Black Desert Online may be a fresh game for Western audiences, but it is by no means a new game: available in beta since 2013 and as a complete release since 2014 for Korean players, the game is a solid package, way past the stage when various balance issues and bugs have to be ironed out. For Western players, it is a ripe fruit indeed: gone through all the usual pains of birth, it is now mature and fully capable of peddling its unique sort of approach to the MMO scene. The tendency in MMO-land has been a move towards the inclusion of more and more action elements in the combat systems, but BDO cuts right to the chase in this respect and goes all the way: the game feels like an action game wrapped into an MMO package at first glance. Of course, that doesn't mean its specifically MMO features have been neglected in any way.
As a matter of fact, some of the stereotypically painful MMO cliches have been lined up right where one would expect to find them. One such "problem-area" is the way the quests are structured: they're essentially your run-of-the-mill "go kill X goblins and bring back X goblin teeth or whatnot" sort of quests, which do tend to get repetitive, despite the action-laden combat and the generally solid and interesting reward system. Some may argue that this reward system is a tad over-complicated, and for someone just taking his/her first few dips in the game-world that may indeed hold true, in the long-run though, this intricacy is proven a solid asset.
Also very rewarding are the "side games" that allow players to take a welcome break from grinding every now and then and still continue building their characters while doing something radically different. Of course, I'm talking about the trade-node system which allows players to purchase such "nodes" in various cities and then link them up through trading routes. One then gets to hire workers to take care of the trading for him/her, workers who then require housing and food, so the entire trading part becomes a self-sustaining universe within the game, in constant need of tweaking and balancing.
The game lore and the actual game world are both surprisingly rich and vast, or rather, quite expectedly so because after all, we're not dealing with a free-to-play title here. Back in the days of its Korean infancy, BDO used to be such a FTP game, featuring annoying pay-walls here and there, thus effectively twisting players' arms to break open their wallets. The Western version of the game has to be bought. There are micro-transactions in it for various non-essential knick-knacks, but on the whole, once one buys it, he/she will have access to all its features forever.
Philip Thalberg is a Gosugamer...a denizen of the web's biggest and best destination for Dota2 coverage and competitive gaming in general.