MMO’s are a huge joy of mine, the ones that I adore the most are Guild Wars and Final Fantasy XIV. Over the past few years, I have looked for a new one to sink my teeth into and that is when I came across Black Desert for the first time. I first saw a video online of the customisation depth that this game offers and that was a huge selling point for me and the thing that caught my attention. After some further digging, I found gameplay videos and trailers and was taken back by how gorgeous and fun the game looked, however after purchasing the game on PC I found that my old PC wasn’t up to standards and I wasn’t getting the flashy graphics that I saw in the trailers not only that but it ran pretty poorly this sadly ended my time playing Black Desert…. until now, after seeing that it was available on the PS4 I knew I must give the game another try and this time hopefully I will be able to get the full experience that I missed out on the first time around.
Black Desert Online is an MMORPG that was originally released for PC back in 2016 but has found its way onto consoles in 2019. There is a free-to-play version available, but it does not offer the full experience. The Black Desert story is there but it kind of expects the players to find it themselves through questing and exploring the vast in-game world, it takes place in a high fantasy setting that revolves around the conflict between two rival nations, the Republic of Calpheon and the kingdom of Valencia. Long ago, the four main areas, Calpheon, Serendia, Balenos and Mediah were at peace but that all changed when a plague called the Black Death started spreading throughout the land killing hundreds of people. The four areas decided to place the blame on Valencia for the plague and said that it must have come from them as they meddled with black stone alchemy, the four areas then decided to form an alliance against Valencia and start a war to gain control over the Black Desert and stop them meddling with black stone. The war finally ended when a bunch of natural disasters caused the world to change dramatically. Like mentioned above the lore is there for the game but requires you to go out and find it. This can be done through all the quests available, interaction with the NPCs and exploration of the world. Sadly, when I started playing I didn’t get what was going on and just did the main quests that were given to me by NPCs and the Black Spirit.
There is so much going on in Black Desert that this review would be pages long if I tried to cover all of them, so I will pick out a few of the stand out points I find with Black Desert that I believe makes it stand out above the rest when it comes to MMO, so the first one would be the character customisation, it is so incredibly in-depth that you can make your character look like celebrities, I have seen photos online where people have made their wizards look like Benedict Cumberbatch and it is amazing. The possibilities are endless, and no two-characters looks the same in-game, it is like that meme where you spend hours making the perfect character to only go and put armour on them and cover yourself up.
The Combat is superb but takes some getting used to, it’s not like other MMOs where there is a target like system and you cast your spells, instead, you attack, dodge and move by yourself while performing different skill combos. No other MMO that I have played has this mechanic and if anything I think it makes the combat feel more fluent and visually more pleasing. Other MMOs have your skills across the bottom and you have to press that skill to use it whereas Black Desert makes the player perform different combos that allow you to cast and perform your skills. The skill trees for classes in Black Desert are huge and after a certain level you get even more skill after your character Awakens, these add more to your character and offer a whole new style for you to master. Currently, the game has twenty unique classes for you to choose from and each offers hours upon hours of fun and challenging content. The game also encourages players to make multiple characters because you have a family system that allows all your characters to be apart of one big family and you get certain perks and bonus across each character for the more characters you have and their overall states.
Warfare is amazing, this is free for all guild battle where guilds fight over daily nodes and weekly conquest, you’ll have to bring you’re A-game to these as winning them brings high rewards for your guild as well as access to certain perks. If you fancy sailing the seven seas then why not craft yourself a boat and set sail across the great ocean, you can fish, hunt ocean monsters and do lots more with this fantastic feature. You can even tame wild horse and elephants to use as mounts and if that wasn’t enough you can breed them to get better mounts to keep for yourself or sell on the market.
Black Desert goes above and beyond with giving the player content and things to do, if you get bored of questing you can build your characters life skills, these are similar to what you see in Runescape but on a better and bigger scale. It is probably best to master a few of these rather than all of them on one character as you can use these life skills to make money in-game and to craft things for yourself. Not only this but you can set up trade routes and hire workers to gather resources and either sell them on or use them to make better things for yourself. Why stop there though when you can get houses in each of the main towns and areas and customise them however you like, want a house for storage needs, you got it, want one that you can make your dream home? No problem this is all possible in Black Desert.
A few negatives I have with Black Desert are that some of the quests do seem repetitive and have you do similar tasks, the rendering time for certain areas are shocking on the PlayStation 4 and you can find yourself waiting a good amount of time for characters and that to render into the world. There also seems to be a lot of delay/lag on some of the servers but I don’t know if that’s just me or is an actual problem when playing the game on Consoles. I also find myself using the autorun feature a lot and just letting the character run to where it needs to be while I look through my phone or read the Black Desert wiki on how to do certain things. Sadly, the game doesn’t do a good job when it comes to showing the player the ropes, because Black Desert is so different to me gameplay-wise from any other MMO I have played in the past I feel like it could have come with an instruction manual with certain things, it does tell you how stuff works but I feel like it doesn’t tell you how to get it started or why this is good for you. That is where a lot of YouTube videos, Research and the friendly community came to the rescue. With it being an MMO you do get a lot more fun out of the game parting with others and questing together, you can do it on your own it’s just a lot more enjoyable with others.
Graphically Black Desert looks beautiful and it is nice to finally be able to play it with some form of glamour compared to when I played it originally on my old PC. Yes, you do get rendering issues but the characters and overall environment looks incredible and sucks you in, there are some voice acting present and the ability to give your character the grunts and groans they make while in combat and taking damage but mainly I enjoy just listening to the overall ambience that the game has to offer as well as some catchy music every now and then.
MMO’s offer so much replay value and content for the player that you can spend as much time as you are whiling to spend playing them. Even more so with Black Desert as it encourages players to build multiple characters to build up your family name as well as the sheer amount of things the game offers the player to do. Not only this, if you find yourself an active guild or make active friends then there will always be something going on and things to do. I find myself staying up late playing Black Desert as it eats away at my time without me realising it, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I was looking for my next main MMO and I think I might just have found it.
Black Desert has come back into my life on the PS4 but going forward I’m not too sure whether this will be where I continue playing it, MMOs to me are meant for PC, that is just my personal opinion. I feel like they are best played when using a mouse and keyboard, if Black Desert offered mouse and keyboard support on PlayStation then I might stick around but it doesn’t. I will still keep playing Black Desert just on my gaming PC where I can now play at max settings and enjoy a more smooth and optimal gaming experience. Don’t get me wrong if you don’t have a gaming PC then please do buy this if you are looking for a new MMO or maybe even your first as this is a fantastic one to try, it even offers a free-to-play service so you can see if it’s for you or not. Though for me I will be moving from the PlayStation onto the PC to continue my shenanigans in-game as I find this offers me a more comfortable and graphically better experience. Playing MMOs on the controller doesn’t really work as I feel like there is too much going on to map it to one controller, even though Black Desert does an alright job at this it still feels clogged and clunky. My overall time playing Black Desert was a blast, Its got hours of content, brilliant character customisation and just some much for the player to sink their teeth into. If you can get past the rendering problems and the lack of guidance then this game is definitely worth picking up. If you are like me and have a gaming PC, I highly recommend picking the game up on there as it will be a better gaming experience for you. Black Desert Online is a one of a kind MMO that fans of this genre would be silly not to play, for these reasons, I’m happy to give it a score of 7 out of 10.
Black Desert was a review on PS4 and can be purchased here for £24.99, the game is also available on Xbox One and PC.
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