Wot I Think: Black Desert Online

I had the hardest time getting into Black Desert Online [official site]. Learning to enjoy it feels like systematically dismantling every instinct MMORPGs have taught me. Black Desert, a sandbox MMO that launched in Korea last year, is the Invasion of the Body Snatchers of online RPGs; underneath its familiar skin is a refreshingly subversive experience. But the result is a game that can be confusing, frustrating, and captivating—often at the same time. Even as I continue to sometimes struggle against it, Black Desert Online has me locked in its grip.

If there’s one reason why I’m enamored with Black Desert Online, it’s that after over 50 hours with it, I’m still constantly discovering little nuances I had no idea existed. As someone who has grown exceedingly tired of the cut-and-paste template of most MMORPGs, it’s refreshing to play one with so many original ideas. But just because so much of Black Desert Online is new doesn’t mean that it’s always executed well.

Unlike most MMOs, which are unequivocally focused on killing stuff and then—maybe if you feel like it—some light crafting, Black Desert is a sandbox with a multitude of ways to spend your time. Sure, you’ll probably still kill a lot of stuff, but I’m only halfway to the level cap because I’ve been absorbed by all the different branches of crafting, trading, and exploring.

Black Desert Online is also gorgeous. While the character models can be beautiful in their own way, I’m far more in love with how convincing and organic the world feels. There’s a real display of restraint in the artwork, making Black Desert look like it’s set in medieval Europe until you realize that the person you’re buying a fishing rod from is a talking otter. That low-fantasy realism is aided by some stunning environmental lighting, which creates awesome sunsets and sunrises, and I enjoy the subtlety of the architecture. So many fantasy MMORPGs try to wow you with fantastical cities that feel bombastic instead of impressive. But in Black Desert, there’s a simple elegance to many things, like a ruined castle perched on a cliff overlooking the sea that feels both wondrous and completely natural at the same time.

There’s a high price to pay for such an expansive world free from loading screens, unfortunately. Objects will pop into view constantly, and it can be really distracting as you move about in dense cities. Keeping a steady 60 FPS feels like a distant dream in busy areas too, even with many high end options turned off. Still, the wrinkles in Black Desert’s beauty are easy to ignore—or at least live with, especially when you’re wrapped up in its many distractions.

One of the most distinctive features is the contribution system, which is one of the many ways your character grows as you play. Instead of awarding experience for your main level, most quests offer experience that increases your contribution points. Using these refundable points, you can rent gear from NPCs, buy property for a variety of uses, or unlock nodes that you discover on the map, using them to create trade routes or production chains.

By hiring NPC workers, I can send them off to unlocked nodes to harvest resources, like potatoes from a farm, and then either craft them into something useful or sell them on the market. Of course, I could head out and do all that gathering myself, but that feels tedious and boring, so being able to outsource it to NPCs while I do something fun is a great alternative.

Black Desert Online has a good deal of automation, and while I’d normally balk at the idea of being able to set waypoints and let my character autorun to them, these features feel necessary. The world of Black Desert is massive, and there’s a distinct focus on making a more realistic experience rather than a convenient one. Objects in your inventory weigh you down—even money, there’s also no immediate fast travel, bank space is regional, and everything you do has some associated maintenance fee that’ll always keep you working. With all this effort paid to creating a more demanding game, being able to let my character steer herself back to a city after a quest feels like a natural concession.

Some people will hate the idea of an MMORPG that strips away all that convenience, but I adore Black Desert’s stricter rules as they force me to play with more intention. They contribute to a greater sense of investment in the world than I’ve felt in a long time from an MMO. While much of what’s possible in Black Desert Online can feel like simple busywork, like having to repair your wagon after a night of trade runs, it also feels more cohesive and, in some cases, more rewarding. With so many things to do, I found it easy to lose myself for hours at a time—even if it was doing something as mundane as brewing beer and transporting it to market.

I’m also hard pressed to find any reason to logout of Black Desert Online, and it’s common for me to leave the game running for days at a time. While there’s plenty to do that requires you to actively play, there’s also a few things that can be done autonomously. Before I go to bed, I park my character at a quiet fishing spot with an empty inventory, leaving them to fish while I sleep. Throughout the day, I’ll leave the game minimized and pop in now and again to tend to my farm or send my workers back out to nodes to gather some more. Normally these kind of AFK activities feel like they exist in spite of more engaging alternatives, but they make Black Desert feel very flexible. No matter what I feel like doing, there’s always something to suit my mood.

If building node networks or AFK fishing isn’t your thing, you can also experiment with horse taming and breeding, crafting, hunting, farming—the list goes on. What’s fascinating is that all of these pursuits feel just as fleshed out as the next. Fishers will eventually progress to owning boats and sailing for deeper waters, traders will upgrade from donkeys to carriages, and sprawling production networks can be a full-time hobby. There’s a lot to learn, and that feeling of finally understanding a complex mechanic, like how a region’s moisture level affects your crops, can be a great reward.

Unfortunately, Black Desert’s Korean roots can really tangle things up. The English localization is rough, and with such a complex game, not being able to understand certain functions is frustrating. Like EVE Online, Black Desert struggles with disseminating relevant information to new players. This is also compounded with the fact that Black Desert is caught in the awkward space of looking like a generic MMO but being drastically different, creating a gap between expectation and reality. My first dozen hours were difficult, as everything I had learned from playing other MMORPGs felt useless, and it made the game feel unintuitive until I learned to speak its language.

While there is a somewhat forgettable story that will push you forward, you’re not obligated to follow it beyond the intro cutscene. This nonlinear approach means it’s easy to stumble into concepts that you weren’t supposed to encounter until later, creating tension between Black Desert’s sandbox nature and its linear approach to teaching you how to play. In-game video tutorials help a little, but I still found the game to be too confusing too often.

Of course, what MMORPG wouldn’t be complete without killing something? The good news is that combat is fluid and fun. My ranger gracefully leaps around the battlefield, devastating groups of enemies with skills that trigger by using combinations of key presses in concert with mouse clicks. The control system is a nice departure from hotkeys (though you can still use them), and I quickly internalized all my different moves and the ways they could flow together. Although sometimes they flow together in unintended ways: because each class has so many moves mapped across only a few possible key combinations, I ran into situations where my character do one thing when I meant her to do another, which is annoying. The difference between ‘a + left click’ and ‘left click + a’ is just too narrow.

Enemies in Black Desert aren’t much of a challenge, but I also suspect this might be because most MMOs have conditioned me to tackle them one at a time. I found combat to be more satisfying when I’d run into an area, pull a dozen or so baddies, and then kite them around while unleashing hell. It evokes the same feeling of ceaseless slaughter from games like Diablo 3. Combat moves at such a rapid pace that even a quest to kill a hundred monsters can take just five minutes in a well populated area.

There’s no question that, still being a Korean MMO, Black Desert Online is a grind. While it feels better masked by the diversity of non-combat activities, you’re still going to spend many hours killing the same monsters and doing uninventive quests. Since only a few offer combat experience points as a reward, the only real way to increase your level is to head out and kill stuff.

Fortunately, Black Desert awards you with a mighty boost to experience when farming in groups, so teaming up can cut the grind significantly. Getting to max level is taking most players around 10 hours, making Black Desert one of the quickest MMORPGs to level in. And, to be honest, I like that it dispenses with the facade of using quests to level up. Too often it feels like unnecessary padding. To be able to head out to a field and kill some monsters with friends for an hour and gain a few levels actually feels more productive than shallow quests trying to feign some sense of adventure.

For fans of dungeons or raids, Black Desert Online offers next to nothing. There’s a few world bosses to kill, but that’s about it. Endgame activities are almost entirely focused on weekly events called sieges that allow guilds to claim ownership of territory on the map. Unfortunately, the system won’t be implemented for a few more weeks, so I can’t say how well it supplants the need for traditional PVE. It does sound awesome on paper, though.

Without getting a taste of the endgame sieges, I do have concerns that Black Desert could eventually lose its lustre. EVE Online’s constant political maneuverings keep things exciting while giving players agency. I’m not convinced that Black Desert will be able to supply that same experience, which can be important in such a self-directed game. Right now, I’m happy to log in and explore a little more each day, but I can foresee a time when there’s nothing left to learn and my character feels like they’ve hit a ceiling. The North American version is behind the Korean version by a few expansions. I’ve only read about them a little, but they seem to add even more things to discover, which is promising.

This problem of hitting a ceiling is potentially compounded by the dire lack of character customization features, which is a big disappointment considering how gorgeous and flexible the character creator is. You could spend hours sculpting the perfect avatar, but Black Desert’s lack of distinguishable armor means you’re always going to look like every other character in your class. There’s a few costumes available on the premium cash shop, but they are expensive—costing as much as Black Desert Online itself—and are so few in variety that it’s not worth it. You can either look like 75% of players or the 25% who sprung for premium costumes.

The dye system is the bigger frustration, as colouring your armor consumes the dye and the only way to obtain more is through buying mystery packs from the cash shop. Fortunately, the sins of the cash shop end there, and players don’t need to worry about any items giving others an unfair advantage (at least not yet).

Those complaints feel relatively small compared to Black Desert Online’s immense scope. And even if my worst fears come true and I eventually run out of steam, I can’t say I’ll regret the time that I’ve spent. There’s so much to see and explore, so many concepts to wrap my head around, that Black Desert Online is a truly memorable MMORPG—if not always a great one. It can be hard to embrace what it is instead of trying to force it to be what it isn’t, but Black Desert offered me a chance at escaping from the by-the-numbers slog that MMOs have become. It’s exciting to play an MMO that understands the importance of building a world worth living in, not just erecting a corridor of static set pieces to run through on your quest for power.

Black Desert Online is out now.


  1. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Max level in 10 hours? That’s less than most single-player RPG’s.

    I take it this isn’t the game for someone who actually prefers the “facade” of solo questing and the way it guides exploration and progression.

    • kogonan says:

      I don’t know, I really didn’t think I would like this, but the combat just drew me in so much I accidentally ended up figuring out the trading stuff.

    • frutiano11 says:

      Suprisingly it’s actually the opposite, there’s so much “solo” stuff to do that I’m suprised… you can either focus on getting to max level by grinding your way up or focus on all the quests (that are a lot) and just enjoy the immersive world of the game… I’m around 60 hours and am still at level 18.. soft cap is at 50 (no max level) so… yeah there’s lots of solo stuff to do

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Max level in 10 hours requires a beast, and also ignoring EVERYTHING other than grinding the perfect areas with zero people around.

      I’m almost tempted to give you a guest pass just to see you try.

      • BrazilanChap says:

        Tactical, i’m not trying to but the stereotypical brazilian beggar, but if those guest passes aren’t extremely limited or anything, could you gibe me one, plz? I was thinking about buying the game through a usa proxy (since it will take quite some time until a south america/brazil server comes around), but since it’s kinda expensive (the dollar has sky rocketted lately and i could have to purchase it twice) i wanted to give it a solid try, first.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          I already tried once and i got filtered like a dirty “Make 5600k a hour!” spammer. D:

    • Caelinus says:

      I have been playing constantly for over a week, and have spent many hours grinding. (I probably have like 60-80 hours of play, if not more.) Just barely hit 40. Leveling from 35 to 40 took me 4 hours in a group while dominating a good farming location.

      Yes it is possible to get to max level in 10 hours. No, you are not going to do it. It is possible only in perfectly ideal situations, while ignoring all content and loot, using a predetermined route, all while having 0 people around.

    • DiTH says:

      Thats very interesting to say since there is no lvl cap? Yes you can reach 50 in 10-15 hours if u know the way(u cant rly now that the servers are full) but cu in 6 months it will take to reach 56.

  2. Danarchist says:

    I have about 30 hours in it myself and have yet to reach max level with any one character, although I am about halfway with 3.
    As hard is it for me to bring myself to compare it to my all time favorite, Asheron’s Call, I get the same experience at times. I open the gorgeous map, look for a feature on the map, set a waypoint and kill everything between me and it. This has led to some surprising ass kickings a time or two, but the first night I played it made me feel like it was a good investment. I can’t think of another MMO in years that didn’t leave me with buyers remorse within the first couple weeks. (Well maybe swtor, but I enjoy the cheesy stories.)
    One thing I discovered the second night out was you can climb assasins creed style up rocks and stuff. I ended up on top of this really high rock on the coast and actually spent some time just staring at the scenery without considering my next piece of gear.

    The gear is the worst part of the game btw. As he says in the article you will find yourself standing next to yourself constantly when in town. It is super off putting. This is a game that is at it’s best the farther you are from population centers.

    An mmo for people that hate mmo’s =P

    • ramirezfm says:

      MMO that is at its best when you’re far from people? I’m in!

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      AC completely ruined me. This review most certainly gave off a bit of an AC vibe, though, which has my interest piqued. If only there was a run and jump stat.

      • Jahandar says:

        Actually running increases your agility stat and carrying a heavy pack increases your weight capacity

    • Krull says:

      Really ? Seems like an MMO for me too lol.. I wanted to buy Division next week though (As a fan of FPS games).. Hard to decide now :(

    • deadlybydsgn says:

      Asheron’s Call

      Literally two of us! But seriously, I wish more people had played AC.

      I, too, was ruined by it in the best of ways. All hail Thistledown and the defense of the shard.

      Then again, it also taught me the lesson that I never want to play an MMO long enough to be ashamed of my /age command. So many wasted hours. It was a fun experience, but never again. Good to see the spirit of AC is still around, though.

  3. Trodomir says:

    It’s not a sandbox. It really isn’t. Don’t know where people are getting this idea. Some like to say it’s a sand-park. Well, frankly, it’s not that either. It really is a themepark. There are so many restrictions on what you can do and over 10,000 quests.

    I’m really happy with it, but many others may not be. I’m also taking my time. No need to rush to end game when there kind of isn’t any yet.

    • Trodomirisdumb says:

      dude, you don’t own the definition of a sandbox. Stop claiming the game isn’t a sandbox without saying why you think so. It fits every definition of the term and it plays nothing like a themepark MMO, so i don’t know what you’re all up about.

      • ShriekXL says:

        Or….you could stop slapping the sandbox label on anything that might have a few sandbox components in it.

        See, as an EVE player, you’re not fooling me one bit. BDO is not a sandbox.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          EVE is a different thing, plus it’s a spreadsheet.

          Even assuming BDO isn’t a proper Sandbox, give me another MMO with exceptional gameplay and combat, a decent amount of freedom and the best graphics on it’s market.

        • whodafug says:

          Hah! If you can’t see the very clear parallels between Eve Online and Black Desert, you’re really not paying attention. BDO does use theme-park style elements in some ways, although it’s not cut-and-dry and it’s mostly used to give players a sense of direction and a basic education about the many baffling systems the game presents. Once you get passed this stuff you’re playing in a sandbox.

          Certainly, the sandbox presented by BDO isn’t as convoluted as CCPs sandbox is with Eve, but it’s still a sandbox. Just because you’re some kind of Eve zealot doesn’t change that fact; you continue with your weird religious war, and the reason people will carry on with their lives.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      I’d ask you to elaborate, but it wouldn’t be amusing.

    • Caelinus says:

      Yeah, if it is not a sandbox, then basically nothing is. Could they add more sandbox features? Of course. But if being able to add more sandbox features was enough to disqualify it, not even real life would make the cut.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Oh God, this conversation. It is sapping my hit points. I need a healer!

    • PancakeWizard says:

      I agree with you completely. But expect many replies trying to twist genres to fit people’s mood or what they consider as ‘must have’ for a game to suddenly be worth looking at. I’ve lost precious time trying to explain why Arkham Asylum isn’t an RPG on reddit. It’s not worth it.

      • whodafug says:

        Have you considered that maybe you’re having a hard time explaining to people in such a way that they agree with you… because you might be wrong? I mean… the tone of your post suggests not, and that even if you are wrong – objectively speaking – you’d still claim to be right, but I’d just check to see if you possess even one iota of humility or not before condemning you to the pile for burning.

  4. Yoofaloof says:

    I don’t quite understand the levelling. I’ve played around 1.5 hours and I’m already level 10 for doing practically nothing?

    • frutiano11 says:

      Yeah that’s the tutorial xd, it does get slower along the way specially if you focus on questing and such

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Leveling is more involved later on and quests are used for very different purposes. Even around lv 25 you might find useful to experiment with the various professions and so on, as you’ll find that it gives you some decent experience aswell.

      There will be a time though in which you will necessarily have to find a decent spot and kill stuff like there’s no tomorrow, preferably favoring huge pulls. The latter also makes the combat more interesting off course.

      The real shocker comes after level 50. You can level further, but most mobs at your level will give you 0.003% exp, some slightly more. I’m getting to 52 now and it’s slow as fuck, though it doesn’t matter that much as i’m still getting geared anyway.

      Oh, and the small percentage you lose when you die starts to feel quite painful.

    • whodafug says:

      So… your character level doesn’t mean that much in the grand scheme of things. It’s very much been put in place, in the same way the questing system appears to be designed, to hook people who are more akin to traditional levelling systems.

  5. shagen454 says:

    I’m also about 30 hours in, this game is definitely worth the $30.00 if you would like a challenge and have a high patience level. I mean shit, it took me forever just to figure how the nodes worked, how the workers worked and then find out where my workers the farm town outside of the city gathered my “stuff” (in the city it’s attached to and can be picked up at the warehouse manager). Then there’s the trading systems, the housing systems, the crafting systems etc etc.

    All in all I’m having a lot of fun, the game is very lively which does create an immersive atmosphere. I think it’s worth the $30.00 for the future improvements, when the dungeons & raids come in to play, the desert and new lands are unleashed and to continue learning how to play this damn game.

    I’m currently a level 17 ranger and my problem is that all of the mobs around me are for 20-25. If you need a little challenge, I would suggest just skipping over Veila and getting straight to Hidel for quest collection – if you want the combat to be drawn out, frantic and tough as nails.

  6. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    “Enemies in Black Desert aren’t much of a challenge, but I also suspect this might be because most MMOs have conditioned me to tackle them one at a time. I found combat to be more satisfying when I’d run into an area, pull a dozen or so baddies, and then kite them around while unleashing hell.”

    You’re supposed to do that, a Ranger especially is not mana efficient if it doesn’t pull a truckload of people. When your extra large hunting guild quests asks your guild to kill 7000 mobs in a couple hours, you’ll understand!

    • Rizlar says:

      Also re: combat, once I got a real feel for it I just started engaging higher and higher level mobs. Was killing recommended level 30 red orcs from about level 20. It may not have been efficient levelling but it was a whole lot more fun! The trick is not to get hit… it seems hard to justify comparing it to Dark Souls but when you are fighting several giant orcs that could take you out in a few swings that’s what it felt like.

      But yeah, great game. Glad to see RPS covering it.

    • Sarracenae says:

      Finally something that lets me use the skills i developed as a wizard in everquest back in the day, kiting wyverns around velious, before SOE decided they didn’t like kiting and killed off the wizard.

      Maybe it’s making a resurgence.. i found myself kiting a mob train around the dark zone in the division last night :D

  7. Monggerel says:

    Game with that name needs to be a semi-military shooter semi.

  8. Neurotic says:

    So, how does it compare to Archeage? I get that BDO has a looser structure, but other than that, what would you say?

    • frutiano11 says:

      Honestly it’s what archage should have been… archage had the ideas right but didn’t know how to apply them while bdo applies and even improves them… graphically and combat wise, bdo is superior aswell and the best part it’s not p2w like archeage is as of now… bear in mind that’s just my opinion but truth be told I’ve spent a lot more in time bdo than I have in archage and I’m still not even near enough to be bored of it

  9. Cinek says:

    Erm… so… you actually have to pay for that? Well… bummer. Thing with MMORPGs is that they are hugely hit or miss, in both cases tending to be quite a time sinks. These days I somehow find it really hard to just buy MMO in blind, without trying it first. I guess I got burnt few times too much.

  10. jo-shadow says:

    Why does their website default to german…

  11. badmothergamer says:

    I’m not sure if I’m allowed to ask so please forgive me and delete this comment if not, but if anyone has a spare guest pass (and like myself no friends to share it with *wink*) I’d love to give this a shot this weekend. The only MMO I’ve played is SWTOR which I enjoyed primarily because I could play it solo. Based on the comments it looks like this could be up my alley but I’d love to demo it before dropping $30.

  12. Poerts says:

    Damn, you really had me with this review until the end there. Appearance options almost entirely locked into the cash shop? Yeah, no. None of that, thanks. I reeeeally don’t want my character looking like they’re just wearing a weird class uniform. Playing dress up is like, half the joy of those games for me.

    • frutiano11 says:

      appearance options aren’t entirely locked up in the cash shop, there’s a decent variety of armors ingame and costumes (you have to actually search on how to them though in the ingame wiki) … only issue so far is that the cash shop items are just “flashier” and look better overall… hoping they bring up new ingame costumes and armors along with the new region in a few months

  13. Zantium says:

    Solid write up, very much my feelings on it.

    I’d very much given up on MMOs and while I’ve tried most, they’ve all seemed like WoW derivatives regardless of the setting.
    This feels different, it’s still an MMO but it feels more fresh – perhaps it’s the sandbox side.

    Yes, you could I’m sure rush to max level, but for me, that would be simply skipping all the enjoyment of playing the game. I’m around 60 hours in and only level 25, but I’ve been fishing and exploring and riding around and generally getting lost in a lively feeling world.

    The cash shop prices and costume variations are a shame, but they’re small things next to what the game gets right.

  14. surgeonufo says:

    I bought it, lasted about 5 minutes before the terrible localization and confusing UI bounced me off of it as hard as I’ve bounced off anything recently. May go back in a little bit, but how hard would it have been to hire one native-speaker for the localization? That stuff just really bothers me.

  15. numbers1311407 says:

    Getting to max level is taking most players around 10 hours

    This should be changed as it is unequivocally false and giving the wrong impression. Is it *possible* if you have the perfect storm of conditions? I’m sure. But are “most players” doing this in 10 hours? Absolutely not.

    Maybe “most players” in the head start who came straight from beta with a leveling plan and pristine underpopulated zones to fight in did it in 10. For fresh gamers post-release though? Most people will take much, much longer than this.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Also, there’s a popular guide from Hakurai who’s a very hardcore player that sorts the leveling with 15 hours assuming perfect conditions, but it’s something for the 5% of players.

      I don’t know the author’s source, but such an even more extreme timeframe only applies at most to the top 20 players in growth ranking.

  16. Grim Rainbow says:

    The dire lack of character customization options is why I decided not to play it.

    • frutiano11 says:

      There is a good variety of character customization, the game just doesn’t explain it as it should which makes everyone think it doesn’t. There’s an ingame wiki which pretty much shows all the armors, outifts and even costumes you can craft ingame. Variety is def not a problem in this game, the thing that annoys me is that the cash shop costumes are just more flashy (and overpriced) but that’s a minor issue so far

  17. Asrahn says:

    Checked out the beta, and frankly what appears to be standing out is the combat system, and then only in the sense where it’s competent for an MMO. You could take virtually any modern third person action RPG and it would have better combat.

    Also, “The English localization is rough” is the understatement of the decade, at least. Conversations (when they’re at their best) seem translated using google translate, and the voice acting is simply atrocious. A story that is almost entirely nonsense serves as backdrop, something you never get to care about or muster the energy to pursue, because you’ll never quite understand what the hell is going on because people don’t even speak like humans. “Do I look tired? You are correct. I am tired.” is not something you say as a manner of greeting unless you’re an alien trying out human social interaction for the first time.

    And holy shit, just around the corner there’s the token “child race” of the Shai. If “actually adults, just looking like children” does not creep you out as a concept, consider your reaction once they get access to the (mandatory for asian MMOs it seems) bikini micro-transaction store. Then there’s also the heavily insinuated, if not blatantly stated pedophilic bestiality going on with Shai and demibeasts or what the heck not in the lore. I quote:

    “In Heidel it is rumored that Demibeasts are not allowed to have romantic relationships with Shai. However, there is no written record on this, and it is assumed that it was just a way for a womanizing demibeast to excuse his unwillingness to commit and get rid of clingy women.”

    I give this game 10 out of 10 creepy creeps from excessive creepyness, and some 7 out of 10 grinding wheels; courtesy of that goddamn line of “kill goblins of various kinds” quests where there’s at least 20 players camping every individual NPC spawn.

    • OmNomNom says:

      Yep, i tried to like this game (I borrowed a friend’s account) but it just creeped me the hell out.
      Whats with the forced female classes too I don’t personally enjoy playing females when I’m forced to wear things in game that make my chest stick out 2 meters from my body but trying to make a heterosexual looking male character is basically not doable(from the paltry 3 male class choices).
      Considering RPS is usually quite aware of sexism and objectification in games, I’m surprised nothing along these lines was mentioned.
      I know it’s Korean but it does kind of remind me of this :P link to youtube.com

    • magogjack says:

      Thank you for this, I was just about to get the game and I can not stand shit like that. It is very creepy and I hate it when people try and even defend it.
      Just don’t make adults look like kids its sick as fuck !

      • magogjack says:

        Ok so I went to go see what this race looked like just in case they just looked like Dwarves (the real ones not fantasy ones) and nope they totally look like children….SMH!

  18. Cut says:

    2 Quick Qs. for those who have already jumped in:

    1) I was just about purchase this when I noticed a few posts on the forums concerning inventory slots, local storage space and weight allowance limitations. They seemed to be saying that these were extremely limited and even taking into account quest rewards etc, it would still cost various hundreds of euro (¡!) in the cash shop to max them out.

    Is that correct? (and if so, how much extra inventory/storage/weight capacity do you actually NEED to buy?)

    Also cash shop related: pets?

    2) The only mmo I have ever played and enjoyed is Ultima Online – and I think the reason I have had the BDO website open for a week is because of the apparent similarities it seems to have with some aspects of UO.

    Am I imagining it?

    Thanks for the help guys

    • Kits says:

      Yes, you can boost your inventory size vastly by spending a fortune in the cash shop, but you do not need to.
      By around level 25, I had 40 or so inventory slots from quest rewards, which is rarely too little. You start off with rather a small inventory, sure, but it is not an issue for long.
      The same with the weight limit. You can pay to increase it, but it is not really called for. Unless you plan to be transporting tonnes of materials, it’s more than sufficient. Even in that case you have wagons to help with moving goods.
      Assuming you park your wagon off near where you are killing stuff you can also use that to empty out your inventory now and then before heading back to town to clear it out.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Various hundreds uh? Probably for your full list of alts.

      Nah, not even there, the calculation is simply idiotic because you could buy even more inventory slots than what you’d be able to handle even with shopped weight limitation and constant training.

      Still, it’s true that if you don’t train yuor weight limit some inconvenience might be there, but a single big boost and maybe a little help in inventory slots is all you need.

      • Cut says:

        Thanks guys.

        The numbers I saw were something like 10€ for 8 inventory slots with a maximum of 192 slots (-40 quest reward slots?). With a similar price for storage space in each city. I don’t remember the weight-limit-increase prices I’m afraid.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Also note that the city storage is a rip-off, every single extra storage you can get with in game contribution point gives you 3 slots, but if it’s upgradable you only need points once, the other levels are bought with little in game cash.

          You need more storage if you do more crafting, and if you do that the only thing you’re after is contribution points, and you can’t shop that.

  19. racccoon says:

    To be honest speed racing to level up is done & dusted, its too old & too boring, those that do it, regret it straight away, Oh..they may have a little five minute fame & be able to go about be a bully, but they also ruined their own game.
    I’m still at level 14 and been playing many many hours, I see no point in advancing myself further without me doing all that is shown to me in these early stages, my level is what the game has given me. I want to play the game and no be dictated by old style of ..”lets fast level” it just doesn’t make any sense in games like this.
    Enjoy the bloody thing don’t be forced by the follow the piped pipers of how to ruin a game.

    • fishgeekted says:

      Agree! Skip the entire game to the end and then wonder what the game is all about… Like sitting down to a movie and just watching the final 10 minutes. People are obsessed with end game content and I really feel sorry for game developers these days because of it. They create this massive game and then all the players skip it, for the ending, and then the devs are trying to create a 2nd fully realized game on top of the main game to keep these people entertained…

  20. HigoChumbo says:

    Does this game have a decent class system that enforces teamwork? (Healers, tanks, crowd control etc). The lack of that was my biggest issue with GW2.

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  21. Unsheep says:

    For what the game does, it seems to do really well.

    I just can’t get interested in yet another Fantasy MMO, its an over-saturated theme. Give me some Sci-fi or Steampunk instead, we only have a few of those. No surprise I was more drawn towards the Division, it may not be the most epic of games but it still feels more original, which is an odd thing to say since Fantasy writers are free to invent anything they want…yet don’t take advantage of that.

  22. montorsi says:

    The first MMO in a while where I haven’t felt the need to rush to max level because that’s the real game. It’s refreshing. There are so many things to learn and do that by the time I do eventually get bored and wander away, I’ll have gotten my $30 worth many times over.

    I’ve gotten past the point where I need a MMO to occupy my life for months or years on end. Maybe this will, maybe it won’t. I do know that I won’t regret the time I’ve spent playing it.

    • Assirra says:

      If you want that you should get Final Fantasy 14. Your whole leveling experience you are guided with an actual main story. You won’t get the “need to max lvl to actually start playing” vibe from that one. Also, compared to a lot of other games almost all the dungeons actually play a part in the story as well.

  23. Kits says:

    It is an amazing world to just be in. If anything I would say it feels very similar to the Witcher 3. Same kind of aesthetic, lots of small towns and farms to visit.
    I am usually the type that will tear through a game at a prodigious speed, consuming all the content and getting bored fast. There is so much to do and take in here though that it is enough to choke on.

  24. bill says:

    Game needs more variety in short skirts.

  25. SomeDuder says:

    Im hesitant to slap down €60,- for this when it will go F2P in a few months/year… (Oh come on, it’s an MMO, it’s going to happen)

    • Captain Narol says:

      Well, I’ve checked and the basic “traveller’s package” is only 29.99 € in my country, at that price I’m seriously tempted to give it a try…

      I like that the game takes a different approach to the MMO concept, and I’m quite interested in the trading/crafting/gathering/fishing stuff in it that seems quite robust.

      • SomeDuder says:

        Oh yea, didn’t even notice there are two different versions for sale (it defaults to the €60,- version).

        And yea, I’m sure it’s technically impressive and as “good” a swords, magic and dragons MMO as they come, it’s just that MMOs in general seem kind of a stupid thing to try and sell nowadays. They either go for the F2P model from the start or after a few months (after realizing noone is paying €15-, a month anymore in a world where you can buy 3 games for that amount of money during a Steam Sale event) or they die a slow death when people move on to The Next Big Thing or they straight up get cancelled during development (Any CCP MMO other than EO or the recent Everquest crap, example)

        So no, I’m not paying even a penny for a game in a genre that will offer its content for free after a few months when the hypetrain pulls into its final station. If the game can survive from the purchases of cosmetics by a few manchildren that can spend a few paychecks on this stuff, perfect, it’s just free content for the rest of us.

        • clonitza says:

          It won’t go f2p, it’s not subscription based, and if you can’t dig 30$ you can just wait for a winter sale or smth.

        • minijedimaster says:

          There is no monthly sub. Maybe actually look into the game before going off all half cocked about it? Just drop The 30 and be done with it.

    • goettel says:

      For whatever a random comment is worth: this is easily the best €30 I’ve spent on a game this year, so far.

  26. Parrilla says:

    Spot on review. I have the same slight worries whether it will be able to keep my attention in the long run. For now I haven’t left the first town, keep getting quests sending me here and there learning about the various production methods, building a raft, trading between the farms and town etc.

    Cash shop is slightly alarming to someone who has primarily played subscription based Western MMOs. The lack of character development in looks is probably my biggest problem with the game. Was shocked when I bought a helmet for my warrior in a vendor store, equipped it and it didn’t appear on my character. Only way is to buy one in the cash shop for the costume slot. And as this review says, most of the costumes are quite poor or aimed at the teenage boys playing female characters (another problem I have with this game but not that big a deal).

    It’s fun for now but a few mechanics (mainly around the cash shop) niggle, so I think I’ll just be playing this until Crowfall or Camelot Unchained.

  27. GenericGamer99 says:

    I tried this game. Something you don’t mention is the draconian anti-cheat protection. I have to close every application to make it run. My dev tools, my remote desktop into my internet machine. My SSH connections to my mail server. If you don’t close everything you get a generic security error.

    While I’d like to play this game (even though you can’t seem to remap the keyboard). I’m not willing to dedicate a PC to it.

    • Lanessar says:

      I’m not sure what kind of dev tools you are running that would cause the anti-cheat to flag you. I’m running an SSH webserver connection, VPN into a GIT repository, RDP into a Windows machine and an instance of VS2015 as well as various other dev tools and have no problem running this game in the background or alt-tabbing over. I also have a razer app running, as well as a logitech gaming software instance. I haven’t run into any issues with over 50 hours played.

  28. trjp says:

    Hang on – it costs money upfront AND has a pricey in-game store for cosmetics?


    They stole most of their art style/website design from GW2, shame they didn’t steal a decent business model ;9

    • Michael Anson says:

      It’s the same business model GW2 has… only cheaper up front.

      • trjp says:

        erm – GW2 is free-to-play with optional purchases to get more chars/classes/unlock features – it used to be one upfront cost and nothing else

        How is that the same as money upfront AND pricey cosmetics?

        • Rizlar says:

          Because GW2 also offers pricey cosmetics? Black Desert is what GW2 used to be – buy once, play forever, optional cash shop with utility items and cosmetics.

          Not saying they are exactly the same but there you have it. The prices in the BD cash shop are ridiculous though, fortunately I have no need or desire to ever use it.

    • minijedimaster says:

      I don’t understand what your problem is. Sounds like you can literally spend $30 on this game and never have to spend another single penny again. In what reality is that a bad business model?

      What, they charge for optional cosmetic items? Who cares? They’re “optional” AND “cosmetic”.

  29. haarp says:

    What some people and the reviewer don’t get is that this game is not designed to play with just one character. You can actually create many chars and have a family by giving each char the same family name. A family shares all the resources a player has in warehouses.
    By doing so one can much more efficiently transport, sell, manufacture stuff.

    Here are some noteworthy points:

    • trjp says:

      That’s hardly a new idea – Diablo 3 shares everything across it’s whole account (not just a server or family) for example

      If you think about it, the old system of locking stuff onto a single character was always stupid – serious MMO players always roll alts – makes sense to support their addiction, not punish it.

  30. marach says:

    This game kinda calls to me but all I can think of is “do I really want to spend money on another MMO I might throw away in 5 hours”… and part of me really wants to throw away that cash at it too.

    • Lanessar says:

      I was pretty against ever getting involved in another MMO, but the combat and general fun involved in this game actually made it worth the $30. I’ve gotten about 50 hours playtime in, which is probably better than any other multiplayer game I’ve played within recent years(much less an MMO).

      While the writing is probably the worst I’ve ever seen, and the voiceover never matches anything written, and the aesthetic of characters in this game verges on the worst anime ever – the depth of the mechanics and breadth of things to do within the world has me impressed. Every crafting system or activity is extremely detailed and takes time to figure out and master, even if you’re following a written guide. Whoever thought of all of this was either a certified genius or a lunatic.

      I’ll recommend watching let’s plays and then making your decision. It’s certainly not everyone’s cuppa – but I will say the systems are brilliantly made, and the combat is probably the best action combat I’ve experienced in any game, MMO or otherwise.

    • Rizlar says:

      I think the most important thing about Black Desert is that it’s built a world rather than a series of directed experiences.

      It’s exciting to play an MMO that understands the importance of building a world worth living in, not just erecting a corridor of static set pieces to run through on your quest for power.

      The archetypal post-WoW MMO tends to be a bobsleigh flume, Black Desert is more like a, erm, hill or something. Forget the metaphor, the world is brilliant and you could get your money’s worth just dipping in and out as you please.

      I would advise anyone playing it not to worry too much about finishing all the quests/trying all the professions/doing all the things. Once you are comfortable with the basics just strike out and do whatever you like and the world will accommodate you.

  31. Minglefingler says:

    This look like the sort of thing I’ve been wanting from an mmo for ages. However, I’m a bit concerned about the cash shop, I get that there’s no monthly fee which means that I’m ususally ok with buying the odd cosmetic item in games of this type, provided the prices are reasonable and that the you’re not forced to use a bullshit currency that’s only available to buy in increments form the game’s website.
    You get an item, let’s say Joss Ackland’s Spunky Backpack that costs 3100 Fleeces but you can only buy either 1000, 3000 or 6000 Fleeces. Total shite and that seems to be the case here from looking at the Black Desert Online site (as oppoed to the Black Desert Offline site which can only be accessed on a lan.) Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about this game but the practice does exist elsewhere, often leading me to wonder why they don’t make you buy their currency in order to purchase the game to begin with.

  32. Captain Narol says:

    Is there a RPS guild in BDO already, btw ?

  33. aircool says:


  34. ramirezfm says:

    Anyone with a spare 7-day pass? Wanna give it a try before I buy.

  35. JamesGoblin says:

    Always nice to see RPS covering MMOs, real ones.

    PS Just by the way, it was launched in 2014.

  36. louzielle says:

    black desert team do you want a support from your large fans in southeast asia region? find us a publisher or established a new one.


    • minijedimaster says:

      Only the large fans though. None of the skinny ones.

  37. anHorse says:

    Got unreasonably mad at the misuse of low fantasy here, otherwise it’s a good article about a game I’d otherwise never read about

  38. goettel says:

    WHAT a game. I was only hoping for some nice combat, so the depth of gameplay on offer here caught me entirely by surprise. The early storyline is wonky, at least to these very Western eyes, but trading, crafting, gathering, exploring, fishing, horse breeding systems etc. are so tempting that I’ve dropped any pretense of sprinting to the soft level cap. Having recently gotten back into vanilla WoW on Nostalrius, and still having a great time any time I log into (admittedly troubled) Wildstar, I wasn’t prepared for the chuncks of my time BDO seems to chew up without mercy.

  39. jako800 says:

    Game looks interesting, would love to give it a try. Does anyone a spare pass?

    Thanks in advance!

  40. Beralm says:

    I feel kinda bad for asking this in a place that isn’t meant for that, but if anyone has another guest pass they wanna give away, I’d really appreciate one.
    I played vindictus a couple years ago and liked it, so really wanna give this game a shot. But I wanna try it a bit to see if I find it too grindy etc before buying it. Hope to hear from someone :)
    If I do decide to buy the game I’ll give my refer gift (whatever that thing is called, saw a streamer getting a bunch) to the person who gave me the guest pass.
    My mail: rtmstuff@hotmail.com

  41. flodders says:

    Same as Beralm I also feel kinda bad for asking but if anyone by any chance has a spare guest key for me to try out the game I would be really grateful.

    email: floriset@gmail.com

  42. JuzaSP says:

    Hello, does anyone have a spare guest pass that doesn’t use? I’m really interested in trying this game but without a demo version I’m not sure my pc (gtx460, i5 2.80ghz, 8gb of ram) would run it in a good way.
    Thank you!

  43. nox_beta says:

    I was interested in Archeage but refrained until proper reviews came in. Turns out it wasn’t really what I thought it’d be. I’m a bit apprehensive about BDO but it’s the closest thing to what I’ve been looking for since AA. Tried for a guest pass on the BDO subreddit but no luck. Would be super grateful if anyone here has a spare they won’t mind giving away (illusion.breaker7 at gmail.com)

    Cheers in advance.