Actually playing Black Desert Online

After my self-inflicted morning of pain trying to get Black Desert Online to run via streaming to the Steam Link, I finally got to play the game yesterday afternoon and evening. What a feeling of d�j� vu I had! Not because BDO is similar to other games, but because my initial reaction was just like that of so many other bloggers. I feel like I could steal someone else’s Day 1 post and paste it here and it would reflect my experience almost perfectly.

I was overwhelmed and kind of confused. The UI was an abstract painting done with letters and symbols splattered across my screen. The combat system confused me (still confuses me) but so far seems redundant anyway since you can just spam attacks and kill early game enemies. There was an evil cloud bossing me around making me feel like I was playing the worst kind of theme park MMO (y’know the kind of game where you never have to make a decision on your own) but it was dragging me through maps strewn with icons that have to mean something to someone.

Honestly if BDO was truly free-to-play AND I hadn’t read a lot of blog posts about it, I might’ve just given up on it. But everyone is now writing about quest logs stuffed full of things to do, and lots and lots of systems that completely ignore quests. I know this stuff is out there but I guess I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m only level 10-ish, and you go from level 1 to level 5 in your first 10 minutes or so of playing.

My new character is a warrior, which means (for now at least) sword and board. He’s learned a bunch of combat skills and as best I can figure, some of them get bound to hot keys and others are bound to key-combos. I say ‘as best I figure’ because I haven’t used most of them. Even his most basic attacks are bombastic spectacles of flames and sparks, and early game enemies are tiny woodland creatures. Usually I can’t see them or their health bars and I often keep attacking long after they are dead. Then I loot their corpses, one by one, hitting R to open the corpse and R again to take what is in it. No area loot feels so old-school. It’s like I’m playing BDO on my abacus!

My initial feeling is that combat looks badass but feels pretty trivial, though again, I’m level 10, and anyway I have a zillion MMOs with good combat. I didn’t come to BDO to fight things, I came to become a capitalist or something. I came for the crafting/strategic parts of the game that I know will show up before too long. Combat felt a lot more fun using a controller than the keyboard and I’m glad I have that option.

I did stick a toe into the Amity system since I was kind of at a loss as to what else to do when I got done button-mashing my way through beetles, foxes, wolves and imps. The Amity system is kind of like a CCG only the ‘cards’ are bits of knowledge you find through exploring and talking to people. It seems like something that will be quietly fun once I get a good collection of knowledge to work with.

I also need to use a Contribution Point (which I think came from questing) to unlock a Node. I’ve read a lot about Nodes but for some reason I can’t figure out how/where to go to unlock one. I thought I’d open the map and do it from there but the map intimidates the heck out of me. I need to come to grips with the iconography of it because aside from the icons of people on it, nothing makes a lot of sense to me.

One of my problems is I have no sense of place. You initially spawn into the game in a tiny village (I think it’s tiny), but the tutorial system has you almost immediately ‘auto-run’ to a quest. Surprisingly that quest takes you to the next town/hub/place and since I auto-ran to it I feel a little bit adrift. It’s like the difference between driving to a new place and taking a cab there. In the cab you’re just kind of idly looking out the window and not really paying attention to where you are. There were people in that spawn-in village so I guess at some point I should go back there, if I can figure out where it is. I didn’t take note of the name of the place but I think it’s NW of where I am now (the Western Gate something).

Another goal is figuring out how to turn off the ‘banners’ that pop up across the top of the screen telling me that two guilds I’ve never heard of have gone to war somewhere, or that something is for sale on a market I have no access to, and even more importantly find a way to turn off the random key prompts that constantly tell me I can use Q to sit down (as I’m running through a forest) or that CTRL switches between mouse cursor and movement (something you pretty much have to learn in the first 2 minutes of playing).

Anyway, there’s time. Now that I plunked down my $30 I can play forever without spending another dime if I don’t want to. Coming into it I knew BDO wasn’t going to be a game I mastered in the first day (or the first week or month, for that matter).

Oh! I almost forgot two super-important (to me) details. First, aside from gold spammers, chat has been decent. Not that I pay a lot of attention to it, but when I have glanced at it what I haven’t seen is people flaming each other over nothing. Second when you encounter another player there’s an option called “Intro” or something like that. I peeked at a few of these and twice what I found was an invitation to role-play! That delighted me. Not that I’m much of a role-player myself, but I’m something of a role-play fanboy. I’ll happily skulk around the periphery of an RP session just to hear what folks come up with. Crikey I’d almost forgotten roleplaying existed in MMORPGs, so I was really happy to see that.

This map hurts my brain!
This map hurts my brain!

10 thoughts on “Actually playing Black Desert Online

  1. It kinda annoys me how fast that they move you out of that village because you do need to go back if you plan on doing any kinda trading. That black spirit is going to lead you to the major “city” of the zone, which is the next stop, and after that I’d just ignore it for a bit. Then you can take your time and just explore the area and figure out how to make it back to that starting area. (You can click anywhere on the map and you can get on screen directional help to lead you there)

  2. It was only when I made my second character that I remembered that village even existed! The first time through I was so confused I completely forgot about it. Many (most) MMOs have completely uninspiring openings but BDO is among the worst in that respect. Fortunately the world is so drop-dead gorgeous that sheer visual impact carries you through until you finally feel ready to wrest the controls from the dead hand of that blasted Black Spirit and discover for yourself just what this game that you’re “playing” is all about.

    As for the UI, I would strongly advise a good 30-60 minutes spent going through all the options with a fine-tooth comb. I have never played an MMO that benefited quite so much from having the defaults changed.

  3. Yeah I clicked on an option that said something like “Simplify UI” and nothing changed that I could see. I’ll do as you suggest and sift through all those options and see what I can clean up!

  4. If you enjoy Role Play, there’s also an official RP-only channel in chat. You have to turn it on in your chat options (click the options in the chat window area), but it might also provide a way to hear RP or find out where RPers hang out.

  5. I’m starting to this of this game less in terms of other high-fantasy MMOs, and more and more like EVE for the simple fact that there’s no place you visit that you won’t find yourself going back to. Most MMOs let you leave towns in the dust, but so many people are still hanging around the Velia-Western Guard Camp-Olvia corridor and can actually spend so much time there not just TCB but playing and advancing.

    My only suggestion is to not bother with auto-run unless A) you’ve memorized the route and can sleepwalk through it, or B) are doing a trade run (and even then don’t just up and leave, as you can get stuck on stuff…including the bodies of bandits that spawn to attack you…as I found out the hard way!)

  6. Yeah I am, as the video tutorial puts it, “not an autorun kind of person” generally but I was just following the tutorial at first. Then I started using it when I got all turned around. But I’m going to break that habit. Though one thing that DID amuse me about autorun was the constant collisions with others on the road… 🙂

    But thanks for the idea of approaching it more like EVE than a traditional zone-zone, low-level -> high kind of game.

  7. As you log in daily, there will be a little reward icon in the lower right corner of the screen – click that and collect “loyalty”. Within a few days you will have enough loyalty points to buy a pet in the Pearl shop – pets do the looting for you ; )

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