of the same attacks and tells. Coming into these dungeons it was a much better way to learn as it wasn’t primarily about trial and error but more about executing your skills well. And that is a marvelous thing in many ways. Knowing your your roles and executing them appropriately was rather coveted, the skillful players stood out and even with the cross region server people were creating a community around them with extensive friends lists.
The group mechanics were extensive as well and it wasn’t just up to the individual to perform at their best but the group as a whole. Everyone was watching for attacks and dealing with secondary mechanics from time to time. In every dungeon encounter I always felt engaged from start to finish, the bosses have no downtime as for a healer it isn’t just an game of green bar whack a mole, for the dps it isn’t just executing a perfect rotation, and for the tank it isn’t just being a punching bag. The fights constantly evolve depending on the situation, you are required to remain flexible, to be active and attentive to the boss and your other group members, and you need to position yourself accordingly.
All the classes were a lot of fun to play in these encounters but healing was by far my favourite, especially that of the mystic. Aiming the big hitting heals and cleanses was really fun, also the number of people these skills could hit was limited so during group combat it required a little bit of strategy on who to prioritize healing to and then positioning in order to hit those people… and then there was pooping a plethora of balls as sort of pro-active healing measure, it was a very busy job as a healing but it was engaging and it was fun. As a healer the best part about group combat that the onus of surviving was primarily on yourself, needlessly taking hits was looked down on as damage is and should be avoidable, sure your going to take hits from time to time but positioning is everyones responsibility. I remember people dying a few times during dungeons and having a little rage at me for not keeping them up and then getting defended by others saying that they should basically ltp.
The PvP with this system was amazing as well, being on a pvp server with the guild war system created some of my best experiences leveling in an mmo. The group dynamic in PvP was amazing and the battles when evenly geared fantastic… but that was the bad thing. Finding evenly geared matches was quite difficult even at end game, the gear in the game although seeming like small upgrades created massive advantages in attack and defense that often even with just a slight upgrade the fight was determined in advance. For all it’s wonderful active and skill based combat system it was all outdone by gear, and at end game decent gear was a tremendous grind through dungeons or the terribly implemented rifts and reliant on RNG procs. I’m not sure how the instanced PvP worked out though as I left well before that addition and am basing my opinion on the open world combat.
There are many other issues with the game but now that it’s free, and with a decent freemium style of cash shop then it may be worth your time, at least untill you fight your first bam around level 20 and maybe even your first dungeon..
Oh and I like there underhanded comments in the new marketing video about ToR’s terrible FtP conversion