Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Little Knowledge : Black Desert

I'd love to do one of those "10 Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started" posts about Black Desert. Unfortunately, although I spot plenty of things while I'm playing that would be useful to pass on, if I don't write them down right away, then after I've stopped I can never remember what they were. And I never write anything down.

So, I'm not going to do one of those posts. Instead here are a few random observations, things that have stuck with me, useful or otherwise.

  • There's not a lot of point spending hours and hours in Black Desert's insanely detailed character creation suite, tweaking every last muscle group to perfection. Once you get into the game a lot of that fine detail seems to disappear. Anyway, as with all MMOs, you spend 95% of your time looking at the back of your head...

  • Have I ever steered you wrong? Come on, now, have I?

  • You don't have to do what the Black Spirit tells you. Honestly, that thing is such a nag. If you don't put your foot down it'll have you spending your first hour on a series of pointless Kill Ten Foozle quests that give you an entirely misleading impression of the world and the gameplay you could be enjoying. There's an option in Options to quieten him down.

  • There's also an option to filter your quests so that only the kind you like show up. And an option to filter the confusing morass of symbols that clutter the map. And a whole load of options to tweak your graphics and performance. Yes, all MMOs have options but Black Desert has more options than most and they make a more significant difference. Even though you're desperate to get stuck into some killing or crafting, time spent tuning the game to your (and your PC's) preference first is time very well spent.

  • Be aware that when you make a second character some of the default settings will overwrite some of the changes you made to options first time round. Well, they did for me. Maybe that's a bug. You'd hope so. Watch out for it, whatever, because it's really irritating.

  • That looks uncannily familiar.

  • The world is not as vast nor as overwhelming as you think it is. MMO worlds never are, sadly. The trip from Velia to Heidel, which looked so epic and daunting on your second or third session, will soon feel like a stroll to the corner store. Distances that seem outrageous become manageable and then trivial in disturbingly short order. And that's at regular foot speed.

  • Traveling is safe. Really safe. Very, very safe indeed. So don't be afraid to explore. The roads tend to be free of mobs but even when they aren't it doesn't matter. Most creatures in Black Desert seem to think they're auditioning for a 1960s sitcom. They can't react to anything without doing a five second slow burn first. By the time they've waited for the audience response you'll be well out of aggro range.

  • So long as you don't stop running, that is. When you explore, never stop running. In common with just about every MMORPG since around 2003, nothing runs faster than a player's basic movement speed. If you keep moving nothing can catch you. Black Desert mobs are a little more persistent than the average, though, so they may not give up quite as soon as you think they will. I recommend swinging the camera to look over your shoulder, not stopping and turning round to see if the six orcs you barged into have gone back to camp yet.

  • Do we have falling damage?

  • There are exceptions. Cyclopes (that is the correct plural even though it looks weird), giant boars and all bears have no sense of humor. They don't do double-takes, they just attack. They also hit like a bucketful of bricks. Fortunately they are all big and ugly enough to spot from the next county so just go around them.

  • Storage is nowhere near as limited as you think it is. All that fuss about the cost of storage in the Cash Shop? You can forget that. You get loads of storage for free. Every city and town has separate storage but you can have stuff from one moved to another for an in-game fee. Plenty of quests add slots, both to your character's inventory and your Warehouse. All vehicles have storage built in. The actual problem is how inconvenient it is, not how much there is of it. It is really inconvenient but that appears to be the intended gameplay. If you don't enjoy being inconvenienced as a form of entertainment then Black Desert may not be the game for you.

  • Rafts aren't that hard to make but neither are they all that great. You can't really go anywhere on a raft. They move slowly and they seem to remain tethered to whichever wharf you register them at. You can leave them anywhere and pay to have them fetched back for you but only to the wharf where you registered them. I am not entirely sure if there's a way around this and googling it for half an hour has made me little the wiser but on balance I'd say only make a raft for the amusement of making one, not because you'll get any actual use out of it.

  • Buy the crystal that goes in your boots and makes you jump 25% higher as soon as you get the 30k silver. Then never die. It's great while it lasts but, like all the crystals, it shatters on death and you have to get another. Thirty thousand silver is chump change even at level fifteen though so just replace as required.

  • These stains are never going to come out.

  • Remember all the fuss about EQNext's "parkour" movement? Black Desert has that and they didn't even bother to tell anyone. Climbing is more fun in BDO than any MMO I've ever played. The animations are a joy to watch and working out where you can get to and how to do it is a game in itself. Catching lost cats is just the beginning. Gotta catch those cats though...

  • Speaking of movement modes there are several that aren't immediately apparent. One of the very first quests tells you how to press shift to sprint but if there are tutorials for sidling up to a wall and pressing S to lean against it, or for reversing into a chair and hitting Q to sit down, then I must have missed them. I only discovered that you can go from crouching (Q again, acts as a form of stealth) to crawling by pressing Space while crouched, when I got stuck on geometry in the cave next to Crioville and started hammering all the keys to try and shake myself loose.

  • Facial hair on an otter - it's the new "Lipstick on a pig"

  • Talk to everyone. Everyone. It's not just about quests nor even about the Lore and the little tidbits of conversation. Don't think talking to random NPCs is something only a roleplayer (heavens forfend!) would do. Talking to NPCs (and when I say "talking" obviously I mean "clicking on") gets you Knowledge and Knowledge represents the cards you need to play the Conversation game. That in turn can earn you Amity, which gets you more Knowledge, opens up quests and acts as a form of currency. It's too complicated to explain but trust me - you want to talk to everyone.

  • There's more. A lot more. That'll do for now. Perhaps I'll keep a pen and paper handy and jot things down as they occur to me as I play. Or, more likely, I won't.


    1. There is a quest in Heidel that teaches you how to sit on benches and stuff, by asking you to go to a bench near a couple and eavesdrop. I found it a really nice touch, to teach you something in such a way.

      1. My guess is there are tutorial quests for just about every mechanic the game has. The thing is, the way quests appear is so unpredictable, most players won't see most of them before they find out about the mechanics some other way. Which, I think, is a good thing!


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