I died at the tiny little hands of adorable pixies in Fey Forest. It only happened once, but in an MMO where your skill, not gear, is the biggest determinate between victory and defeat, every death is an embarrassment. Even worse, I was livestreaming at the time so literally ones of people saw it happen.
But one man stood among the crowd of mockers and offered me the best advice I've received since jumping into Tera: go buy Crystals for your gear. Those six words have redeemed my leveling speed; allow me to pass on this sage wisdom to you.
Crystals are small gems that you socket into your gear to acquire different boons. These crystals are bought from vendors, are broken into two categories (Weapon and Armor) and can be removed or replaced at any time. It's a similar to gem-socketing systems in other MMOs, like WoW, but the mechanics of the benefits the crystals give are a little more nuanced than usual—it's not as simple as picking the "melee" Crystals or the "healer" Crystals.
Tiers of Crystals are available at levels 1, 11, 23, 35, 48, and 58. Each tier has the same types of Crystals, just with more powerful versions of their effects. It's likely that level-60 Crystals will be an endgame drop, but I haven't gotten to a high enough level to confirm that yet.
Because TERA doesn't have a talent tree system, this is one of the primary ways for you to customize your character and make your Berserker play different than the next guy's. (The other system is Glyphs, which alter your skills.) The effects of Crystals aren't very groundbreaking, however, and I've found them to be much more effective at reducing downtime than changing my character's playstyle.
There are 14 different Weapon Crystals that can do the following:
There are 10 different types of Armor Crystals that can have the following effects:
Health and mana regeneration Crystals are absolutely vital to leveling and are not optional in any way. Different Crystals will of course work better for each class, but I've highlighted the safe picks, no matter your class.
Right now, my level 18 Warrior has slots open for three Armor and three Weapon Crystals (the number of slots is based on the quality of the gear equipped). I'm currently running with all flat HP regen Armor Crystals, which restore 60 HP every five seconds (about 1% of his health ever tick). For Weapon Crystals, I decided to go with the ones that boost damage and restore mana when I attack from behind. For less agile classes that can't attack an enemy from behind as often as Warriors, the passive mana regen is a reliable choice.
You can buy Crystals from Crystal Merchant or Specialty Store NPCs, which can be found in pretty much every major city. The first place you'll likely encounter one while out questing is in Lumbertown, located in the southeast corner of Fey Forest, the level 11-15 zone you're sent to after the starting zone.
Update: Boss monsters (or BAMs in the vernacular) in dungeons and the open world also have a chance to drop higher quality versions of Crystals, so get hunting if you want the best!
One final bit of advice: the crystals are bound to the armor and weapons you have equipped, and will be unequipped when you upgrade those items. In order to save the Crystals, you need to rip them out of the armor/weapons while you're still wearing them and change to your new gear before re-equipping the Crystals.
What Crystals are currently you using on your character? Help out new players by putting your suggested builds for each class in the comments.