There were a couple of free betas this weekend, as Diablo 3 and Tera ramped up numbers to stress test their servers and I spent a few hours poking around in each locale.
Tera was an interesting game. They claim the first responsive MMO-combat system. While it isn’t the only game I’ve seen that requires you to watch the beady glint in your enemies eyes to block, dodge, and run, it is done rather well. The game can be played with mouse/keyboard or a PS3 controller, and I’ll admit I was a bit worried about how the controls would work when I first jumped into the game. However, the swivel mouse movement (similar to Skyrim) was pretty responsive and I found it easy to get a hang of the differences in movement/combat faster than I’d thought.
Because it was a stress-test weekend, I had difficulty getting more than one character made, so I focused on a lancer, the shield-wearing tank. Resources are the standard health, mana and stamina, although stamina plays a different role in Tera than I’ve seen elsewhere. As you fight, your stamina gradually diminishes, and so too does your ability to regenerate health and mana on the battlefield. I honestly didn’t play long enough to see how far my stamina would stretch, but in general, I hate returning to town/camp, and am a bit leery of the mechanic over time.
To be honest, I don’t really understand the premise of the game beyond: we discovered a new island and all the evil happened. Hopefully that storyline will develop a bit more as you get further along in the game. I had a hard time with the color palette which consisted of a ton of pastel colors, and seemed rather bland, even with the nice variety of critters they had running around.
Personally, for a Tera-like experience, I think I could find a F2p system that I liked just as well. It didn’t engage me as much as I’d like, although I will say the epic L20 battle as an introduction to your class was pretty cool.
Fortunately, by that time, Diablo had stopped tossing me Error messages for log-in, and I was able to run around a bit. I started with a demon hunter, which is similar to an amazon. While I’ll compare these to earlier D2 characters, the game-play has changed a bit from 2 to 3. Stat allotment got tossed, and now your character will automatically granted stats on leveling. However, the tree-system has changed quite a bit, and in a really interesting way.
There are base skills which unlock at certain levels. As you level, each of these base skills can have up to 4 variations. In addition, also unlocked as you level, different glyphs become available that allow you to change the “flavor” of each skill, such as type of weapon damage, etc. Skills/glyphs can be changed on the fly as you move throughout dungeons, and all in all (I maxed at 11, I can’t tell you much beyond that) it looks like it’ll provide a lot of variation.
Each class also has a set of skills specifically for defensive purposes. With the demon hunter, in addition to my standard snaring shot, I also got a trap that would snare enemies, I could turn invisible, or cartwheel my way out of reach. It made the burn and kite that is fairly standard for Diablo games a bit more interesting, as I had to choose which defense I thought would be best between standard runs and the final boss.
Another interesting side-note is the, well, side-notes. When you kill new enemies you get this fancy new button “New Lore.” It’ll pop up good ol’ Deckard Cain to talk to about the beastie, which I thought was a fun touch. And no more hording little red and blue spellbooks to identify your items or get back to town. /cheer
I also had some company for a bit with my one of my guildmates, and the group-play works out seamlessly. I remember setting up LAN connections with the hubby so we could destroy the minions of darkness in D2, and while it was easy enough, it took some prep time. With the new battletags, inviting other players to your dungeon is as easy as sending a group invite in WoW. Battle standards allow you to catch up with your friends mid-dungeon, even if you’re just running back to town to sell.
All in all, if you’ve played Diablo in the past, the transition will be simple enough. It’s still a point and click system and it’s heart, although instead of 1-4 being potions, you’ll now have some extra abilities. The mood is still dark and dreary, with the standard demon/angel motif we know and love.