Black Desert Online Gameplay (BDO Review 2019)
Image Credit: Black Desert Online Screenshot Winners - EU Aravel
Black Desert Online is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game created by Korean video game developer Pearl Abyss. Its gameplay offers players a unique and immersive experience. From action combat, to highly detailed interactions, this MMORPG doesn't fail to deliver. But all is not roses. Gameplay does have some draw backs.
- Zero tab targeting during combat? ☑ Check!
- Complexity and fine detail? ☑ Check!
- Gleeful exclamation over your empire's vast holdings, workers, and territories? ☑ Check!
- Hidden numbers, treasures, and mysterious hints during gameplay? ☑ Check!
Layered Detail: Black Desert Online gameplay is built with layer upon layer of complex goodness. If you think you prefer simplicity, then perhaps BDO will be that one game to change your mind. I used to think, the simpler the better. But now, when I try other simpler games, it's boring in a short amount of time. BDO complexity is one of my favorite aspects of the game. Think detail, detail, detail! Everything, from riding your mount, to cooking a meal, has layered detail built in.
Black Desert Online Gameplay Pros and Cons
- Versatile action combat using key combos, from easy to complex difficulty.
- Many visually satisfying combat skills to choose from that block, dodge, attack, aim, etc.
- Some truly epic looking combat manuevers with graphics to match their gameplay awesomeness
- Easy to heal or recharge yourself, but can cost you in Weight Limit via heavy potions.
- Character Creation:
- Extraordinary freedom in customizing your character's looks during character creation.
- Upload, download, and vote on Character Creation templates
- Many classes to choose from: most non-traditional and exciting
- Complex and Open Gameplay
- Vibrant crafting via Life Skills like Horse Training, Farming, Gathering, Processing, Cooking, Alchemy, Fishing, and Trading.
- Customizable mount system. Equip your horse with armor. Catch them in the wilderness, breed, train, stable, sell, battle, and race with them.
- Farming is an adventure. This is just like grandma's garden, where you have to tend crops by pruning and removing pests. It's a complex system that takes into account water levels, fertilizer, pesky birds, weather, and much more.
- Gathering has many incentives like rare drops and good return on time invested. A new gathering mini game was introduce in the last patch for a higher level zone.
- Cooking and Alchemy are both complex and have a good variety of recipes. Move along though, if you're looking for something simple and quick. All Life Skills take planning and most require Marketplace research, and that's just the beginning.
- World building and worker management that includes purchasing resource nodes and crafting houses with points you obtain from questing. Workers have to be hired, given time limited work assignments, promoted, fired, leveled up, trained, fed... *whew*
- NPC voice overs are often entertaining
- Detailed knowledge system, giving you incentives for every type of gameplay BDO offers. There are over 3k Knowledge entries to obtain via questing, grinding, crafting, exploring, etc.
- Massive title system - again, giving player incentives. Also it's just awesome to be known as "Know-It-All". There are 1,661 available titles from completing objectives in combat, Life Skills, questing, and just about anything you can think of.
- Attendance Rewards and Events - Each day you get a goodie just for logging in. Events help keep things interesting and you usually get a goodie like a chest, ect.
- Loyalties - similar to Pearls. You get them each day for logging in and you can spend them on a limited number of Cash Shop items like Weight Limits, Inventory Limits, etc. Loyalty items are expensive, so don't expect to be able to quickly and easily play for free.
- Pets - the pet system is fun. Again, there is a detailed system. And I love their cuteness. However, they require constant feeding and... but this is the pros section!
- Gender locked classes. Want a female Archer? Tough, you'll have to settle for a Ranger, which is nothing like the Archer.
- Weight Limits, Inventory Limits, Storage Limits: all add up and it can get cluttered very fast. Cash shop purchases help.
- Complexity can work against you. For example, getting ready to hunt means checking health pots, mana pots, pet food, mount food, worker food, weight limit, inventory space, exp buff items, AP buff items, gear durability check, gathering tools, did I check the garden this morning...
- Travel can be long and tedious for many. Limited teleport takes one hour while you play an alt.
- Very slow leveling at level 56+, but zip through low level zones
- Grinding can get monotonous, especially at later levels
- Cash Shop - ok this is debatable. After all, the developers have to eat too once in a while. BDO can get pricey if you don't have self control... LOL! Costumes cost $30+. No joke! Their 30 day Value Pack is almost like a subscription fee. Without it, you get 30% less from Marketplace sales. Pets are also a must have. I recommend buying 4 of them at least. ($11 each). At the time of this writing, plan on getting one free from a beginner Attendance Reward. (Max is 5.)
- Repeatable grinding quests can get monotonous and they quickly run out every day.
- Not much party play outside of guild PVP events, like sea and castle battles
- Many quests have to be completed in a certain order and it's not always obvious what comes next and the quest requirements like level etc. Quest chain completion can get extremely long.
- There can be language mis-translations and confusion on tool tips
- Pets - the pet system is fun, but pets have to be "Exchanged" in order to increase in a tier. This means the pet parents die. Pets aren't cheap! ($11 each). On the bright side, T4 pets have faster loot pickup speed than a Tier 1 pet.
- Gambling RNG Factor - maybe this is fun for certain weird players (like my sister *duck*), but so many people complain about this, that I felt compelled to add it to the list. The gambling factor of upgrading weapons and upgrading armor is one of the biggest complaints on the forums.
Gameplay with Immersive Action Combat
Image Credit: Black Desert Online Screenshot Winners - NA Vangard
Master Archer Combat Sequence: Combo 5
Combat Skill Combo: Radiant Explosion > Full Bloom > Covering Fire > Earth Shatter > Winged Strike (Forward) > Meteor Dive > Zephyr Leap > Arrow Explosion > Swap to Winged Strike (Forward) > Glide Forward > Luthraghon's Call
Immersive Gameplay via Action Combat
Black Desert Online gameplay is famous for it's high paced, action combat. When battling enemies, get ready for some serious key combo variety and fun. This game isn't your typical MMORPG, which requires a key to select the enemy, before pressing a hotkey of 0 through 9. BDO uses action combat, which means you will hit anything and everything that is within range of your attack. You don't have to tab select a monster to fight it, ever!
Key Combo Challenges
Key combos are fun and range in difficulty from easy to challenging. Some key press combos can be real finger twisters, until you practice and master them. BDO is a gamer's delight, demanding a mixture of perfect timing, coupled with hand eye coordination and memory of key press sequences. You can use traditional quick slots, for a dumbed down and easier fight, but who would want to? In fact, using quick slots will cost extra resources like mana, depending on the combat skill. Some combat skills can only be quick slotted, but these are rare. There are helpful Action Combo Guides in the game to help you visually learn more complex combos. Black Desert Online gameplay isn't restrictive, and you will have fun experimenting with some truly powerful and visually satisfying combat moves.
AOE Gameplay Galore!
Are you looking for a game that offers Area of Effect mayhem? Who doesn't enjoy gameplay that offers total annihilation of enemy packs... with a few deadly AOE attacks? Most classes in BDO have a good arsenal of these assaults. There are countless hunting zones for AOE, with densely packed mobs of evil doers to vanquish!
Gameplay Grind, grind, grind...
Black Desert Online gameplay has been called one big grind fest. I can see why some say that. Hunting is important to any MMORPG and at times, it can feel repetitive at higher levels. After level 56, leveling starts to slow down significantly, and the hunting grounds start to feel small. At low levels, you quickly move from one beautiful zone to the next. Typical of many MMORPG's, you can't hang out with much lower level monsters than you, and get much from it. One major reason the hunting grounds can feel small is because after level 50, you can be killed by anyone that happens to like your hunting ground and not you in it! (Unless you defeat them first.) Typically, the BDO environment is a solo grind and players only get together for guild events like naval warfare and PVP battles. There are few group friendly PVE zones like dungeons or raids found in most MMOs, and no, you aren't safe there from PVP players. You aren't safe anywhere. Run! :) Just teasing. This game can make you paranoid, to be honest.
Gameplay with Unmatched Graphics
Image Credit: Black Desert Online Screenshot Winners - NA BunnBunz
There are few MMORPG's that look so beautiful, but expect times of lag for non-gaming PCs. Pearl Abyss spent three years making this game before beta, and their labor of love shows. Every nook and cranny was diligently crafted with the art aficionado in mind. Screenshots do not do this game justice. Take a second to log in, and other gameplay priorities might fall by the wayside. Black Desert Online graphics will sweep you away into a world filled with exquisite detail and texture. What good is gameplay, when you spend all your time gazing out at the crashing waves of the sea? Lag most often occurs where many people like to gather in large sprawling cities, during boss fights, and large scale PVP battles.
Gameplay for the Pretty at Heart
The Character Creation part of Black Desert Online is a Candy Land to players looking for ultimate customization. Want green skin? No problem! How about looking like your favorite celebrity? It's doable. There are so many controls, that you may feel overwhelmed. For those with less patience and don't like fiddling with Character looks, there are player made templates you can download and vote on.
Ok so it's not perfect. But trying to please the gamer community at large is no easy task. I think Pearl Abyss did a good job. Yes, it may get boring at times and monotonous. But there are so many things to do in this game, that it's easy to switch and check out something else. Yes, Black Desert is sometimes frustrating and expensive. But, I think the pros outweigh the cons, when compared to other MMORPGs. I enjoy their frequent updates, events, and expansions. They periodically add new classes as well. All these things keep me interested. They normally give a free 7 day trial, so you may as well dive in and see for yourself! Have fun in game. :)
Gameplay Videos by Other Players
Youtube is a good place to find other player opinions and reviews about Black Desert Online. Here are a few popular ones that tackle the gameplay of BDO: