As much as I enjoyed FFXIV last year, it did go a little overboard on the notion that everything worth doing was restricted to instanced zones – most notably, that the game’s story frequently hit stopping points where you were unable to proceed until you got a group together to clear mandated instances.
So, when someone sold me on Black Desert Online as having no instanced content and no mandated grouping, I decided that I’d try it out as a change of pace.
I know, I’m not supposed to be playing MMOs at all; it always winds up with me losing another month of my free time to Everquest. I will try to be stronger this time.
BDO does have a couple of selling points beyond no instances, of course. It gained its initial notoriety in the west on the strength of its character generator – which is, if I’m honest, actually rather daunting, enough so that there are sites that you can download preset faces from if you’re inclined to make your character look like your favorite celebrity but lack the personal skill. It also follows the trend towards action combat and away from tab-target-and-mash-a-rotation, which has pluses and minuses. It’s rather more engaging than traditional MMO combat, but it sets the barrier to entry pretty high and excludes a good portion of genre fans.
I’m enjoying it, personally. Much like TERA, it lets you take on fights you really shouldn’t be trying solo, as long as you’re good at getting out of the way when the hammer comes down. Every time I’ve hit a Co-Op Recommended quest, I’ve been able to get through it without needing to, you know, socialize with other humans. This begs the question of why I’m playing an MMO in the first place, I realize, but I am comfortable with the contradiction.
Oh, and it is brutally obtuse. It is chock-full of systems that WILL have you browsing Wikis to find out exactly what the heck is going on. You have, for example, three kinds of experience, and you gain them in different ways. You also have things like a personal stamina bar, which determines how long you can sprint or dodge and the like, and you increase the length of this stamina bar by running around on foot, so if you spend too much time riding horses to get around it will handicap you somewhat. Likewise, eating food isn’t necessary to regain health or to survive, but if you regularly eat and drink you will increase your maximum hit points.
Ironically, the thing that may keep me playing this (and off EQ) is the sheer opaqueness of the game. There is a lot of fun to be had here, but it’s not all on the surface, and I think that’s what I’m looking for right now.