Black Desert Online Review: A painfully missed opportunity

When I first started Black Desert Online I was overwhelmed by just how enjoyable the fast-paced action combat was. The combos felt deep and intuitive, while at the same time being simple and easy to understand. Graphically, the world was gorgeous and full of life. Every creature felt like it was part of the world and where it was supposed to be. The quests weren’t filled with tons of tedious back tracking across the map, and the entire structure of a game had a life-like feeling to it. There was no fast traveling, no instances, and no loading screens past the initial one.

The world felt whole in all these aspects, but the more I played the game the more it began to fall apart.

The game starts off with one of the strongest character creators I’ve ever used. It allows you to change every facial feature, adjust the size of every body

part, and even adjust individual lengths of strands of hair. This felt amazing to play with for what felt like (and probably was) hours. But sadly, this amazing customization was limited by gender locked classes. Each class in the game has a specified gender to it and holding back such great customization is sad to see.

The most noticeable issue from the first log in was the atrocious pop-in. In many games in can be noticeable but overlooked. In Black Desert however, it was so bad that I came close to buying an extra SSD to install the game onto to help the game load in assets faster to try and assist with the issue. After some research though, doing this wouldn’t provide any noticeable difference in pop-in so I held off on that.

The leveling experience is fairly painless (until soft-level cap that is) considering it is a Korean MMO, and its experience point system rewards players for fighting rather than running around doing hand-in style quests. Experience was mainly split into three categories.

Character level XP is rewarded mainly for fighting monsters and is used to determine base stats and access to quests. Skill point XP is mostly earned through combat and is used to unlock combat and passive skills. Contribution point XP is most often gained through completing quests.

Contribution points have many systems revolving around them including player hoursing, construction projects, the complicated node system, and many others.

At first all these, and other, in-game systems seem daunting, and after a couple hundred hours they still find a way to frustrate me. At times I would just begin to wonder why all of this is needed. Everything in the game becomes complicated in the end, and I can’t imagine trying to come into this game as a casual player.

The lack of fast travel is an issue that’s a huge thorn in the game’s side. For the longest time I would try and defend it as a design choice. I would attempt to say that it made the world feel more whole and connected rather than jumping form point to point you were forced to run or ride a horse, and

at first it felt cool to explore the world on foot rather than going in and out of loading screens, fast traveling in between quest locations. But after a while I finally accepted that having to ride a horse 30 minutes just to get to another portion of the map from my home town sucked ass.

Eventually I would get tired of the game again, then I would see a new trailer and try to get back into the game.

This led to trying to get my friends to buy the game, because all the cool stuff in the game would take weeks to do without enough people online doing jobs for you.

For example, I wanted to build a ship. I knew the process, the materials needed, the workers needed, etc. The problem was to do all this I needed far more people working on other parts of the ship. It was going to take ages to complete solo and would still take an enormous amount of time with them.

Eventually the game just became too frustrating to keep up with, and this doesn’t even take into account the outrageous cash shop prices.

Microtransactions are almost necessary in this game to make yourself competitive at all. Many people try to argue that the game isn’t “technically” pay to win, but this game borders that edge to an extreme. Some of the cash shop items in Black Desert Online can increase your inventory max weight, increase your XP gain rate, increase your inventory slots, resurrect mounts, debuff reduction, and increased dodge.

Not to mention the fact that clothes in the game costs more than clothes at a department store.

Its sad to say that you shouldn’t buy this game, because, yet again, an MMO filled with potential is killed not by another greater game, but by its own bad choices.