I've played my share of MMO games over the years usually partaking in some of the larger games, but have never really thrown too much time into them as I'm more of a console player which doesn't usually get these sort of games. Ever since I saw Black Desert Online I knew that this game was something special and immediately followed its progress towards eventually becoming a westernized title. I'm going to do my best to cover as many aspects of this game as I can in order to give a well thought out review of the experience. In order to cover this review I've been packing in hours to the game every couple of nights in order to get a good enough idea of the title and to also just take time to explore.
While many will grind it out to get towards the end content, MMO titles are much more than just that and like I did you need to take hours to just explore what's available. I'll get to that aspect later, but for now lets focus on the general narrative and questing which is the core aspect of the experience. At the start you're able to pick a class from the selection available which each bring their own skills into the battle and get their own slightly tweaked starting sequence. I was slightly disappointed that classes were bound to certain genders which was odd, but going past that the character customizer is amazing and I've got a spot below just for that aspect.
The game starts out as you hop through the georgous map and end up in an almost hung over trance with someone talking to you. This is where you learn about healing and other basic things to be then sent on your way. Aside from getting quests from the beautiful other people living everywhere you also have this strange black demon cloud that follows you. It's an annoying little creature with some basic quests, but he's the one that really gets you moving to places in the world. This is when a trend begins which tasks you with doing repetitive kill quests instead of providing some unique story lines to tackle. While this does get better hours later I wish there was more going on at the start as it does feel quite grindy immediately.
This wasn't as bad as in other MMO titles I've played as it created sub-objectives within the killing having you target certain classes of creatures or collect items from the certain ones. This builds up and in most areas will provide you with a summon scroll to bring about a huge monster to take on. It's like this for a long time on repeat just heading to new areas until you get about twenty levels in and then things start to truly branch out. While they don't offer strong narrative lines you get some more random activities to do and some actual story pieces as well instead of just being kill grinds. With the branching you'll be quite surprised at how rapidly multiple quests show up and there are so many more to be found around the local village hotspots as well.
The quests continue on obviously granting you experience points for completing them and having you travel across the massive spaces. That's another element that I truly love is how smooth the world is and that it presents as what I'd expect a modern MMO should look like. I enjoyed not only rushing from place to place, but sometimes just taking a second to stand and enjoy the sunset across the land or gaze at the castles so far away. Aside from moving through the story oriented quests there are a ton of activities to take part in. While I already was granted a horse for being press to review this you can go out to tame your own if you'd like and that's just one example of what's available. One of my favorite tasks is fishing which is both frustrating and incredibly rewarding, also quite popular if you take a look at the picture below.
There are many other things to spend your time on as well like crafting things or trading and even running workers. You're able to rent out a house in order to furnish it with lovely housing items and can then put out some people to work on things in order to get supplies running. It's an area I merely dabbled in as there's so much complexity to it though I had a pile of furnishings with my review package to use and didn't spend a ton of time working on this as I focused on other bigger aspects of the title. There are also some PVP offerings which are shown in large scale guild wars with mass amounts of players present for crazy combat if you're able to get into that aspect of gameplay, but I'm sure many will opt for exploration until they've moved through the core aspects. There are also pets to get as well with a fairly large selection available if you'd like to take advantage of them since they fetch things and can be clothed as well with costumes. The pets can be bought with pearls which are a more premium currency or with silver on the auction house.
Black Desert Online features downright the best character creator of all time across any game ever released. The amount of depth, customization and general realism sets itself aside from everything else. You get to pick your own class as I had mentioned previously and then get to literally sculpt your character. There are a couple core aspects aside from the body editing and these include things such as choosing a constellation, bonuses or general stances. They're simple things, but build towards making the character more unique and these areas are a bit less in-depth compared to editing the body. When going onto the body you're able to lift, shift or move around a pile of body sections however you'd like. The body has just a ton of separate zones to be manipulated and the face also has tons, yet in a more concentrated area.
This gives ultimate control compared to sliders in other titles and just feels so much more creative. On top of that you're able to edit the color scheme for your character from a massive selection of options. You can color the head hair, eyebrows, lips, make-up and even the eyes with multiple selections in there. It all looks so real when you're working on a character and when you get to see them in-game it matches the design exactly without compromise. I actually would like to see this editor be ported into other titles as nothing compares to it and the finished result is astounding as you can see with one of my characters below. Also for reference I played as the warrior class for my primary, but I also dabbled with the other ones as well.
As noted previously the game looks stunning and is a benchmark for all future MMO experiences. The environments cast out far reaching as you can see large scale mountains, sprawling castles and fields for miles. No matter where you venture to or the places you explore it just looks breath taking. The villages are full of NPCs living their day to day lives and hundreds of regular players crowding around merchants or quest providers. It's actually a bit overcrowded most of the time, yet I liked it as made the world feel amazingly alive.
Everyone also looks so realistic as well with their custom characters and the NPCs also having that same look and feel to them. It's also a very colorful world with the wide palette available which was refreshing since most games are brown or grey in color which is lame. I did have some problems with the localization within the game as some chat conversations were poor and the UI was slightly foreign looking at times. I also found that it was difficult to get in contact with other players and that parties could have been better designed so players would work together as it felt like we just grinded by ourselves instead of working towards a common goal. The black devil was particularly bad for this aspect often finishing statements in a question which was odd?
Movement is great within the title whether you're just jogging along or riding the horseback. I would have liked the auto-run feature to be a bit better designed as you ran into walls often or just didn't go anywhere though still a helpful thing to have to make those long journeys a place where I could grab a snack or something. The combat is well done as well being quite intuitive offering a number of combinations between mouse and keyboard clicks to create crazy combinations. It also looks very pleasing with bright streaks flying across the air with sparks upon hits and it looks very pleasing.
As with most MMOs you also get a hotkey area with health potions at the front for me and some extra unlocked skills as well. With leveling you get points to use on various extra abilities for your class and that's separate from your horse levels and character stamina leveling as well. There are many complex aspects to this title and I'm trying my best to cover everything I can on it so hopefully I'm getting enough depth on aspects. I also wanted to go over the map which is great, it's a well detailed representation for each area of the world with multiple options for zooming in and out or setting custom waypoints. The detail is great because you can see individual housing areas along with key points of interest to make the travel more exact than just a general point, it's also 3D to a degree as well and very helpful.
Black Desert Online is what I'd consider a modern MMO built for now and years to come featuring stellar graphics within a massive living world. It's got great support with crowded servers to play on which show just how popular this title is with the game still performing well. The character creator is the best out of any game currently available and the graphic detail in the world is outstanding. Instead of being some bland world, you get to explore a land full of colors not only in the environments, but the characters as well.
There are tons of activities to take part in and so many branching quests to conquer. The translations are a bit rough and the UI could have used some adjustments though those are only small aspects in this massive world. I enjoyed my time adventuring within the world and look forward to hopping in every once and awhile to conquer some more quests or just relax across the world. I'll also probably get some more fishing in as well as it appears to be the world's past time. Hopefully this review touched on enough aspects to give you an idea of the game and it really is a wonderful adventure to take part on.
Black Desert Online for PC
Review code provided by Daum Games