Now I’m just not into MMOs or multiplayer games in general. The engagement with other people in a virtue world it one that intimidates me and I like being a lone wolf if I’m honest. But I got the chance to play the long awaited Black Desert Online on Xbox One. This MMO came out a few years ago on Steam, but now has finally found a way onto Microsoft’s current generation console. So what drew me in? Well I managed to play Black Desert Online on its original launch and now I wanted to see how Pearl Abyss has transferred their massively popular onto console. Let’s find out.
Black Dessert offers players a compelling journey of RPG elements and character development integrated into a fantasy epic of self-discovery. You play as a protagonist who awakens with no memory and is guided by a sinister and mysterious creature known simply as Black Spirit. You devout your trust into the evil looking cloud (seriously you can tell its pure evil with its big red eyes and creepy childlike voice) and together you’ll discover who you are and the secrets of Black Desert.
That’s pretty much it, go off, build your character and become your true self. That’s what the marketing keeps stating and everything about that slogan is pretty true. The plot itself doesn’t stand out and the delivery for plot events and quests can be rather watered down and dull. However what is fascinating is the immense world of Black Desert Online. There is an interesting lore interloping a complex history of a deadly plague, 30 years’ worth of war and the merging of humans and creatures into a gruelling class system.
Black Desert provides a compelling world thriving with life and complexities that help add depth to exploration and some elements of gameplay. The world is littered with neat dynamics to help it alter with each passing day and plenty of activities to complete, making sure you’ve kept engaged throughout. Black Desert also harbours plenty of smaller dynamics that keep you invested during your travels such as keeping your horse healthy during long treks across the game world (there’s no quick travel). You can fish, band together to fight armies of orgs and engage in all-out war.
Although the amount of events and mechanics here is impressive, the poor explanation on them or the lack of a structured learning curve meaning you’ll be aimless grinding until you figure it out. Or read up online what you should be doing. I had to pausing what I was doing and read up online on what I should be doing. Doing this without any natural learning through gameplay broke the immersion a little too often.
Black Desert Online displays an immense combat system that’s highly enjoyable and satisfying. Choosing from several interesting classes of characters you’ll be able to play out a variation of unique fighting styles and special abilities from each class. These classes range from Bersker, Sorceress, Knight, Ranger and a couple others. There’s plenty of experimentation and replay value that’s truly diverse with each class. Even with a grinding nature to levelling up, Black Desert ensures players feel the power of their character will an awesome array of attacks and special abilities that help devastate the battlefield. Fighting a group of enemies alone or with friends can make turn out to be an epic display of visual beautiful and spectacle. There’s PVP to help flesh out the substance of combat and levelling.
Characters classes look awesome although one annoying point I must bring up, is that each class is gender locked. I remember this being an issue when Black Desert came out on originally on PC and it’s a shame they’ve not altered this. It's an uncompromising attitude to customisation, despite there being many elements you can alter. Berskers are all male and Rangers are all female and so on. This is just an odd design choice and for a game that proclaims you can be your true self, they have implemented some rules which contradict that slogan.
While Black Desert has some issues with how it implements teaching players the roles, it has excellent pacing as you’re never feel as though you’re being forced to level up. Black Desert forces itself away from the WOW logic of forcing you to level up to enjoy the game and instead pushes freedom in gameplay. Here, players are rewarded for exploration, completing tasks and combat like any other game but the freedom to do as you please and yet still feel highly functional even if you’re only level 10.
Black Desert’s arrival onto console is warmly welcomed but it’s worth considering that there are still a few bugs and creases for the developers to iron out. I would say that with time Black Desert will improve in performance and rid any graphical glitches which pop up often. Its UI is also not console friendly and this grinds my gears when developers don’t understand that a UI for a PC game will 9 times out of ten, not work well on consoles. It’s a rough/flawed diamond but one which should improve.
Black Desert is a highly engaging MMO and with time will be better. However it’s transition onto consoles means there’s plenty of rough patches to smooth out with bugs and UI flaws. It’s good fun but it’s a shame the developers didn’t remove the gender locked classes or improve the flow of the story/learning of key mechanics. Considering the price point and you don’t need to pay monthly for it as well, it’s worth checking out.
++ Interesting environments and lore
+ Looks very pretty
+ Plenty of content
+ Great level of customisation (for the most part)
-- Steep learning curve
- A few visual bugs
- Some major limitations in customisation
An Xbox One review code was provided by Pearl Abyss for the purpose of this review.