My final week in TERA saw me hitting the ground running, looking to utilize whatever means I could to chow through the levels, get to some group action, and just play the game. Basically, act like a normal person would, so to speak. Which was a good thing, actually, because focusing down on advancement really does need one to explore every avenue available to them, especially as a free player.
As is often the case when it comes to escort missions, the AI idiocy was the spanner in the works. Or maybe I was simply inattentive. In either case, every time I would try to complete this quest, my silly little swordswinging friend would charge off in to the wilderness on a path that I wasn’t really familiar for. Worse yet, I didn’t really have any danger indicator or notification that my charge was under attack. You’d think a game that alerts you on-screen every time someone opens a loot bos would be keen to write the alert for an actual mission.
Making this mission even more frustrating to complete was the fact that failure wasn’t immediately apparent or otherwise even something that could be reset. Once the mission wasn’t unsuccessful, I had to log back out and log in to the game in order to get to the step that has me find a new moron to protect and set them on their blindingly stupid way. After about four times of doing the same mission, I decided to actively do the same mission and get rewarded for it: Solo hunting.
Yep, solo hunting at the low level is pretty limited in terms of content options, and not just in the fact that it’s a Kill X mission. There were, at the point that I was in-game, only two mission types available to me due to my level, so I was either sent off to kill tree monsters or sent to kill off barely clothed demon monsters in the same forest zone. Yep, those are things that populate this forest. TERA can be weird.
Still, mindless as these missions are, they were the acceptable kind of mindless. The sort of brain dead grinding one can take up while doing or listening to something else entirely. It also helped me get much more acclimated to the best rotations for my Valkyrie as well as better practice dodging. In addition, I got enough shards to get a new upgradeable weapon on top of all of the XP I was collecting. So overall, it was rewarding enough. Definitely not enough to be a primary source of character progress fuel, but a good diversion once in a while. Like, say, when an escort mission kept screwing up.
Eventually, though, I had to get back on that breadcrumb trail. I had just hit level 20, which unlocked my first-ever dungeon, but I wasn’t a high enough item level with the kit I was wearing, and I knew that completing the next couple of missions would reward me with at least minimum spec gear to get in. So, I headed back to the appointed NPC and started to follow their dopey self along. This time, though, I was escorted myself by what appeared to be a couple of higher level players. It seems that this particular mission is a known misery and so folks were keeping the roads clear and trying to help. With their aid, I was finally able to walk my dense digital dog to his appointed spot and continue on.
Getting this new level and new missions not only opened up the dungeon, but it also opened up my first BAM fight. The solo hunts added a quest to beat down five basilisks, which appear to be My First Big-Ass Monster Fight. The basilisk is an extremely simple battle, with extremely long and obvious telegraphs and a big, meaty health bar to whale away on. Still, I did die to one at least one time, so I couldn’t really be complacent. As a training exercise, it was fun enough, and unleashing my Valkyrie on a thick target always feels good.
After a few moments, some new gear, and another level or two, I was more than ready to enter the dungeon queue. My first group action in TERA went about as I had expected, as I joined the faceroll pain train through a cavern to mow down groups of mobs along the way to a boss fight. I don’t know that we had any dedicated tank in our little group of three, but I also don’t know that we needed one. This dungeon felt an awful lot like the grouping experiences I’ve had in games like Dungeon Fighter Online or Kritika Online in that it was less about a team makeup and more about DPS burning with little regard to elegance or — arguably — skill.
Even so, the boss fights were a good time. Nice, chunky, screen-filling behemoths dotted the path through this particular cavern with enough moves in their repertoire to require me to wake up and pay attention. Since my Valkyrie wears sort-of-pants as armor, I had to make sure to keep at the beastie’s flanks to unleash spear-based, rune-exploding hell, and seeing those moves rip away huge chunks of a multiple health bar boss was extremely satisfying.
By the end of it all, I was left generally middle-of-the-road emotionally over the dungeon; it was pretty mindless, but at least the boss fights were a good time. What made it the most worthwhile were the rewards: I got a number of good drops in my run and got myself some pretty decent chunks of XP. As a vehicle for character progression, dungeons are an outstanding tool.
That said, I feel like I’ve spent enough time in TERA, and it’s high time we move on to something a little different. I’ve decided to go ahead and pin down the next game we’ll be adventuring to: City of Heroes: Homecoming. As far as I’m aware, this is one of the first times (if not one of the few times) this column has decided to enter an emulator/rogue server, but this particular game holds such a space in my heart and has been the source of so many stories that it’s pretty much impossible to ignore.
Of course, that leaves the question of what character to build, and City of Heroes has so many options that polling could go on forever. I’ll try to keep things as streamlined as possible. First, where to start off:
Where should our CMA superhero begin their digital life?
- Paragon City. You're a superhero. This is what you do. (36%, 15 Votes)
- The Rogue Isles. Bad folks have all the fun. (26%, 11 Votes)
- Praetoria. Alt universe character ahoy! (38%, 16 Votes)
Total Voters: 42
Next: archetype. We’ll narrow things down with next week’s vote in terms of powerset, and I’ll pick whatever style of character in the chosen archetype intrigues me, but first it’s time we try to figure out the kind of powers our CMAling will have.
What powers or archetype should our character take?
- Blaster. Ranged damage is best damage. (9%, 4 Votes)
- Scrapper. No, melee damage is superior. (16%, 7 Votes)
- Tank. Be it classic Tanker or smashy Brute, get in the mix. (7%, 3 Votes)
- Controller. Take up the mantle of the best playstyle in MMOs. (16%, 7 Votes)
- Defender. Heals n' shields are always needed. (5%, 2 Votes)
- Mastermind. Because robots. Or ninjas. Or demons. (39%, 17 Votes)
- Epic Archetype. Arachnos Spider or Kheldian, doesn't matter, let's get unique. (9%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 44
Polling wraps up at the usual 1:00 p.m. EDT time this coming Friday, June 28th. I have to say, friends, I am looking very forward to next month. Let’s make this a good one, shall we?