Black Desert Online Review - Read Before You Buy

Black Desert Online Review
Join a war torn world of action and adventure

Should you join the growing community?

In today’s competitive market, MMORPGs have to compete for a steady player base. When it comes to the world of MMO’s, or massive multi-player games, it’s not uncommon for a game’s popularity to lessen about two years after it’s been introduced.

To avoid any critical declines in population, developers have to produce a consistent stream of new content that keeps the game fresh; and, encourages new players to invest their time and money in a game  they’ve never played.

For those individuals who want to try Black Desert Online, I offer an analytical approach to the game’s structure, providing an introduction into the immersive world it’s become since launch.

About Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online is a sand-box MMORPG that allows players to explore, create, and interact within the war-torn nations of Calpheon, Mediah, and Valencia. The game offers an open and immersive environment inviting players to take charge of their character’s lives. 

With humble beginnings as a Korean MMO designed by Pearl Abyss, Black Desert Online was released in North America on March 3, 2016. It had a well-received release and Kakao reported that 400,000 copies were sold in the first month and an average of 100,000 people

played concurrently. Just one year after its release, those numbers rose to 3.4 million. As of September this year, the game reports 10 million players worldwide, with 15,000 of those on Steam. 

Development took six years from start to release, and the game uses a special engine that allows for seamless game play. Sources suggest the budget for Black Desert Online was an even $1 million, but few details are given about how it was created with such a minimal budget.

Black Desert Online Story

Combat encounters with added effects lend greater thrill to the fight

The story in Black Desert Online is rich and immersive, but a player has to dig to participate in the plots. When a character starts out, you get a black spirit who introduces you into the world’s story through a series of quests that strengthens the black energy accompanying you. Town NPCs also draw you into the world as you move around the map, pulling players into their daily lives and expounding upon the activity of the towns, farms, and guard shacks along the way.

Black Desert Online Gameplay

Flexible character creation allows you to adjust different elements of a character's body.

Character creation in Black Desert Online is one of the most extensive available. Beyond being able to fine tune the features of a character’s face, a player can adjust the character’s body mass, size, and, in some instances, age. To date, there are seventeen classes a player can choose from.Though gender locked, they do, in most instances, offer an equitable class for the other gender. Once a player moves past the character creation screen, there are a myriad of activities you can invest in.

Black Desert Online provides a large map that begs for exploration. On your journeys, your character can unlock area nodes that can later be linked for trading, gaining amity (friendship points) with NPCs to move different plots of the story, and kill wild beasties, all of which adds to a compendium of knowledge that’s always with you. “Grinding” seems to be the most apparent activity, clearing areas of the maps to collect gear and quickly increase your character’s level.

But, outside of combat, a player can work on areas that increase life experience in the game. These activities include trading with NPCs, fishing, crafting your own vehicles, and training your own mounts. The unique amity system offered with the NPCs, allows you to converse freely with characters, guiding the conversation with the knowledge you’ve acquired in your compendium, instead of being stuck to a script. These conversations consume energy in the game, but befriending NPCs often leads to great reward.

Black Desert Online Multiplayer

Unlike the typical MMORPG, that encourages multiplayer groups to conquer dungeons and end game content, Black Desert Online’s multiplayer action is most prevalent in guilds and territory wars. Black Desert Online has two different siege systems when it comes to conquering territory. The first system is Node Wars, where players fight to obtain control over a particular area, or node, in the realm. Once

they’ve attained won the node, the guild possesses it for a full week, before it can be seized by another guild. The second system is the Siege Wars, which are battles on a larger scale intended to take over and rule the various continents found in Black Desert Online. Increased land ownership then allows for guild growth, permitting members to gain more silver in their daily collections and opening the guild up to new opportunities and amenities.

Black Desert Online Quest/Mission System

The adventure Black Desert Online provides begins with the Black Spirit greeting you after your character wakes in the game’s starter town, Olvia. Cursed with amnesia, the player’s character is forced to re-familiarize themselves with the world around them through the assistance of the Black Spirit. As the story unfolds, you begin to learn more about the being “possessing” you. Specifically, how the black plague that

swept across the territories ties into the wars and power conflicts that move the different storylines.

Each area provides its own components to the story by introducing quests through the Black Spirit. Once you enter the different townships, the player also finds localized quests that introduce the player to the daily struggle and lives of the citizens living there. These quests can range anywhere from combat adventures, like rescuing an adventurer from bandits only to find he’d become leader of them, or cooking meals that need to be delivered to another town a day’s ride away.

Black Desert Online Graphics

One of the many stunning areas to explore

On the topic of graphics, Black Desert Online has some of the most beautiful rendering I’ve come across. The seamless environment is on par to Skyrim’s when it comes to landscapes and territory design. 

The weather elements are incredible, particularly when a player can watch snow collect on their clothing or mounts. Storms at sea can damage your boat if you can’t navigate around them and the environment feels alive as the player moves throughout the game.

Combat feels as though players you came across the encounters naturally, forcing you to think on your feet as you engage the enemy. The animations add an element of excitement to the battles, with blood spatter painting your character and armor wearing down as the durability fades throughout the fighting. Real time mouse and keys are all the control the player has in battle, creating encounters that are more engaging than tab targeting or lock-on fights.

Black Desert Online Developer

The developer, Pearl Abyss, was founded in 2010. After partnering with the Japanese publisher Game-on in 2012, Pearl Abyss began to release game information to the public. After three different rounds of beta-testing, a majority of the bugs were worked out prior to launch.

In the beginning, communication between the developers and the community was spotty at best but, improved after launch. Regular maintenance patches occur every Wednesday. Major content releases, such as expansions and classes, come out quarterly. Overall, Black Desert Online keeps the game consistently updated and fresh, inviting new players and encouraging the current players to remain or return after periods of absence. Their forums provide a voice for the community, and they encourage players to utilize those forums when it comes to bugs, ideas, or commentary on the game’s performance.

Black Desert Online Price

Currently, the Starter package for the game, which allows access to all of the content and provides 10 free guest passes, runs in the $10 range. If you’re interested in spending a little bit more, Pearl Abyss provides two other packages that grant the user extra character slots, costuming, buffs, pets, inventory expansion, and a mount. These packages, the Traveler’s and Explorer’s respectively, are offered at $30 for the former and $50 dollars for the latter.

The game is also due to release on X-Box soon, with the beta testing having finished up this past November. Once you’ve purchased the game, Black Desert Online provides a Pearl Shop where players can purchase costumes, experience boosts, loot, pets, and other elements to assist in game play. However, the purchases don’t particularly provide a pay-to-win platform as you can’t purchase combat gear or anything that seriously affects the stats of your character.

-FINAL VERDICT: 9/10

Pros: 

● Black Desert Online caters to lots of different play styles by creating an interactive and immersive world where your character can be anything from a Fisherman, who spends his time gaining life experience out on the water, to a Colosseum fFighter or Camp Guard,  which plays into the PvP aspects of the game.

● Not all experience has to be gained by while sitting at the computer. Black Desert Online allows you to set a task for your character and walk away. This is particularly true for life experience builds such as Horse Training or, Fishing. For combat and skill experience they’re books available for purchase that will allow you to train on a dummy for three hours while you’re away from the game.

● Guilds in Black Desert Online are also a benefit, particularly, when it comes to collecting coin and income. Beyond the assistance they provide for PvE and PVP play styles, for immersion purposes, the system is set up on a contractual basis and pays out silver to participating guild members.

Cons:

● Classes are gender locked, although most classes have an equal counterpart for the opposite gender.

● This is not a dungeon style MMO. So, while parties are available, cooperative play isn’t necessary nor as common as it could be. Players usually have to join a guild, but group grinding can destroy mobs incredibly fast and may not be as fun.

 

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Jackie is a table top RPG geek, long time gamer, and writer. A lover of competitive games, with more enthusiasm than skill.
Gamer Since: 1996
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Overwatch, Cooking Simulator, Colony Survival
Top 3 Favorite Games:Plague Inc: Evolved, Mass Effect, Sid Meier's Civilization V
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