Black Desert Online, one of the few Korean MMO’s to get brought over to English speaking countries. Developed by Pearl Abyss, which seemingly seems to be their first game and has been in development since 2010, This MMORPG has everything the Koreans are known for, amazing graphics, deep lore and sweat sliders… wait maybe not that last one.
Like many other MMO’s, BDO is set within a fantasy setting where swords were commonplace along with bows for ranged combat. With two warring Nations; Calpheon and Valencia, along with Balenos, you will be starting off as an Amnesia ridden adventurer searching for your lost memories… Cliché as usual. For what it seemed like most classes/races start the same way with a smoky being, called Black Spirit, guides you on the path to Power and your forgotten past.
On the ride of a lifetime, if you’re lucky to get a horse, you will traverse the lands in search of Black Stones and fonts of Dark Energy for the Black Spirit to absorb, growing in power as well as size as he does so. Almost all the other characters will tell you of the danger the Black Spirit brings, you on the other hand as a voiceless character will go along with him/her to gather the stone’s powers. Along the way you will learn of an Ancient civilization within the world and their connections to the Dark Energy and the events of the world.
Since this is an MMO it is hard to pin a length to it, from the Story Missions you will easily throw in 20-30 hours if you know what you’re doing, with guides for levels 1-50 in under 15 hours already popping up, however coupled with side missions and the collections you can easily put upwards of 100 hours into the game. This has one of the biggest repertoire of tasks to do in any MMO I’ve played to date, from questing, jobs, financing, 100% all collections, lore finding, parkour, etc.
I do have to stress that since it is so early the game will have a lot more content added in through patches, events, DLC’s, expansions and more. End-Game content is also there to lengthen the game even more.
Akin to games like TERA, BDO is an action-based MMO, while more of the ranged classes take advantage of standing still all classes benefit from moving during combat. Using Left Click to attack, Right Click for alternate attacks, holding down shift for abilities on both Left and Right clicks, numbers 1-9 for abilities you unlock as well as potions, jumping and dodging, positioning for back attacks as well as downed attacks. A lot of the battles can be completed with no damage taken if you’re a fast moving class, dodging gives you invincibility frames, though not many, on top of hurling you to your desired direction.
Besides the Action combat the game does employ some general MMO gameplay, allowing you to stand still and press the number buttons for gameplay closer to World of Warcraft. This does allow the player some freedom of choice in how they play but the split focus in design does leave both sides a bit underdeveloped. Due to a lack of “permanent healer” class most players will be relying on potions to keep their health topped up, dishing out enough damage to defeat foes before the need for healing arises.
On the flip side of combat you have a wide array of other tasks to perform. Like other MMO’s that have professions and money making schemes BDO takes it one step further with its profession levelling and financing by allowing the player to pretty much do anything they want with Gathering. There are trades that will buy and sell your materials, you can change them into items to put onto the marketplace or send out caravans to trade between towns. You can also hire workers to put to work at Nodes in the world, farms for honey, woodcutters for lumber, mines or ore etc, which ticks every hour or so, producing the goods and awaiting your pickup.
As you play you will gain Contribution points, which you use to unlock nodes for harvesting as well as getting new homes/businesses running. Alongside the Contribution points you will recharge Energy overtime, allowing you to invest in places for higher yields of goods or buffs for the areas they cover. The Energy system is very familiar of Facebook or Mobile games, recharging overtime and stopping progress if you’ve used it all, though they do offer ways to recharge them with money. The whole business thing is a rather fun mechanic to have in a game, opening up an entirely different side to a rather linear genre.
Besides all the above stated things to do you can also spend your hours wasted on fishing, buying horses, mules and carriages for carting goods, boats to travel the seas, learning the stock market and trading money for Gold Bars for easier transport, making items to put onto the marketplace, hiring works and renting out rooms to store your goods, used as refining forges, workshops or your own personal homes full of furniture.
For Professions you have: Gathering, Processing, Cooking, Alchemy, Training (For your horses), Fishing, Hunting, Trading and Farming. Some require nodes to work with, like farming for the land to place your crops in, where others like Fishing can just be done by going to the pier. Each one has their own levels and experience, with bonuses for ranking up and better tools to use. You can also increase your Health by continually eating food, increase your stamina by running around a lot, increase your strength by hulking items around in a backpack between locations with even more beyond that.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
The game is beautiful, though edging on doll-like and the Uncanny Valley, all the characters are “pretty” and have great physics placed on their clothing, hair and mounts. The environment is also well designed, allowing for both aesthetic and functionality, with the ability to Parkour the roofs for faster travel or climbing up for better views of the areas themselves. On the other side of the design the game is Huge, though with the taking out of Flight Paths or automated taxis you do have a far distance to travel to get where you want to go. You can Auto-run along a personally made waypoint but until the end-game this can be a rather slow and boring process.
Thankfully this isn’t a Pay-to-play game because the amount of hours needed to get going is too high, you will need start-up money and Contribution points to even think about business making, which you need to fight for so if you wanted to be a sole trader it is out of the question. You need to setup caravans to travel your goods around, being slow at the start due to low tier horses and caravans, which again need money to fuel, so get out there and do some hunting.
The End-Game is very disappointing right now but is expected with an MMO not so far away from its release date. You have some good PvP to get into, World-Bosses that require big teams and planning to take out, along with good gear as you will get one-shot if you’re not prepared, as well as end-game business strategies to make the most money. Once you have enough you can start about making a Guild, getting a Guild Hall allowing you to get into Guild Wars, confrontations, trading agreements and more.
Black Desert Online gets a 7/10, while almost all aspects of the game are amazing, both in playability and depth, the Story is too lack lustre to draw me in. Clichés are thrown around left and right making it hard to immerse yourself into the world. The gameplay gets rather boring after a while, heading into normal MMO territory of finding the best combo and sticking to it. The early game is too slow, traversing the world even slower as you will need to go back and forth for the NPC’s a lot. Level locking quests also forces you to grind your levels up, even when it isn’t necessary for the difficulty of the quests themselves.
The game will continue to improve with patches and the like, but right now you may be left wanting more when you hit that level cap.