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Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online is an action oriented 3D fantasy MMORPG with a large, open world to explore. The game boasts highly detailed graphics and character models along with a plethora of gameplay features like crafting, player housing, mounted combat, animal breeding, and group PvP battles.

Publisher: Daum Games
Playerbase: High
Release Date: March 3, 2016 (NA/EU)
Pros: +Amazing graphics and character designs. +Active combat with manual aiming and dodging. +Player housing. +Involved crafting and minigames. +Large scale PvP Castle sieges.
Cons: -Systems introduced poorly. -Gender locked classes. -Needs high-performance PC.



Black Desert Online Overview

Black Desert Online is a sandbox MMORPG offering stunning graphics and action oriented gameplay in a Western fantasy aesthetic. Choose from one of eight character classes and distinguish your avatar through an extensive character customization tool, that lets you manipulate nearly every aspect of your character. Defeat weasels, goblins, and gargantuan world bosses with a fluid combat system that requires manual aiming and active dodging. Invest in cities by trading, buying property, and sending caravans between encampments to maximize profits. Hire workers to gather resources and craft sought after items. Converse with NPC's to learn more about the game's world and unlock additional quests and items through an intricate mini-game. Join a guild and engage in guild warfare, vying for control of scarce resources. Sail the high seas aboard your own vessel and explore pockmarked islands in an expansive open world.

  • Parkour System - players can interact and climb over buildings and obstacles to easily navigate environments.
  • Guild Warfare - joing a guild and wage warfare against other guilds for control of resources, and defeat overwhelming world bosses.
  • Robust Trading System - hire workers to collect resources and establish trade routes to maximize profits.
  • Active Combat System - manual aiming and positioning culminate in fluid combat that doesn't rely on tab-targeting.
  • Mount Battles - Players will also be able to battle atop mounts which must be tamed and can be bred to produce unique varieties.
  • Character Customization - design your avatar with one of the most intricate character customization systems in any MMORPG.

Black Desert Online Screenshots

Black Desert Online Featured Video

Full Review

Black Desert Online Review

By, Sean Sullivan

The hype train express has finally arrived, and Black Desert Online was swarmed before it could place a foot on the platform. I have never witnessed such manic exuberance for a game, and I blame character creation videos and Black Desert’s impressive screenshots for inspiring the hype. It’s presentation at a distance is brilliant, and if this was a book fair I would spend my allowance based on the cover alone. But it’s time to shed cultish allegiances and ardent distaste to decide if Black Desert Online is worth playing.

From Frankenstein To Supermodel

Black Desert Online’s character creator inspired hundreds of YouTube videos showing off spectacular and realistic avatar before it released. And hands-on the creator is impressive. Nearly every body part can be manipulated, from feet to cheeks. With enough patience artisan players can sculpt their own celebrity lookalike, and stop worshipping a bubblegum shine in their closet. While the creator may look like the pinnacle of MMORPGs, in practice it has Mariana Trench depth at one location in the ocean.

Players alter their appearance within a framework, but can’t craft any look they want. Each class has a distinct aesthetic and players manipulate their character in deviations from the default image. So, you can’t make a Witch look like a Ranger or a Berserker look like a Warrior; there’s no blank slate avatar. But you can sculpt a Sorceress doppleganger of Emma Watson, if that’s how you want to spend your time. Don’t get me wrong. It is an amazing character creator but it’s not versatile. There are limits, but within the character creator’s confines you can create both supermodels and freakish monstrosities.

It’s worth noting that classes are gender-locked—except for Witch and Wizard, which have nearly identical playstyles. And there’s no race selection; races are tied to class. So Giants can’t be anything but Berserkers and only Rangers are elves. I don’t mind but I know some players are turned off by the lack of both genders. As long as I can play female classes and express my true self (a lesbian trapped in a man’s body) I’m happy.

Quivering Viscera

Was your viscera rumbling in anticipation of Black Desert’s action combat? I know the first time I witnessed a video of a Ranger spinning around goblin hordes, pulling off stylish attacks like a Bronx B-boy, I was impressed. And after playing I did become addicted to combat. It was my opiate after learning how to string together moves by mixing mouse and keyboard combinations. I felt the gusto of each hit as the screen shakes and enemies crumble. It’s a refreshing mechanic.

I ruined some helpless weasel’s day as a Ranger by left-clicking to use a basic shot, then holding S and Left click to fire two arrows, pressed Q to segue into a bomb arrow, and then I danced out of the way while firing more arrows into a smoldering weasel carcass.There is a large library of skills to keep the flow of combat fresh but I’m constantly forgetting combinations, such as Shift plus Right Click and F, which is a Karate Kid roundhouse kick.

But there’s almost no point in pulling off dance moves when slapping an imp would be just as effective. The mobs are easy, almost too easy. You can dodge around wildlife and spam regents like a potion-aholic so your health never drops below half. And holding left-click is a viable method of taking down single-target mobs while The Life and Times of Tim plays on YouTube. But single-target PvE isn’t designed to be challenging.

In a surprising twist Black Desert Online returns to its Korean MMORPG roots by emphasizing group-mob grinding, where AOEing enemies is the fastest way to absorb experience. Run around an area tagging as many mobs as possible, and decimate them like one big happy family. If you’re the type of player who only uses moves because the engagement’s context forces you to, you won’t have fun grinding. To make PvE valuable you have to understand your classes skillset and pop off dazzling attacks, or it's going to grow stale.

But don’t play Black Desert Online if you’re only interested in combat. Play if you want to inhabit a world.

What Was That French Word?

Black Desert Online is the first new MMORPG that evokes a je ne sais quoi feeling of a living world. NPC’s drive caravans between villages, annoying children run past my oversized thighs, and towns bustle with villagers (maybe too many). Crumbling towers decorate the horizon, and can be explored if you’re feeling adventurous. Looking at the map brings up pockmarked islands waiting for a boat to land on their shores. At a distance the game dresses itself as what I envisioned MMORPGs would look like as a kid. It begs to be explored and thanks to the parkour system mountains and towers can be conquered.

And no fast travel is a beautiful thing. Black Desert Online clamps your eyeballs and screams, “Do you see!”

However, the world is not endless. There are invisible walls, which is disconcerting when you bump into them. However, the walls are not random but at the limits of the game’s world and are, hopefully, placeholders for future expansions. I hope to see the game world expand enormously. Because Black Desert Online is fantastic for any player who enjoys exploring.

As is the theme with Black Desert, Contribution Points are a seemingly complex endeavor because it's introduced poorly. Peeling back the veil reveals a micromanagement system that requires careful consideration to maximize. I don’t mind tearing apart the internet in search of an answer, but the lacking explanation will dissuade some players from even attempting to understand. And they miss out on crafting.

No Resume Needed

Black Desert Online’s extensive crafting spans eight spheres: shaking, grinding, chopping, drying, thinning, heating, cooking, and—the black sheep—alchemy. It’s a lot of “ings” but a simple process. If you have the ingredients you can make the product, even if you don’t know what exactly you’ll get by throwing weeds and mineral water in a test tube. Because there are no recipes. Crafting is a trial-and-error process where you smash items together and see if they stick. Not everything works. And you find out passively, by watching your character struggle to figure out what to do with the items as a progress bar ticks down.

Luckily, crafting doesn’t end with hoarding the right materials by manually gathering them and clicking a button. Player must invest Contribution Points in houses to unlock workshops and turn their materials into valuable items, whether that be a ship or a box of potatoes. The more intricate the item the more value it has, the more money it will reap on the market. And players have to hire workers to create the items at their house, adding to the Contribution Point micromanagement system that will turn any player into a certified Trump University manager.

Many items take an enormous number of resources, including time. Items can take hours to create. It’s a drawn out process that requires preparation and patience. And while it isn’t necessary to garner the best gear in the game it does help pay the bills (or build a boat).

Crafting and Contribution Points turn trade into a tactical juggling of seemingly endless tasks to reap a profit. Players can sit around all day fidgeting with the market, setting up routes and crafts, and trying to get the best price. It’s a well-developed avenue with more depth than many other MMORPGs. But players cannot craft endlessly. Every action they undertake costs energy.

Energy System

So, here’s a sphere of the game that’s been downplayed everywhere I look. Nearly every action, from gathering to taking on quests, costs energy. And players have a set amount of energy (which can be increased as they play). If a player runs out of energy they can’t perform tasks, such as fishing, but must wait until energy recovers—at a rate of 1 point every 3 minutes—or perform repeatable quests (fairly simple) to restore a minor amount.

Luckily, players can increase energy by goofing around: talking to every NPC, killing every monster, picking every herb. Every time you perform a new task you earn knowledge, stored in a portable Xanga journal. The more knowledge you accumulate the more energy you gain. So it’s worth talking to Bartleby the goblin, if only to increase your knowledge and your energy pool. It’s a smart way to force players to invest themselves in the world.

While energy limitations have been criticized it does force players to choose tasks with prudence, preventing AFK, lackluster experiences. You must carefully decide what exactly you want to do. General chat also costs energy (1) which makes players second guess what they are about to type out, preventing General from becoming Barrens (which may or may not be a bad thing).

Social Minigames

Sticking with forced world involvement, players can use energy to interact with NPCs through a conversation mini-game—to increase their Amity (standing) and unlock new items, quests, and rewards. Every NPC has their own interests. And to talk to an NPC you must know something about their interests. So if one NPC enjoys discussing Hot Dogs you better run out and learn everything you can. Then, pressing the conversation tab opens up a mini-game where players drag and drop knowledge to meet a random criteria. If it's fulfilled you improve your standing.

The conversation minigame is another way in which Black Desert Online motivates players to immerse themselves in its world, to care about each opportunity. Questgivers aren’t just static mannequins asking you to cleanse their field of vermin, but sources of knowledge and placeholders for future opportunities.

But it’s also another confusing system that is introduced horribly. I watched videos and read guides before feeling confident about what I was doing. But it is rewarding, and addictive. You can use it to seduce NPCs like Horse Tamers to reduce costs and unlock additional items to pimp out your, include stirrups to unlock mounted combat. Be sure to pray to Odin before starting the mini-game as there is a good deal of RNG involved.

No Endgame?

No, there is no [traditional] endgame in Black Desert Online. There is no instance raiding or repetitive dungeoning for incremental gear upgrades. As someone who abhors the notion of “endgame,” and believes it’s emphasis has perverted the genre, I’m perfectly fine with Black Desert’s max level gameplay. So what do you do when you max out then?

When players finally soft-cap their level, which doesn’t take long for players built-to-grind, they’ll join a guild and wage large scale warfare against other guilds. Fight for territory and impose taxes on monopolized resources. Find a guild whose name you despise and turn them into your rivals like its West Side Story (killing each other through song and dance). I’ve seen videos of 100v100 warfare. Whether or not that will happen I have no idea. Instead I imagine the one guild with more people will decimate anyone that steps on their turf.

Other than zerg warfare players will spend time grinding mobs for resources to enhance their gear. There is no traditional gear progression. Instead players enchant their gear to improve stats to be better equipped to kill their neighbor. It’s not a bad way to mitigate gear upgrades but it does mean that players of the same class look alike at the end of the day.

There’s also arena PvP as 1v1 or 3v3 combat, mainly for glory. Open world PvP exists, but PKers will endure harsh penalties for slaughtering innocents, eventually losing enough karma that city guards turn on them. I imagine adamant PKers will either not care or create alts solely for open world raiding, as max level can be achieved in less than a day.

But PvPing isn’t really the endgame. The line between what constitutes “endgame” and the game seems not to exist in Black Desert. Because the whole game is the endgame. You can still trade, explore, craft, grind, etc. at max level; the system of play isn't altered once max level is achieved. Additional opportunities crop up, but the endgame goal is the gameplay itself. Every task is a means to its own end.

Cash Shop - Should I Call Shenanigans?

So now of course I've got to talk cash shop. Is the game pay-to-win? No, at least not in an overarching, absolute sense of the term. If there are tiers of pay-to-win then Black Desert’s cash shop is the bottom tier, with plenty of convenience items that can be construed as providing a significant advantage through experience bonuses and pets that make looting an army of the dead easy.

If you are a competitive player, a person who plays in the top tier of PvP with the Big Dogs, then yes you will likely be at a disadvantage without that experience buff, because you won’t unlock all of your skills before the guy with it. We’re talking a percent of the percent here.For the vast majority of players the game is not pay-to-win. But there are plenty of pay-to-not-be-annoyed items.

The main uproar regarding the cash shop is cosmetic items with experience buffs, that cost about $29. Because Black Desert doesn’t offer much gear variety the only way to distinguish your character is through the cash shop by buying outfits or dyes. (Of course, if everyone bought a costume it wouldn’t make a difference would it?) The costumes do look fantastic, and I think part of the reaction to the price was because they look great.

I will say I think artificially limited inventory space is ridiculous in a game I paid for, even if I can earn more slots by questing. What number would I be happy with? Double what you start with. And yes there are many ways to store items on your mount, boat, warehouse, etc. But, artificially limiting bag space is a scummy tactic employed by the entire genre to motivate microtransactions, and the entire genre has decide to adopt it.

Final Verdict - Great

Black Desert Online is not for everyone, hence polarizing player reviews with open hostilities and fanboyism. But it is made for the type of player I am, somebody who involves themselves in everything a game has to offer, from trading to guild wars. But love it or hate it, BDO cannot be insulted as generic game amid an ocean of MMORPG clones. And having played the past few days I realized Black Desert is the reason I’ve stayed up until 3AM (way past my bedtime) for the first time in almost three years. And more than anything else at this very moment, I would rather be playing Black Desert Online than writing this review.



Black Desert Online Screenshots


Black Desert Online Videos

System Requirements

Black Desert Online System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:

Operating System: Windows 7 or 8 (32 bit)
CPU: Intel Core i3-530 2.9 GHz / AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 / 9800 GTX / AMD Radeon HD 3870 x2
Hard Disk Space: 40 GB

Recommended Requirements:

Operating System: Windows 7 or Windows 8 64 bit
CPU: Intel Core i5-650 3.2 GHz / AMD Phenom II X3 740 Black Edition or better
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 / GTX 550 ti / AMD Radeon HD 7750 or better
Hard Disk Space: 40 GB


Black Desert Online Music & Soundtrack

Additional Info

Black Desert Online Additional Information

Developer: Pearl Abyss

Engine: Custom Built (In-House)

Director: Kim Daeil
Art Director: Seo Yongsu

Closed Alpha: October 27, 2015
Closed Alpha End: November 01, 2015

Closed Beta 1: December 16, 2015
Closed Beta 1 End: December 22, 2015

Closed Beta 2: February 18, 2016
Closed Beta 2 End: February 22, 2016

Release Date: March 03, 2016

Xbox Release Date: March 4, 2019

Development History / Background:

Black Desert Online is developed by Korean game studio Pearl Abyss. Development began in 2010 and entered closed beta testing in South Korea on October 17, 2013, and was IP-locked to the region. Pearl Abyss developed their own game engine specifically for Black Desert, to render numerous characters concurrently. A publishing deal was signed with Gamenet to release the game in Russia as a free to play title. Daum Games is handling the North America/European release, but Black Desert Online will use a buy to play model in both regions. A closed alpha test for both North America and Europe began on October 27, 2015 and ran until November 01, 2015. The first closed beta test was held on December 16, 2015 and ended on December 22, 2015. The second closed beta test (CBT2) opened on February 18,2016 and ended on February 22, 2016, followed by the game's full release as a buy-to-play title on March 03, 2016. The game officially launched on Xbox on March 4, 2019.