Last weekend I, and thousands of others, had the chance to try out and help bug test the up and coming MMORPG, Black Desert Online. Made by Pearl Abyss and being brought over to the west by Daum Games, Black Desert is a one-of-a-kind game. It was developed to be an MMO that could appeal to as many gamers as possible, and I can’t help but see that to have come almost fully to fruition. Simply put, this is the best MMO I have ever played. So let’s see what it’s all about shall we?

A Sense of Scope and Adventure

The entire available area of the map I uncovered, not including the northern islands.

First things first, this game is massive. Not in the bad way to boot. If you love exploring the world in games like The Elder Scrolls series, then play this game now. I’m serious. I spent the entire last day of the beta just running around on foot and by horse, exploring that large western oval area in the above map. In those six or so hours I saw a ton of neat stuff that really needs to be experienced in game to understand the wonder it caused. And the best part? No fast travel. At all. It’s a pain at first to run everywhere, but thanks to auto-pathing and capturable wild horses, you soon forgive the developers for leaving it out. It hard to say more without ranting how good this part of the game is, so I’ll just leave a small journal of my adventure in the western woods:

I ran away from giants…
I found a village of badger people…
And I found a massive Ranger base around the largest tree.

Character Creation and Visuals

This has been touched on almost everywhere, so I’ll be brief. The character creator for this game is insanely good. You can edit every single part of your character, barring hands, feets, and crotches. >.> So if you can imagine it, you can most likely make it. Other than curly hair. The curl slider just turns the hair strands into springs… Just know though that other than body creation, there isn’t much of a way to differentiate your character with their cloths as there aren’t that many outfits, and the dye system is kind of borked. And in terms of graphics, hands down this is the best looking MMO other than Final Fantasy XIV. So if you have a crappy old computer, turning down the settings to minimum won’t help you here most likely. Oh, and for the record, classes aren’t gender locked either. It’s just that for the most part that 1) the male and female versions play slightly differently, 2) We won’t get everything in Korean Version at launch, and 3) Pearl Abyss knows this is an issue for some and has worked/is working to create the alternatives.

Having Multiple Characters is Intuitive

Yes, that is in fact Chie from Persona 4.

This was a major selling point for me coming from Final Fantasy XIV, where you no longer had to be locked to a single class. While Black Desert is character class locked, it hardly matter thanks to the “Family” system. When you start the game you are asked to make a family name that is shared across all your characters. This lets many things to be shared between them such as max energy and contribution (used for learning from NPC and trading), uncovered map space, mounts, storage, and housing. So no longer does starting a new character mean starting from scratch, in fact, it just makes your second play through all the more enjoyable. Also, it’s highly recommended that you make a second character as you can use them for various things for when you don’t want to trek across the map (grabbing your steed from a faraway stable only to go somewhere else for instance).

Endless Things to Do

Catching a fish for one of the Beta events.

But Messy! That goes for all good MMOs nowadays! True, but I’ve felt this aspect of the game so much more in Black Desert than I have in Final Fantasy XIV per say. While there’s the usual crafter and gatherer aspects of MMOs present here, Black Desert takes those and makes them much less of a hassle by letting you “buy” and employ workers, making doing those things yourself almost redundant. Why work when you can command your hirelings to do the work for you? Also, if you love games where you can trade goods across a wide swath of space for profit, that’s present in here too! Capitalism has never been more fun in an MMO. :-P

A Fast Paced and Active Combat System

Another reason I’m so into this game, the combat just rocks. While you can sort of play the old fashion way by activating your skills with the number bar or such, Black Desert has been designed from the ground up to play like an action game, and man does it feel good. With a bunch of classes that all play rather differently, and no dumb ground indicators to show where your enemy is going to strike next, fighting is much more active than passive compared to most other MMOs. For me it was like discovering Vindictus all over again, but this time there’s more stuff to do! Kill quests are such a joy in here.

The Iffy and Cons

Finally, I do a few issues with the game so far, but none enough to talk about in detail, so here a few bullet points:

  • Cash Shop is no longer as Pay to Win as it was before, but it is still not the best it could be. Expensive costumes and dyes make customization hard, and the section of shop for the pay to win stuff, which now can only be bought with points by logging in daily, range from crazy cheap to crazy expensive. You’d have to login 5 separate days in order to get an exp. boost that doesn’t last all that long.
  • The voice acting ranges from just passable to laughable at how forced it is. However, the NPC chatter does help liven the atmosphere.
  • The story really just isn’t all that interesting.
  • No (WoW-like) dungeons or raids, just massive guild wars, and large world bosses.
  • Channels suck when it becomes busy. There’s the major channels, and the minor ones everyone plays in. When all the minor channels are filled, you can’t just move to the other major channel; your characters are locked to it. (You also can’t just decide to play on the EU server instead for example either.) Update: The have increased the minor channel count from 4 to 9 which should help mitigate this issue.

All in all, if you’re a fan of MMOs or games like The Elder Scrolls series, you owe it to yourself to check out Black Desert Online when it releases on March 3rd, 2016. Also, the game is buy to play for only $30, so you never have to spend a dime for a subscription! I’ll leave the purchase page here. I hope this article was informative, and I’ll see you in the game~.