I’ve commented on this before, but it truly is a sandbox lover’s dreamtime right now. All these years of starving for open ended games, and now it’s as though I’m at something of a buffet. Health concerns have been really preventing me from playing and writing lately otherwise I would have written about this one before, but let’s see if I can make up for some lost time with a bit of an infodump!
Black Desert is a sandbox game being developed by Korean company Pearl Abyss, and I’ve had my eyes on it since I became aware of its Korean progress in 2013. It was with much excitement that I saw it’s been picked up by Daum Games for a European and American audience. I am currently watching it as avidly as I can find the time to do so, hoping that it is not Westernized too much. Founder’s Packs are already available, as is an estimated release date of Q1 2016, so it’s looking like I might not be waiting much longer! Learn more about the game and watch the trailer below.
But what is Black Desert beyond the newest sandbox game that I am raving about?
The first thing that excited me is that it is an open world, complete with castle sieges. In order to optimize the experience as much as they could, Pearl Abyss went about creating their own engine for the game, rather than using an existent one and trying to squeeze their features onto it. This also allows for new features beyond what we’ve come to find familiar in our MMO experience.
It’s a true open world – with travel that actually matters. You must walk, sail or ride across the game world. This is a great thing; not only because I think fast travel has really destroyed a great deal of the immersive fun of exploring worlds, but it allows for additional features like an expansive weather system that actually affects travel, and a fabulous trading system. Want to be a merchant?
Every major city has a Trade Administrator, where you can go to purchase trading goods. These goods are then taken around the world to be sold in other cities, with the final profit varying based upon things like supply and demand, distance traveled – there is even a mini game to simulate haggling with the Trade Administrator for a better price! You can even craft these items rather than purchasing them for an even higher price, and of course, taming and training mounts in the wild allows for a better travel experience – which means more profits for the aspiring merchant king!
The housing system is tied heavily into crafting, which I find very interesting. When you purchase a house – these are instanced – you can turn it into a fully customizable living space, or a crafting workshop. A crafting workshop allows you to hire an NPC workforce to aid you in gathering resources as well as crafting. Crafting in Black Desert isn’t the standard player clickfest, instead you direct your minions to aid you in your workshop.
It’s got parkour style movement that’s been compared to Assassin Creed’s movement styles, and action-oriented combat with no tab targeting. Player skill makes a difference!
Armor is not tied to classes – anyone can wear any armor – and it can be dyed! Huzzah! This is beautiful news for fashion slaves like me. I often find myself picking classes in games based entirely upon armor appearances, and then having a mixed experience with actually playing depending on how well fashion meshes with my preferred playstyle… so I find all armor for everyone to be an excellent and highly desireable system.
Hunting, fishing, farming, cooking, alchemy, refining, gathering, mount taming, pet breeding… there is just so much to do. Should I add house decorating to the list as well?
There are concerns regarding the microtransactions, but aren’t there always, particularly with games that originate in Asia? The Korean, Japanese and Russian versions of Black Desert are all completely free to play with cash shop purchases, but the European/American version will be buy to play with a cash shop. Many people in the various Black Desert communities are waiting for Daum to provide more answers regarding the cash shop model – will it be ported over unchanged despite the addition of a required box purchase? Will anything else be added to the ‘must buy to access’ list that is free in the other regions?
I have my concerns as well. Guild Wars 2, Secret World, and Elder Scrolls Online have shown that you can have a successful buy to play with cash shop model, but while Secret World and Elder Scrolls began with a subscription, none of them have versions of the same game that are already out in other regions with no box purchase. And beyond the cash shop; this interview also has me very concerned. You all know my preference for harsh, deadly games! Although I am aware that it is likely to increase the game’s appeal to many.
Curious how the NA/EU alpha test went? Check out this thread on the unofficial Black Desert reddit.
Like what you’ve heard enough to want to pre-order? Do so here.
Want to check out the classes and watch some videos? Do so here.
And just look at this character generation. My heart is all aflutter.