Black Desert Online has taken the MMO market by storm. This sandbox MMORPG has revived the gaming dreams of many, and left others confused on what the hype is all about. The Black Desert release was a mixed basket of folks getting exactly what they wanted and others realizing their expectations were entirely wrong. There are still many that are holding off on their purchase due to the game being a pay-to-play release in the west instead of free-to-play, like in the east. Today, we are going to take an in-depth look at all the good and bad in Black Desert Online and figure out if this really is worth the $30 investment.

The character creator is so extensive you can spend hours upon hours lost inside. It features the ability to customize every single part of your character. You can create the form of your eyes exactly as you want them and fill each eye with any color(s) available in the large pallet of options presented. Every body part and even your hair can be adjusted manually either with a slider or by going right onto the character and dragging the part to meet whatever form that you desire. If you fail to find enjoyment in exploring what you can make your character then there are plenty of preset options for you to choose as well. The options are limitless for the creative mind, and simple enough for those trying to get into the game ASAP.

The graphics of this game are extremely pleasing to the eye. If your system can max the settings out, then this becomes the most beautiful MMO you’ve ever seen graphically.Unfortunately, even maxed out there is some horrendous pop-in that starts anywhere from three feet in front of you and ends at the every end of your distance range. Currently, while around large groups of persons, (typically in cities) many players experience frame drops to 10-30 FPS. While the beauty does not disappoint, the level of detail at range and the optimization of the engine definitely does.

Black Desert has the most unique combat system that this writer has ever found in an MMORPG. Through a mixture of button presses and mouse clicks you are drawn into the combat with the innovative combo system. The hotbar is a thing of the past, as most of your skills are usable without ever touching a number key. The hotbar remains open for a few skills that have no combos and for those that are not a big fan of combos, but using it with combo-skills results in a slightly lowered attack power. There is a learning curve in place and an initial confusion of when to use what skills, but with a few days of practice you can easily find your own personal style of combat and skill usage.

Questing is a bit of an odd topic, since unlike in most MMOs, questing has nothing to do with leveling up. Instead it is used to unlock skill points, special rewards, and most importantly contribution points which are used to purchase buildings and connect cities for trade routes. Questing is often unrewarding, but pays an exclusive reward type to those that would choose to follow the storylines (even the repeatable ones) in the game. The system could easily be viewed as “done right” if half the quests in the game weren’t hidden behind two other systems of the game. It is a frustrating experience, but good enough to get by for any player with some patience.

Since the questing system is nothing to brag about, some may hope the story at least makes up for it. Unfortunately a lot of the story of Black Desert appears to be there just as filler. You awaken to a world you know nothing about having lost your memories and are greeted by a black spirit who follows you throughout the game. The black spirit should be the most interesting part of the entire story, but his lines all seemed to get lost in the translation and much of what he says makes no sense whatsoever or is presented incoherently. The side quests serve to teach game mechanics, and give you mini-adventures that don’t have any real excitement level. For example, one quest tasks you with reading plaques in a tomb for some unexplained purpose, before taking a strange turn to tell a random NPC to stop giving strange looks at the quest giver. It is all very generic, boring, or incoherent due to poor translation skills. Weeks into the game, you’ll find you still don’t know who you are, how you got here, or where ‘here’ actually is. The worst part is that since the story was already so bad anyway, you’ll find you don’t even care. Story is not something most MMORPG players care for, but Black Desert really let down those that do love following storylines.

Professions in this game are actually very poorly done. Due to a very limited and taxing market system it is difficult to actually buy items from other players and nearly impossible to sell most crafted items at a profit. On top of that, player trading is limited to food and potions in a failed attempt to prevent gold-spamming. Crafting in Black Desert is useless for making a profit and incapable of being used to help your friends unless you are cooking or making potions for them. Professions in MMORPGs are typically supposed to be for profit. They are there to allow you to have a profession which you can market just like in real life. Here you are limited to crafting for yourself however, and that’s not very fun.

PvP is one of the biggest topics of Black Desert. Currently PvP consists of open world combat where anyone around level 50 is prone to be attacked in combat zones. Even if you do not flag yourself for PvP you are still able to be attacked. Hostile players can ‘red flag’ any ‘good’ player and kill them at the result of a karma loss. If you die in PvP you lose experience, as well as every trade good on your person. Guild PvP functions through guild wars and sieges. Guild wars allow members of each guild to attack each other in any combat zone. Sieges are when guilds rally their members to attack/defend certain nodes in battles that reach hundreds in player participation. While the open-world PvP system can be very unfair to PvE-centered players PK-oriented players will love it. The guild wars are very well done in every way however. Running into enemy guild members is adrenaline-inducing. The scale of the castle sieges is huge and is the perfect experience for any real MMO to show how massive they can really get.

Black Desert Online is a revolutionary and innovative game that promises to keep most of its player-base interested for a very long time. It is very unique in good and bad ways, but those ways all come together to make an original experience that no other game today can fully compare itself to. While the western translations and voice acting are not anything to brag about, the rest of the game ported over splendidly. This game comes highly recommended to every MMO player that is not exclusively interested in leveling.