Swordplay, Lancing and Axes in Tera
The nuances of melee combat.
We've talked pretty extensively about Tera's action-combat, which doesn't let you target enemies the way a traditional MMO does. But within the wide umbrella of "action-combat" there is room for plenty of nuance, evident in each of Tera's playable classes.
The nuance stems from the differences between attacking a foe with a lance versus an axe or a sword. In many games, weapons are mostly interchangeable, but in Tera, each class uses a specific weapon type and is only able to equip upgrades within that same weapon type. The end result is that each of the four melee classes – Slayer, Warrior, Berserker and Lancer – feel fundamentally different and use different mechanics.
The Warrior, despite its tank role in many other RPGs out there, is an excellent, fast-paced damage dealer. He swings his two swords in wide arcs, dealing damage to multiple enemies with almost every hit. His primary method for avoiding damage is through Evasive Roll, which dives the Warrior in whichever direction he's facing or moving. This can be used to dive straight through enemies to get behind them very quickly. He can gain the ability to tank around level 10, though the nature of his role as a damage mitigator requires better timing than some of the other classes, and can force the enemy to shift around, which isn't always good in group-combat situations.
The Lancer, on the other hand, is like a wall of solid steel. Except with a lance. Rather than dodge through rolls or jumps, the Lancer relies on his ability to block. He can block continuously without moving, but can still take some damage through the blocks if the enemy is particularly strong. The nature of the Lancer's weapon means that most attacks only hit multiple targets when they are gathered directly in front of him. Many of the Lancer's attacks are designed to close the gap on enemies by thrusting him forward or pulling the foe closer. Playing a Lancer effectively often means moving backwards between strikes to keep enemies chasing you in a line.
The giant-axe-wielding Berserker uses many charge-up attacks, such as the Cyclone skill, which can hit large groups of enemies several times, for large damage. Like the Lancer, the Berserker primarily mitigates damage by blocking with the hilt of his gigantic weapon. Many of his later moves utilize his health bar as a resource rather than the standard mana pool. The Berzerker's attacks are very slow, and require you to line your attacks up more than the Warrior or the Lancer, and only one of the moves in his basic combo hits multiple targets with any regularity, but the Berserker hits hard. Using a Berzerker well requires planning and patience, and using any downtime between an enemy's attacks to charge up your own.
The Slayer, on the other hand, can just go in and swing like crazy and hit mostly everything that moves into the field of view. The Slayer primarily utilizes move combos – most of the special attacks, and the end of the basic combo, lead into another move which can be used automatically by pressing space. Some of the special attacks deal damage in a very wide arc, while others strike enemies in a direct line. If you want a character that straddles the line between Berserker and Lancer, the Slayer may be a good choice.
Area-of-effect attacks seem to split the damage somewhat evenly amongst all of the enemies hit, so one of the tactical considerations in Tera is whether you want to try and take down a whole squad of enemies in a series of consecutive blows, or wipe them out one at a time. This can make the angle you attack from very important, and makes moving between strikes (to separate enemies or push them together) a critical element of battle strategy. It's a shift from the way you might deal with clumps of enemies in other MMOs, which tends to involve spamming area-of-effect attacks and disables.
The nature of melee combat in Tera also means you need to be acutely aware of what your enemy is doing, especially during long-lasting and hard-hitting boss battles. Overall, it's surprising how differently each melee class plays, and playing a ranged character is even a further departure from convention, which you can read about tomorrow.
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