En Masse Entertainment will be unleashing the next update for TERA on May 17th. The “Secrets & Shadows” update not only adds new content and a new class, but it also introduces flying mounts into the free-to-play MMORPG. Given the somewhat mixed feelings for flying in MMORPGs, I wanted to chat with the team at En Masse about the decision, and they upped the ante by taking me on a full preview walk-through of the upcoming patch. What did I think? Well, let’s just take this one a piece at a time, shall we?
Let’s Take to the Sky
First up, the biggie: Flying Mounts. They work in TERA almost exactly like you would expect them to but there are a few minor touches on the system. Players will receive their first Flying Mount just by playing the game so don’t worry, if you’re at level cap you’ll be in the air very soon. Initially you’ll only be able to fly in a few end game zones. The dev team does intend to open up flying in other places over time, but for now, the areas are very limited. You move with WASD, ascend with space bar (or by aiming your mouse up or down), and the overall experience controls like you expect. There is a “stamina” like system at work here though. You won’t be able to just fly across an entire zone. When depleted, you must land to recharge your flying energy. It doesn’t take long to do, but I don’t see the need for this type of mechanic in TERA. If flying requires that you’ve worked your way through questing and exploration already, I don’t see a need to MAKE you land every minute or two. Flying is obviously faster than walking (P.S. Flying mounts do double as ground mounts) so it seems a bit unnecessary to make me land often. Unless I fly into a terrible spot, I’m going to land, sit there for 10 seconds, and take off again. Kind of pointless.
That being said though, flying feels great when you are airborne and the world of TERA looks fantastic from this new vantage point. The “speed boost” glide is a nice touch and puts a little power behind your flying. Overall, flying actually seems rather well integrated and organic to the game’s world. The landing is annoying, sure, but other than that, since TERA’s primary PvP mechanics work a bit differently, I don’t think the game will have quite the backlash other games have had from players when flying is implemented.
Adding A Little Class
Secrets & Shadows brings forth the new Ninja class from the shadows. Yes, the class is locked. If you want to play a Ninja you’ll be rolling an Elin. This is easily the single biggest turnoff for me on the class but after my playtime with the class, I might actually be willing to overlook it. Yes, I just said that and believe me it pains me more to say it than for you to read it.
Summed up simply: the Ninja is a lot of fun. Predictably, the class is fast, vicious, and sneaky in all the right ways. Combo attacks string off of each other and filling up your Chi meter allows you to drop some seriously devastating attacks. The animations are spot on and seeing the Ninja dart and dash all over an area full of enemies (the class features a number of abilities that serve not only as gap closer abilities but also as a neat way to get from target to target very quickly) is so satisfying that I could probably spend hours just killing things in the game’s world.
As if that wasn’t enough fun, the Ninja features a clone ability that allows you to target any player you want and clone yourself to look like them in design and even display name above your head. Don’t worry, you can’t actually use the ability to scam others as attacking, trading, and other actions break the spell right away…you can however dance as them! In PvP, this could be a very useful feature though and will help Ninjas get close or even hide in plain sight until the time to attack is right. It’s a fun little ability.
The Ninja’s numerous dodge abilities really make you feel skilled as you learn when and how to use them. There’s nothing quite like jumping into the fray, landing your shots, and then jumping out just as fast as you jumped in. The ebb and flow of the class is really well done.
Be sure to check out the class guide!
Did We Kill Him This Time?
In this update, TERA brings back a baddie from the past in Dakuryon. Multiple level 65 dungeons are being added in this update and I got to check out the 5 player affair, Shadow Sanguinary. I really don’t want to spoil too much here though so forgive my brevity. The boss models? They look fantastic. The boss mechanics? Challenging even on the normal version of the dungeon but also beatable with some practice and through paying attention. Deadly? Yes, yes, and yes. Even in decked out press preview gear, there were ample deaths even when things seemed to be “going our way.” Did we kill Dakuryon this time? I’m sure you can probably guess the answer to that one. He’s a great looking villain and his battles are very well done…something tells me that it’s not the last time for this dog-and-pony show.
While I didn’t personally get to tour them, Secrets & Shadows also adds a new 7 person dungeon (Demokron Factory) and a new single player experience in the Celestial Arena where 12 waves of random monsters await you each time you enter. Both of these encounters are also aimed at the level capped (65) players.
Summing it Up
In the end, are there things about Secrets & Shadows I don’t like? Sure. Another restricted class sucks and the frequent landing while flying seems unnecessary to me personally, but in the end these ended up being minor annoyances. The ability to fly (albeit limited ability right now), a very well done class, and some great PvE content for us PvE carebears make this update my favorite to date and I don’t say that lightly….because it means I’ll have to roll an Elin….
Check it all out when Secrets & Shadows comes to TERA on May 17th.