E3 2011: ‘TERA’ Preview – Politics and Power

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TERA Politics Preview E3 2011

Every year, the gaming market becomes more and more saturated with MMOs. While many of the games show promise, a demanding market with a high bar of excellence make it difficult for them to stand out and truly succeed.

In order to do this, games have to start integrating new forms of player interaction that will change the way in which a game’s community is viewed. The upcoming MMO TERA does just this with its politics system.

Just like in the real world, it is a long and grueling process to become the ruler of a given region. The same rings true for the world of TERA. Developed by En Masse Entertainment, TERA will allow players to interact with one another in-game to a degree that has yet to be seen in the video entertainment industry.

While politics have been experimented with in the past, TERA adds a new level of depth. Elected players will have the power to influence the state of the game world and its economy – while also affecting all the other games who inhabit it.

There are two ways that a player can be elected to the position of Vanarch – the ruler of a region. Upon reaching the level cap, players will have to decide whether they want to take the title through swinging the popular vote, or through PvP supremacy. Both of these paths lead to the same outcome – but benefit different play-styles.

For the player who wants to earn the title of Vanarch through the popular vote, a strong guild presence will be essential. With so many players on the server vying for the coveted title, a successful player will have to be well-known in the game world, whether this is through leading a powerful and famous guild, or through helping other players in-game with any difficulties they may have.

Like the real world though, players can also take the more dubious route of buying player votes. While it may not provide the moral high ground of working for your title, sometimes having a deep enough pocket to buy fame is all that’s required. This method won’t make it any more difficult for the player to be elected – but the “better” candidate will probably be the one working hard to campaign for their votes.

TERA Politics Preview E3 2011

If you can’t see yourself taking the time to win over the voting public, there is also the option of fighting for the title through PvP. While the developers didn’t want to spoil the exact way in which PvP will lead to the title of Vanarch, it is probable that it will come from hours of hard work, fighting your way to the highest rank in the battlefields and becoming the most famous fighter.

There is no preference between these two distinct routes – as, if successful either could lead to being named Vanarch. Once crowned though, the adventure has just begun.

Upon being named Vanarch, players will have multiple duties they will have to attend to – as well as several perks that come with the job. First and foremost, as Vanarch, they will have control of the taxes players have to pay (whenever they make a purchase at a store).

By raising and lowering this statistic, the Vanarch can either make life easier for those inhabiting the game world, even if it won’t make for substantial financial gain, or raise the taxes in order to create a large flow of incoming funds. This is left completely up the the player; however, it’s important to remember the players in the world who were key in the election – as they can turn the tide of the Vanarch’s rule.

This is especially important when deciding how to rule your given region. As Vanarch, players are able to open up specialty shops that may benefit other players, organize massive game events for players to participate in, or even imprison players of their choice – whether it is for good reason or simply to make a point. Depending on how you rule as Vanarch, players’ opinions of you may shift over time, which can affect your “policy points” which are the points that keep you elected.

If your favor dwindles too much and you lose too many points, it is possible to be overthrown to make way for a new ruler. For those who still want to rule with an iron fist, regardless of their disappearing policy points, they can partake in a Vanarch mission which will award points back – and allow for a longer reign of terror. It was one of these Vanarch missions that was the the focus of the game’s behind-closed-doors demo at E3.

TERA Politics Preview E3 2011

As Vanarch though, everything is not completely comprised of difficult morality choices. The Vanarch, along with their guild, will receive special mounts which signify them as royalty within the game. No one will be able to miss you as you stride through town on your armored horse. Alongside this, your name is quite literally put on the map. Wherever you go in the game world, players will see you on their maps. With such large choices to make that can affect the game world, it’s no surprise that you should be treated as such an important figure.

Whether you decide to rule with an iron fist, terrifying your citizens, or treat them with care, doing everything you can to benefit them, the role of Vanarch is a monumental one which should not be approached lightly. It is a time consuming job and one reserved for only those who are fully engrossed in their game world.

It’s great to see developers going this extra step further in creating a fantasy world that still retains real-world ideals. By adding this extra level of immersion, players will not only feel a stronger connection to the world they inhabit, and affect through their voting, but will also be willing to invest more time in it. This is what an MMO needs to do if it is going to succeed with a giant such as World Of Warcraft on the market.

With everything that has been shown so far, including its beautiful cinematic trailer and a hands-on look at one of the game’s epic Vanarch missions, TERA is shaping up to be a serious contender in the MMO market.

Do you like the sound of a political system in-game? Do you think it will have enough of an affect on the game world to be a substantial selling point?

TERA is set to release in 2011 for the PC.

Check out all of our other E3 2011 coverage.