If you’ve never heard of Black Desert Online (henceforth referred to as simply BDO), now is the perfect time to try it since it has released here. Originally launched in Korea, the game features some of the nicest graphics for MMORPGs these days. Take a look:
The game itself is matured, given that it has been around for quite a few years. They have a few versions for each region, and SEA is the newest addition, having been released only in January this year. It is managed directly here by the game developers themselves, Pearl Abyss, unlike NA / EU region which has a publisher, Kakao, managing the last mile between players and developers (servers etc). The server is located in Singapore, which means the lag in the game is less of an issue. They also release updates very regularly, some would even say much too quickly. That’s because each new feature or update has already developed for other regions, and is only waiting to be rolled out. So the game is constantly fresh, at least until they hit parity with other regions.
BDO has multiple facets to it, which provides a surprising amount of breadth in a single game. There’s the usual leveling and killing mobs for experience and skill points, and the economic side of things including gathering, crafting and a marketplace / auction house. Each of these areas have their own unique take compared to other games of a similar nature, but it’s not too foreign for experienced players.
The graphics and animation are really good, where character movements are realistic, and even the water elements such as rain and camera angles when swimming looks exceptionally stunning. If fact, the game comes with a character editor that is so amazing, it has been used to replicate real life people and celebrities on a number of occasions. The exercise of creating your character is already a “game” in itself, with many creative players vying for the chance to showcase their creative skills by using the character editor and uploading their creations to the beauty album.
The gameplay is what drew me in the most, with extremely fluid battle movements including the execution of combos, dodges, blocks and grapples. It takes some learning if you are used to the common formula of target and button press to use each spell, as each skill has a specific button combination in order to execute. A sequence of combinations chained with the right timings is what makes the game feel so good to play. They also did a good job of making key skills not only execute more powerfully in game, but it also feels weightier and more satisfying. You actually feel powerful, which is rare and more immersive.
The only gripe I have about this aspect of the game, and it’s a pretty big one, is that there is very limited end game content for PVE. There are next to no raids for progression and gear, with the closest being scroll bosses for both individuals, parties and guilds. Even then, it’s reduced to a few boss fights that everyone has to progress through.
Do note that the game is very good at monetizing, and they do it in every way possible for a game. It is buy to play (B2P) here like a regular game, it also has a soft subscription (in the form of 30 day Value Packs) just like most MMORPGs, and it has a cash shop that does give some advantage (although not outright) in terms of convenience and time saving. Because of the really beautiful graphics, it is seriously tempting to spend on a lot of things like costumes on top of the convenience items, but it looks really good! Just bear this in mind it you are thinking of playing.
In the end, the game itself is beautiful, and the gameplay reminds me a lot of Ragnarok Online, with its grindy Korean themes and guild wars, but with much better graphics. The price to get started is not high, but it will cost a bit to be able to be decently competitive, assuming that you want to be. The good thing is that while it is an MMORPG, it can easily be played as a single player, with the amount of things to do in game. Just life skilling on its own is a huge in terms of content. The key is to play at your own pace, and enjoy the journey.
I can’t recommend it enough.