What happens when you smash EVE with Lineage 2, including a dash from a variety of action RPGs and various other games? You get Black Desert Online (BDO), a game by Korean developer Pearl Abyss. Although, BDO has been available on the Russian and East Asian markets since 2014, a tailor-made version of BDO was released for the European and American crowd in March of this year. Boasting an elaborate character creation tool, BDO is described as a skill-based action MMORPG, and is being met with mostly positive opinions. Currently, BDO is the #1 most popular game on MMORPG.com.
The combat in BDO is active and coordination dependent, tab-warriors and right clickers heed with caution. BDO also boasts an elaborate retinue of content options, some of which include: Open-World PVP, Guild Wars, Castle Development, Horse Taming, Farming, Trading (legal/illegal), Land lordship, Piracy, Whale Hunting, Crafting, Boat-craft, Becoming an Outlaw, Flute Playing, and Fishing to name just a few. BDO manages to link these seamlessly, the only instanced environments are some forms of instanced PVP, and your housing. Although the game does its best to make it feel like these are still seamless events. Weather and time of day directly alter NPC availability and monster ability. This is all wrapped in a perplexing story that is presented to the player as a mystery that needs to be solved.
As you play BDO, a mysterious black spirit develops alongside you, following and constantly nagging whilst directing the overarching story of the game. Your interactions with this being are often incredibly creepy yet thought provoking. There is no max level in BDO, but once you hit level 50, things slow down incredibly.
Some call me the Imp Lover.
Know Your History
In theory, BDO is a composite of many games. Whenever a new MMO comes out, those who have played many games or MMOs always look at the similarities and attempt to compare. The trouble is, there is no true comparison to BDO. The world of BDO appears as if it could be a WOW-clone, until you actually play it and quickly realize that it is not. The combination of Final Fantasy XI, Vanguard, and Lineage 2 combat origins are repurposed into a beautifully active process. Evasive dodging sort of like Guild Wars 2 within a game you should play as a discovery sandbox akin to Fallout rather than a linear mode. Conquerable territories and constant world PVP bringing a meta game found in EVE or even Dark Age of Camelot. The parkour aspects of Assassin’s Creed and a Hunting mode that reminds me of Duck Hunt. All of this exists alongside a deep trade system you could say came from the Elite franchise. Did I mention the option to slam potions like Lineage 2?
BDO takes on these predecessors and builds a new world to explore and conquer. By way of the knowledge system, NPC/player interactions, trade, housing, craft and combat, players have a new place to truly take over. BDO utilizes a $30 buy to play model (for the cheapest initial version) and in lieu of subscription fees, includes a cash shop, termed the Pearl Shop. In the Pearl Shop, players are able to buy costumes, remodel their characters, and buy some-items that allow players to gain a leg up on the competition.
The Knowledge system unlocks NPC quest lines and gear. I have a lot to learn still.
Creating your first character.
You will need to choose a server and a family name. That family name will be on all of your characters, so choose wisely (it floats above your character’s name). There are only 3 servers, so picking is easy. I rolled on the Edan server, as this is supposed to be a primarily North American (although open for EU users as well, who can play on it without lag). You then have the choice of a server channel to join. It doesn’t really matter which you choose to start, as you can switch between them ad libitum while in safe areas, or when you reconnect.
Next up, choose a class. You have several to choose from that include: Warrior, Ranger, Sorceress, Berserker, Tamer, Musa, Maehwa, Valkyrie, Wizard, and Witch. Each of the classes has their own playstyle and are all worth experimenting with to find your favorite. You will notice the absence of a dedicated healer-type class. A hexagonal heat map displays each classes gameplay bias toward 5 different aspects of combat: Control, Defense, Combo, Evasion, and Attack. Once selected, choose your horoscope, customize your appearance and load in.
10 Classes to Choose From
You begin the game confused and in a shambles. A mysterious black spirit is close by, but what’s the deal with him anyway? Players will need to balance Skill Points (to get new abilities, earned by doing stuff), Energy (to perform tasks or other game mechanics, slowly regenerated), and Contribution Points (how to get housing and nodes for workers, earned by doing stuff) as they progress in the game.
What is this guys problem?
The early game is met with some tutorial-type activity, slaying countless monsters, performing tasks for random strangers, talking with Humanoid River Otters, all to teach you all the different things the BDO has to offer. Once you get toward level 15-20, but really anytime you want, the game breaks off into a more sandbox type experience where you are free to make your own decisions on what to do next. As for guides to help you out? There is a plethora of literature available on the wiki and via the in-game help tools. Be warned though, relying on Google searches can lead you to outdated information from older builds of the game. I can’t really say much for the content past the early 20s, but I am eager to continue with the game.
Once you figure out the games many features actually work, it really starts to make sense. There is this huge initial confusion with how to interact with the game. It’s almost as if you character, awakened, confused and in shambles, is an analogy for the classic MMO player emerging in BDO.
BDO includes probably one of the most functional in-game maps aside from EVE. Weather is displayed on the map as are any information you could possibly need. There is a fog of war to it, so as you explore the game the map will reveal itself. Oh yeah, did I mention that the game has auto-run? Kinda like auto-pilot in EVE.
The Morning Grind
Fighting mobs one on one is a waste of time. Pull as many as you can and slay them all. Bonus points if you just never stop killing things. The game is grindey, let’s be clear on that. But the grind is fun, and actually pretty quick (at least to get to level 50). The combat is stunning and paced as a frenzy. Combat for my Ranger could be described as an amphetamine-infused twitch nirvana. Some people don’t like twitch games, I wouldn’t knock BDO until you try it (and hey if a friend buys it they can get you a 7day trial). The sheer euphoria of melting 30 mobs with Wizard magic is truly spectacular.
There are various aspects of gameplay that are slower paced, and a player could spend their entire time just doing these and still be productive. Conversations to build knowledge of the local area (to unlock quests or items), directing workers operating on nodes (sort of like EVE planetary interaction, fewer clicks required), crafting/gathering, modifying your player housing, developing your guild, performing guild tasks, building destroyable fortresses and castles, or even trading goods between far away places all provide ample opportunities for content and progression.
The Cool-Kid Tax
The armor sets available to adventurers in BDO via loot drops, questing, and crafting are for lack of a better word, basic. The community is largely disappointed in this because the gameplay of BDO is so nice. The basic clothes available are not flashy, they are all dyed the same and if you want to dye them special be prepared to open your wallet. Oh and did I mention that paid dye is just a randomly generated hue of a desired color?
To unlock far more visually appealing armor sets (that are also dye-able), players will need to buy costumes via the Pearl Shop. This is not to say the the basic armor available is terrible to look at, it’s fine (at least I keep telling myself this). Some will opt to make their characters more visually stunning, with some costumes providing effects to experience gain or armor durability loss to name a few.
What was easily noticed was the Female avatar stock equipment is both less revealing and less “free n’ easy”. The cash shop items allow for more “movement” let’s just say. To me the clothing in the game really doesn’t matter. The combat is so fast paced you aren’t looking at your avatar. So unless you are really into playing dress-up, BDO will still be fine. The firestorm of paid clothes and not being able to unlock visually stunning clothes by in-game mean really makes me wonder. If people could have paid a quarter more for a different looking PAC-MAN, would they have done it? I guess there was Ms. PAC-MAN.
Pearls for my Lady. Be sure to check out the cash shop undergarments.
Some cash shop items have been met with mixed emotion. Ghillie suits are available for purchase that make your character more hidden (and hide your name), allowing you to have an advantage in a PVP scenario. Hither the cry of “Pay-to-Win”, the very introduction an abomination on multiplayer gaming!? I mean, I don’t think anyone can argue this one. Just check out the video below of the not so “over-powered” ghillie suit. Is this is probably going to be a necessary purchase for any PVP character should it remain in the game in its present form? You can protect yourself from Ghillie suited people by buying a Dog, also available on the cash shop. Also your dog will pick up items every 10 seconds, so that’s pretty cool.
The Ghillie Suit: Pay-to-win? More like a bonus Where’s Waldo feature.
PVP in BDO, Outlaws, Whiteknights, and Guild on Guild action.
PVP in BDO is a mixed bag of game mode and types. Open World PVP opens up once a character on an account reaches level 50, and then activates this mode on all characters of that account. Players who attack unprovoked players will lose Karma, and will lose even more if they have the final killing blow. Players will also be able to participate in Guild Castle Sieges, Guild Wars, arena PVP, instanced PVP, and the Crimson Battlefield which is supposedly just a huge area of two teams slugging it out infinitely. Players that do not want to wait until level 50 to start PVP’ing, can start by joining or creating a guild, and declaring guild wars.
Of mention about PVP and the Karma system is the ability to become an Outlaw. Players with a sufficiently negative Karma level will become outlaws and attacked by guards on site. However, players can still avoid/kill the guards and interact with all other players/NPCs normally. Players build Karma back up by slaying monsters as at least one means.
Breaking through to the end-game.
What we have here is a fresh MMO that was localized really well for the North American and European Market. At least in the early game, combat stylings are visually stunning, easy to grasp, although relatively easy to master. A rich social and knowledge system provides unique character to the mysterious world around you, although the story doesn’t make much sense when you play for the first time. A major sticking point with BDO will always be its cash shop, that includes slightly pay-to-win items, but hey, someone has to keep these developers employed.
There is surely a lot to do in BDO. As we have only scratched the surface here today, stay tuned as Anehii continues to delve into the depths of this new Fantasy Action Sandbox MMORPG
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Anehii.