Black Desert Online, the Korean sandbox MMO turned buy-to-play for western release, is now available. Its launch trailer explores the MMO’s horizons, while tantalizing.
It’s a sad fact that localization takes longer and longer as games grow larger, especially so with respects to MMOs. Black Desert Online launched in Korea in 2014 and its publisher Daum has been hard at work preparing the game for wider release since then. Japan and Russia came next, in part due to their friendliness to free-to-play MMO structures. Today is our turn. Black Desert Online has officially launched in both North America and Europe starting now.
As alluded to, Black Desert Online‘s western release delay is in part due to a reworking of gameplay towards a buy-to-play MMO. Similar in part to Guild Wars 2, players will pay an initial price and then have access to the entirety of Black Desert Online going forward with no subscription. Again similar to Guild Wars 2, Black Desert Online does feature a cash shop of cosmetic items like costumes and weapon skins, as well as “convenience” items. Though it’s important to note that there’s also been some controversy over some high-priced items that can impact gameplay significantly.
As befits an MMO’s launch, publisher Daum Games has released an eye-popping launch trailer. Admittedly, trailers for Black Desert Online up to this point have been, well, disconcertingly underproduced. This launch trailer, however, does a much stronger job of showing off Black Desert Online‘s strengths. Viewers are given a tour of the expansive landscape of the MMO, shown through the veil of the game’s shifting day/night cycle. Combat is teased in brief intense sequences, and while story is left understated, there’s no doubt Black Desert Online hides many secrets for players to discover.
For those unfamiliar with Black Desert Online, please don’t make the assumption that this is another World of Warcraft-type theme park MMO. Black Desert Online is a mixture of classic Korean MMO and classic MMO sandbox ideals, flavored with artfully restructured free-to-play mechanics for a buy-to-play audience. It’s disarmingly unique, and also quite a bit overwhelming of an experience considering the theme park MMOs of the past 10 years.
It begins with a traversal system that allows for no fast travel. Everyone has to rely on their own two feet, or maybe a horse if one can afford it. From there, players will have the option to progress however they like: questing and story, grinding PvE enemies, PvP gank squads, guild-oriented activities, crafting, or profiting through trade. Trying to do everything could prove overwhelming, but the opportunity for a variety of layered gameplay experiences is there.
Black Desert Online‘s launch hasn’t been without its controversies, as MMO launches tend to go. As mentioned prior, several cash shop options provide meaningful gameplay-altering effects. Those include pets that will pick up items, making grinding much more efficient compared to normal, a costume that hides a players name, allowing for advantages in PvP, and worse yet, experience gain boosts that lets paying players progress much faster than others. Daum also locked out pre-orderers from accessing the game’s head start for not pre-ordering soon enough. It’s always something with an MMO launch.
Altogether, however, Black Desert Online players are content with launch so long as the servers hold up — and they have.
Black Desert Online is now available on PC. It can be purchased for $29.99 and has no subscription, but it does feature a cash shop for costumes and convenience items.