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Yesterday, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the Gearbox Software Community Event in Dallas, Texas. Consider it a scaled-down version of one of the larger conventions, and just for one company, and you might get a feeling of how it was. It was hosted at the Palladium Ballroom, and old venue that has been used for various musical events for ages. Having seen a number of bands perform there in the past, I was right at home when I arrived at 9:30am. What I wasn't expecting was the massive line that stretched for two city blocks. Wow. Nearby parking was filled up, so I ventured off and found a spot another block or two away before making my way to the entrance.
VIP guests – that is, people who purchased tickets at the $10, 75, 100, or 1000 price, were granted a separate line and much faster access. The lowly peons who signed up for free, including me, were relegated to the big line. I took the opportunity and time spent in line to chat with the people around me. Large swaths of them wore Borderlands, Aliens, or Gearbox swag, and there were plenty of cosplayers scattered throughout the mix. In particular, a Moxxie and Zero stood out. I managed to snag a picture of the Zero, as well as the wonderful remote-controlled Claptrap, though not the Moxxie. I'll be including the pictures I took (there aren't a ton) in a link at the bottom. Keep an eye on Gearbox Software's Official Facebook (facebook.com/GearboxSoftware) for the official sets!
I made it inside around 10:30 or so, was granted a bag full of goodies, and immediately asked the girl checking me in if I could talk to the Community Manager of Gearbox. She said yes and whisked me away through the crowd. As it turns out, many of the (admittedly pretty) women wearing bright green t-shirts that said “Staff” on them were fiancees of various Gearbox employees. I asked the one I was following how she felt to be at something like this, and she laughed, saying “This is what we love to do. It's just as much fun to help organize as it is to attend”.
We eventually made it down a hallway and into a large, open space. One door led forward, with a sizeable pillar depicting various Borderlands 2 characters, while another led to a darker room on the left, labeled as the Aliens: Colonial Marines area. Told to wait, I amused myself by chatting to people in two lines, one for the Aliens area, and one for a booth set up from which Gearbox was selling various posters, t-shirts, and other swag. The Video Game Hall of Fame also had a section set up, where you could look through some neat old hardware, classic systems and games, and even play on a couple of Ataris.
In time, Chris, the Community Manager of Gearbox threaded his way through the crowd to me. Wearing a walkie-talkie on one hip, holding another in one hand, and listening pointedly through an earpiece, I knew my chances of an extended talk with him were slim, but he made an effort to let me ask a couple of questions. Unfortunately, all three of his toys seemed to go off at once, and he gave me a look that said “sorry bud” before taking off. Being in charge of such a large event makes one quite busy. With a shrug, I made my way into the Borderlands 2 room.
Once inside, I was greeted by a huge space. On my left was a bar, selling various food and drinks, followed by a set of PCs against the wall, where various people were gathered to play. Sponsors from Nvidia, Alienware, TurtleBeach, and Logitech were hanging out in the area, laughing and talking about various new PC hardware. I spoke with them for a few moments, and they informed me of how several peripherals, including keyboards and headsets, had been donated to the raffle drawing. Nvidia had even thrown in a few GTX 660s, one of the most powerful cards on the market right now. I'll admit, I was salivating a bit at the thought.
The back wall had PS3's lined up, with Sony reps alongside, and the center of the floor more of the same, but with 360s and Microsoft reps. But the main attraction was behind this, on the right wall. A massive stage had been set up, with a large BL2 backdrop. On the stags stood larger-than-life replica statues of each of the major playable characters from the game. The detail was exquisite, and my sad little camera phone did nowhere near proper justice to these. Keep an eye out for higher-rez, better-angled pictures of these online.
In the name of time, I decided to check out the Aliens: Colonial Marines room before heading to the Gearbox Panel. This room was dark, and much colder than the rest of the venue. Several sets of rusty oil canisters and boxes had been set up, and covered by netting and camouflage, with a few well-placed lights to give a creepiness to the place. Along the walls were various gaming setups, each with a group of people watching and playing. Collective groans and cheers could be heard as they took eachother out in multiplayer, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I noticed that not all of the Gearbox staff was really 'working' today, and most of them seemed to be hanging out and chatting to people in good spirits, with the same bright green shirts that the girls has been wearing, but with “Dev Team” on the back. It seems that the event was a bit of a vacation for most of these guys, who had likely been working overtime for the last week or two.
I was fortunate enough to get a good seat at the Gearbox Panel, where we were happy to find Adam Sessler moderating Several members of the Gearbox staff joined him, including Randy Pitchford, the President and CEO. While I didn't have a recording device to get a full transcription of the panel, I did take some key notes, and there was an official video camera set up, so this will likely be on Youtube in the near future. Key points are as follows:
Much of development went something along the lines of “What's a cool way to electrocute a dude? Oh I know, have an eyeball pop out of his skull!”.
According to Aaron Teebo (Tebow, Tibo?), VP of Production, development on Borderlands 2 started very shortly after BL1 was released, in February of 2010. “We waited until Randy came and got me, saying, 'it's time for Borderlands 2'”.
Gearbox was in charge of porting the original Halo to the PC, which was a huge technicall achievement, as much of the game's code had to be rewritten from the ground up to allow for online play. Many of the panel members agreed how big of a deal this had been.
Randy Pitchford states that Gearbox doesn't make games just to make games. It has to be something that no one else can do. No one had done a FPS/Diablo game before, so they were the ones to dive in. No one else was willing to attempt the Halo port, and no one else was willing to take over Duke Nukem Forever.
Brothers in Arms: Furious Four is no longer a BiA game – the development of it took enough twists that it will now be its own IP, and will be announced shortly. In addition, Ubisoft, while still in charge of the BiA publishing, will NOT be publishing this title. Also, the next BiA game will be a true BiA game, with the same style and feeling of the previous ones. Emphasis was made on the fact that the development of BiA was a vastly different process from that of Borderlands, and the team was very reverant of the history behind the story.
Randy Pitchford seemed to struggle with himself after being asked a question about the end of the Duke Nukem franchise before saying: “DNF is NOT the end of Duke.DNF was a way for Gearbox to open up the franchise [for themselves]”. We may yet see a properly developed Duke game, made from the ground up by one development team!
Gearbox is not particularly interested in the mobile market, at least in-house. They have partnered with Gameloft to bring several BiA games to mobile devices, but do not intend to do direct development themselves, at least for the near future.
A very interesting question was phrased by an attendee, who noted the huge success Valve enjoys, as well has the massive community approval it has received, mostly by having control over its own goals and finances. With the recent success that Gearbox has enjoyed, and the fact that they also take the time to listen to the community, would Gearbox ever sell out to a large publisher or bigger company? Randy Pitford's response was no - “Gearbox was never founded as a means to an end. It wasn't a 'we create this company to make money, then go do something else with that money'. It is everyone's passion, and I plan on creating entertainment like this until the day I die” (rambunctious applause here).
After the panel, a GTX 660 was raffled off, and the panel went to sign autographs in the hall. I made my way to the main bar by the entrance and grabbed a beer before getting back in line for the Borderlands 2 panel. This one was moderated by none other than Morgan Webb, and was much more crowded than the first. Most importantly, we were shown the official launch trailer for Borderlands 2, which should be available on various media pages tomorrow – Monday the 17th. Filled with action and humor, it got a rise out of the crowd when Maya was shown alongside Lilith, they both destroyed a huge pile of enemies via some psychic abilities, then gave eachother a high-five. The trailer ended by showing all of the new characters, as well as each of the older ones from BL1 together. No announcement was made, but it seems that you'll likely be able to play as them too, maybe in a new game + mode? We can only speculate.
The panel stated that “Borderlands is about not taking ourselves too seriously as game developers”. Many games are somewhat “over-the-top” in terms of how serious they are, and there truly is a good market out there for those games. But Borderlands is something else, and some of the most fun that the employees have had developing games.
Emphasis was given on the fact that the game was built from the ground up for the PC, and that the best experience will be had with a PhysX enabled-card (clearly a nod to Nvidia). They took all of the feedback from the community over the first game, and put it into the second. The story is much better, the menus more interactive, there is more diversity in the skill-trees, and each of the characters will play much differently.
There was a lot of discussion on the Mechromancer (Gaige), one of the characters available to pre-orderers, and otherwise as DLC later. One of her skill trees is called the Best-Friends-Forever (yes, BFF) tree. This is a less-powerful skill tree, but much easier for non-gamers to utilize. The team jokingly called it the “girlfriend tree”, though Randy shut them down by noting that his wife is better than him at most games. The other trees will be more powerful, but much harder to use. The team alluded to a damage-stacking system that resets when you die, so avoiding death is of paramount concern with one of the trees. Everyone on the panel voiced having a serious love for the character, so we may see her getting quite a bit of playtime.
There was some discussion of the game's 'season pass' worth of DLC. This is effectively a minimum of 4 pieces of DLC (priced at $10 each) for $30, a price available at launch. A four-for-three deal on DLC from the company that has made some of the only DLC that I have ever loved seems absolutely worth it to me, but decide for yourself after playing!
One of the panel members noted that there were some complaints over the fact that in BL1, you might replace a weapon a couple of times, then find something so good that you use it for the next 20 levels. The scaling on items and enemies has been changed in BL2 so that this doesn't happen anymore.
The limited-edition strategy guide has some fun things inside, including a buildable papercraft Claptrap and Skag (Morgan expressed some excitement here).
The panel ended with the raffle drawings and cosplay contest, which was won by the fantastic Zero, followed by Moxxie, and for third a well-done Handsome Jack. The panel retired to sign autographs, and everyone cycled back into the venue.
I spent some more time exploring, got to play some BL2 and Aliens:Colonial Marines, had a drink at the bar with a couple of developers, then headed home myself. I took apart my bag in the car – it contained
-a big flier for various BL2 things and a Gamestop Aliens pre-order flier
-a rubber, bendable toy alien from the game
-a redeemable code for a chest containing rare items in BL2 (a code for each version)
-a redeemable code for an Avatar t-shirt on the 360, the raffle ticket stub (I didn't win)
-a Gearbox Software pen
-a custom-made Logitech Borderlands 2 mouse
All in all, it was a fantastic experience, I enjoyed myself immensely, and the turnout was great (apparently over triple that of the last one). There was a late launch-party that night featuring several entertainers, but I deigned to go in favor of sleep. I came away thoroughly convinced that I want to buy and play Borderlands 2, along with anything else Gearbox does in the future. The game releases September 18th (this Tuesday), so pre-order today!
Here's the album of pictures (sorry for the low quality - higher-res ones should be available on the Gearbox website and/or facebook soon!:
Food for thought here, in more ways than one.
We, as gamers, tend to fall into bad health habits, simply given our preferred past-time. We spent a lot of time sitting on our butts, hunched over a controller or keyboard, and staring at a screen. It isn't always the most conductive way to a healthy lifestyle, but there are ways that we can lessen the impact of long-term gaming on our bodies.
First and foremost - diet. As I sit here writing this, I'm drinking tea, not soda. And when it's not tea, it's water. I'll occasionally have a Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper, but that's generally one every few weeks as opposed to one or two per day. I try to save my drink calories for beer, which can, depending on the type, be better for you than soda. For snacks? Almonds, fruit, and banana bread. I think most of us try to eat better for meals than we do for snacking during game-time, but for those of you still eating ramen or microwave-food, I suggest moving to eggs, real pasta, chicken, oatmeal, and veggies. None of this is expensive, and you'll thank yourself in the long run.
My daily intake usually consists of the following:
Breakfast - Oatmeal sprinkled with some brown sugar, a banana, and OJ
Lunch - Either a peanut-butter sandwich or marinated chicken breast and broccoli
Dinner - One of the following (on average): Pasta, rice, chicken, eggs, or, if I have excess disposable income, steak.
In and around my meals, I'll have the aforementioned snacks, usually with water, and a couple of cups of green tea in the evening.
Now, I don't think anyone expects you to convert to my diet overnight, or even at all in the long run. But making significant improvements to what you eat can be extremely beneficial over time. I cheat on the weekends, drinking Guinness and Scotch, sometimes indulging in a bag of Chex Mix or something similar. After all, it's tempting to have these things regularly. But I've noticed that, as my diet changed, so did my level of alertness. I'm more awake during the day, and more responsive to situations in-game. I sleep better, and feel more well-rested in the morning. So there are a lot of benefits to eating better.
Don't think I'm not tempted. I see Oreos at the store every time I go, and I say to myself "Come on, one bag/box/thing won't hurt you". But I think we all know how that goes. One leads to two, two leads to three, and three leads to *smack* *gobble* *snarf*. It's a conspiracy, I tell you!
While diet is the most important thing you can change, there are plenty of other ways to improve your health without sacrificing much precious game time. First, stop slouching. You're doing it right now if you're like me. Your spine is curved over while you hunch forward, or maybe you're on a couch or chair where you can lean, but not straight-backed. Fix your posture and it will help you get rid of that little bit of belly flab that you just can't quite banish.
Get up and stretch once every couple of hours. Go walk around your home, play with a pet, step outside for a breath of fresh air, or any number of other things to get you out of the chair or off of the couch for a few minutes. When you return to your favorite spot in the house, you'll find yourself more relaxed and excited to play again.
Last, but not least, I will always advise people to find a work out routine. Of course, this isn't required by any means. Improving your diet alone helps immensely, but if you want to either fill out that lanky frame or lose a few pounds (or kilos), working out can help. Heck, I probably game for 5-6 hours a dayy, but still manage to go to the gym for an hour or two five times a week. And that's a more dedicated routine. Go for a run once or twice a week instead. Just get out and about, because you'll feel so much better after you take that shower and sit back down in front of your gaming method of choice. You can tell yourself that you did something fantastic today, and then proceed to own as many noobs as possible.
To all summoners currently playing -
We should talk. Read this article. Read it and tell me what you think. This is the state of the community, and not just the LoL community. This is how you treat eachother in HoN, DotA, Smite, and all of the others. It's atrocious, despicable, and, above all, horrid. Those other four players on your team each and every game are people, not just avatars going through the motions. It doesn't matter what game you play - I lean more towards DotA these days. But the communities all act the same way - disgustingly. This is the problem with the MOBA genre. This is the primary problem with online games as a whole.
You come to expect it while playing on consoles. I don't pick up a controller and play CoD with friends without knowing that I'm going to get flamed by children spewing words they shouldn't know. It's going to happen - they're young and immature, and I'm terrible with a controller (but give me a mouse and keyboard any day and I'll wipe the floor with those litt- oh, wait). But as PC gamers, we have high opinions of ourselves. We tend to think of ourselves as 'more mature', 'older', and 'more intelligent' than people that play more console games.
Well, the average age might be higher, but the maturity level is about equivalent with that of a thirteen year old, prepubescent boy who got ahold of some shiny new swear words to use. I don't think mom would be too happy, and nor should we.
The genre we play in is a difficult one. I think some of us have forgotten that over the years. After all, when you've been playing as long as some of us have, how can you not consider yourself an expert, or, at the least, advanced? I mean, WE know how to play each lane and the jungle effectively, what item builds are most useful against particular opponents, and how best to counter cheese strategies, but new players don't know the first thing about what to do when they join a game. Hell, sometimes people who have been playing for a long time still struggle to play well because, even though they like the game, they just can't quite get the hang of it that most of us did.
How is that deserving of the massive amounts of scorn that our communities pile upon them game after game? Why can't we watch someone make a silly mistake and say "Hey, a word of advice, try xyz instead of abc next time. I think you'll turn that fight in your favor" instead of "(Expletive) noob! Stop being bad!"
Is it really so hard? Is it truly that difficult to ask if someone needs help rather than insulting them and then mocking them in all-talk in an attempt to get the other team to join in? I thought we played the game to have fun and win, not heap scorn on other players and try to get others to do the same.
I think it's time we all rethink how we talk to one another in these games and make a serious effort to improve our communities. After all, wouldn't it be nice for them to grow?
The combination of this account being quiet and the dying of my gaming rig have made me decide that it's time for a new blog post. The focus? DotA 2.
I can't say that I was ever a huge DotA player back in the day. In fact, my first foray into the genre was League of Legends, back during the original beta. I played that game nonstop for about four years, rapidly gaining love for the genre, until I tried Heroes of Newerth. HoN was... a snag for me. Learning about denies, non-scaling abilities, and much more was like hitting a new brick wall in the genre, and the community treated myself and the few friends I played with there absolutely atrociously. It stank, I'll give you that. But the game itself was solid, so much so that I found myself more interested in the mechanics of it than in LoL. It offered more of a challenge - a deeper, more difficult, and ultimately more rewarding gameplay experience. But time and time again, the community acted terribly, and I finally stopped playing with the implementation of the concede option. No longer did games go up to an hour long with the possibility of a fantastic comeback - if you didn't win the early game immediately, you conceded and started a new one.
End-game items were seen less and less, to the point where I forgot the names of several and shocked even myself. It reminded me of how the gameplay in LoL was trending. If you aren't stomping the other team early and they win a big teamfight, you surrender. This was disappointing to the highest degree. I was furious - angry with the developers and angry with the communities. First the community projects a huge barrier to entry, then proceeds to ruin the gameplay. "Why do I even bother playing?" I asked myself. The answer to this question was revealed in the form of a friend nudging me to watch some original DotA, as DotA 2 was on the horizon. I gave in, and began to watch. A few weeks of watching a game or two a night went by, and suddenly the International was on our doorstep (2011). Curious, I went ahead and watched. Wow. Holy crap. These guys are good. Watching Na'Vi take the championship over all of the other teams was an inspiration, and I wanted to play then and there.
Fortunately for me, I managed to pick up a beta key within a few months, and dove in right away. Immediately, I was greeted by the same nasty barrier to entry that was the community of any and all MOBAs, but I powered through regardless. This time, it wasn't my inexperience that made me start slowly, but rather my lack of knowledge of the heroes and mechanics of the item shop. I needed to re-memorize items, recipes, skill builds, item builds, team comps, and more. I'll admit, it took me a few weeks to get over the hump, but get over it I did. Once you do, the gritty details of this wonderful game open up, and you're suddenly trying to think of advanced strategies to outwit and outplay the other team even while at work. Not only that, but it's contagious. I have several friends who came with me from LoL to DotA 2, and they're all in the same boat.
Playing for about six months earned me the ability to play as any currently released hero without drawing any derision from teammates, and even earning praise for clever plays, such as Force Staff or Pudge hook saves, stealing an Enigma ult as Rubick, or blink-ulting an enemy team that is just slightly too grouped up on a creep wave as Earthshaker.
The game is not in any way forgiving. You make a small mistake and boom, you're dead. I certainly made my fair share of them early on, and I see them happen all the time now. Another big boost to my own playing ability came after watching the International 2 this year. Some of the best plays I have ever seen came out of that tournament, and being able to see just how quickly the teams were able to react to given situations was absolutely jaw-dropping. The competition was an inspiration, and my own gameplay quality went up in spades after watching.
The state of DotA is fantastic. The gameplay is butter-smooth, the heroes responsive, and spectator mode offers plenty of wiggle-room if you want to watch good players do what they do best. Even better is the lack of a surrender button - a game of DotA isn't over until it's over, and that is the absolute truth with this game. The only thing that prevents new players from getting into the game is the community itself, and I'm truly excited to see the 'mentor' mode that Valve has planned. You see, it's hard to blame the community for being less accommodating to new, inexperienced players, because one person can indeed cause the loss of a game. That said, I've seen some fantastic comebacks in what are effectively 4v5s, but as it is a team game, you need to be able to rely on your teammates. This is no excuse for rude or offensive behavior, but simply an understanding of it. I certainly do my best to help new players when they confess to it, but even great players will occasionally have a bad game or two. It happens to everyone.
It is my hope that Valve continues pushing DotA 2 to be one of the most competitive games on the market right now, and I'm just as excited to see their plan for a Linux version (this is my backup laptop, running Linux). Congratulations Valve on a job well done so far, and I hope to see you all in game soon!
Gosh anook is getting so good. So happy to see this site grow!
I totally love how many quality posts i see in my stream these days...
It's totally worth being on this website. I check back every day! Even if i don't post. I lurk hahaha... I am excited to get notifications and i can see how this is going in a good direction.
@Velshtein Tera updates :)
@iBeLucKyyy if you wanna see entertaining BF3 stream
New in my stream:
@Neru posting in Portal
---------> So what am i saying!!!
a) I want more poeple on anook. Like way more. If you know people who should be on anook do me a favor and invite them: anook.com/friend/invite
If they don't get it then explain why they should be here...
If you are a streamer ---> get a bigger audience
If you are a blogger ---> get more readers
If you are a gamer ---> Keep up to date with your friends no matter what platform/game they are on and share your gaming life
If you are guild/clan ---> Organize your communication and efforst in our nooks..
etc. etc. woop woop
b) spread the word in general and USE THE BADGE:
c) let anook know what needs to be improved anook.com/blog/development
d) get involved anook.com/static/getinvolved
Public service announcement for various Tera players:
Aggro tables don't function the same way as in most other games. A tank can't just 'stack' aggro via a few taunts every so often. If a DPS unloads a couple 100k crits in a row, he or she is going to pull aggro. DPS need to learn when to back off for a bit so the tank can re-acquire the attention of the boss. It really is a neat mechanic, and makes for some rather nutty fights - but think before you unload that huge combo after a large crit.
Having played Tera for the last month or so, participated in the vast majority of the content currently available, and having had a character at 60 for the last week, I thought it might be high time for an updated post to my initial overview of the game a couple of weeks ago.
Little has changed from an observational standpoint - the combat is still absolutely phenomenal, the graphics gorgeous, the community equal parts wonderful and troll-tastic, and my experience has been an overall positive one. But now that I'm 60 and have been for awhile, some of the negative points are starting to rear their ugly heads. First of all, the Looking for Dungeon (LFD) tool is fairly useless for anyone that isn't a lancer. These tanks receive instant queue times, while the vast majority of DPS are left waiting for well over an hour in most cases to get into a dungeon, particularly the current end game ones. The addition of warrior tanks to the queue may fix this in a later patch, but it is currently a very obnoxious issue, and partially why I'm spending more time on alts than my main at the moment.
Next, as I was made painfully aware of from a GM conversation the other day, loot tables on the bosses from each dungeon are frustratingly broad. There's a reason it's so difficult to get that weapon or armor piece you want so dearly, and that's because the boss has a chance to drop nearly 200 other things in its place. So not only do you have to wait an hour to get into the dungeon, and then spend an hour or so running through it - but the odds of actually getting the item you're there for are ridiculously against you. So much so that I wonder why I even bother sometimes. I highly recommend that En Masse find a way to shrink these loot tables to a more reasonable number of items per boss.
Reputation for various factions is also an option to pursue at 60, but aside from one faction that allows you to raise your standing with them by killing monsters in a couple of zones, the others are all done via dailies after the initial quest hubs. Dailies? Really? I can't think of something I want to do less than do the same set of quests day after day for a couple of months to get some items. Someone needs to get creative here.
Given these issues, I've really been spending quite a bit more time on my alts than my main, and I don't regret it. While the game could use a few extra low-level zones so that the leveling process doesn't get too repetitive, leveling as a whole is actually fun, and I love playing the different styles of each and every one of my alts.
PvP, while an adrenaline rush and a very self-satisfying experience, offers no rewards at the moment. You get nothing for killing others players your level in open-world combat, and nothing for winning Guild vs Guild (GvG) wars. Well, bragging rights, but that's about it. There needs to be some form of incentive to PvP more often, because at the moment all I see is a pile of 60s killing low-level players out of boredom. Another thing I've noticed is that there isn't really a penalty for having infamy (gained by killing players 6 levels or lower than you). All that happens is that you stay flagged in outlaw status rather than it disappearing after 2 minutes - something that many players actually enjoy. I would suggest that outlaw be changed to a toggle-able ability, and infamy actually incur a penalty at this point. Lower damage, higher chance of crystals breaking, more damage taken, etc etc. The penalties should scale with the amount of infamy you have. By making these two changes, you don't force people who enjoy fair pvp to be constantly annoyed by having to re-flag, and don't reward people who kill lower level players unfairly.
I have various other bones to pick over the game. including En Masse's addition of a vanity shop before adding more end-game content and solving the above issues - this was a very greedy and poor call on their part. But despite my complaints, my overall experience with Tera has been very favorable. The above concerns are all easily addressed, and EME has been hinting at a large content release during the summer, so I'll remain content until we see how it turns out. My subscription will continue rolling for at least a few months, until we see how EME plans on guiding the game. If, after a few months, nothing has changed, then my subscription status may be at risk, but for the moment, I'm quite content to play on my various characters.
Fantastically fun. Those are the words I would use to describe Tera after having played through two closed beta tests and the open beta. I can't remember the last time I was so hooked on a game that I ruined my sleep schedule in order to cram in another hour or two of questing with a couple of friends. Foregoing sleep felt entirely worth it after dropping several BAM's (big ass monsters) and fending off a quartet of gankers. In fact, we even had one of the BAMs wander right into the 3v4 we were involved in and take one of them out of the fight for good before he knew what was happening.
It's things like this that make a game fun for me, and the fact that you are able to solo monsters meant for a group of five as long as you can avoid enough damage really takes the cake with me. I made a point to solo each of the BAMs available on the route from levels 1 to 32 (the cap in the open beta) on my Castanic warrior, just to prove to myself that I could. Sometimes it took many minutes for me to be successful, but the payoff was always a feeling of intense satisfaction and worth every minute.
While the open beta did not leave us with any real look into the Vanarch system in place, one could see where it might affect the world. Several zones with large towns are missing skill trainers and merchants that would otherwise be quite useful, even early on, that won't be enabled until a Vanarch decides to do so. Given the lack of one, their non-presence was a bit frustrating, but manageable nonetheless. Several other things were left closed to us as well, including the ability to enchant past +6 (enchanting raises an item's stats via a number system - one successful enchant = +1, two is +2, etc etc).
I had very few concerns playing the game, and the ones that arose were the loot system - sometimes bosses drop no loot. Not often, but it happens. I don't know about you, but if I spent an hour in a dungeon, SOMETHING should drop. Maybe not necessarily something that I personally could use, but something for someone. Having to whirl my way through a reasonably difficult final boss should net the group some kind of reward, but this wasn't always the case. Next were the invisible walls. Now don't get me wrong, Tera is beautiful. The scenery is gorgeous, the races well-designed, and everything about it has me looking around in awe of the art team. But if I can't jump over the fence that is roughly knee height because you've added an invisible wall over it, I'm a little irritated. I recommend some work on En Masse and Blue Hole's part there.
But really, beyond those two quirks, I have nothing but praise for Tera. PvP kept me on my toes - it's easy to get ganked by a group of 3-4 people, which can be somewhat frustrating while playing solo. But I often managed to bring at least one of them down with me, and in one case, two. I can't really describe how overly-pleased I was with myself to do that, but needless to say, it was quite evident in the way I gloated to them in chat.
Nothing will kill you simply because there's more than one mob or enemy locked on to you, you'll only die if you can't move or block quickly enough. And I'm happy to say that this kind of action is perfect for me, and probably what many other gamers have been looking forward to. I'll follow this up with a full review one I hit max level, but thus far, I'm willing to recommend Tera to just about anyone.
See you in game!