Combat Meets Adventure in Black Desert Online

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One of the best MMOs I have played recently is Black Desert Online. There is so much going on in this game that can hook in players it is amazing and I have played large MMOs like World of Warcraft. A lot of why I have been hooked into this game comes from my chosen character, combat combos, questing, and living in this world of fantasy. Basically the game is a fantasy game with typical fantasy creatures and characters like Elves, Giants, Imps, and Dwarves. It also has that medieval Europe feel and design that makes it a charming environment to venture around and explore.

Black Desert Online
One of the many NPCs players can interact with.

As you increase in level you can create and customize your experience and make the world your own. Though there is a story hidden in this rich world it seems very personal and one can imagine their unique story. Despite the fact you will share it with many other players. Alright, so the biggest annoyance is the mass amount of players huddled around certain NPCs like the marketplace director or stable guy. However, once you leave town it becomes open and less populated. Then again if you need some personal downtime head on over to your own private residence that can be furnished to your tastes and relax. A mount helps, as do pets when you acquire a pet. I haven’t yet but a player had a baby penguin and I now need a baby penguin.

Now on with my review and first up the creation screen, which was one of the many things I liked about this game. A good customization menu can make a big difference in creating a personal experience. Back in the beginning I said that this game is crowded and there are many players in game. One this is a very good sign about the popularity of Black Desert Online but it also created one of my most frustrating experiences, choosing a name with my list of possible choices already taken. However, it does make a player try for an original name or something unique.

Black Desert Online
Players can develop characters with a well developed customization menu.

Before you get to create a name a player must choose a class. At least players get a choice of fourteen different classes. Both male and female characters that can wield magic, swords and shields, tame beasts, melees and tanks, combinations of abilities, light armor classes, and heavy armor classes. We have a Ninja, Knight, Ranger, Tamer, Wizard, and Sorceress. I personally chose the Valkyrie because she can wield sword, shield, and divine magic and has some pretty awesome combat combos. Also she looks good doing it. Currently I have this awesome pirate style outfit and a big hat, because big feathery pirate hats are cool.

Moving on from the big hats, we get to customization and players have a wide range of options to make their characters unique. This includes manual manipulation of hair and facial features. A variety of colors for hair and eyes are included and body customizations including height and muscle mass round out the look. Outfits come in game and you start out with a basic street outfit, simple sword, and wooden shield in the case of the Valkyrie. If a player wants them tattoos are available, both facial and body.

Black Desert Online
Players can even customize and outfit a mount.

After the character is created you are transported to the world of Black Desert Online. A player enters a starting point near a town and is taken through a tutorial by the Black Spirit. The tutorial is helpful and it is best to pay attention. During the game players will get access to more items and abilities, including using the marketplace, weapon enhancement, conversations, and getting access to workers.

This can actually be confusing and most will be learned as you play. I just began to register items, use storage, and got my first worker. Conversations give you favor to have a conversation with more NPCs. Everything can be rewarding and the more a player participates the more goodies they get. I now have an armored mount and a home that requires more furnishings. Now with my deposit of gold ingots I can protect my horse that got beaten up by some mine Imps. Those Imps are bad as they continuously spawn and throw rocks and have cannons. As far as an AI this game doesn’t have idle enemies, if they see you in their territory they attack. You are warned that you are entering a combat zone and the higher the level the nastier the enemy.

Black Desert Online
The game has a good combat system with combos listed on the HUD.

Back to the tutorial where the Black Spirit, your guide sends you on the first quests. During the beginning sequence you learn that a stone with dark energy was brought in and was released onto the land. People lost their memory of the incident and your character awakes with a lost memory. However, you now have this mysterious guide that acts friendly. Though as you progress and begin to converse with NPCs it is becoming clear that the Spirit is not what he seems to be. What is it? This is what you must find out and one quest takes you to caves where knowledge of the dark energy is gained. Also the Black Spirit grows from a cute little black cloud with red eyes to a more menacing dark cloud with teeth. So something is up and it is the player that must piece together what happened and save the world from enemies that are terrorizing villagers.

Once the tutorial phase is over and your character learns combat and begins to regain strength, especially after the first boss fight and the cave story quests get harder and can be given by both the Black Spirit and NPCs. As players progress quests add to the story even those like helping out NPCs or investigating. Side quests also add to your story. Do as many side quests as you can because they all offer different rewards. Your first mount comes as a quest from the Black Spirit. This is redeemed at a stable. I currently have my pinto horse armored to survive attacks and a donkey that needs some attention and gear.

Black Desert Online
A boss

After awhile players can purchase carriages and more mounts to attach to the carriages. I have seen some very elaborate carriages with six mounts regaled in plumage and armor. Customization is a big part of this game.

Gameplay wise Black Desert Online has a good system. Once I learned the combat combos they came easily and I could devastate my enemies with a combination of swords attacks, kicks and punches, and round out with divine magic. As I got going it became very hack and slash, combined with magic attacks, and followed up with martial arts. When I first fought some weasels and saw the awesomeness of the combat that was the moment I fell in love with this game. I was a sword wielding, magic using, gladiator and I felt unstoppable.

I mentioned before the AI, it would give a challenge, as they can become relentless enemies the higher you are. The mine Imps are by far the worse I have encountered and they even attacked my horse. In some games the enemies just stand there until you are on top of them, not Black Desert Online, you enter a combat zone and they will attack. The enemies or predators, I had to defeat wolves and weasels, move around so when you are in their line of sight they attack. For quests the game tells players which creature is part of the quest. When coming to a quest goal you can just attack. Some quest goals are destroying things associated with certain enemies as well as collecting items from dead enemies. Recently one of my quests was to find out what happened to some villagers attacked by mine Imps. I had to battle through the mine Imps and then search the dead villagers. At least I got to avenge the villagers after I finishing the quest by taking out as many mine Imps that spawned. It gave me more XP to level up. Boss fights are a good healthy challenge and spawn at the quest location when a scroll is activated. Well so far that is how my bosses have spawned.

Black Desert Online
Traveling in game using the highlighted trail.

Leveling up is easy and after visiting with a skill trainer players can use the skill window on the HUD to level up skills. Players can always revisit skill trainers and get more conversation experience and favor. Speaking of the HUD, it is busy. I have on mine combat combos, story tab, local hunting, NPC locator, mount menu, quests, level, and rewards. Using the control key players can get access to the mouse to click on items in the HUD or use the inventory and customization menu. Through the spirit players can enhance weapons and armor using certain collected items or reward items like stones. Also available is a processing menu.

During a player’s adventures and combat they can gather materials to cook, transform, and process into items. Within the inventory window there are options to produce items from these gathered items. So far I have successfully ground stone into powder, heated stones, and dried plants but players can also cook and create potions through alchemy. There is also a helpful menu to identify what each material can be used for and how it can be used for crafting. I don’t use the crafting as much as I should but I do like the system and it offers a range of production methods and crafting solutions.

Black Desert Online
Skill trainer and leveling tree.

There is also quite a bit to learn in this game and I recommend reading through the crafting notes and going over the tutorials. This is just to be a better player and get the most out of the game. Also to aid in your quests the map is fantastic and players can choose an area or target on the map and navigate manually or allow the game to take you there. Unfortunately, you do have to wait to travel there but as you go along you may wish to stop and take on a quest or two. It is also a great way to reach new areas.

Armor is acquired at the blacksmith or marketplace and can be enhanced but outfits cannot. Outfits come as rewards and are available for a limited time. They can be dyed and do add abilities to the character. Clothing can be purchased through the marketplace or merchants. Potions are purchased, acquired as rewards, or crafted. Armor can be crafted as well. There is the ability to hunt and gather for food and crafting. There are plenty of opportunities to become a well-equipped warrior in this game.

Black Desert Online
The Black Spirit

Moving around the open world is easy with the map guide lighting your way. Players can always hit T and you will automatically travel to the marked destination. Getting the guide is just a matter of hitting the trail tab in the quest box. Mounts make travel quicker. Quests begin at acceptance; they are carried out when players get near the quest marker. A blue quest plate above the goals, enemies, or items, tell you when it is time to take action. Complete the quest and get rewarded. These quests are also a way of getting to know new NPCs that may have more to offer then just a quest.

During the game I knew there was a story but I found myself doing lots of quests without any real story-line. Everything is part of the bigger picture, like many RPGs but the quests are the backbone of the game. The thing I found was they were not boring and I was happy to do even the most mundane quest. Some RPGs have side quests or even story quests that are monotonous after a while and it begins to feel like you are just trudging through quest after quest. Not Black Desert Online, as there is no real long cut scenes with extended dialogue between characters these quests keep players entertained. Though, you do get some dialogue with an NPC. It is more the system I got use to in Star Trek Online where you got a mission with some NPC dialogue but it was all player action, doing, and combat. If you don’t want long conversations or story-lines then this game is for you.

Black Desert Online
Melee attacks on some Imps

In this game you immerse yourself in a unique world where a small dark spirit is your guide. His intentions are unknown though his demeanor makes you trust him, for now. Specialists in the dark energy warn you against him and quests lead you down the path of knowledge. For what this world offers you must find out but you have a long way to go as this game is very complex. Dialogue is short but won’t bore you and NPCs can add to the experience as guides and merchants. There is also a diversity of characters within the game and you get to meet some very interesting characters, including giants. With the ability to craft, a well-established combat system, and the ability to create a personalized experience it’s a fantastic MMO. Its also open world and there is so much to explore. The music is also very catchy, especially the traveling tune. Also players can join guilds and there are even guild wars.

A great fantasy MMO the game Black Desert Online is sure to please many players with its fantastic combat abilities, character customization, and open world setting. There is the issue with crowded servers and crowded HUD but with such an open world and being occupied by quests it’s only minor. Let you Black Spirit guide you through the complex world of Black Desert Online and enjoy a great MMO.

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