Hands-on before the May 5 launch
I was really into TERA Onlinewhen it first came out. I couldn’t stop playing for days on end, and even after I cut back, I was still running dungeons for months. But when it time to create another character, I quit because it was way too grindy and there wasn’t enough to do in terms of endgame — it’s the kiss of death for many MMOs.
But over the past year or so, a lot of interesting updates have been happening. It’s gone free-to-play, and it’s actually using a fair scheme with mostly cosmetic options, delivering up content patches for free. It also has a lot more to do in general.
It’s also great that the new Gunner class is launching next week, as it’s given me a perfect excuse to get back into the game.
To get a full rundown of the new class, I had a chance to play a short session with Patrick “TreeShark” Sun, a producer for the game at US publisher En Masse Entertainment. To kick things off I noted my extended absence from the game, and asked what improvements have been made that could possibly snare returning players.
Unsurprisingly he noted that the Gunner was a perfect excuse to come back, stating that it was “much more fluid and devastating than any other class.” He went on to say that “there’s so much more to do at this point now that we’re in theFate of Arun update. There’s flying guild halls that are part of the live environment and not instanced, many more dungeons to play.” I asked about the player count, and Sun was able to confirm that they’re currently at four million registered users — no word on how many converted into paying customers.
In terms of the Gunner itself (which can only be played by a female character), it sounds like PR speak, but it really was a more fluid class — perhaps one of the most fluid I’ve ever played in an MMO. Combined with the already active battle system that highlights plug and play controller usage, the class has a ton of tools at its disposal without feeling overpowered.
Gunners aren’t your typical ranged role, as they’ll employ heavy armor, sharing a loot table with Berserkers. They’re not as fast as some speed-based classes, but they excel at using combo-based abilities and other active talents. Take the rocket jump, which is not only a really cool dodge that flings you in the direction of your last movement input, but an attack as well. Sun said that the team “really wanted to put something in there as an homage to Quake and Unreal, thus the rocket jump was born.”
Standard-attacks are basic bullet shots, but the other skills include a pulse blast with the option to detonate (just like the pulse rifle in Unreal), a minion that can either heal you or be used as an instant tether jump point, the ability to deploy a turret, and of course, rain of fire area-of-effect (AOE) techniques.Dodging around felt more active as a Gunner, and it really feels likeBluehole Studio has mastered the engine at this point.
My favorite mechanic however is Willpower, a stat that raises as you actively engage enemies in rapid succession. Sun described it as a “limit break,” where you can unleash a powered-up ability like an orbital strike, gatling gun, or a gigantic fire-based AOE. The mechanic is pretty stylish, as you’ll immediately be able to notice it by way of your glowing blue gun.
Beyond the functionality, the Gunner itself is a pretty cool looking class, and the weaponry itself is easily the best part — over-the-top, and wonderful. It will be available on May 5, which is not-so-coincidentally the same day that TERAhits Steam, and the celebration of its three-year anniversary.