It’s no secret: TERA’s Secrets & Shadows update arrives this month! And many players are eagerly anticipating diving in to experience these changes for themselves. Besides two new dungeons and the new Ninja class, the sky’s the limit when it comes to travel (at least in some zones) thanks to the new flying mounts. Who wouldn’t want to soar high above the land, looking down upon and taunting those poor, earth-bound critters who can’t touch you… until you run out of flight time, that is? Of course I would, so the moment the opportunity to saddle up and check out Secrets & Shadows presented itself before its slated May 17th release, I hopped right on! I teamed up with Producer Patrick Sun, Community Manager Sean Gibbons, and Product Manager Matt Denomme for a jaunt through the skies, then we delved into the Shadow Sanctuary dungeon as a pack of new Ninjas. Here’s how it all turned out!
As far as impressions of the flying mounts, it’s not really fair. I am not sure there is possibly any scenario in which I wouldn’t love flying! I happen to love to fly, in game and out (small planes, not commercial). So it is no surprise that I really enjoyed zipping through the air on my black Pegasus. The shadowy griffon also looked pretty fantastic.
I will say this: You do have to keep a close eye on your flight time. There’s not really a whole lot to begin with, but if you sprint forward, you burn it up pretty darn fast. Also it is important to note that you can dismount yourself while in the air, and if you are high enough, you will die on impact with the ground. (No, I was not the one who tested this!) I recommend avoiding the F1 key while mid-air. Level 65 players will be able to earn a free flying mount by completing a level-65 quest, but other mounts will also be available for purchase.
I’m a Ninja!
Next up: the Ninja. Although this update also includes balance changes for existing classes, most notably the Priest and they Mystic (who now can have more than one thrall), my class for this hands on experience was the Ninja. Again, is this fair? Ninjas are by definition pretty dang cool. But playing them as a class can be completely different. It could be that devs miss the mark, right? Luckily, they didn’t appear to in TERA. Sun described the Ninja as taking “action combat to a whole new level.” The fighting style combines crit damage with bursts of speed. I may not have felt particularly stealthy, but when I unleashed the skill One Thousand Cuts, I was reveling in true ninjaness! Your character is seriously a blur as you slice and dice every which way. Darting all over the battlefield cutting swathes through enemies was quite fun. A number of Ninja attacks can throw enemies off balance or even suspend them in the air. Each swing of the Ninja’s left mouse attack also reduces the cool-down for many of the other skills, so the more you attack, the more you can attack. And for a little more flair, you get to shoot fireballs from your hands.
There’s also a special Ninja skill that is going to be serious fun, though it isn’t combat-related. This is where the stealthy part comes in. You see, the Ninja can cast an illusion that perfectly mimics a targeted player, right down to the name over the head! It only lasts for a minute, and breaks upon combat, but can you just image the fun you can have with that? Besides just messing with your friends for a moment, you can also try and infiltrate places you aren’t supposed to be in PvP, such as castle sieges; just disguise yourself as someone who is supposed to be there and strut right in. “I am actually looking forward to seeing how people roleplay with that move,” said Gibbons.
As you might expect, Ninjas wear cloth and are pretty squishy, relying on their speed and dodging to get out of harms way between attacks. The main dodge, Shadow Jump (right mouse button), actually lets the Ninja dodge twice in a row in quick succession with no cool down, even changing the direction for each dodge. The second dodge actually damages foes that get in the way. For the Ninja class, the basic mantra is, don’t get hit! I can attest that when you do, bad things happen — usually your death at a boss’ feet. Obviously folks better suited to melee than myself, and anyone who learns the class from the beginning — versus being dropped in on a max-level toon — is sure to master the abilities better than I did during my hands on. The promise of a fun class is definitely there, even with only the small taste I had.
The one complaint I have about the class is the fact that it is locked to the Elin race. I’m sorry, but cutesy little girl and deadly ninja just don’t quite jive well in my mind. More than that, however, is that I personally am not a fan of playing any races that look like little girls period (especially scantily clad ones), so that pretty much prevents me from ever leveling a Ninja of my own. But I did enjoy the moves while I was testing out on this one.
During this hands on our group only experienced the Shadow Sanguary dungeon. And it was definitely an experience. In Shadow Sanguary, players will meet up again with an old friend, the portal-popping escape artist, Dakuryon. Since it is the archdevan’s own lair, he is sure to have a few surprises for players. If you can’t get enough of Dakuryon, be sure to visit Demonkron Factory as well — it’s the archedevan’s secret production factory for making monstrocities.
Without wanting to give too many spoilers about the dungeon and the final boss fight, I will say that it does indeed earn its reputation as an end-game dungeon. You start off immediately facing a BAM. And throughout the fights, there are plenty of opportunities for dodging — and not just for the Ninjas. There’s even one attack you face where there is basically no escape, except for a tiny sliver of the room. Thankfully, there’s a special feature for players who are just learning the dungeon. Called neophyte resuscitation, this allows for those who have visited the dungeon under a certain number of times to resurrect right in the battle up to five times by paying gold. However, if your healer is still alive, you need to decline this to get the window off your screen so you can see your healer’s revive offer.