GDC 2012 Day 1: TERA
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
En Masse, the classy folks that they are, had a private room at the back of the show room floor so we could enjoy their demo in peace. And what a demo they had in store for us. I never tire of laughing at the people that have only played through the first 15 or so levels of TERA and complain that the game is too easy. Any of the press that have experienced the end-game dungeons at E3, PAX Prime, Gamescom, or GDC know what a laugh it is calling this game easy. But before I get on to talk about the Temple of Temerity, let’s discuss some of the fun changes being made in the game in preparation for launch!
First up is this weekend’s patch that I missed while covering the show! At long last we have red names on the PvP servers! But even more exciting is that the red names only mark people as having killed players 6 or more levels lower than them and has no intrinsic penalty on their stats or death penalty. Therefore this is merely a way of marking the troublemakers like myself to the rest of the community so that they can deal with us how they see fit (or die trying).
En Masse, Frogster, and Bluehole have all been putting a major effort into giving the community what they want and the overall gaming experience is getting better as a result. They’ve added rest experience, achievements with matching titles, and an improved broker system to help players sell their goods to a larger audience. A lot of new quests have been added as well and soon we’ll be seeing reputation quests that allow players to build up respect with 6 different forces, resulting in unique force based rewards. They also spoke of breaking the currency down into gold, silver, and bronze as it can be a bit overwhelming considering how much money you have when all you see is millions of gold in your inventory.
The level curve has also been adjusted to never make players feel like the game is too grindy. One this note they also added a major bonus to party questing so that you will have incentive to do the unthinkable and team up with your fellow gamers. It sounds like the LFG system is on the way as well, which is a mixed blessing in my opinion. I don’t like the thought of my enemies sitting in town queuing for dungeons but with how busy my life is I’m sure I’ll be thankful when my time comes to get a quick group together.
One of the really cool reveals that I hadn’t heard about prior to GDC was the Nexus public event system. Essentially it works in the same way as RIFT’s system in which random Argon dimensional portals will open up and players will need to rush to repel the invaders out of Arborea. How this will play out is 3 increasingly difficult waves of Argons will spill out of the portal destroying all in their path. Each progressive wave will hit harder, move faster, and have larger health pools than the last. Don’t expect this to be a casual event either as they were talking about hour long gauntlets to close the portal for good. Special reward items only available from Nexus events will be available for players who succeed in trashing the Argons.
One point of interest Chris Hager mentioned they are working on is improving support for controllers. Currently the option is there but it’s definitely inferior to keyboard controls so hopefully they can pull off a better system with more testing.
En Masse was also concerned about the difficulty scaling of content since most end-game dungeons in Korea were designed with a level cap of 58 in mind. Since TERA will be launching with a level cap of 60, they are moving some of the dungeons placement in the storyline around and rebalancing them to still be plenty challenging for a party of level 60s. They are also moving and rebalancing some of the less challenging dungeons down to lower levels so that the path to level 60 still offers plenty of new content for players to experience on the way to the top. And for those who have quickly master end-game dungeons, they will be offering ‘hard mode’ with some of the most keyboard smashingly difficult dungeons you’ve ever seen in an MMO, along with rewards to match for those who manage to overcome them.
Temple of Temerity
The actual gameplay demo they had waiting for us at the event was a new dungeon balanced for level 60 players. The Temple of Temerity stands as a final test handed down by the Goddess Kaia for Arman wishing to prove their worth among their race. 5 players must team up to defend a crystal point for 20 minutes against a seemingly endless wave of hardy foes.
The key to victory isn’t just to distract the mobs away from the crystal but to also kill them as quickly as possible. Doing so unlocks special buffs and bonuses like instant revives and HP regeneration for the crystal you’re defending.
I thought we would have no difficulty going into this mission with our all-star line up of players including Producer Chris Hager (call him Chager) on the lancer, Associate Producer Stefan on the priest, Ben of Ten Ton Hammer and myself on Sorcerers, and a writer from G4TV on the Berserker. However the very first wave caught us with our pants down and our crystal was already down to 30% HP. This is when Chager mentioned that they had groups of press party wipe so early in this dungeon that they had enough time between meetings to try again. Game-face mode activated.
The first 10 minutes was pretty touch and go with Chager and our berserker both nose diving into the dirt. However the power of 2 level 60 Sorcerers focusing amassed groups was more than enough to keep us in the fight. The sorcerer class is surprisingly good at kiting at max level, with plenty of slow skills and dodge skills in addition to an aoe slow/dodge skill that I kept accidentally casting while running away, resulting in me rave diving right into the middle of a riot of pursuing monsters.
With 11 minutes left on the clock all hell broke lose as monsters from both entrances to the room swarmed us. Stefan was shouting orders and forcing us to group together for heals to keep things stable and our crystal once again was teetering on the verge of destruction. This is where I found just how important the two active buffs on the sorcerer are. One buffs your next attack by a large margin and the other massively boosts your attack speed. I would unleash a hail of ice with my charged attack active and then switch to the faster attack speed buff to focus down larger foes with a barrage of auto attacks and fast cast spells.
Just when we thought things were under control a new wave of monsters that looked like organic tanks (i.e. Urgot from League of Legends) appeared in our room. The clock counter hit 10 minutes left and Stefan ran to the side of the room to activate one of our traps. He hit the ‘oh shit’ button and a massive tremor shook the room, killing all monsters on screen. I never got a chance in the chaos to see what this button looked like but I’ll just assume it was a Super Mario Bros 3 POW block.
From then on the waves became more fierce but we had environmental traps at our disposal to deal with it. Activatable spike traps positioned at both entrances allowed us to snare and damage each wave as it entered the fray (making our jobs as sorcerers so much easier). Exploding barrels also popped up randomly that would 1 shot any nearby mobs when triggered. This made this rather challenging as improper use of the exploding barrels was game over for the crystal, so each aoe had to be well placed to not blow up our last lines of defense. Faster smaller monsters also began entering the fray at this time, quickly scuttling to our crystal so fast that we could hardly target them. It was up to our berserker to cut them down, and since he was dead most of the time, our crystal was feeling the pain.
At this time boss monsters began to spawn. Team CC coordination was vital to dealing with these behemoths and unfortunately, we were anything but coordinated. Every attempt to sleep the boss would fail within seconds as someone on the team would accidentally bump them to wake them up. We managed to get through one of them via the POW block but the second boss rampaged unchecked. With only 3 minutes left on the clock the two biggest waves yet made their way through both doors simultaneously. Chager and I took up position on one side with the other 3 at the other. Things were going smoothly for about a minute but then our berserker went down and Ben took too much agro to stand his ground safely. Chager was forced to charge to the other side to provide back-up and I was left to solo the impending wave of doom.
Despite our auto revives and valiant effort to slow and CC the mobs, there was simply too many and we were all out of our traps. With 1 minute and 29 seconds left on the clock, our crystal exploded and we failed the mission. We joined the ranks of 5 other groups of press to have failed this dungeon at GDC. Be sure to check out this trailer to give yourself a visual of the Temple of Temerity.
If you haven’t had a chance to try this game out despite my constant badgering then I don’t think you really like MMOs. But fear not because in two weeks OnRPG will have 50 keys ready for the fourth closed beta test on the North American servers. Your chances to try the game for free are dwindling so be sure to subscribe to our twitter or facebook to be in the loop when I start handing keys out! As for the rest of you already enjoying TERA, I’ll see you on North American Valley of the Titans server later tonight!