While TERA was shown at PAX, it was the first time I was able to see and play it myself. It's a true action MMORPG, so you aren't targeting monsters or waiting your turn to attack. What I thought was interesting about the combat system is that the monsters actually run out of the way too, but when you kill them they burst into flames, turn into ashes and disappear. Not to mention the blood splatter - as you hit and get hit the ground gets soaked in blood.
On the show floor, Mikel and I tried our hand at the game. I was impressed with how easy it was to control your character. The game's camera was excellent, and the lack of camera issues really helped me navigate. The town we were in was very fantasy-like and vibrantly colored. The leaves on the trees were a lovely purple color fading to a bright blue. As we left town, we wondered into a forest with many greens and browns, walking along on what looked like an old cobblestone road that had moss and grass slowly growing over it. There were many little creatures scurrying around, we even came across some more hostile creatures and larger animals that looked like deer or antelope the further we wandered in.
As Mikel noted in his impression of TERA, there will be a political system in place that will allow players to control a province. They will be able to raise taxes, run their own events, or even block off territories from the public. They'll have to enforce these rules themselves, though. They can win via PvP battles or win the popular vote. This goes beyond just in-game - players will be able to post in forums, create YouTube videos, or start their own campaign website. Whatever they can think of to win an election or even help someone win the election is all up to them. The player who wins the election will literally have their name on the map and acquire their own special mount. However, they will have to maintain their rank with policy points, support, recommendations and by completing difficult quests to stay in office. The players can choose to vote a bad leader out of office.
When we were called back for a second demo, we were in a team and had to beat up a big dragon and his minions that popped up every so often. It was a pretty hard fight even though it didn't last very long. The dragon was always moving around, and it made it more difficult for me to throw fireballs at him as a Sorcerer. The cursor turning into a circle helped with targeting him, since the game lacks a lock-on feature. It was odd playing such a big race but being a spellcaster, usually big guys are tanks. I ran around, trying stay out of the way because I was squishy. I ended up getting stepped on a few times by the giant dragon, but I was able to stay alive. At one point, some minions came out and attacked us. This is where it was key for the leader of our party to tell us what to do. Half the team went and killed off the extras while I helped the other teammates damage the dragon.
Casting spells was pretty easy, as they were all listed on the bottom of the screen and were cast by hitting the number keys. I could even charge up a giant fireball by holding down a key. I even garnered a "Nice fireball!" from one of the TERA guys. I enjoyed the ease of casting spells since it's so fast-paced, and you didn't have to worry about macros or typing out a long command.
There is never a dull moment or standing around in TERA. Even the healer is running around, engaged in the battle in different ways. Did I mention you get a mount, so you can run around on a pony? Overall, TERA is one of the games I am looking forward to most, and I'm especially excited to play a healer class that does more then stand in the back.