My cat woke me up last night in the wee hours of the morning. He likes to sleep on my feet, and sometimes, as last night, he flops across my ankles in such a way that I wake up with both feet on fire from cut off blood flow. 3:17 on the dot – I know this because I looked at the clock and had an epic battle with my willpower not to get up and run to the office to boot up Black Desert Online. I’m up now at 5:27 am, with my husband looking at me askance, wondering why I’m out of bed – the answer is quite simple, really. I want nothing more than to run to the office to boot up Black Desert – and since I can’t yet, here I am, sitting to write about it instead.
I only got in a few hours yesterday after the servers came online, but what a glorious few hours it was. This is the sandbox heaven I have been looking for. It’s not my perfect, ideal game, but finding that is an impossibility and this game comes pretty close.
The game begins with a cut scene showing off the beautiful environment, and then you wake up with the cutest companion at your side – a little black cloud with eyes. I think I took a million screenshots just of that little smudge. Once it introduces itself, and assures you that you can trust it (is it just me who thinks that no matter how adorable the package, that’s an inherently distrustful statement?), you’re off!
Alright, the game really begins with character generation. And here is where I am going to do something very uncharacteristic – if I start talking about how amazing the Black Desert character generation is, I’m going to take up my entire word count waxing enthusiasm. So instead I’ll just leave it at spectacular. Stupendous. You can dye three different parts of your hair – roots, main color and tips – you can change your pupil, lens and iris – it’s just … well, see what I mean? Let’s move on before I really do eat up my entire word count.
After just a few hours, I’ve spoken with a bunch of NPCs, fought hundreds of monsters, picked a ton of herbs, and purchased 3 houses. I’m like a little kid in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – do I want to slaughter monsters? Learn alchemy? Cooking? Tame horses? Fish? Try my hand at trading? Or maybe make furniture or become a weaponsmith… And those are simply the options that have presented themselves to me so far. When I kill animals, their corpses have options to butcher for meat, skin them, or scavenge fluids – all I need is the proper tools – I haven’t done any of these yet. But I will, as soon as I decide in which direction I want to head.
Combat is very action oriented, and like all action games, you can string together your combos for fun effects. I’m finding that my skill and attention plays a vital role in how well I do; if I phone it in and just start randomly clicking even a minor low level monster can get in some good hits on me. But when I’m on my game, I can take on much larger and more challenging prey. One thing that I am really loving is the knowledge system – learning about monsters requires fighting them. Beyond the skill level of knowing when to dodge and attack, until you have picked up the requisite experience fighting a monster type, you cannot see how many hit points it has. So that first tackle is a real thrill – if it starts to put a real beat on you, how much do you want to risk? How far will you let your health drop before trying to flee when you can’t see how badly you are injuring your opponent?
Nights are dark, and dangerous. Even with a lantern it’s difficult to see, and there are tougher monsters in the shadows. Weather affects travel, and I suspect it will end up playing a part in what I decide to do each play session – if it’s raining I may decide to stay in and craft or fish.
Keep an eye out for more. his was merely a quick first response after my initial play session – I will definitely be continuing to play and post about Black Desert!
I was having so much fun I rather forgot to take many screenshots of my own, so here are a bunch from the press kit. The game actually does look like this! It is truly breathtaking.