I would like to start off by saying that I loved Archeage. It was the perfect game for me. There was so much content and it had so many amazing features that make me compare it to every other MMO I have played since. I’m sure many would agree when I say that the P2W aspects and poor management of the game was what killed it for us all. After I finally quit Archeage for good, I had an MMO shaped hole in my heart and nothing was able to fill it. That is until I started playing Black Desert. It’s been hard to trust another Korean MMO again, but I have so much faith in Black Desert.
Classes, Combat and Character Creation
Now, I can’t fault the class system in Archeage at all. Black Desert class system is more traditional and some classes are even gender locked. On the Korean version there are a total of 11 classes with more planned for the future. Within 4-5 months, there were 5 new character releases. The current classes are: Warrior, Giant, Ranger, Sorceress, Valkyrie, Tamer, Blader, Plum (Female Blader), Wizard, Witch, Kunoichi (Female Ninja), and Ninja. With the exception of a few, the combat style is so fast paced and it looks quite complex at first. The combat system in Black Desert is so different to every other MMO. It’s similar to the combat system in TERA but it takes it either further by introducing keystroke combos for each skill. Most people compare the combat to Vindictus. For example, one skill combo might be: S + Right-click + A + Left-Click. The combos themselves can get really complex but they are easy to memorize and make the combat feel so much more realistic and fluid. It feels like you are completely in control of the character and eventually your muscle memory will take over and you’ll find yourself pressing the buttons without even thinking about it. If you can’t get used to this amazing system, then the hot-bar option is still available for you. There is also mounted combat, which is much better than the mounted combat in Archeage. You can cast most of your skills on your horses back, all you need are horse stirrups to get you started.
Check out the video below for an example of the combat system:
The character creation in Black Desert is really well done and EA should actually take some tips from them for the Sims 5. You can customize the character completely and move each part of the body and face by dragging them. There are loads of great examples of what you can do and many people have created celebrity look-alike characters.
Graphics, UI, Map
Once you get in the game, you’ll notice that Black Desert is a visually beautiful game. Archeage isn’t a bad looking game at all, but compared to Black Desert it is completely overshadowed. The UI isn’t the best, but it is minimal and has options for moving, re-sizing and hiding each panel. The in-game map is the most detailed maps I have ever seen in an MMO. It starts off cloudy and as you discover new areas it will start to be revealed. As for the size of the map, compared to Archeage it is much smaller, but due to there being no fast travel in Black Desert, it actually makes it feel much bigger. The primary way of travelling is on horse-back, and as you ride through the world you can feel the climate changing. The West side of the map is filled with forests, rivers and lakes, while the East side is a desert filled with sandstorms and deadly monsters. Just like Archeage, Black Desert has a day/night cycle which lasts approximately 4 hours. Black Desert goes a step further though with different weather conditions, which actually effect your character. You may find that you do less damage when it’s raining, as well as being slower. You’re character will actually get wet and at night time you require a lantern to see properly. Monsters also become harder and give more EXP during the night.
Now lets talk about gameplay. At first glance you might think that Black Desert and Archeage are very similar in this way . It’s only when you’ve played the game that you notice how different they actually are.
Both Archeage and Black Desert have a trade pack system and it’s hard to compare them because they are both done well. In Black Desert you have to buy the packs from an NPC for a low price, deliver them, and sell high. You can bargain (play a mini-game) with the NPC to make more profit. It’s hard to make a good profit from trading when you first start out. You can transport the goods in a variety of ways: walking, donkey, wagon, ferry, boat. There are also NPC “bandits” along the roads that will attack you when you are carrying a trade pack. But they can be seen on the map at all times and are easy to avoid. This is just one of the ways of trading as there is also Imperial Trading and Illegal Trading too. Now, when you think of the trading in Archeage you think about the PvP and competition over trade packs, you think of the merchant ships and the pain of seeing your ship stolen by pirates. Unfortunately, Black Desert is lacking all of this as there is hardly any PvP over trade packs at all. That being said, the trading system is really fun and great way to earn some money.
Fishing in Archeage was so much fun. It’s so interactive and the competition over fishing spots and battles on fishing boats made fishing one of my favourite things to do in Archeage. Black Desert fishing is no where near as complex, you basically cast your fishing rod and enter a mini-game which involves pressing keys in the correct order. You can buy boats and go into the sea but get better fish, then you must use your fish in recipes, or trade them for silver. There are various types of fish and you even have a fish journal showing all of your catches.
Ships and Sea Combat
Black Desert does have a few ships you can craft, ranging from a row boat to a clipper equivalent. Originally there were no plans to add ships but it was a feature that a lot of people wanted so they implemented them in to the game. Due to this, they have been overlooked slightly and there isn’t much sea content despite the sea taking up two fifths of the map. To be completely honest, there is no form of sea combat in Black Desert right now. There is are very few reasons to own a ship, these are for fishing, whale hunting or going to pirate island. You can transport trade pack with your ships, but the the ships themselves are currently quite basic and a complete disappointment when you compare them to the ships in Archeage. There are no interactions with the ships and they are very stiff to drive and have a robotic movement. In the future however, galleons and more sea content is planned, and we have complete faith that Pearl Abyss will not let us down.
The housing system in Archeage was very unique and was actually one of the features that drew me to the game. Despite the land grab issues and bots, it was a really great idea and made the game stand out. Black Desert originally had a system similar to the one in Archeage. But after realizing that the bad outweighed the good, they changed it completely. The current housing system isn’t as exciting but it is fair and anyone can own any house that they want. You buy housing using “contribution points” which are earned by completing quests. The soft-cap for contribution points is above 200 and a house costs about 10 contribution points at max. Contribution points are also used for investing in nodes (zones) or renting items and are fully refundable.
The system is “phased” which is basically a hybrid between instanced and the system Archeage has. The exterior can be seen in the actual open world, then you can go up to the front door and select who you would like to visit or walk into your own house. The interior will then immediately change (no loading screen) depending on who you are visiting and how they have decorated the house.
Buildings can also be used for different things. When you are buying a building you can choose whether you want it to be a personal house, housing for your workers, or crafting workshops. In fact, most of the crafting in Black Desert is done using buildings.
Just like housing, farms can be bought using contribution points and typically costs 12 points. Farming in Black Desert isn’t as important and time-consuming as Archeage. The farms are actually in the world, but there are no land grab issues. You can place a farm almost anywhere, except safe zones. Farms can overlap but when you stand on your own farm all the overlapping farms will disappear. Having a farm isn’t as dominating as in Archeage and is more of an extra way of making money. I personally use my farm to grow carrots to feed my horse. Normally one carrot would cost 500 silver from the Stable Master but with my farm I have an unlimited amount of carrots for 1,500 silver. This is because you can buy one seed and “breed” the seeds, once they have finished growing, to get higher quality crops. You can also add scarecrows and waterways to your farm so that you don’t have to tend to them as often. Just like in Archeage, some seeds grow faster in different climates so you may have a few farms in different locations.
A really great feature that Black Desert offers is the ability to tame wild horses and breed them. Wild horses spawn in certain spots and can be captured using rope. There is a short mini-game and then you ride the horse back to the stables and register it. Breeding and selling horses is also a really great way to make money. The breeding outcomes is pretty random but there are some factors that effect the foul, such as the horse levels and grade.
Another interesting feature is Hunting. You can buy or craft a hunting rifle and hunt monsters such as whales or crocodiles. There is also the Blue Whale which requires high hunting level and a full party of players to take down. Hunting can be profitable once you reach higher levels but it’s very time consuming.
I simply have to talk about Valencia. Valencia is a massive desert zone located on the East side of the map. To survive in the desert you need to make and drink tea to reduce the chances of heat stroke. There are also deadly sandstorms and monsters are even stronger at night. Horses can’t deal with the heat and will be slowed so you need to use camels to get around. This zone sets the game apart from any other MMO because it has survival game aspects.
Besides these, there are also a few other small mechanics which make this game completely unique:
- Climbing/Sitting/Crawling – You can climb over anything which is the right height, lean against walls, sit on anything which is the right height, or actually crawl on the floor. This is a really cool feature which you won’t find in any other MMO.
The PvE in Black Desert is pretty average. The difficulty of the mobs right now is too easy for most players and the main issue is that you can spam pots, even while CC’d. Due to this there isn’t really an incentive to group up. There are currently two open dungeons in Black Desert. Archeage didn’t have the best dungeons/raids that we’ve ever seen in an MMO but the long list of world bosses definitely made up for it! Black Desert doesn’t have any instancing so what we have in compensation is boss scrolls. You basically go to an area in the world and spawn the boss into the world. There might be several people also doing the same boss at the same time but it will only show the boss/wave of mobs you are fighting. There are world bosses as well which are breathtaking to look at but yet again the mechanics are lacking and they are a little too easy and more of a zergfest.
Black Desert is an open-world PvP game. The PvP system is similar to in Lingeage 2 with a karma system and the chance to drop items when your karma is low enough. Guard NPCs will also attack a character with low character.You don’t really get anything from doing it besides entertainment though, and a low karma character can be attacked with no penalties. The flagging system requires a little bit of work but DAUM EU are currently working on this. However, there is a lot of GvG. Guilds can compete to own nodes (zones) and wars can be declared on a rival guild at any time if your guild has the gold to do so. There are also open world PvP arenas and closed off battlegrounds where you can fight without the death penalty taking effect.
Cash Shop, P2W?
Depending on who you ask, you will get a completely different answer to the question “is this game P2W?”. After coming from Archeage I can happily say that this game is in no way P2W. Before a cash shop was introducted the Korean publishers stated that they wanted to say as far away from P2W as possible and I think they have actually done quite a good job. Compare Black Desert to any other MMO and you’ll agree with me. The cash shop is mostly cosmetic with costumes, dyes, furniture, pets, etc. You can also buy inventory slots, warehouse slots, name changes, skill reset scrolls, etc.
The only “P2W” items on the cash shop are minor stats on costumes. However, costumes are character restricted, untradeable and as I said, compare this to any other MMO and you’ll agree it isn’t P2W. There is nothing on the cash shop that you “need” in order to progress or can’t earn in game.
Black Desert is a great game with so much potential. I haven’t even began to go into everything this game has to offer and the only way you can fully get a feel for what this game is like is by trying it out. There are a few issues but many things highlighted in this review are being worked on already. Pearl Abyss know that the game isn’t perfect yet and they are working hard to make it the best game yet. Many people who have tried this game say “this is the best game I’ve played in 10 years” or “this game reminds me of how I felt when I first played WoW”. I would highly recommend trying the game out. If you’re interested you can buy the game for EU/NA at www.blackdesertonline.com.