I have been reading up and following the story of a MMO called Black Desert Online (BDO) for a couple of years now. Its finally launched in the EU on 3rd Mar 2016, so relatively new to the EU although the Korean version has been available to play for over 2 years. BDO is a buy to play MMO, similar to Guild Wars 2, pay once play for ever. However, its not like Guild Wars 2 its more akin to Elder Scrolls Online but has no PvE end game such as dungeons or raids. Does this matter if you area pure PvE player, well yes and no, Black Desert Online is a living breathing world which has PvE content.
So lets start with your options to try it out before you buy one of the editions, Travelers for €29.99 (£23 GBP) or Explorers for €49.99 (£40 GBP). This is to me its current issue as you need to find a friend or a site with a FREE 7 Day Trial key you can use if you don’t want to splash out money to find out its not like any other MMO you may have played and may not like. Trial keys can be requested from players who have bought the game as they have 1x key for Travelers and 2x keys for Explorers edition. I was lucky enough to have a good friend (Eldae) in the GGGs who provided one of there keys to try. This set of blog posts are about that trial journey into BDO and thoughts after each day.
Day 1 of my Trial
Class & Character creation starts with the most incredible character introduction screen I have ever seen for each class, this alone took me 10 minutes to review and watch in awe each classes intro animations, movement and high fidelity models, along with a sneak peek at in game video f their combat play styles (excellent idea!). I decided our a pretty damn beautiful female Sorcerer class but then noticed I cannot change the gender of my class, they are fixed. No big issue but interesting as never in an MMO have I not been able to change the genre of my character. I then proceed to play with the incredible detailed character creation modelling tool with simple click/change buttons or full advance mode. Wait theirs a button to take a photo of my character… the UI just auto-hides and a camera shutter noise later, shot taken.
Before (left) and After Customization (right)
Let the game begin… after a short wizard asking what graphics quality I wanted I thought what the hell lets see what my aging 2013 PC spec can do…. lets max this game out at my UHD resolution of 2560 x 1080p 🙂
I appear in a small village (no spoiler on the intro scene), its incredibly detailed, beautiful, and I seem to have a dark black essence talking to me (no spoiler), oh I have to take a screen grab. The camera and movement in this game is of the 3rd person variety, similar to ESO with WSAD keys. I move round this barn to find my first npc of the stables, the character model and subtle movement behaviors are like real people. She starts explaining to me how travel in the game is real, no way-point, magic portals here. If I want to get around I need to work towards attaining a donkey, then a horse… but wait … this isn’t just a a mount its a real horse I could leave in open land, run off exploring on foot to return to my horse and find it mauled by a monster. As I ride my horse levels and becomes stronger, add a cart to it and travel trading (not like trading I seen before, see later), I can even breed horses in this game.
My little black ether re-appears and grants me my first quest to go try combat and kill some weak mobs. Now.. this is where I began to hate the game only 10-15mins into it… why … because its not like any other game I have played (WoW, GW2, Skyforge, Aion, Wildstar, ESO, etc). The combat only has 9 quick slots for my attacks and potions. This game seems to be focusing me to really learn get into combat stance, controls mobs grouping ready for an attack, use correct attacks and most different is the use of combo of attacks to devastating affect. This takes some getting use too… skipping to over 1 hours play of the game leading to my now level 6 and now I am starting to get it. Combat guidance through more mini quests by my black ether helps train you in combat which is one way of earning XP. Quest themselves are not here to earn you XP in the traditional sense.
You are in the world to explore, gain nodes (yet to full explore this mechanic) which allow you to setup NPCs to work for you, gather, craft and trade between cities, towns and villages. You are encouraged to talk to every NPC to gain knowledge and contribution points (I think these relate to the nodes mechanic, Day 2 learning). This exploring led me to open the map and play with the Navigate To and Auto-Run capability. This is a great way to AFK get around, but also see places you wouldn’t normally by auto-running down the safe roads (safe for now from what I have experienced), sitting at your PC watching your character travel (albeit on foot for now) to your destination and taking in the beauty by sitting back drinking a cuppa, watching her run down the road. On this auto run a storm started and it began to rain, harder and harder, the ground starting filling up with puddles, my skin was wet. What am I witnessing, real weather, water in an MMO, yes I was, this is very cool to see and not just a trigger by entering an area. I tested this by just stopping and waited for the rain to stop, the sun comes out and the ground and my skin began to dry.
It was just after this my friend who provided me the trial key came on Discord and offered to lead me to the main city Calpheon. I set myself on follow and made myself lunch… this was a long auto-run with follow, but boy was it worth it. Never have I seen a true busy bustling city in an MMO world. So many different NPCs, shops, streets all working like a real medieval style city. What stunned me was the detail and clarity in different sizes, races and voices for shop keepers as well as a new mechanic I never scene. If you just stand still at a shop and in effect go AFK, the game auto pans camera angles around the you and the city whilst your character does auto emotes of movements. Its just stunning to watch.
Now I was a mere level 11 and spent time just exploring the city, the scale of which is huge as is the continents to explore in the game world. This is when I ran under an archway into a demonstration by a bunch of npcs getting rowdy, placards being pumped into the air, shouting abuse, damn this game has detail! It was then I saw this building up higher in the city, could I get there, enter it and look at the city landscape. So off I went with Eldae to see if we could reach it, took a while and saw some more amazing sights like the procession of guards in their fully armored horses ready for combat (yes this game has on mount combat system, yet to try).
We finally reached the court yard of the high rise building with a considerable training ground of female npcs combat training, where we just sat… and not by /sit but by backing up to the low stone and our characters auto sat.
Their is more mechanics for me to unravel in this game than any other I have come across to date with a true AFK system that allows you to remain logged in and minimise the game. In this mode your hired NPCs continue to work at gathering, crafting, trading, fish or horses breed, cows can be milked plus who now what else. I see a busy few days trying to read up and try it all (most I can) before my trial expires on Friday.
Day 2 list of things to discover have to be:
- Nodes & NPC hiring
- Acquiring a donkey