My first moments of Black Desert Online went pretty much like this:
“Quests are delivered, how? Oh, there we go.”
“How do I swing my sword? Oh, I guess that makes sense.”
“Man, if I ever get into PVP, I’m going to get destroyed because I can’t learn these combos.”
“What if I tried a different cla—oh wait, this one is complicated too.”
Black Desert Online bills itself as the “next generation MMORPG”, a claim that would certainly garner the attention of many lapsed MMO gamers, myself included. Having put an embarrassing amount of hours into some of the most popular MMOs out there (I’m looking at you 6 years of World of Warcraft), I have been clamoring for something new and exciting in the MMO sphere. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Black Desert Online is that “next generation” of MMOs*.
Now, I’ll have to put an asterisk on that remark, because BDO would certainly benefit from having controller support. And seeing as it’s coming to Xbox One at some point in the near future, it would only be fair to say that BDO may be more fun to play on console. However, this current PC version of the game is so complex that I found myself having to look at online guides just to get back to where I wanted to be. Complexity should derive from simplicity in MMOs, but I feel many of BDO’s systems are needlessly complex until you put hundreds of hours into its systems. For example, its combat systems (a slight variation of Guild Wars 2’s combat system) are overly complex to the point that I can’t remember which button combinations are my abilities. Was it W + Right Click, followed by A + Left Click to get that one combo to work? It’s a system that works great for fighting games, but not so much in an MMO.
Other than the actual combat mechanics, I found the quest system to be the most annoying aspect of the game. While I do appreciate that you have a little specter appear to turn in quests so you don’t have to hike back to the quest giver, it was more so annoying that you have to acquire affinity points with certain quest givers before they give you a quest. It would be much more preferable to continue on the story of my character instead of having to speak to a quest giver X amount of times until they finally give you a quest. Many of the characters aren’t compelling enough to speak to more than once, so I found it very burdensome to grind away to get these NPCs to like me just so I could move on in a quest.
Of course, there are plenty of other systems within BDO that I did not have time to explore, as they’d require a hundred more hours to really understand them. Crafting and PVP is all there, and will undoubtedly feel rewarding to those who put the hours in.
On the plus side, Black Desert Online is one of the better looking MMOs on the market. It’s lush colors and vivid environments are reminiscent of Final Fantasy XIV, an MMO I am very fond of visually. Environments felt full of life, and characters felt right at home in all of the various locations I visited. However, the biggest standout to me in BDO with its visuals was the character creator. I don’t believe I have ever witnessed a deeper, more gratifying character creator in any MMO. Having the ability to alter and change every little bit of my character to make it truly my own was a breath of fresh air. As an addition to this, having the ability to save your character creation and upload it for others to use was a very awesome feature. It was cool hitting the randomization button and finding characters made by other players was fun in and of itself for a few hours.
*I’ll reserve judgement for the Xbox One version when it releases, as I believe the game will play better with a controller instead of a keyboard.