Black Desert Online, An Opinion

I just realized, trying to find the category for it, that I’ve managed to mostly not mention Black Desert at all. That would probably be because I typically don’t play it, or even think about it, very often. Last time I played it was after Striker was released, but before it’s awakening was, so 2nd quarter 2017, give or take?

On the whole, I don’t dislike the game. It’s a fantasy version of EVE, as far as I’m concerned, though there are plenty of flaws in that comparison. My problem in 2017 is that I was playing solo and that makes the grind so much more monotonous. I even tried a guild, which kept me playing for maybe an additional week or two by giving me something to do.

My brother felt like trying it again though, as he had only played the trial account spun off my purchased account, so he picked it up on sale and we’ve been poking around in it for about a week.

It’s, well, pretty much as I remember it. What’s weird is that I have a somewhat different take on some of it’s features now than I did before. One of them is the always connected and afk nature of the game.

I hadn’t really though of it that deeply in the past, to be honest. It became a matter of convenience. A way to improve my character even when I’m not able to actually play that I just accepted. I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse it of being sinister, but I do believe it’s a deliberate business decision. Sure, it costs a little more in bandwidth, but it keeps the client open and reduces the barriers for you to play. Instead of sitting down and saying, “well, I don’t really feel like logging in today,” you end up with “I’m already logged in, might as well at least rotate my crops and sell my fish.” It helps keep the player active and active players spend money.

That’s one of the criticisms I see around BDO all the time, that it’s pay to win. I think I only half agree with that. I’m willing to agree that the game is overtly set up and designed to make you spend money, and that depending on which aspects of the game you enjoy, that may require a certain amount of money to be spent. However, if you’re willing to spend, say, the $15/month that the typical sub costs, I don’t know that it’s really that big of a deal.

The two problems I’m aware it’s had in the past were the ghillie suit ordeal, a costume/clothing item that hid your name or something, and pets.

The suit I can understand and relate to, their costumes tend to be fairly expensive $22-36USD, roughly 19-30EU, each. I personally feel that’s a little excessive for cosmetics, but that’s me. The problem with the suit was that hiding you name, or whatever it was it did, gave you a mechanical advantage in PvP, which is a central component of the game. A cash shop only item that gives you an advantage, especially against other players, is pretty much a textbook example of pay to win.

Pets are kinda, sorta similar? Most groups run on either free for all or rotating loot, I presume. If you’re on the default, free for all, pets can have a pretty strong impact on how much loot you get. Pets automatically loot anything flagged as lootable. It’s on a timer, I think the base is once every 10 seconds and it can go down to 4 if you really work, and spend the money, to do so. Good example here is yesterday I forgot to pull my two pets out and we were (accidentally) on free for all. His two base level pets pretty much beat me to 95% of the loot until I figured out what was going on. Since pets are mostly a cash shop only item, this means if you’re playing in groups with no pets, you’re probably not going to get much, if any, loot. I’d say that’s pretty close to pay to win territory. The catch being that basic pets around around $9USD, so one a month wouldn’t be that bad. Unless, I dunno, there was a really useful consumable that lasted, say 30 days and cost, I dunno, $15USD?

Well, there is. The “Value Pack.” They rather sneakily give you a super cheap one during the tutorial. It’s a seven day version, and most of the perks are of little value to me. The extra 16 inventory slot and storage slots, though, are a godsend. When this item wears off, tomorrow morning, it will immediately lock down all my storage because they’ll all be over the limit. With storage being full, my little worker network will shut down. They won’t gather anything if storage is full, even if there’s already a slot holding it in storage.

That means to continue playing effectively, I have to either heavily trim what I store or buy another value pack. I have enough “loyalties” to buy another week or two two days worth, but a seven one day pack costs fourteen days worth of loyalty points. I could squeeze a total of another three weeks two days out of that. Then it’s pay up or go home. I’m not opposed to paying, really, but then I can’t put that monthly money towards things like pets, placing them firmly in the pay to win price range.

Whoa, almost a thousand words and I haven’t even talked about server chat yet. It’s so bad as to be nearly worthless. The fact that anyone manages to get a question on screen, much less answered, is a miracle in and of itself. The overall quality of server chat is “4-chan.” Certainly not a good face on a community that largely ignores it, I think.

I think I’m gonna shut up now. This is way longer than I anticipated. Decent game, major flaws.

Y’all stay safe out there. If you can’t defend your camp in PvP, it’s not your camp any more.

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