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Black Gold Online

Black Gold Online is a steampunk/fantasy MMORPG in a world where two factions fight for control of precious resources. Choose from a multitude of classes and level, explore dunegons, command mechanized machines, and fight other players on the battlefield.

Publisher: Snail Games
Playerbase: Low
Type: MMORPG
Release Date: June 20, 2014
PvP: Open World/ Battlefields
Pros: +Steampunk environment. +Combat mechs. +Action-oriented combat.
Cons: -Lacks development. -Innumerable bugs. -Awful animations.

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Overview

Black Gold Online Overview

Black Gold Online is a steampunk-fantasy MMORPG from developer Snail Games. Choose between one of two warring factions and a multitude of classes with distinct playstyles. An extensive character customization system lets you adjust sliders to create a distinct avatar. Develop your character in a fantasy world fueled by steam by completing quests, killing endless enemies, exploring dungeons, and entering battlegrounds. Command a mechanized robot and fire gatling guns at waves of opponents to mow them down. Enter the battlefield and engage in intense PvP, slaughtering your enemies in the open world or in the battleground. Or, form a group and traverse ancient ruins and dungeons to battle formidable bosses in search of rare gear.

Black Gold Online Key Features:

  • Multiple Classes: Choose from two faction, six playable races (four unlocked at the start), and 12 classes.
  • Victoriam Steampunk - explore a world fueled by steam, set against the backdrop of fantastical elements.
  • Mechanized Machines - pilot lumbering robots, equipped with miniguns, rockets, and more to stomp enemies into dust.
  • Factional PvP - enter the battlefield to compete for resources, destroy enemy carriers, or blow the opposing faction’s idol.
  • Instanced Dungeons - explore ancient caverns and uncover hidden secrets with a small band of heroes to defeat bosses for experience and loot.

Black Gold Online Screenshots

Black Gold Online Featured Video

Full Review

Black Gold Online Review

By Sean Sullivan

No, Black Gold Online is not a documentary about exploiting Middle Eastern resources. It’s a game mined in the Far East, from developer Snail Games. The steampunk-fantasy hybrid is the latest addition to the Chinese studios’ list of free-to-play games, but it’s also the most memorable—for being the least desirable game from their catalog. After playing Age of Wushu I had an expectation going into Black Gold Online, the bar had been set a good distance above the ground. Conceptually, Black Gold Online sounds like a brilliant idea. I’ve never played an engaging steampunk MMO. But, it looks like I’ll be waiting for a future game.

Taking The Steam Out Of “Steampunk”

Starting up Black Gold Online for the first time you’re prompted to choose between one of two factions: Isenhort or Erlandir. It’s the traditional fantasy MMORPG way to divide players for PvP. Based on their factional icons I was lead to believe that Isenhor is an idealized vision of industrial civilization while Erlandir is Avatar’s Na’vi and hippies who are still flashbacking to the sixties. So, I chose glorious civilization, and proceeded to make an Isenhort character. Each faction has three races, but only two can be chosen before reaching level 40. Isenhorst features dwarves and humans, while Erlandir is inhabited by elves and humans. Apparently humans are parasites that meander its way into every civilization.

I settled on making a Buvontian human Punisher, for appearing the most steampunk-like. Many of the classes are fantasy based, from Thaumaturge to Spellsword. Where’s Engineer, Mechanic, Robotics Officer, Steamer, etc.? Steampunk has a rich lore that could have been capitalized on for Black Gold Online, but instead players are given cliché tropes from any other MMORPG. Strike one against claiming to be a steampunk game.

Character creation is a collection of atypical sliders, ranging from hand-size to head-width. Some of the sliders appear to do nothing, such as cheekbone depth—typically a subtle change in other advanced creators. But, there is enough variation to create a non-anatomically correct human so I was nearly jubilant by the time I finished creating my avatar. He looked like a Stretch Armstrong that’s been doing smack behind an abandoned movie theater since the nineties. Perfect. I named him “StretchyMcGoo,” and entered the world of Black Gold.

Press “F” To Quit Tutorial

I can’t stand tutorials. As you run down a linear dirt path, your baby steps are broken by intermediate in-game cinematic sequences. And they are painful to watch. One such sequence showed soldiers marching against a Erlandir dragon attacker. The camera pans off screen to a blue sky, as the cacophony of a battle rings out, but you are not privilege to view any of the bloodshed. I asked myself, “What was the point of that sequence?” I still don’t have an answer. Many of the cutscenes serve no purpose beyond wasting time, and elucidating the game’s horrible animations. Characters are more rigid than the Terracotta army. I was not amused.

Doctor Robotnik

The main appeal to Black Gold Online, as far as I’m concerned, is its mechanized units. In a steampunk world the best ally in a war for domination is slapped together steel and machine guns. Hopping into a unit for the first time I was overcome with fond memories of nostalgia for Hawken, soon diminished by Black Gold’s underwhelming mechanized mechanics. The camera transitions to a cockpit view, where left and right click are bound to your guns. And shift unleashes a barrage of rockets. As enemies approached I fired away. When using a gatling gun you expect to hear bullets hammering, as chambers are rapidly heated and cleared, an explosive force that ought to shred skin for aspic. But Black Gold’s steampunk guns sound like a failing hard drive; a repetitive clicking sound that makes me question whether some designer forgot to switch out the proper effect file. Only the missiles evoked a visceral sensation, as the unit shakes while the fusillade charges forward. But it does little to make for the sloppy sound effect.

Combat Is Too Easy

Outside of your robot combat is straightforward, although slightly different from other games. Rather than right-clicking to initiate a basic attack against enemies, you actively press “1” to swing your weapon. While “2” is bound to your first special ability. In a sense combat is active, as you must continuously press 1 to attack. But you do tab target, so it’s not a free-roaming system. On paper combat is fine, but becomes boring because enemies are too easy. And numerous quests task you with defeating less than a handful, oftentimes just one enemy before you skip back to the quest giver. I spent more time moving between areas than I did in combat. It underemphasized the role of fighting in the game. And in new areas you’re always outleveling mobs, so they die with ease. Combat could have been better, but the design flaw makes it too easy. The combat animations look pretty good. They’re fairly fluid, and some of them such as Death From Above are pretty entertaining but it doesn’t make up for the rest of the visuals.

Visuals Losing Steam

Black Gold was released in 2014, almost a year before the time of this writing. It’s graphics are subpar, not terrible to look at but sitting at an acceptable level considering recent technologies. It’s generic for what should be expected from Snail Games. Yet, it’s terribly unoptimized. I have better frames playing Ark: Survival Evolved. Distant robots and birds move at 10 FPS, and look like clunky GIF’s from a Geocities website. The NPC animations are awful. Everything, from mounts to enemies looks like they’re being moved by a parkinson’s diseased puppeteer. There’s more clipping in Black Gold Online than a zealous mother creating a scrapbook.

And if you’re looking for a game with grime-covered buildings, from billowing soot in a steampunk world, turn around. Tropical trees, lush forests, and barren deserts ripped from any other fantasy based MMORPG are the central focus in the game’s environment. Steampunk inventions take a backseat, acting as as decorative ornaments rather than the core aesthetic.

The music emphasizes a Tolkienesque theme, with sounds that seem ripped out of a Fable game. Whimsical xylophones accompany an orchestra playing along a skipping beat that the Hobbits would have hummed. But it repeats like a labyrinthian record you can’t escape. The same soundtrack will assault your ears again and again, until you decide to mute the in-game music.

Bugs

Black Gold Online needs the Beta tag because bugs abound. One early quest asks you to press “F8” to open the modification window. But pressing F8 did nothing; F7 worked. Before slamming my face against the keyboard I searching through the control schema, seeing that the key was bound. After browsing Google for a fix I had nearly given up before trying one more time. And it worked. What? There are innumerable bugs in Black Gold that border on the level of frustration-induced aneurysm before they seemingly rectify themselves. Mobs and animations fade in and out of existence like phantasmagorias that can't’ decide if they should stay or go. Sound effects cut in and out, interactable icons in the auction house don’t respond, and moving NPC’s fade in and out of existence.

Cash Shop

If you are so earnest, able to look past bugs, dated visuals, and a lazy presentation, then feel free to become a Knight of Montel. While I can’t look past the notion of sitting at Montel William’s round table, feel free to hand over your money to become an official knight. Knighthood blesses you with bonuses to experience, unique daily gifts, and additional synthesizing tokens among other benefits.

Opening up a tab titled Hidden Treasure Chamber shows off all of Black Gold Online’s purchasable delights, from mounts to high fashion. There doesn’t seem to be a pay-to-win aspect. The items are more convenience oriented, and cosmetic, such as the Winter Ride frozen horse mount. For a cash shop oriented MMORPG, items are lacking. I’m surprised not to see more available options and it’s difficult to tell if the development team bothers to update the game anymore.

Dead Development

Not much seems to be happening in the world of Black Gold Online. Heading to the website and searching through the news I found that the last article was posted on March 04, 2015—a women’s day special. The forums don’t see much activity from developers either. For a game that’s still supposed to be in Beta, there’s not much in the way of development. If anything, the Beta tag is used as an excuse for bugs and a lack of progress. Perhaps all of the resources invested in Black Gold Online have been reallocated to King of Wushu. I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Final Verdict - Fair

Black Gold is a game riddled with bugs, sloppy mechanics, and a slapped together interface. Even for the most die-hard steampunk fans I implore you to stay away. Do not taint the subgenre with Black Gold’s abysmal, embarrassing presentation. It is playable so I can't give it a lower rating, but I found nothing to like, and would have preferred grinding bears in Metin2, 12 hours a day than play more Black Gold Online. It’s a game that would have been more successful six or seven years ago, but the standards have risen and a 2014 release should not be subject to the issues that plague Black Gold Online.

Screenshots

Black Gold Online Screenshots

Videos

Black Gold Online Videos

System Requirements

Black Gold Online System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:

Operating System: Windows XP / Vista / 7
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 / AMD Phenom II X2
Video Card: nVidia GeForce 8600 series / AMD or ATI 4850 series
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 15 GB

Music

Black Gold Online Music & Soundtrack

Coming Soon!

Additional Info

Black Gold Online Additional Information

Developer(s): Snail Games

Announcement Date: June 04, 2014

Alpha Release: March 20, 2014
Closed Beta: May15, 2014
Open Beta: June 20, 2014

Release Date: June 20, 2014

Development History / Background:

Black Gold Online is developed by Chinese development company Snail Games. The game was announced on June 04, 2014 and a demo was highlight at E3 2013. The first Alpha test began on March 20, 2014 and was invitation only, including 8 playable classes and 4 races. A closed beta test followed on March 15, 2014 and ran for two weeks, ending on May 28, 2014. Open beta began on June 20, 2014 and Black Gold Online remains in beta. Snail Games has previously developed Age of Wushu, 5Street, and Bounty Bay Online. They are currently developing King of Wushu and Music Man Online.

  • Surprised there aren't many other Steampunk titles out there. Steampunk is an interesting setting/genre. There was Neosteam from Atlus, but it flopped pretty quickly...

    • Addrianna Wing

      I would play the Hell out of a steam punk based mmo like this does have potential and I wish they'd see that.

    • Meatbag

      @remotay
      Exactly, steampunk is why i downloaded this.... thing, in the first place.
      Regretted it real quick.
      Finally uninstalled it after some dwarf-looking thing walked up to me and asked to suck me off.... that was the last straw.

  • Matt

    I'd heard the community is only something like 40 strong and they're all in the endgame, doing territory wars for black gold and whatnot. Shame it isn't half as good as Age of Wushu.

    • gumby

      It looks like Snail Games is pouring all of their resources into King of Wushu. I'm confident it'll be a good game.

  • Zariarn

    This game could be so much better than it is.

    • gumby

      Like remo said, steampunk is a rich genre with potential that has never been fully explored. It's disappointing, but I'm sure a future developer will capitalize on the setting and create the experience Black Gold Online should have been.

  • MakoRuu

    This game tried to be five different games and failed at each one.