Awaited Game Tera New MMORPG
News about Bluehole Studios' massively-multiplayer online action-RPG TERA has been slow to trickle out over the last few months, despite its presence at almost every game event. We know it is pretty, and we know it is fun, but only a sliver of the larger world has been revealed to us. Today the sliver has grown a little bit bigger, as we take a look at two mid-level zones: Celestial Hills and Pora Elinu.
Pora Elinu, which David Noonan from En Masse Entertainment (TERA's North American publisher) informs us is named after the progenitor-goddess of the popori (the little raccoon-looking playable-characters). It's a zone permanently shrouded in twilight, meaning teen girls worldwide will have an unhealthy obsession with this zone and everyone in it. Just kidding! Although the zone does contain a group of 'vampirs', it is unconfirmed as to whether or not they sparkle in the sunlight. We're told the darkness helps build atmosphere. As Noonan put it, "playing through the Pora Elinu Storyline from a darkened room should give you a very tangible sense of foreboding."
The storyline he is referring to has a strong focus on the culture of the popori and the factions within Pora Elinu's government that are the cause, or victims, of civil unrest. It will serve as a hub for players from the mid-twenty levels to the mid-thirties. Pora Elinu's environment is very naturalistic. The structure that the video above focuses in on seems to be a merger of actively growing flora and man- (or popori-) made structures. The area surrounding it looks extremely fertile. The trees are filled with flowers and the marshland surrounding the wooded tower has vibrant, glowing palm-like plants. The plant growth isn't dense though; "The zones around Pora Elinu are mostly light forest with a number of ponds and glades."
As a contrast, there's the Celestial Hills. Although they're by no means arid, they don't have the same sort of lush feel, the same sense of enchantment or magic that seems to infuse Pora Elinu. Noonan relates the appearance of Celestial Hills to America's west, specifically "Wyoming's hills with Utah's rock formations." Some of the formations look a little unnatural, though. And by unnatural, I mean they are clearly carved and marked, have legs, and are floating. These giant floating stone monoliths serve as the central storytelling point for Celestial Hills, and questing here will set players on the path to learning the purpose of the stones, and whether or not they still hold power.
Naturally, the players won't be the only group interested in the potential power behind these monoliths. Noonan explains, "The Celestial Hills are overrun with savage bands of orcans, and some of the ancient ruins have sinister cultists lurking within them." Orcans, for those picturing walking killer whales, are in fact basically just your standard orcs. Celestial Hills is aimed at players around level twenty. The video also shows some spiffy looking runes floating high in the sky, but we're told these are not unique to this zone and have ties to the story of Balder, one of the gods in TERA's mythology.
Both Pora Elinu and Celestial Hills are a great deal more open than the three zones we saw in our last zone preview. In terms of size, Dave Noonan tells us "I just timed myself running north-to-south (the long axis) across the Celestial Hills, and it took five and a half minutes." He told us that that's a fairly typical time by foot for most zones in TERA, although given all the forms of fast travel available in the game, as well as mounts, it would be an entirely unnecessary exercise.
Noonan also gave us a smidgeon of insight into some other zones. "Pora Elinu sits between three important zones—Cliffs of Insanity, Eldritch Academy, and Lake of Tears," he told us. "Eldritch Academy is definitely one of our bigger interior "dungeon" environments, and you'll want to go back there more than once."
TERA is still shaping up to be one of the most exciting MMOs of 2011, which is a big thing to say, considering The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, and DC Universe Online are all set to release next year as well. We just hope they hurry up and release a beta already so we can play again.
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