I can't believe I let my friend talk me into basically throwing away $30 for a game I thought was garbage to begin with. It didn't take me long to realize how awful the game really is. It's a B2P game with all the disadvantages of a F2P game and little of the B2P/P2P advantages. What is the point of making the game B2P if you're just going to keep the same stupid F2P crap that makes F2P games problematic in the first place? What's the point of making it B2P if you're not doing anything about stupid spam bots anyways? Anyways, end rant and back to the main review. I'll update it with pictures if I feel like logging into the game again. At this point, I just have no more motivation nor interest in the game and am just going to head back to Persona 5.
There's something like three ongoing stories at the same time. I'm not quite sure. The main one involves your character making a deal with a strange, funny looking black ball of mist that seems to evolve as it acquires more dark energy. It gives your main character super powers, but since all the player characters have it, you're only super to the world. I think there's something about it trying to absorb all the dark energy back into itself, but I'm not 100% sure. I can only make a little sense of the overall story and try to fill in some of the plot holes with guesses. There are two sub-stories. One involves a war between a couple of nations over the dark energy that the freaky black ball of mist following you around wants. The last story involves people trying to research the dark energy. All of it is still pretty vague with no real direction or conclusion. The stories are told with a mix of in-game and pre-rendered cutscenes that seem to be random. If you're looking for an MMO with a good story, just avoid this game altogether and spend your money on like three months of FF14 instead.
The graphics of the player characters in the game are amazing if you turn of the shiny oil skin that everyone seems to have. There are a lot of free customizable options available in character creation and it is pretty good. You can change character's body proportions. There are a good number of color selections available. I could not get the character creation working right with my character's face though. I had no idea how to work some of the sliders and it caused me problems so I just eventually settled on one of the default faces and changed everything else. Even the monster and environments are diverse enough to make a difference. Even though the towns are fairly small, there is enough work put into them to make each one look and feel unique. The effects of higher level spells and the summoning of special quest monsters are very impressive looking though. The only thing that pisses me off is having to watch that stupid black ball of smoke appear before you and laugh at you every time you summon it to turn in a quest.
At the beginning, I already encountered a major problem. You first have to choose a "family" name to be shared by all characters on your account. The first one I tried had no problem. Then, you have to choose a "given" name. Now this is the problem. The given name has to be unique. That makes absolutely no sense if players have already chosen a family name. There's no reason why a first name needs to be special when the last name is already special.
There are two things that stand out to me, the combat system and the diverse number of classes. Each of the classes are far more diverse than I have seen in any other games. You have a Valkyrie, a tank/healer combo. You have a variety of magic users that vary from close range ninjas and black magic users to long range traditional witches. Even the melee classes have vastly different physical and magic balances that make their gameplay quite unique. This is by far the best thing about the game. A lot of the classes feel unique and different from one another. It is not like FF14 where the classes feel far too similar. The problem with having so many classes though is that there are some clear imbalances with a lot of favoritism for the ninjas in PvP and tamers in PvE. The classes start feeling more unique as you unlock their higher level skills and chains.
Combat is the best I have seen in any non-targetting MMO. It truly feels like an MMO where it is non-targetting unlike the half and half games that are Blade and Soul and Tera. The game can also be played like a fighting game so even though you have ten skills set to shortcuts at the bottom of the screen, it is also possible to trigger them using the proper input command, such as like with S and Left Click to trigger something like a knockback or counter type skill. Memorizing al lthe moves can be difficult, but if you do, you can create some spectacular combos once you do. If you cannot, button mashing can still produce some good combos.
The game blazes you to about level 15 with just story quests alone before you start actually have to run around between areas for side quests. Even then, the story quests decrease in number, but the number of side quests available start to increase to balance it out. This where things really begin, the side quests. Characters offer different side quests that allows you to build a relationship with the character and even talk to them regarding other NPCs to build a stat with each of them called Amnity. Some things are not unlocked until this stat reaches high enough of a number, so you should talk to NPCs as much as possible to build your reputation in the area and Amnity with individual NPCs to unlock some content. Some NPCs will start offering to rent out things to you once you build enough of a reputation. It even allows you to build things like houses in towns based on the number of contributions you have to aollocate. The result is that there is a lot more to do in the game than first appears. Unfortunately, this is not without its problems.
Black Desert Online suffers from one of the worst game mechanics that I have ever seen. The first is a fatigue system. It charges at one every three minutes and you need them in order to trigger certain quests, gather items in the wild, or perform certain other actions. As a B2P game, this is absolutely unacceptable. It is just a terrible way to gate player progress and is a system that should have died out ten years ago. Instead, it continues to haunt its way into games and ruin them ten years later. It creates a system that prevents newer players from ever catching up to older players because at no point will they ever actually have enough stamina to spend as an old player since they will never have as much to spend as an old player. It is a system in which newer players will never be able to catch up to old ones. There have also been times when I have been unable to accept a quest because I did not have enough points to accept a repeatable quest just because I had used it gathering materials outside of town moments earlier. There is no reason why these two things should be connected, yet it is. It is an unacceptable system in any MMO, but even more so in P2P and B2P MMOs because they basically make you pay for a game that you can't play as much as you might want to. After a few times encountering this problem, I just logged off for the day whenever I hit the limit and would attempt the quest the next day when my bar was full again becaue I did not want to wait around 10 minutes just so that I could accept a quest.
Problem number two, this game is open PvP. There are no PvE only servers where you can mind your own business. Luckily, you probably will not get ganked by random players until level 40+. When you do, it is usually in a mob, or from much higher level players, so just take it and die. Even though equipment stats only improve marginally with levels, it still makes a difference and it puts you at a severe disadvantage, especially if you play alone. Yet, the game seems to encourage solo play and not reward party play. If you play in a large group though, then hooray for reverse gang rape when they realize they accidentally attacked someone in a party and the rest of the party jumps that fool. But other than that, you are stuck in an open PvP combat game. It is not much of an issue at a lower level, but if you want to play this game at a high level, I recommend finding either many high level friends to play with to take advantage of the low scaling of the game, or find a server where the most powerful guilds enforce a PvE environmental policy. That's always a nice substitute.
Number three, the game is too P2W for my taste. Your inventory is extremely limited and you can't even carry your own currency around because that too has weight. I broke the limit at around level 12 (that's like an hour into the game) when I hit around 900k and I had to deposit it at a warehouse NPC. While you can get some inventory expansions, weight expansions are much more limited and you basicaly need to spend item mall money to increase your weight limit. You can exchange coins for gold bars, but you lose 10% of the value of the money, which is not good either. It is a terrible system to try to force people to convert their money and limit inflation. There's also special costumes that increase your stats. This brings us back to the same problems that ruins P2W games. They're selling power to people who are willing to pay up an extra $30. You need a set for combat and crafting though so you probably need the $60 pack of currency.
Final Score: 5/10
This game would be an excellent F2P game. But, as a B2P game, it has the same problems that plague the F2P games. The game should not be exploiting all the same things that make F2P games horrible experiences unless you drop like $50 a month into the game. The massive inventory lists of garbage and weight are the same problematic features you might see in a game that is run by a F2P game company. It is a lot better if you completely ignore that part of the game and just focus on the story quests and combat. You miss out on some bonuses, but it is better than going through tedious crafting. There are fatigue systems in place that gate progress. It is also open PvP with no choice for a server without PvP as of this review (4/21/2017). The only thing that stands out is the combat system, but everything else seems to weigh it down and turns what should be an excellent game into one that is below average.