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The Next Generation Of MMOs
Bluehole Studios’ next-generation MMO, TERA Online: The Exiled Realm of Arborea is a triple-A title that is already turning heads and gaining a little bit of recognition for its drastic evolutionary step in MMORPG visuals and its dynamic new combat system.
It’s very rare for an MMO to come along with graphics and a gameplay module that far surpasses the current-day MMORPGs and their pseudo real-time active battles. Even newer MMOs like Aion Online or Champions still suffer from the timed back-and-forth combat mechanics that prove to really standardize and bore-up the gameplay experience. Nevertheless, Bluehole’s revolutionary new system isn’t quite active like most console action games, but it’s not quite real-time turn-based like most other MMOs. They’ve yet to fully divulge exactly how it will work but it already appears as if it will be based more-so on character dynamics and interaction than standard hit/miss roll-dice.
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The Art Of Combat
Supposedly players will now be in charge of how fights and battles play out, as opposed to everyone standing around exchanging timed blows; waiting for the cool-down on the strongest attack to run out so the process can be repeated until someone drops dead after repetitively jamming down on the right mouse button. The encounters will make use of the surrounding environments to encourage more unique and vibrant fights and get players strategically making use of the battlefield around them. That certainly sounds like the right sort of direction for an MMO considering that often times players get bored using the same old quick-keys standing around until the enemy dies.
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Archetypes And A Little Hip Action
Now that the whole battle system has been explored, let’s talk a little bit about the driving force behind TERA Online's character setup, classes and archetypes. Players will create a character from six archetypes and eight character classes. The team is currently optimizing the game to support all sorts of combinations between each race and each class. The challenge lies in the fact that each character class has its own series of animations, attacks and defensive measures that players actually get to see while playing the character. For example, a female human sorceress will perform a sultry dance to cast a certain spell or a large berserker will wield a large weapon as if its actually weighty, which makes the game depict each character class with its own series of individuality.
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The playable classes in the game will include Lancers, who use striking and distanced melee attacks to attack enemies; Warriors, who use standard swift attacks; Sorcerers, who utilize a mysterious force through a floating orb; Priest that can shoot projectiles and use other forms of defensive and offensive forces; Archers that focus on long-range projectile attacks; Slayers who are fierce fighters; Elementalist that utilize different forms of the elements to command against foes; and Berserkers who can crush the mess out of just about any foe.
The story itself is also attached to the character types, as players will battle to defend their race in the exiled land of Arborea since the ancient times of the world. The game will supposedly keep Player-Vs-Player encounters present as a constant gameplay factor with the warring factions of each race. Unfortunately, not much more was revealed regarding how the story will ultimately affect the game or the quest system.
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Now To Wait Until 2010...
Much like newer MMOs on the market the game will feature a dynamic, player-motivated economy. Hopefully it won’t suffer from the price inflation virus that most MMOs are hampered with due to elitist players and the control of loot-heavy areas. Nevertheless, I’m sure the designers will keep the game’s economy free-flowing much like Vanguard: Saga of Heroes or Goonzu Online.
On a final note I should really point out that this game is making huge leaps and bounds in the visual and graphics department. The detail applied to the character designs, skill effects and weapon usage is really impressive. If a character uses enough force to hit an enemy they actually fall down and have to reposition themselves, or if a character gets hit in a certain manner they actually respond to the way they’ve been hit. It’s an extremely fluent and cinematic looking battle system.
With a whole new design mechanic for the active battles and a detailed and diverse selection of playable classes and races, it will be interesting to see what the feedback will be for TERA as it nears the beta process. The game is due to launch in mid 2010. For more information and a few in-game videos of this next-generation MMO feel free to visit the Official Website.
Upcoming MMORPGs for those who like something a little different out of their experience.