Last week rumor swirled around the gaming industry that South Korean publisher Nexon had placed a bid to purchase Electronic Arts. While it is unlikely that this would happen, it does illustrate just how big Korean MMO’s have become, despite their limited popularity in North America. Though many Korean MMOs are free to play, they just haven’t found the formula to gaining widespread popularity on this side of the Pacific.
Bluehole Studio is hoping to change this with their new release, TERA. Short for The Exiled Realm of Arborea, TERA isn’t your typical “press and wait” MMO and isn’t even free to play. This high fantasy game emphasizes action-combat gameplay where positioning and aiming are important. Even tanking and healing will require you to get to the right place at the right time and aim your abilities. Taking down a large monster isn’t just a matter of clicking on it once and mashing buttons in the correct order until it’s dead.
Each of TERA’s 8 classes have their own roles in combat. A party might utilize a Lancer to absorb damage while getting healed by a Priest, as a Slayer cuts away at the monster’s week points. Alternatively it may use a warrior as an evasive tank to avoid taking damage and a Mystic which provides extra utility to parties that don’t need as much healing. Either way, you can only be successful in combat as long as you’re paying attention and are focused on what you’re doing.
The world of TERA was created by two Gods called Arun and Shara. These Gods fled their realm which was torn apart by constant war. After creating the world, Arun and Shara disappeared to rest. Now otherworldly monsters called the Argon have appeared and seem hell bent on destroying everything in their path. The people of TERA must now band together to destroy this invading threat despite their internal conflicts.
Admittedly TERA’s world isn’t as immediately compelling as a Star Wars or a Warcraft. Instead its success will be determined by how much gamers enjoy its unique action-combat system. It’s so action focused that you can even play it with a game controller! I just wouldn’t expect it to hit consoles any time soon. Only time will tell if TERA will be the first Korean MMO to break out in North America.