The third and final Black Desert Online Korean closed beta is over and once again we were part of it. Black Desert is making its way to North America and Europe in 2015 and this is the best time to learn all about this highly anticipated MMORPG. As far as anticipated MMO games go, Black Desert is most likely to be ranked number one on most of the lists that players are making right now. And for once the hype seems to be justified.
If you don’t know much about this game, or nothing at all about it, then we recommend you to catch up by reading and/or watching our detailed and comprehensible Black Desert second closed beta hands-on impressions. Done? Alright, let’s move on to the third beta and cover some of the major changes, improvements and additions it brought to the game.
First off, Pearl Abyss added channels to the servers, the idea being that these help when things get a bit crowded, avoiding queues, for example. And it did so at the beginning of the beta, when a large amount of players wanted to enter the game. This is way more practical than having a lot of servers that will end up being merged due to the likeliness of one or more servers having fewer players than expected, as in any other MMO. A few days later the server load was a bit lower and the 4 starting channels were reduced to a single one. You can play with the same characters in any channel without restrictions, something that you can’t do when you have different servers, but you can’t change channels without logging out (so there’s no channel change abuse). This is a good choice, since it allows the developers to have a better control of the playerbase by adding and removing channels to a server.
There were quite a few visual improvements to the game, with the most noticeable one being the more detailed characters. The character creation system is the point where you’ll be able to notice the improvements, in case you’ve been part of the second beta. For what we can tell, there were some upgrades to the skin textures and the hair shader, which allow for much more diverse and detailed characters. We also spotted some changes to the inner clothing and a few additions such as new and beautiful armors. Now the Sorceress can wear a very revealing sideboob armor! The creation system is likely the most advanced in an MMO game so far and if you don’t believe us, just check how someone actually made a perfect Geralt from The Witcher series!
However, we weren’t treated to any of the new classes yet, so we’re still not completely sure how it will turn out in the end. We know how the Giant, Sorceress, Female Ranger and Warrior look and play but still have no clue about the other ones revealed or rumored so far: Tamer, Valkyrie, Wizard, Blader and Archer.
Black Desert Online: Sorceress Character Creation
Black Desert Online: Female Ranger Character Creation
Black Desert Online: Giant Character Creation
Black Desert Online: Warrior Character Creation
You can customize your character even further with the new dye system. The dye system allows you to change the colors of the clothing and armor, but has to be bought from an NPC before using. You can buy different types of dye that give you distinct tones, but don’t expect to get something too flashy because luckily, Pearl Abyss decided to limit the tones you can get. Since this is a feature that allows you to be just that little bit different from other players, there’s the high possibility of seeing it as a cash shop item, but nothing is certain yet.
The high level of detail is extensible to the character’s look in the game world. After some battles you’ll see just how your armor is deteriorating and your character can become all bloody and dirty. It’s a really cool touch that adds some credibility to the frantic battles. You can repair your equipment by going to a blacksmith NPC.
In such a crazy and violent world, it’s dangerous to go alone – here, take this!
The third closed beta introduced the pet system and we managed to try the first pet, which is the easiest one the players will be able to get: the cat, which is free to get by completing a quest. There are more pets available in shops spread across the game world and they will certainly offer fiercer companions than cats. There doesn’t seem to be much to the cat for now, besides following the player around and doing some idle animations. We’re pretty sure the cat will be a mean, lean killing machine in the final version – either that or he’ll spend most of his time purring, looking cute and licking his paws.
The knowledge system is a big innovation in this game and something that helps bring the world to life, making the player feel like he’s exploring a place where real rules apply. One of the most important subjects is the monster health bar unlock. What this means is that the first few times you kill a new monster you won’t see its health bar depleting, you’ll only see it changing color – the color change is something that didn’t happen in the second closed beta, so now this is far less confusing for players who are just beginning. This is a representation of how your character is calculating the average health that the enemies possess, and when that is completed, the health bar will deplete as it usually does in other games. There were improvements to the knowledge system notifications, previously we only added text messages and now we also have some icons and reminders in the UI to know what we learned. The knowledge system also works with things such as NPCs, locations, objects and more.
A new feature allows you to summon a monster from items. You can see the monsters from other players but you can’t attack or be attacked by them unless you are in the same party. The summoned bosses are easy versions of open world bosses you can find around, so It’s like a practice or preview for you alone or in small party, also a challenge depending on your level. Those items are given from the Black Spirit, and you have to complete them in order to progress, so these quests are mandatory.
On a side note, the Black Spirit and Story Quests lines are different but may coincide at some point. Both are important to complete in order to progress. You can’t carry more than a handful of quests pending from Black Spirit, so you must complete those to unlock more. It also gives you some good stuff, like weapons, enchant stones, summon bosses, etc… When you carry the maximum number of quests pending from the Black Spirit there is a voice reminding you all the time that you need to complete them – you can probably hear that annoying voice in some of our videos, and there is a Black Spirit icon in the bottom-right side also as indication of that.
Other additions include swimming, an improved user interface, more and improved quests, many new cinematics (but still voiceless), and new gear to buy (which was very expensive during the beta). Although we didn’t manage to try PvP due to the level requisites, we know that Black Desert has many open world PvP arenas where players can train combat without incurring in any penalties, besides having to use potions to replenish your health after each battle. Just as in the previous beta, the overall opinion is that PvP is still going through a lot of balancing. The guild karma system was also a bit controversial since players managed to abuse it by dying on purpose and thus influence the karma.
But there are a lot more additions to this beta that we won’t cover in detail here – we could go on and on about it for a long time.
Black Desert looks beautiful as ever, even better than before, and the transition between night and day is one of the most impressive ever seen in a game, and the volumetric shadows are really good. Nonetheless, this MMO still suffers from a severe pop-in issue. While it can be fairly noticeable, we would gladly consider it a fair price to pay for the seamless and impressive world. But we’re still not sure if this issue is a real problem and could be easily fixed for the final release, or if it’s just due to the location (Europe) being extremely distant from the server zone. We’re betting on the latter.
In the end, this final Black Desert Korean closed beta proves once again that the game is shaping up to be an awesome MMO. Not only it had tremendous potential in theory, now it has a lot of it in practice. But in the end of the day what makes us the most pleased about it is how Pearl Abyss is improving the game A LOT, listening to feedback and, quite frankly, doing an amazing amount of work in what looks like so little time to us.
The Korean open beta is just around the corner and we’re extremely curious to see what new additions it will bring. But we’re even more hyped at the prospect of the Black Desert’s North American and European beta beginning early 2015, so all in all, we’re confident that 2015 will be the Black Desert year. MMORPGs need some heavy hitter to shake the stagnation that the genre is going through for many years and while this game won’t be perfect, it could be damn well the next best thing.
Hands-on impressions by FreeMMOStation.com and Rendermax