I’ll be the first to admit that I am a total noob when it comes to MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). The whole idea of sinking hundreds of hours into a game that is filled to the brim with geeks just did not suit me. That is until I discovered Black Desert Online. Sure, BDO is an MMORPG at its roots and has elements borrowed from other games like World of Warcraft, but in the end, its execution is a whole lot better. I’ve been only playing for about a week, but I have leveled up to about level 48.
The game itself is refreshing. It has excellent fluid combat paired with beautiful, unparalleled graphics not seen in any previous MMORPG. It is running on its own proprietary Pearl Abyss engine, and the scenery is just plain stunning. This is what drew me to the game. Not just the trees, but the boobies. Eye candy aside, the game feels nicely polished for what it is. Fully fleshed out storylines and lore encompasses the world of BDO. It is a great mashup of the best elements from MMORPGs like Elder Scrolls Online or even the famed World of Warcraft. This is also combined with some elements of Dragon’s Dogma. I feel reminiscent whenever I play. The game features 13 playable classes. Each has a different strength, weaknesses, and combat styles. I selected the Dark Knight class when playing which is a shadowy-based female elf character that wields a longsword called a Kriegsmessser. What is actually interesting about the combat is that each character has a second weapon class that he/she can use after reaching level 56. This class is called Awakening. It features an entirely new movement set and allows the character to combine new attacks in an entirely new fashion. I am still grinding my way to 56. After only just under a week of gameplay, I think I’m making real progress.
The game is a one time purchase (only $30 on sale for a holiday) and features no subscription. There are however a few microtransactions for things like pets, mounts, and costumes, but the game itself is fully featured for that buy in price. I have gotten a few gems for free such as beauty change coupons, mount coupons, or housing coupons that allow me these premium features for free. It’s a nice touch for wooing new players.
Servers often feel too crowded, and I am even lost among the countless names and interfacing options on my plate at times. The game could use a few dozen more servers to utilize. It’d be fun to finally see what the heck is going on from time to time. The game also suffers from spikes in frame dropping due to the enormous amount of players in the cities. Please BDO, add a couple of EXP servers to stop this. Fortunately, the UI can be completely disabled including all the names, for moments of serenity and bliss. Some of the new skills purchased with EXP before awakening feel repetitious and boring. This makes grinding seem like a chore sometimes. Combat should always be an engaging and a fun experience, at least in my opinion.
The Bottom Line
Black Desert Online is a great game. It has hundreds of hours of playtime even on the surface. There is combat, RPG elements, crafting, city building, a sub-economy marketplace, and even a huge map to explore. I know that in time I will master the controls and make this game one of my all-time favorites.
I think I have enough experience to share my thoughts on a console port. Let me be frank, the majority of this piece will be opinion based, but there will be evidence to back up my claims.
About the Xbox
The announcement from E3 is that Black Desert Online is coming to console, specifically as a release for the upcoming Xbox One X. That is pretty exciting I must say. For all intensive purposes let’s just say that it's a good port. Then what? Should you play it? Or should you join the countless others who have already started playing on PC? That’s an easy answer for me as I am a PC gamer, but for many of you, you are also console players. So let us look at the evidence and determine if BDO on console is worth waiting to play.
Let’s just touch on the biggest problem I can foresee, player controls. Controls are an essential part of any game. A game with poor controls equals a game that is not worth playing at all. Let’s break this down a little more. I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember, and PC games for over 11 years. I will be honest here, the controls for BDO are intensive. They are daunting and kind of relentless. It has a high learning curve for first time PC players and is probably why I’ve stayed away from MMORPGs for so long. However, there is a solution (more on this later). I am honestly not seeing an available solution for consoles to adapt this control scheme without a complete overhaul to both the UI and the playstyle of the game.
Below is what the current UI looks like in-game.
It requires a lot of patience and can be a little overwhelming. However, there are a few tricks to the UI. On the PC version you can customize elements of the UI itself. You can even disable parts of it completely. This can help after establishing what information you need and want.
I know that the console version will also have a similar UI feel and customization. I am not completely sure how the navigation of the UI will work on a console without a mouse.
One of the cornerstones of the game itself is the navigation. BDO doesn’t include a fast travel feature. Pearl Abyss, the developers behind the game, concluded that a fast travel option would break game immersion. To a degree, that point is correct. However inconvenient as it may seem, moving around the map is part of the game. Might I also add that the map is absolutely huge? (Note: I’ve only discovered about 45% of the map so far.)
The solution that was implemented was an auto travel feature. When selecting the destination on the map, pressing the “T” key will auto run the player or mount to the pre-selected destination. This particular function also works on the main UI overlay. When quick selecting a mission or an available NPC you can then toggle auto movement to travel to a destination. It is true that the console can easily implement this into its gameplay. However, we must consider the inconvenience that will come with selecting the destination on the map only as well as using a dedicated button to start the auto-run feature. With a controller that only has 25 buttons, that particular function may not be included. Not that it would destroy the immersion, but it could be a drawback for some. I have already felt the disadvantage of not being able to fast travel. However, this is nice when my character can activate autorun while I take a bathroom or sandwich break.
The last thing to consider with the console port is that the total porting process takes a while. Not only have we expected BDO to release with the upcoming Xbox One X, but we haven’t even received a solid release date. All we know is that it'll release early 2018. This is not really promising for those who are thinking about playing it. For those who already have access to a PC, I think it’s worth starting now.
I have never been used to a traditional keyboard and mouse combination. I find that the keyboard is frustrating and taxing on the hands. However, I still play primarily on PC for the majority of my games. I do this through the use of a gaming keypad for most of my left-handed controls. I also use a multi-button MMO mouse for frequently pressed key bindings. If this helps at all I will post my hardware below:
I am using a Logitech G13 Gameboard for my keyboard controls. For an alternative, you can also use a Razer Tartarus. I use the analog stick to move my player (traditional WASD). Here is my screenshot of my controls.
For my mouse, I am using a MadCatz M.M.O.TE. However, MadCatz is no longer making products, so I have included my screenshots only as a reference point. If you would like an alternative for the MMOTE, try the Corsair Gaming Scimitar.
For any questions, please comment below.