Black Desert Online second closed beta hands-on impressions (Part 2)

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CAMERA AND USER INTERFACE OPTIONS

This is a game that doesn’t leave the smallest details to chance; you have all the options you need to rearrange the user interface just the way you wish, dragging the chat box, map, health bars and everything else to wherever you want, including hiding the interface completely. You also have full camera control, so you can zoom in and out on your character, place the camera in different and unlikely positions and even add some cool filters to the mix. If you want to try your creativity and make some cool music videos just for fun, this game has all the necessary options.

ACTION COMBAT AND MOVEMENT

As you probably know for quite a while, Black Desert offers extremely fast-paced and weighty action combat. The combat system is basically the same as C9, with a lot of key combinations instead of a full shortcut bar. The speed is pretty much the same, more fast-paced than the first closed beta and this kind of speed seems more suited for duel or small scale combat – in large scale combat this kind of fast-paced arcade movements may turn out as a bit too much. Perhaps something a little bit more strategic and less speedy, like Vindictus, could be the best choice, but the studio is surely still tweaking combat before release.

You can use the shortcut bar with most of the skills, but the combat gameplay is pretty natural with the key combinations. The shortcut bar can be used only for a few skills and potions and that’s it. Black Desert includes auto aim or manual aim options, so you can choose your preferred style. You can take advantage of a magnetic reticle, similar to Blade and Soul, or you can use the manual aim and choose your target or pick from multiple hit boxes on big bosses with high precision. The auto-aim also offers a semi lock-on feature, so it’s great for the minor mobs, for farming/grinding, you can rotate the camera till certain angle without losing track of your target while attacking, but sometimes you don’t know where the attack goes exactly when there are multiple targets.

However, during this closed beta we stumbled across a few hiccups. Sometimes using the auto-aim you find yourself hitting an object instead of a mob and locked on to it. You can unlock by stopping the attack, but since there are usually some objects on the battlefield, this is something that is bound to happen a few times. Manual mode is much better for precision attacks, but as expected it requires a lot more accuracy and time to target the enemies, so don’t use it unless you have a few seconds to concentrate.

There is also a point and click movement mode that you can activate by pressing the Ctrl key anytime.

SIMULATION ASPECTS

Pearl Abyss added some interesting simulation aspects or restrictions to Black Desert that bring added depth to the MMORPG. To begin with, you cannot teleport magically, the only teleport is for your death respawn. When fishing, there is a timer before the fish rots, so don’t forget about it! There is a weight system, meaning that if your inventory becomes full, you will need some kind of transport, like a mount or a carriage to transport your goods. There is no level limit or item bound system.

You can get relationship benefits from NPCs by helping or just greeting them, and you need to get knowledge from monsters, places and other stuff in order to get quests or even see a mob HP bar. Unless you get that knowledge, sometimes you can’t even see battle information numbers.

QUEST SYSTEM

Black Desert definitely already has a lot of quests. It seems like every class has its own story path, but some quests intertwine and most of them are common to all classes – it seems that their paths become the same after a few levels in a unique main story.. There are different quest types, but in general, quests usually don’t give any experience points, just some at the start, but not that much. The more common reward from quests is contribution points, as well as coins that you can sell at the trade NPC for money and even skill points.

There are NPCs that give you items for rent. You can rent those items with contribution points. These points are shared by all your characters. These are required for things like node connection (essential for the trading system) or getting houses. Houses are just like any other node that requires contribution points to be used; you can always get those points back by disabling the node. There are also trade quests; you need to trade goods to complete them. There is a quest at level 35 that gives you a skill reset item.

Since you start playing the game, there is a black spirit companion that guides you and gives some quests when you level up. You will get some gear reward, or even your first mount (a donkey) at level 15.

You can play the game without doing a quest, since they are not required to level up, but you will severely lack on knowledge and other advantages and you will get lot less skill points than other people at same level that are doing quests.

PvE AND LEVELING

You can start leveling from level 1 just by hunting around. This is a completely hardcore grind friendly game at the moment of this beta, but this is obviously subject to change. It’s all cool at first, but after a while, when all the hype settles, that bitter grind feeling sinks in…

The leveling becomes really repetitive as soon as you leave your quests. Quests don’t give any experience, as mentioned before, but since there are quests that make you hunt some monsters, you get the experience from them. The only way to level up fast, at least in this closed beta, is to mindless grind, but hopefully this will be toned down during the next betas.

By hunting mobs you also gain skill points, so, the more you farm, the more skills you can level also. There is also an awakening system at level 40 for enhancing your skills. Anyway, it seems that all current high end content (level 40-50) needs to be polished and this will surely change a lot in the future.

Overall, let’s hope that Pearl Abyss adds another way to level up – grinding isn’t very interesting, but it’s not like they should reward players a lot for completing a quest. Striking a good balance between these aspects will be very important for pleasing all the gaming cultures worldwide – those who love to grind and those who prefer to complete quests to level up.

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