The Tale of a Dark Knight Named Arthwyn
So begins the tale of a Dark Knight named Arthwyn; Stirring from a slumber, confused and shaken. There are so many questions. What was that little black cotton ball with red eyes floating? Who was that lady in a hood? How in the hell did I wind up in this crappy armor, I certainly remember myself dressing better. How drunk did I get last night? Where is my horse? Who is that voice that keeps talking to me? Why are my limbs moving as if someone is controlling them from another universe? What the hell is Black Desert Online?
The Requisite Info
How we enter the world of Black Desert is a tale as old as time. You wake up and have no memory of the events that have transcribed to put your character in their current position. In this case, it seems our heroes have made a deal with a devil. If we want our memories back, well, we need to cater to the whim and amusement of that little black cotton ball that floats in our faces. Black Desert Online (BDO) is relatively new to the Xbox. It was released on March 4, 2019, but it is not a new game. It was first released on PC in 2015 and the Xbox edition is not in its final form. There are 3 years of updates, character classes, gear, bosses, horses and more that are in our future. I, for one, am thrilled. BDO boasts 18 million registered subscribers worldwide as of April 2019 (and that is just the pc version) and it is easy to see why. Let’s dig in, shall we?
Character creation. I could spend literal hours building a character and never see the opening sequence and be perfectly happy about this. Side note: The classes are gender locked so, no, at this moment you cannot have a female warrior, but take heart! There is an update in the future that introduces a Valkyrie. I have never in my gaming life seen customization the likes of this. The tag line for BDO is “Become your true self”. They. Are. Not. Joking! I have successfully made a character look quite a bit like me (although she has bright blue hair and different colored eyes…this is fantasy, right guys?). The amount of control you have over your character is mind-boggling. The face is separated into small sections you can manipulate…like…the whole thing! You can do the same thing with hair! Like a certain style, they have available but it is too short? Long? Flat? Poofy? You can manipulate each hairstyle to fit your desires. I could write an entire article just on the customization options alone, but I won’t.
Entering the world is a bit like what I described above, disjointed and confusing. If you don’t mind reading the quest text (and boy is there a ton of text) you can find your way pretty quickly. There is a handy-dandy dotted line leading your character to the next step in the current quest, or if you miss Navi that much you can change the line to a fairy that floats in the direction you need to go. Combat is fun and unique. It feels more like a fighting game with combos and the use of multiple buttons to pull off some sick moves. It’s a big change from pressing 1,1,2,3 on a keyboard.
A Welcome Change to The Old Formula
BDO has a new take on questing too! Tired of the constant “Go here, kill x amount of y”? Well, I’ve got news for you! You can change what kind of quests you are being offered by NPCs! While you still have to follow the main quest (yes there are still SOME kill x amount of y type quests) you can elect to be offered quests that rely on gathering materials or trading or even fishing! If you wanted to make that Musa of yours a fisherman in his off hours, you could level doing just that. On average the quest rewards are very generous (bordering on too generous). They do an amazing job of making the player feel rewarded for all their effort.
Meaty and Glorious
All in all this game is massive. I won’t lie to you, it can be confusing. The mechanics, economy, and professions in this game are complex. They will take a googling to understand what’s going on, why, and how. The official website for the Xbox edition has a lovely, albeit very basic, guide to starting you on the rabbit hole of life skills. I love the horse training feature of this game, so I want to make money doing it. Well, it is NOT easy. You have to rely on spawns, luck, and a whole lot of riding. You have to catch the horse, register it, and then finally train the horse. If you want you can sell the horse as is or try your luck at breeding. Most professions are equally complex. They have no clear path and you will have to do some research outside the game to really understand them. While this can be frustrating at times, I love it, the complexity of the skills make them feel robust and really well developed.
Do I have a final take? This game is amazing. Like Ah-mazing. It is full, rich and incredibly entertaining. It has its fair share of hiccups, for instance, during my session last night the market system crashed, but the devs were there and vocal within minutes. You’ll see some of the usual bugs like getting hung up on walls and sometimes you will have to manually initiate follow up quests. All in all, though, the Graphics, Combat, Quests, and Lore are all so very good. If you like ESO, WoW, or any of the other MMORPGs out there, I would recommend giving Black Desert Online a try. The standard edition is $29.99 but is also included in Xbox Game Pass, making it very easy for you to jump in. For now, I have got to get working on my third character. See you in-game!