My relationship with massively multiplayer games isn’t what it used to be. Back when I was first introduced to them, almost any MMO seemed a wonderful place to spend my time as long as I had some pals to join me. However, now that I’ve wizened up a little, it’s hard for me not to see through their simplistic systems and predict whether their endgames will hold my interest.
I took me a while, but I realized at some point that I no longer enjoyed “theme park” MMOs. I didn’t enjoy the sense of being led around by the nose, I didn’t enjoy dungeons, raids, or being forced to repeat them endlessly for equipment that I would need to repeat the next set of dungeons and raids endlessly. I craved the freedom to play the way I wanted.
Eventually I made the transition to “sandbox” MMOs, many of which have their origins in Korea, and currently I’ve found a home in Black Desert Online.
Korean sandbox types tend to be known for the large amount of “grinding” they subject players to, requiring them to perform their desired actions for hundreds of hours before they truly become proficient at them. Black Desert Online is no different if players seek to be the best of the best and stay there.
In truth, all MMOs have some degree of grind and grind isn’t inherently bad, but the difference is that sandbox types give you plenty of options when it comes to how you want to grind. Black Desert Online has options in spades.
A great example of this is earning money, which you’ll need an enormous amount of in BDO. Killing enemies and selling their drops is an excellent way to earn cash, but if you don’t feel like fighting you could spend the day fishing at sea. Perhaps farming is more your style, or maybe horse breeding, alchemy, or cooking. You could even become a property mogul, renting buildings and hiring workers to perform a variety of large scale tasks.
What BDO does well is provide an excellent sense of exploration and opportunity. The economy of the game is always in flux and those who know how to read and predict it can make ludicrous sums of money. This allows players to come up with all sorts of clever schemes, adding an organic layer of gameplay. The game won’t tell you how to make fortunes, you have to apply your own wit.
Questing is different in that most quests don’t provide you with character experience, but contribution experience. This, in turn, becomes contribution points that you use to claim ownership of land and buildings. Amass enough points and you could have elaborate production networks spanning the entire map.
Energy is another important feature. It’s what you spend to gather materials, learn knowledge, gamble, and perform a multitude of other actions. You start with a low maximum energy, but as you explore the world and learn of all its people and lore that maximum amount will increase. Players won’t need to do this with each character though, energy and contribution are shared across the entire account. What one learns, they all learn.
Combat is the centerpiece of BDO. It’s fluid, fast, and explosive. You won’t find any tab targeting and boring skillbar spamming here. Combat plays out similar to an arcade brawler, inputting key combinations to perform attacks and then chaining them together to unleash a constant barrage of destruction.
Gear and PvP go hand in hand in BDO. There are, of course, gear requirements for the higher end PvE content, but if you want to seriously compete in the PvP aspects of the game you will need to push your gear to the absolute limit. Even a highly skilled player can do little against an opponent who simply outgears them. If PvP isn’t your forte, it can be easily avoided for the most part and there is plenty of PvE content to dig into.
Speaking of gear, there is very little that is “better” than other items unless they are supremely rare. All equipment items come in a relatively weak beginning state, but are then upgraded to enhance their power. This allows players to build their gear how they want, instead of having to switch out for the next best thing on a regular basis.
Black Desert Online has no subscription fee and only needs to be purchased once for $30. It can be a great game to experience with friends who like to explore and make their own way in the world if they can forgive a steep learning curve and some UI inconsistencies.
If this all sounds excellent to you, feel free to look me up on the Edan server. I am Khovax, the relatively friendly giant.