If you’re willing to lay down your Warglaives and look past your Lightsaber induced obsession, you may find that TERA packs the cure for your MMO woes. TERA is colorful enough to keep your eyeballs at full attention, and innovative enough to warrant this glowing mention. Heck, after playing it a few times at E3 2011, we named it Best MMO, and I’m here to tell you why.

Publisher En Masse Entertainment is doing its best to concisely sum up and promote the game, as our walkthrough crew tossed out phrases like “money, power, and fame” and “all action, no faction” during our demo session. What are these catch phases eluding to? Well, for starters, TERA does not segment its player-base into factions. This is bad news if you are looking to add a new “FOR THE <INSERT FACTION NAME HERE>” T-Shirt to your geeked-out collection. However, on a positive note, this does open the world up to the player base.  As for the other buzz words — you’re going to have to read on my friend.

Sure, TERA possesses a vibrant palette, stunning visuals, a slew of classes to choose from, the ability to customize your character (though boob size is not an option), and countless other traits that we have come to expect from a top tier MMO. However, based on our E3 demo session, there are two things that  TERA is prepared to bring to table that we think will set it apart from the current MMO selection.

First, is the combat approach — this is the action portion of the “all action, no faction” catch phrase. Gone are the days of sticky targeting an enemy and firing away while you pound space bar and jump around like a rabbit in heat. That’s right. You can’t target a mob in this game, and that’s because TERA demands more from you as a gamer. It’s crosshair-like attack system requires you to actually be facing your enemy in order to deal damage. In other words, you will need to exhibit skill if you want the kill. Enemies are smart in TERA, and will adapt to your attacks, so you’ll need to break the “what’s my rotation?” mentality, and instead start thinking in terms of combo strings that unleash more powerful attacks and situational based adjustments. In other words, don’t just stand in one place pounding on your 1 key.

This is what a typical TERA boss fight will play out like:

See that? Not a party downing a boss based on gear and item level, just a skilled healer and tank skillfully executing their abilities in real time.

Second, is the political system. Surely this will entail the use of a special tabard that you must wear in order to expedite your reputation gain, right? Wrong.  TERA’s world is made up of zones, and according to the developers, the governing of each zone is up for grabs every 21 days. The position you are vying for is called a Vanarch, and there’s two ways to become one. The first approach is essentially a popularity contest which requires you to drum up the support of other in-game players via a voting process, while the second approach revolves around you demonstrating your skill in the world of PVP combat.

You’ll never see the political route go head-to-head with a PVP approach as the zones themselves dictate the method required in order to rule them. In other words, one zone may only be taken through PVP advancement, while another may only be governed by the individual who garners the most votes. Once you are in power, we were told that you could spawn vendors, dictate prices, and even imprison those who do not obey the rules of your zone.

This video explains the political system in greater detail:

The political system itself was presented to us in a PowerPoint type presentation, meaning we didn’t get to actually test it out, and certain aspects such as the imprisonment were not completely ironed out yet so details were scarce. Several of us did however get to experience the combat, in both an open world free roaming type setting, and within a 5 man group. I personally stunk up the place with my play the first time through, but did much better after I was able to dig in and change the key-bindings.

In closing, TERA is still not complete, but hopefully you can take something away from this preview that gives you hope in what the final Western product could and should be.  I know that Stephanie and I walked away believers, and Dave has been singing its praises for over a year now… as have those nerds who played it for six hours straight at Comic Con.

Stay tuned to RipTen for continued coverage of the best MMO of E3 2011 – TERA.