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Designing TERA’s True Action Combat for the Xbox One Controller

I’ll always remember my first archer in TERA, and my first experience of playing with a controller on my PC. Back then, TERA was just the Island of Dawn, and we had a limited window every day to connect our skeleton network in Seattle to the servers in Seoul. We had humans, aman males, castanics, and popori, and on a good day you could clear Karascha on your own.

But this was my third day in the office, and Sr. Product Manager Brian Knox said to me, “It also works on controllers, kinda.” So with nothing more than his faith and my itchy left trigger finger, I plugged in an Xbox 360 Controller, downloaded a program to remap the buttons, then started blasting away at ghilliedhus, terrons, and piglings.

At this point I was an adept at TERA, having cleared the island with my first character, a berserker, the day before. I had an idea of how to chain skills together, when to dodge, and a general concept of how hard the monsters hit back. What I didn’t know was how even then, it was blindingly easy to play TERA with a controller.

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With the lightest touch of a stick, my archer sailed in and out of combat, destroying opponents at will.  People stopped to watch me play, taking notes for their own characters and asking me about the controller. It was so popular, in fact, that prior to our first Closed Beta Test we petitioned the development team for native controller support.

For the last six years, we’ve been making slow refinements to the controller interface. In fact, I’m always hot swapping between skill menus, and finding new ways to arrange my combos for maximum effect. So when I fired up my Xbox One for Open Beta, I made an elin archer, with the same name as the one I play on the Mount Tyrannus server.

I usually remap skills and buttons as soon as I create a new character, but this time I let the game program me. And in not a lot of time I was laying waste to the countryside with Rain of Arrows and Thunderbolt. Using the left bumper to switch between skills felt fantastic, the native combos were the ones I’ve been looking for all these years, and the new lock-on system made BAM hunting a breeze. I was always in the thick of the fight, up to my neck in lokians and imps and basilisks and anything else that dared to get in my way.

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My one complaint about using a controller on PC was having to put it down to manage my inventory or do any quest management, a problem which no longer exists! The revised menus on Xbox One kept me well informed and well-equipped all the way up to max level.

Playing a version of TERA redesigned for the Xbox One Controller was a truly intuitive console experience. Every aspect of the game is literally at your fingertips, and even without elite status, and dozens of max-level characters, it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

When TERA on Xbox One launches Head Start on March 27th and fully releases on April 3rd, I can’t wait to do it again.