I have never played an MMO for more than a week. I have never hit the level-cap in an MMO. I have never gone raiding in an MMO. I have never completed a raid or boss battle with a guild in an MMO. I did all these things in Black Desert Online, because its goddamn amazing.

Note: I’m not an MMO fanatic, I just like playing them. If there’s something usual to MMO’s I don’t seem to understand, point it out in the comments! I’d love to learn more since I’m pretty much playing this for the rest of my life!

I’ve played a ton of MMOs, and I always like playing them for about a week before I get bored. When I’m playing them I can immediately detect every problem with the game.

Tera has repetitive quests and too much grinding. The Old Republic has god-awful combat and the “story” is so dragged out (I have not and probably will not play the expansion). Blade and Soul was ALMOST there, but the flashy combat feels awkwardly stiff to me. Games like Vindictus with great combat just feel shallow in other respects.

Black Desert has none of these problems. The experience gain is well balanced, the combat is beautiful and fluid on the level of a 2D fighter, and the length and number of quests seems well paced.

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I’m in love with this game.

Some of the best combat I’ve ever experienced

MMOs are notorious for having terrible combat. World of Warcraft and The Old Republic, two of the most famous American MMOs available right now, have the most boring, uninvolved combat of any game, I’d probably get more out of playing Punch Club, and in that game the combat is composed of watching your character fight, without any input from the player.

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Black Desert looks at all those games, with their uninvolved combat and terrible controls, and realizes thats NOT what you do.

Although I mentioned it before, Black Desert’s combat is something completely new.

Using your movement keys (WASD or arrow keys) combined with F, E, Q, Shift, Space, and the left and right mouse buttons, you pull off all the different moves which would normally be bound to your number keys or num pad.

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Instead of standing in place and pressing the number keys as you wait for your enemy’s health to go down (a la Old Republic), the combat is fluid, skill based, and diverse in the way each fight plays out.

Hitting and beating enemies is so satisfying because your attacks have impact, they feel powerful because of the way each attack is animated. Every attack has a unique special effect, full of particle effects that give the visuals of the attack more weight. Black Desert feels more like a spectacle fighter than a typical MMO.

Each class plays differently, because each class has a completely different role. Each class boils down to melee and ranged attacks combined with the roles of Tank, Support, or Damage. This distinction gives reason to make more than one character, because they all play so differently.

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Whats that? You want to see said awesome combat? Well I recorded some, with the game at its highest graphical fidelity: UI off, Depth of Field high, and all settings on ULTRA.

As you level up, you get skill points which can distributed between the skills you can learn. As you learn more skills, different attack combinations are learned, making each level up EXCITING AS HELL because you know you’re going to unlock a new awesome attack.

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The combat pretty much holds up all the problems with the game in my opinion, and its always fun since most enemies fight differently.

I’ve only come close to maxing out one character, a beast tamer, and the thought of learning a whole new class with a whole new playstyle is AWESOME.

Character creation is great

Few games rival The Sims in its character creation, but Black Desert really goes above and beyond with its character creation. The hairstyles are pretty lackluster, and molding your character’s face is pretty tough though. Fallout 4's character creator definitely beats Black Desert, but I’ll be damned if its still not fun to use though.

Visuals look amazing

This game beats out any MMO available right now, and it takes every chance to remind you of this.

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The game has pretty good textures for a game where your camera is always going to be zoomed a mile away from what you’re looking at. Lighting is goddamn brilliant with god rays and dynamic shadows making the world feel much more alive.

The game makes use of distance well, with extremely far areas only having a light fog over them, so the world doesn’t feel cut off from the player. The game’s ability to make far off areas (which can actually be explored, no invisible walls beside ocean) is so good, it makes screenshots look better than they would WITHOUT the fog:

The game gives the player spaces SPECIFICALLY for the amazing views they have. This is one of my favorites.

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Its undeniable that this is the best looking MMO on the market, and probably will continue to be that for a few years.

Screenshots for DAAAAAAAAAYS

Its clear the developers of Black Desert knew how pretty their game was, and they gave every option to make it look prettier.

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By pressing ctl+u, the game’s UI turns off and filter effects turn on.

Pressing different buttons on the keyboard in combination with the keyboard lets you change Field of View, Depth of Field, or Distance from your character. Sadly, these options dont work in roaming mode which is the only definite way to get your character out of a shot.

Regardless, you can get some pretty pictures from it.

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Animations

The game’s beautiful animations aren’t exclusive to the combat. Everything is animated with meticulous detail, from minigames to parkour, the animations look great.

Pacing and traveling

The map for Black Desert is ENORMOUS. There is no fast traveling, and the only method of traveling is by foot or by horse. I freaking love traveling because its so easy.

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The world is so interesting that just running from place to place is an experience. You get a donkey a few hours into the game, and you can buy a horse later on. They’re much safer and faster means of travel and its just much more fun galloping on a horse than auto-traveling on foot from place to place.

Because there’s so much going on, its easy (and fun) to get sidetracked when you’re traveling as you can find mini-bosses or chests in places you wouldn’t expect.

Also, seeing as I’ve become addicted to taking screenshots in the game, its great fun doing hardcore parkour in an effort to find the best place to put my character for a screenshot.

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It might get repetitive for traders, as they have to go between the same two towns dozens of times, but the autotravel system makes up for that by letting them just do something else while they travel!

Trading

I have to be transparent about this, I have no idea how the game’s trading system works. I’m pretty sure most of the people with wagons on their horses just spend their time going from town to town buying and selling resources for a slight profit.

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If as many people as I’ve seen are doing it, it must be fun as hell.

The Marketplace is a great place to find any weapons, armor, or materials you can’t find out in the wild. Its also a great place to sell your old weapons and armor, because you get way more money on the market than you do if you sell it to an NPC.

While I’m too incompetent to do full on trading, the menus for it are easy to navigate and give plenty of information on everything you’re buying and selling.

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Co Op Bosses

While I haven’t tried the game’s PVP/Sieges yet (good lord they look awesome) I have fought many of the game’s co-op bosses. The game has boss enemies stronger than any other which need to be summoned with scrolls you can either buy from the cash shop, or receive in missions.

They are TOUGH. They have enormous amounts of health, deal heavy damage, and go into a second phase more dangerous phase when they reach low health.

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The battles are challenging, skill based, and if the player is good enough, can always be solo’d. The first few in the game can be easily solo’d but later on they get pretty tough and having a friend to join you is pretty great.

Once again, and example of the boss battles, courtesy of YouTuber SPCLSPRHERO™ :

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SoundTrack

The soundtrack is enjoyable, but nothing to write home about. The music is pretty generic, and at times, a little bit unfitting. While riding a horse, the music sounds like a really weird medieval rock ballad.

The game’s main menu theme is pretty good though (first song in video below).

Video courtesy of Teodz Soundtracks:

Story where there really isn’t one

If you decided to play an MMO for the story, you’re probably doing something wrong, or you really liked Knights of the Old Republic and enjoy being disappointing.

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Almost 60 hours into the game, the only story I can come up with is that you’re possessed by some dark magic demon after you made a deal with it that led you to lose your memory. As you play through, you help the demon get more power for dark artifacts throughout the game world, and as you do that, the demon gets upgrades, going from a gelatinous blob to a humanoid being with a chest and arms. Possibly, the demon will turn into a human, and we can just leave the game on autorun the whole game as the demon does all the killing for us.

What I’m saying is, theres some semblence of a story, but don’t go into the game looking for one.

The cutscenes are pretty cool though!

Quests are up and down

While most quests boil down to either A) Go see this person, or B) Get me 50 bear asses, quests rarely feel repetitive especially for the main story missions. Some side quests will be fairly interesting, like performing a minigame to bring a wheelbarrow to someone, or something similar. Occasionally the game will ask you to kill 100 enemies of three different types which is pretty ridiculous, but they’re far and few in between.

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Normally I’d say repetitive combat missions are terrible for any MMO, but the game’s combat is so good that it holds up the quests.

Because the combat isn’t repetitive, neither are the quests. While some of them are really drawn out, the game doesn’t feel repetitive.

Lackluster options menu

For an MMO with such high-fidelity graphics, the options menu is pretty terrible. Graphics options are terrible, with a single option deciding texture, model, and lighting quality.

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Anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion, or anything else important to graphics balancing is either not modifiable, or left with a on or off option.

One significant thing about the options menu is the “High-end mode” which TANKS your frame rate, but improves just about every part of the game, from anti-aliasing to shadow smoothing.

Balancing frame rate is going to be tough for people on low end PCs.

Bugs

There are some weird bugs in this game, but nothing REALLY game-breaking.

In some of the server lobbies, hair color and character customization becomes randomized rather than what you made in the character creator.

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Sometimes, your horse will just disappear, as you’re riding it. It returns to the last stables it was in, but you might be miles from where you were so it can be pretty annoying. Its really rare though, and only happened to me about 3 times in 60 hours of gameplay.

There’s some occasional lag when you enter towns. Sometimes, for a few minutes, the game will be unplayable. The problem fixes itself after a while though.

Every living thing in the game will not render for about a minute. You’ll be walking along in a town and suddenly every person has disappeared. I’ve only had it happen once but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t confusing.

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Performance

This problem is really tough to talk about, because A) the game looks fantastic so it might be justifiable but B) I’m running this on an Nvidia GTX 980, which is a really high end graphics card, and C) the graphics menu proved the dev’s didn’t put performance at the top of their priorities.

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Some people have been having serious trouble getting this game to work at all, but I have had minimal problems with the game functioning as intended.

Regardless, the game does have frame rate issues. With the high-end mode on, which we can assume is just ultra graphics, I have trouble breaking 40 frames per second. When I’m recording, I cant each break 30. That’s unacceptable. When most people don’t have high end graphics cards, performance is a serious question when it comes to an MMO’s values.

Most MMOs can run on potatoes, and Black Desert is NOT one of them.

If you don’t have at least a mid-tier computer, you probably don’t want buy this game expecting something pretty. The game can go (without any of the screenshot options on) from max graphics here:

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To lowest graphics here...

While its still a step ahead of most MMOs, a lot of the game’s advertising hinges on its graphical fidelity, so most people should get to experience those pretty graphics.

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The game has just released in North America, but it has been out in Korea for almost two years now, so expecting a patch to fix performance is unlikely.

Character creation/genders

What in the hell. This is an atrociously stupid problem which exists solely because the developers are weird.

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When you want to make a character, you get eight classes presented to you: Warrior, Ranger, Sorceress, Berserker, Beast Tamer, Valkyrie, Mage, and Witch. Just kidding, there are seven classes, because Witch is just a female version of Mage.

There is no option to change a character’s gender, which is one of the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in an MMO. I’ve played Beast Tamer to max level, and its so freaking awesome. The problem? I’m one of the people who actually likes playing his OWN GENDER when he makes his character.

There’s no reason a woman can’t be a Berserker or a warrior? Why cant a beast tamer be a guy? Its not like only women can connect with animals (or rather, the one beast you can control). If I want to play a class, and my own gender, I should be able to. If you’re not gonna let me, atleast give me a reason.

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On top of that, only three out of the eight classes are male. What? I’m not sure if the developers are just lazy as hell and couldn’t bother to make clothes for male characters (and model/rig them) or if there’s some sleazy or sexist reason the devs preferred the female characters. I think it was the former, but its still possible the devs are just weird.

Pop-in

The pop-in of textures and other characters is ATROCIOUS. There are times where I’ll be looking directly at someone, two feet away, and it could take upwards of 10 seconds for it to load. I’ll often be walking around a city, and there are more colorless black models than there are actual, loaded models. Its not game breaking, but its really irritating and ruins immersion.

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I’ll be damned if this game isn’t fun. I had more fun just taking screenshots for this than I did in any other MMO based on all the aspects of the game.

The combat is fun, the visuals are stunning, the progression is well paced, and the technical issues should only be a problem with people on low end PCs, and even then, I doubt playing on the lowest graphics settings would be an enormous problem.

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There were a ton of things I couldn’t touch on, such as the crafting system, trading as I mentioned, activities like fishing, and biggest of all PVP. If you want to make a rival review, or touch on the stuff I couldn’t, PLEASE go right ahead! I’d love to read another TAYer’s opinion and hear what MMO knowledge they can drop on me.

8/8 great game m8

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Almost forgot! My favorite part of the game is.... wait. Is that what I think it is?

Lionel Richie????

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Well... at least they got the beard right.


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To contact the author of this post, e-mail him at babrishamchian@gmail.com or tweet him @Geo_star101