While most MMORPG games boil down to standing still and pushing the right buttons to make the bad people fall down, En Masse's upcoming Tera: The Exiled Realm of Arborea has a much more action-oriented tilt. Set in a fantasy world and featuring much more real-time combat than the genre norm, the game is an MMORPG that also promises an emphasis on the political systems of the realm where players actually take power. We checked out the game firsthand at E3 2011, got some playtime and asked a bunch of questions about where the game is headed.
What was immediately noticeable about Tera is how the combat involves a lot of movement and actual aim. Abilities aren't simply a matter of pressing a button and letting auto-aim targeting take over. Instead, you must use movement controls to put your character in position and within range before triggering the abilities with your mouse cursor pointed at the intended enemy. For melee attacks, this means it plays much like a brawler, and likewise, with ranged attacks, such as arrows or magic, you have to actually take aim.
You can assign abilities to your left and right mouse buttons, which is useful for your most oft-used attacks. Other abilities are triggered by your number keys and the combination of modifiers, such as in practically any other MMO. To navigate menus or mouse-over abilities to check them out, you can press a key to gain a mouse cursor, making it move around the UI rather than control your aim. This makes the gameplay feel more open, active and based around skill while also incorporating many tenets of modern MMOs, such as having bars full of abilities to use and UI information displayed everywhere.
An expected feature of the game was the depth of the political system. The game world is broken up into 15-20 districts spread over three continents, and each district can be ruled by a leader called a Vanarch. Becoming a Vanarch is essentially considered end-game content for top-level players, and to become one, you must first be the leader of a guild. To rise to power, you must do so either by winning the popular vote or dominating the PvP battlefields; either way, it'll take considerable effort. Elections take one week, after which the winner becomes the elected Vanarch of the district and will rule for 21 days until the next election. Players may stay in power if they are elected again, but they must fight for it every time elections occur.
Once a player is elected, he'll have all kinds of control over the district, such as the tax rate, which shops are allowed to operate, which skill trainers or other NPCs are present, and even the ability to put players in jail. No details were given about players' experience while in jail other than that it is a work in progress, and even while players are in jail, the developers aim to make the experience somewhat fun. It was also hinted at that there will be elected leaders — called Exarchs — over each of the three continents, but details on this were playfully vague.
Tera: The Exiled Realm of Arborea will support the use of a gamepad at launch. It's a feature that worked really well for Champions Online in making the game feel more like an action game and less like a traditional MMO. In either case, Tera has a lot of development time to undergo and has no specified release date. It appears to be an MMORPG that is genuinely trying to achieve something different.
Greg Hale also contributed to this preview.
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