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TERA (The Exiled Realm of Arborea) is an action MMORPG developed by Bluehole Studio. It made debut in Asia (first in Korea and then in Japan) and is now on the way to western countries under concerted efforts of US-based En Masse Entertainment and Berlin-based Frogster Interactive Pictures. The localized version is now at the end of alpha testing and scheduled to launch next spring.  (Update: Tera was launched on May 1st, 2012.)

TERA leads us into a dream literally. The fantasy in-game world is a materialized dream made by two titans, Arun and Shara; and the two in-game continents of the world are just named after them. When Arun and Shara sleep, their dreams with the creatures (twelve beings with godlike power and immortal races) in it come into life. Conflicts among them left none unscathed, but that’s past story. Current menace arises from the underworld race of Argons and marauding monsters who must be stopped by the surviving seven races.

So, players will take up the role of soldiers in the Valkyon Federation, fighting with others against the dark force. First create a unique character out of seven-race and eight-class combination. Seven races carry on distinct lore and looks of their own: the goat-horned Castanics, civet-like Poporis, beast-styled Amani, slender High Elves, stout Baraka, genie-like Elins and normal Humans. Eight classes differ from one another in combat style, equipped weapons and accessible skills. While some of them may coincide with similar ability like the healing power of both Mystic and Priest, but they definitely work in different ways, say, Mystic good at temporary healing of single objective while Priest skillful of longer, team-wide cure.

Character customization is not limited to looks and outfits. The game has revealed a special Glyph system to customize skills since Lv.20. Each of the hundreds of skills has 1 to 4 different glyphs to buff its effect different ways, such as less MP cost, shortened cool-down, increased skill duration, just to name a few. To focus all glyphs on one skill or spread them over multiple is up to players.

Gaming world is full 3D, fabulously depicted with diversified landscapes. And it’s expansive and open (with certain areas instanced), so players can freely move about, taking quests and combating over 600 different types of monsters. With no auto-targeting, the action is skillfully challenging and thusly fun. Wave a sword or an axe or a wand, cast a spell, or shoot an arrow; that’s not over; you need to dash, to dodge, to defend; all happen in the split second. And opponents can’t be taken light of, which comes home to you by a simple glance.

600 odd monsters of different species are not a small number, especially not all is easy to defeat. Ready to face Big Ass Monsters (BAMs)? Frightening spider Ovolith not only attacks with quick sharp pincers but also sprays lethal venom which must be dodged; and the mountain-like Kumas can shoot death rays out of its beer-belly. And they are not the most dangerous, not even close.

Combat-oriented, it provides fascinating PvE fight, which is for sure. Uncertainty lies with the open world PvP. While PvP content such as battglegrounds and duels will be integral part offered not only on the PvP servers but on some PvE servers as well, the highly expected ‘Free-for-All-from Lv.1’ PvP server is not available at launch and possible to add later. In the Korean version, players have to reach the top level to access to Outlaw System experiencing full-fledged open PvP; and the localized one worked on currently is likely to lower the level allowing earlier entry.

Action-driven as it is, the game also introduces a special political system with some endgame elements (also seen in BAM battles) included. Winning office by Fist or by Fame, players can execute different powers such as changing tax rate or altering town features to exert their influence on the world.

TERA Screenshots: