I’m enjoying Black Desert so far, even though the combat seems even easier than Dynasty Warriors 9. Maybe that’ll get harder as the game goes on? Or maybe it won’t. Things can only be so hard in a game designed around hooking players into cosmetic microtransactions.
The visuals are indeed astounding, although they’re a little rough on the Xbox One S. The resolution is fine, and the performance is nearly there. Rather, it’s some of the effects work that suffers. The hair shader effects, in particular, seem like they’re operating at a lower update/framerate than the rest of the game. So characters have this swirling mass of trails and ghosting around their hair whenever it moves. I’m not sure if this is some kind of temporal AA or motion blur struggling with the rendering resolution, but it seems like a bug rather than a deliberate choice
Outside of that, Black Desert is a game, at least in its first few hours, about running to beautiful places full of enemies and then fighting the enemies. I selected Lahn as my character class, and she’s basically a whirling acrobatic swoosh of blades and chaos. I run into the enemies and start firing off abilities and visual splendor abounds. The animations and combat effects are truly thrilling in a way that most other games I’ve played could learn something from. If Diablo IV had this much direct and constant visual feedback I’d probably play it for even longer than I played III.
While it gets the combat and the visuals very right, everything else has suffered…though I think it’s more of a creative thing rather than a direct quality problem. The storyline is intentionally vague at the beginning to try and put you in the same mindset as your recently-brain-wiped character, and I’ve been introduced to so many cool-looking characters that I barely have time to decide if I like one before it’s off on a new adventure. A lot of the dialogue is delivered in text, which makes me wonder how many people even read most of it. And it’s ethereal, weird, and full of new terms and lore that you have to pick up on quick.
Combined with a menu that has about a million different options and a deep statistical underpinning, Black Desert is an initially-obtuse thing carried entirely by tremendously fun combat. It’s been a back-and-forth of me shouting “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE OR WHY,” and “WOW LOOK AT THIS GAME!”
I decided to go with the $10 base option and so far I’m happy I did that. You have to step up to the fifty dollar package before you’re getting a significant discount/value, and ten was the perfect price for me to decide if I liked it.
I have noticed I’m leveling up alarmingly quickly, so I’m wondering how soon the game will push me into exploring PVP vs the PVE I’m enjoying so far. Assuming the campaign has some legs under it, I may even happily throw some money at this and try the PC version out in the future for its undeniably better visuals and interface.