TERA Berserker Guide PVE - Introduction
Did someone say it's damage time? Because I heard someone say it's damage time!
What is a TERA Berserker? Damage.
While other classes will add “variety” and “utility” to your party composition, it doesn't matter when things take (literally) a million damage and die. You don't need a million skills or some fancy buffs to smash face; you have your bread and your butter, and that’s all you need.
That’s not to say that maximizing damage as a TERA Berserker is the easiest thing to do; there are quite a few small details to note to eke out more damage, as well as some very subtle decisions that affect the numbers you see.
But let us leave that for later. For the most part, this guide will assume you’re more or less a fresh 60; a brief overview of skills will be provided, but by this time, you should have a general understanding of how each skill works best.
Table of Contents
A Brief Overview on Skills for Beginning Berserkers
Essentially all Berserker damage comes from charge-up skills; you press and hold the skill until you release or the charge time limit is met.
Specifically for Thunder Strike and Cyclone, should you hold the charge past a full meter (the meter is fully red in color), you will begin taking tick damage for a full two seconds before automatically releasing your skill – four ticks from Thunder Strike and five ticks (assuming Glyph of Power is being used) from Cyclone. This is overcharging.
Lethal Strike and Vampiric Blow do not have this self-damaging overcharge (Lethal Strike naturally costs HP rather than MP, while Vampiric Blow’s charge level affects the amount of HP restored), and the damage from Thunder Strike and Cyclone are greatly increased with a full overcharge.
Evasive Smash, a level 60 skill, cancels your charging and performs a roll similar to a Warrior’s Evasive Roll and can be inputted again to perform a Lethal Strike-esque move that does damage proportional to the level of charge you canceled, including overcharge amount.
Axe Block can be used to immediately cancel any charge and stops the canceled skill from going into cool-down – it should be noted that using Evasive Smash to cancel a charge will start that skill’s cool-down.
The buff skills Dash, Fiery Rage, Flurry of Blows, and Bloodlust should be kept up as much as possible; Dash helps with repositioning by increasing movement speed (Berserker speed is horrendous), Fiery Rage and Bloodlust increase damage by boosting Power, and Flurry of Blows increases attack and charge speed – it should be noted that although Flurry of Blows increases charge speed, it does not affect the two second overcharge time of Thunder Strike and Cyclone.
Of your support skills, Mocking Shout grants temporary immunity to staggers, knockdowns, and stuns – essentially providing a full overcharge without interruption – while sending out a 5m shockwave that has a high chance of staggering affected targets.
Triumphant Shout, Tenacity, and Unchained Anger are free sources of MP as Berserkers naturally lose MP. It should be noted that Triumphant Shout temporarily stops MP decay, while Unchained Anger uses HP to restore MP.
Inescapable Doom and Fearsome Shout are very niche in PvE, and their real value shows in PvP. Inescapable Doom temporarily slows down affected targets and stops the use of evasion type skills (skills such as the Archer's Breakaway Bolt and the Sorcerer's Glacial Retreat are unaffected). Fearsome Shout, on the other hand, induces Fear on affected targets, causing victims to run around at random.
Flatten, Staggering Strike, Leaping Strike, and Retaliate are your damage support skills. Flatten has high impact, meaning it has a high chance of causing a knockdown if it connects, while Staggering Strike has a chance of stunning and flipping the target’s back to face you. Leaping Strike, on the other hand, moves you in the direction of your camera a distance of 15-16m (your path can be obstructed), while Retaliate is your wake-up from knockdowns.
This section is a brief look at different situations and considerations that you may encounter as a Berserker; while trivial conclusions can be drawn for each idea, this section aims to explore the more subtle areas of an otherwise straightforward class.
Overcharging and Block Canceling
There will be awkward moments when you just started the two second countdown for full overcharge and you see the BAM or boss winding up for an attack; the correct choice in these situations is knowing how much more time you have before you will take a hit. In most cases, there will be time to release Thunder Strike or connect one or two Cyclone hits before having to block. However, immediately cancelling your charge to Axe Block and not dying will usually be worth missing an extra hit of damage.
Chaining Vampiric Blow
Overcharging Thunder Strike, Cyclone, or Lethal Strike can chain an immediate, equal-charged Vampiric Blow that restores less HP. While in most situations you will follow through on the chain (especially if you use Vampiric Blow’s Glyph of Power), keep in mind that there will be a brief animation lock and delay following the Vampiric Blow hit. Especially in builds passing up bonus attack speed, this short period will leave you vulnerable to taking hits from a BAM or a boss you’re fighting.
Evasive Smash: Damage and Utility
Evasive Smash, the Berserker’s hardest hitting move, is also the best utility in the repertoire: the first half of the skill is essentially a Warrior’s Evasive Roll, complete with its own invincibility frames and barricade bypasses (more on the latter later). While it is perfectly fine to use it exclusively for damage or utility, there will be situations where timely and proper use can save yourself and/or your party.
Lethal Strike: Clean-Up Duty
While it was mentioned in previous versions that Lethal Strike held potential due to its Empowered Glyph, due to the lack of overcharge and Glyph of Carving, it falls far shorter compared to Thunder Strike and Cyclone. While it is not able to compete with the damage ceiling of these two skills, Lethal Strike is still worth considering as a quick, one-use skill to finish off mobs.
Axe Block and MP Recovery
Axe Block in tandem with its Glyph of Mindspark is a powerful addition that puts very little strain on any Glyph builds. Having said that, Glyph of Mindspark is not all-powerful; against mobs with powerful single strikes, it is much more effective to connect Combo Attack to quickly recover some MP. When cutting for Glyph points, its overall effectiveness in the current situation as well as alternative methods of recovering MP should be assessed and considered.
The Liability in Flatten
The vanilla Flatten – without Glyphs, without bonus attack speed, and unchained from Staggering Strike – is a questionable skill due to its animation lock, and with only speed investment, Flatten’s damage leaves much to be desired. Should you pass on using bonus attack speed on a 0/3/6/9 weapon (mentioned later), dropping Flatten from use and Glyphs is not out of the question.
Niches aside, your glyph builds will always start with this skeleton build. While this build makes Cyclone stronger than Thunder Strike, Thunder Strike’s overwhelming advantage is its restored movement speed via Glyph of the Slick, which makes repositioning your overcharge that much easier. It should also be noted that Glyph of Carving (for Cyclone, Thunder Strike, and Evasive Smash) do not double your critical rate the way a Slayer’s Glyph of Carving does; its actual effect (“doubles critical chance”) is believed to affect the raw chance of a successful critical hit.
1. All-Purpose Build [LINK]
The main focus here is alternating between Thunder Strike and Cyclone, while Flatten serves as filler, Staggering Strike supplements Thunder Strike, a stronger Vampiric Blow encourages auto-release overcharges, and Axe Block on multi-hit attacks is a reliable MP battery. The five available Glyph points should be used to supplement a skill of your choice – Glyph of Energy for Triumphant Shout or Dash gives 95% and 80% uptime respectively, while Glyph of Carving for Evasive Smash and Glyph of the Pump for Fiery Rage will improve the potency of your attacks.
2. Cyclone-less Build [LINK]
Cyclone is abandoned entirely to supplement and take advantage of Thunder Strike’s almost nonexistent cool-down. Although having both Glyph of Energy and Glyph of Persistence on Staggering Strike seems redundant, there is never a time where you want to suffer from the full 20 second cool-down should Glyph of Persistence not come into effect – especially successively. With the remaining 11 Glyph points, buffs can be supplemented, however Flurry of Blows should not be a consideration; although the buff increases charge speed, this boost does not affect the two (2) second overcharge time, and the combination of Thunder Strike’s Glyph of the Swift and Staggering Strike’s Glyph of Blaze start Thunder Strike charging 55% faster. Thunder Strike’s Glyph of the Sanative is also viable considering the nature of this build.
The power of this build comes from its short, simple skill rotations of [Staggering Strike > Flatten > Thunder Strike > Staggering Strike > Thunder Strike > restart]. Due to its Glyph of Persistence, Staggering Strike’s cool-down reset can chain successive, +55% charge speed Thunder Strikes for rapid-fire, high-powered hits.
With the advent of Patch 22.04, the progression path has become much easier to pass through.
As before, obtain your crux-tier weapon crystals (see Section II below for more details on crystal choices); these will provide the biggest increase in damage for the least amount of gold due to their critical damage modifier nature.
With crystals in hand, start at Balder's Temple (solo). Here, you're aiming for your weapon, chest armor, and jewelry; while the weapon and chest armor will be quickly replaced, the rings and earrings come slotted (you are able to equip green crystals on them), and the necklace comes at a high item level with a helpful +4% attack speed modifier line.
Also viable are the equipment pieces from Jax Trust at Cutthroat Harbor. Do dailies, earn reputation and credits, and become entry-level geared.
With this, begin entering Channelworks, Shattered Fleet, Alliance Vaults, and Wonderholme (Normal); as PUGs will be unwilling to carry you with entry-level gear, it is recommended that you do these dungeons (with the exception of Alliance Vaults) with friends or guildmates.
On Weapons:a picture
There are three main choices for weapons at endgame: the Nightforge PVE Barbarax and the Wonderholme axes: the keen Axe O' Salt, the intense Savertine Hatchet, and the quick Manxome Axe.
The Steadfast axe Rotchopper is not recommended due to the lack of difficulty in completing Wonderholme (Hard). It is recommended to upgrade the Steadfast weapon to +9 if planning to upgrade to better equipment. For players unable to complete Wonderholme (Hard), it is still a viable endgame weapon at +12.
Of the three types of Wonderholme weapons, the keen variant (Axe O' Salt) is recommended most due to its natural bonuses to critical rate and critical damage that supplement the Berserker playstyle.
As of the time of writing (October 2013), if you come into possession of the bind-on-equip Steadfast/Wonderholme weapons (the Steadfast Danger's Edge, the keen Duchexx, the keen Jabberax, and the quick Oftenheader), it is recommended that you sell these to fund upgrading the bind-on-pickup weapons listed above.
Chest and Foot armor are a lower upgrade priority for the Berserker; upgrading these two pieces will not improve your damage at all. For Chest armor, it is of some importance to use one of the pieces that give a natural bonus to a skill (the Regent Courtplate, the Visionmaker Steelgaze Rageplate, the Wonderholme Jacksleplate, the Nightforge PVE Bloodflay Plate, and the Nightforge PVP Painlashed Chestplate); while Foot armors are essentially equivalent sans minor differences for a Berserker.
Upgrading Hand armor should come after finishing your weapon upgrade. Each of the bonuses from upgrading will improve your damage. In addition, compared to other armors, the Nightforge PVE Whetstone Lifters and Nightforge PVP Whiteheat Gauntlets have a natural "Do 2.3% (3% when masterworked) more damage when you attack modifier", making them significantly better than previous Hand armors.
Accessories will come from three dungeons: Channelworks will give the Zenith Shield Band ring, Shattered Fleet holds the Zenith Earring and Zenith Necklace accessories, and the Alliance Vaults yields the Power Noctenium Ring and Ring of Pain.
Of note, wearing any combination of two Zenith accessories will give a bonus "Inflict an extra 3% damage" modifier, and any combination of three will give a bonus "Attack speed increases by 4%" modifier.
The choice of Zenith Shield Band versus Ring of Pain/Improved Noctenium Ring will be discussed below; the Zenith ring has a natural "Increases your critical rate by 8" as well a re-rollable "Increases your critical rate by 4" bonus, while the Alliance rings have a natural "Inflicts an extra 3% damage" and can roll two "Increases critical damage" bonuses.
Plan 1: Enter Labyrinth of Terror, kill the first three non-BAM elite mobs you encounter, loot the Refined/Masterwork Alkahest, reset the dungeon, repeat.
Plan 2: Enter Labyrinth of Terror or Ebon Tower, clear the dungeon, loot Refined/Masterwork Alkahest and Master Enigmatic Scrolls, metal extract any superior equipment, reset the dungeon, repeat.
Plan 3: Run and clear Channelworks, Shattered Fleet, and Kezzel's Gorge as much as possible. Loot and sell all Zenith Boxes. If looking to gamble, open Zenith Boxes, win a Mark of Bloodshed, and sell it.
There is one important decision that needs to be made when getting equipment: choosing between infrequent but amazing critical hits and consistent but smaller critical hits.
The brunt of your critical damage comes from the mods that increase your critical damage; against bosses, the following crystals should always be used:
- Fine Savage Crux (rear critical hits do an additional 1.20x damage)
- Acrimonious Crux (rear critical hits do an additional 1.38x damage to bosses)
- Fine Focused Crux (critical do an additional 1.7x damage to enraged monsters)
The final slot is a choice between Forceful and Carving Cruxes. Forceful applies a temporary +19 Power buff on a rear critical hit, while Carving adds an additional +3% critical chance. The choice ultimately comes down to the value of 3% critical chance; the advent of critical rate bonuses in enchantment upgrades makes it subjectively worse than what it used to be prior to Patch 22.04. However, hitting a critical is still an RNG-based affair, and the Carving Crux is still a viable option.
Only two choices: four Anarchic Cruxes or four Relentless Cruxes. Anarchic reduces BAM and boss damage, while Relentless increases HP. When running Wonderholme, you may want to use four Stalwart (reduces normal mob damage) for the first three non-BAM elite mobs.
Only two choices: four Pristine Carving Zyrks or four Pristine Powerful Zyrks, giving +8 critical rate (not chance, like the Carving Crux) or +8 Power.
The only enchantment options to pay attention to are those on your weapon and gloves, as they affect your damage output.
Of the new enchantment options available, the most valuable (in non-masterworked values) are as follows:
- Increase crit damage by 0.24.
- Do 4.5% more damage when you attack monsters.
- Do 5.3% more damage when you attack monsters from behind.
- Increases your crit rate by 11.
- Attack speed increases by 4%.
While you generally want the first three bonuses on your chosen weapon (although the Nightforge series of weapons offers four enchantment options), the final two are viable alternatives. For example, with the keen Axe O' Salt, using the bonus critical rate option lets you stack a total of +28 critical rate and greatly increase your chances of scoring a critical hit on monsters.
Always roll the following three on gloves without exception:
- Increases your crit rate by 6.
- Attack speed increases by 2%.
- Power increases by 4.
The values are for non-masterworked gloves.
While specific enchantment options of the chest armor are insignificant, the skill modifier included on some armors (full list mentioned above) is important to cover.
The modifier list is as follows:
- Flurry of Blows lasts 17% longer.
- Gain 60 MP when Inescapable Doom hits target.
- Inescapable Doom cool-down -5%.
- Lethal Strike damage +15%.
- Triumphant Shout lasts 20% longer.
- Tenacity cool-down -10%.
- Staggering Strike damage +25%.
- Flatten damage +10%
- Cyclone damage +8%
- Thunder Strike damage +8%
Among the possible options, the two most important are the increased damage to Thunder Strike and Cyclone. The increase on Flurry of Blows is marginal – at best an additional 2.55 seconds to a 15 second duration skill (not including the +30% duration granted by its Glyph of Lingering). The two buffs to Inescapable Doom are also trivial, even in PVP: 60 MP is a single use of Thunder Strike, while 5% off a 120 second cool-down is a game-breaking 6 seconds.
Triumphant Shout is somewhat useable, giving it a 100% uptime if you chose to use its Glyph of Energy. On the other hand, by using only the Glyph of Energy, Triumphant Shout already has a 95% uptime (20 seconds of duration versus 21 seconds of cool-down), while using only the modifier gives a 73% uptime. (22 seconds of duration versus 30 seconds of cool-down).
Tenacity follows in the same vein, where doubling up on Glyph and modifier gives a total 30% cool-down reduction (reducing the 60 second cool-down to 42 seconds). Combining this with the Glyph of Restoration turns Tenacity into a reliable self-heal, but keep in mind that this costs a total of seven (7) Glyph points and the skill modifier on your armor.
Although a significant boost, the enormous +25% damage increase to Staggering Strike is wasted; at peak form, Staggering Strike has a base damage of 889, with the increase bringing it to 1111. Compare this to Flatten’s base 1615 damage and Thunder Strike’s base 2743 damage, and factor in Staggering Strike’s 20 second cool-down; the +25% boost is wasted on Staggering Strike.
Flatten’s +10% damage increase (also found on the Jax Trust armor, the Berserk Favored Suit) is not a bad alternative to the Cyclone and Thunder Strike modifiers; however, the damage boost to Flatten, comparing it to a boosted Thunder Strike and Cyclone, still leave much to be desired. In addition, with Flatten being potentially left without Glyphs (see section “The Liability in Flatten”), the animation lock and smaller damage can become a liability in some situations.
Finally, the +15% damage bonus to Lethal Strike is worth considering. At max level, Lethal Strike’s base is a massive 3092. While this makes Lethal Strike potentially very useful, it falls into the same category as Flatten: you will not be using it as much as Thunder Strike and Flatten.
Much of the old comparisons are obsolete with new gear, but there are still topics worth covering.
Ring of Pain/Powerful Noctenium Ring vs. Zenith Shield Band
The two Alliance rings have a natural "Inflicts an extra 3% damage" bonus and are able to double-up their enchantment options and stack up to +0.07 critical damage. The Zenith ring, on the other hand, has a natural "Increases your critical rate by 8", and their critical rate enchantment option has been boosted to +4 (as opposed to +2 on older rings). Otherwise, they have the same "Increase crit damage by +0.04". In terms of raw stats, the Ring of Pain is strongest at 438/1150, the Zenith Shield Band has 408/996, and the Powerful Noctenium Ring is weakest at 387/905.
The main point of contention is (with two of the same ring each) an extra 6% damage and +0.06 critical damage versus +24 critical rate. While two Rings of Pain with +0.07 critical damage each are ideal due to higher stats, considering its rare nature and having non-rerollable enchantment options, it is much harder to obtain. The argument is based around the Powerful Noctenium Ring and the Zenith Shield Band. The choice ultimately depends on preferred Berserker play style.
Kelsaik’s Rage vs. Zenith Necklace
Kelsaik's Rage gives slightly more attack modifier than the Zenith Necklace due to the additional "Increases Power by 3" bonus. However, assuming the use of two Zenith Earrings, equipping the Zenith Necklace will give a whopping +10% additional attack speed. With addition attack speed affecting charge time on your skills, the Zenith Necklace is a slightly better choice.
Axe O' Salt (Duchexx) vs. Barbarax
Of note, the keen Wonderholme Axe (after masterwork) will have an additional +14 critical rate and +0.3 critical damage versus the Nightforge PVE Axe's 6% additional damage, higher base stats, and fourth enchantment option.
There's a lot of number crunching involved, and there are probably situations where either of the two are better for. They're both endgame-viable weapons to have though.
Preface: The Dependence on RNG for Damage
To every Berserker, RNG is a merciless god; one moment, you’re windmill-slamming millions at a time per Thunder Strike (roughly once every five seconds). The next, you can barely break a hundred thousand with a full overcharge. In this section, we will address issue in two vastly different ways: maximizing your damage and making each critical hit count, and maximizing your chances at scoring a critical but reducing the power of your hits. By the end of this discussion and explanation, you, the Berserker, should have a better understanding of which route you are to go.
Know that if you are looking for near-constant critical hits at much smaller numbers, you are better off being a Slayer or a Warrior; if you are looking for reliable strings of high numbers, the Sorcerer is a better calling. As a Berserker, you will have to come to terms with being ever-reliant on probability and the dangers of damage gambling.
The equipment set taken into consideration will be:
- Ring of Pain (totaling +6% damage and +0.14 critical damage)
- Zenith Shield Bands (totaling +24 critical rate and +0.08 critical damage)
- Four Pristine Powerful Zyrks (+8 Power)
- Four Pristine Carving Zyrks (+8 critical rate)
Rolling all Power or all critical rate is a choice between [+8 Power, +6% damage, and +0.14 critical damage] or [+32 critical rate and +0.08 critical damage].
To put the additional critical rate into perspective, a Berserker’s natural critical rate begins at 58, so the bonus critical rate is an increase of 55%. This bonus critical rate does not become doubled with the Mystic's Aura of the Merciless but does give a whopping 148 critical rate total (before factoring in an Axe O' Salt's +28 critical rate).
On the other hand, the +8 Power, +0.14 critical damage, and +6% damage will all scale directly with your raw damage; while having too much critical damage will give diminishing returns, having all of your damage affected by even the +6% damage modifier is still a huge boost.
While the previous entries involved Power versus critical rate, choosing between Scrolls of Savagery and Scrolls of Carving is a trade-off between an additional +1.34 multiplier on critical damage and 25 critical rate. Combining the Scroll of Carving with previous critical rate stacks will easily break over 100 critical rate, but the +1.34 bonus multiplier critical damage shouldn’t be ignored; the +1.34 is stacks with critical damage bonuses from your rings and necklace as well as the multipliers from your weapon’s crystals.
In parties where you can expect to benefit from a Mystic’s Aura of the Merciless, the Scroll of Savagery takes priority over the Scroll of Carving; while the Scroll of Carving’s bonus critical rate is substantial, its relative bonus (with either Power or critical rate stacking) compared to a Scroll of Savagery’s bonus critical damage with doubled critical rate sells your bonuses short.
Assuming the use of a Greater Power Charm or a Greater Keen Charm and 120 stamina, the player will choose between X Power or X critical rate. To maximize the charm’s effects, charm use should follow its corresponding build (Power with Power, Keen with critical rate).
While an argument between the Charms similar to that of the two Scrolls can be made, the primary difference is a comparison between Power and critical damage (Power Charms and Scrolls of Savagery): while the bonus Power adds on to your baseline damage, the bonus critical damage affects your damage multiplier and exponentially increases your damage (on a critical hit).
Geared to the teeth, Berserkers can power through a situation on damage alone, and learning the small nuances in outputting damage is not rocket science. To that end, this guide is not a be-all-end-all to playing the Berserker class; it is my hope that readers can leave having learned more about this class and return with more ideas to discuss on the Berserker.
Until then, I hope you have enjoyed going through these topics as much as I have and can benefit from having read through. Thank you for reading.
- V2.00: Large overhaul. Progression, Optimization sections changed. Lethal Strike notes changed. Lethal Strike Glyph build dropped.
- V1.10: Corrected some numbers. Added various item information window screenshots. Added information regarding Alliance Vaults' new best-in-slot rings.
- V1.02: Corrected numbers and information regarding critical rate vs. Power. Fixed some grammar.
- V1.01: Progression section added. Some additional notes added regarding Lethal Strike.
- V1.00: First Edition completed. Errors may include imprecise numbers and estimations.