an expansion. That's nuts.
Of course, it's a lot easier to turn on the content hose when you have it connected to a reservoir two years deep, but even so this is exceptional. You might expect that Daum would use the first few months to build expectations, let the customers feel a little hunger, but no, apparently that's not how they roll.
According to Dulfy (who must have a Duplicator more reliable than Calvin's now she's covering GW2, SWtoR, ESO and BDO) Daum is working to a schedule that will bring additions to the game every month until the summer. We're set to get two new classes in April and two more in May, culminating in another expansion-scale update, the full region of Valencia, in June.
Syl has a great post up about the satisfaction to be found in learning new systems in MMOs. I very much agree that "what makes the early MMO experience such an enjoyable one is knowing nothing and learning everything" although I would never claim this is a universal constant. Not all players enjoy learning to walk all over again.
I'm very firmly in the camp that enjoys discovering, uncovering and understanding new systems in MMOs for the sheer satisfaction of doing so. Mrs Bhagpuss, despite being entirely capable of doing the same, is a lot less likely to make that effort just for the sake of it.
The key is that, as Syl codifies, the game itself must also be "a ton of fun". There is a demographic for which learning for learning's sake is sufficient in itself but for most players that learning has to lead somewhere. I take it as a significant endorsement of BDO's fun factor that when Mrs Bhagpuss got around to using the 7-day pass I gave her she played for several hours, got to level 11 and finished by asking me how much the game cost and whether there was a subscription involved.
The good thing about Black Desert's supposedly steep learning curve is that it isn't much of a curve at all. It's more of an archipelago. Each system you discover tends both to stand alone and also put you in sight of several more. You can drift from one to another at your own pace, changing direction as something new catches your eye, stopping to rest whenever you feel tired.
I first tried farming a while back. A number of farmers had tried to rent me fences, to the point where I became sufficiently curious to invest a few Contribution Points to see what I was supposed to be fencing.
My initial attempt to place the thing was not a success. It was easy enough to see what to do but every time I tried to place the fence on the grid I got a system message telling me I couldn't place it in a safe zone. Google couldn't tell me what that meant and since I'm not a big fan of farming gameplay to begin with I returned the fence, got my Contribution Points back and forgot all about it.
Then the Cherry Blossom event began. I saw the flowering trees that you can get to put in your house and suddenly I had a solid reason to learn how to farm.
Both farming and the event turned out to be a lot easier, faster and more enjoyable than I was expecting. The first thing to do was get some cherry blossom seeds. I happened to be in Altinova, the mesmerizing river port in eastern Mediah, so I passed on Dulfy's recommended locations and went up to the hills around the city instead, to see what I could grub up from the wild herbs and thickets there.
Exploring Mediah with a character in the low twenties is a true joy and an example to all MMORPGs on how to add high level content without alienating or excluding lower level players. The entire area is designed primarily for max level characters, which means, as J3w3l points out, it's filled with "new mobs to fight that are waaaayyyy stronger than anything ... previously". Nevertheless, there's plenty to see and do for those of us who wouldn't last two hits.
The roads are safe to travel, as roads in a settled, civilized area should be. There are no level restrictions on gathering, fishing, mining or logging so all the new resources are available to anyone willing to take the risk of searching for them. Much of the wildlife near roads isn't particularly hostile, even when, like the buffalo or the armadillos, it looks pretty scary.
I picked my way along the ridge above Altinova, keeping a respectful distance between my tamer and the snorting buffaloes, and in about twenty minutes I had three cherry blossom seeds. I didn't know of a farmer willing to rent me a fence any closer than Heidel so I set a map marker, hit "T" and auto-ran back while I read up on how to farm.
Black Desert has a take on phasing that's true genius. There's no shortage of farm plots because you can literally place your fence on top of someone else's existing plot and it will overwrite it just for you. Their patch of sunflowers will vanish and as long as you maintain that plot all you will see is whatever you planted. The original owner will continue to see and farm her crops, totally unaware that you have piggybacked her plot.
With that in mind I quite deliberately chose to place my fence on top of an existing sunflower farm just beside the bridge going into Heidel. I figured that if someone else had managed to grab that spot then at least I wouldn't get the mysterious "safe zone" message this time and I didn't.
My knee-high fence appeared along with the farming interface. Like most BDO systems it looks more complicated than it strictly needs to be. No doubt there are are subtleties I'm missing but unless you're in a tearing hurry you can pretty much just plonk your seeds down and forget about them because the various disasters that can arise - weeds, blight, bird attacks - do nothing worse than make the crops take longer to reach maturity.
In common with all BDO activities nothing happens offline. My cherry trees had a base growth duration of around eight hours so once I had them all set up I went off and did a few other things and when I'd had enough of that I minimized BDO to the system tray and played GW2 instead.
Throughout the day I popped BDO back up periodically to see how things were coming along. I pruned some weeds once or twice but other than that there wasn't much to do. The trees grew from saplings to healthy young specimens to mature, blossom-heavy trees too tall to fit in the frame for a screenshot.
They looked so amazing it was a shame to harvest them but harvest them I did. Each tree gave me around a dozen petals and since Hunt, the seed vendor in Heidel, only wanted ten petals for one of his Cherry Blossom Pots I was able to get two for my house and save the rest towards a set of Cherry Blossom earrings.
The potted trees are larger than I was expecting. They might be too large for my small country cottage. An option to adjust the size of housing items, such as exists in other MMOs, would be nice. Even nicer would be if I could place them just outside. They'd look perfect either side of the front door.
That's carping over details, though. They look fantastic! Based on the first two we've seen, this and the Easter Eggs, I'd have to say that Pearl Abyss have hit the perfect sweet spot for holiday events in an MMO. The rewards are desirable, there's choice and variety, the requirements to get them are solid but not onerous; all in all these events are fun, satisfying and don't outstay their welcome.
Late last night I got my horse out of the stable and rode back to Altinova. I logged out with another Cherry Blossom seed in my pack and this morning I'm going to look for a couple more. I'll get them in the ground and they can spend the day growing while I do something else. By this evening I should have new earrings.
I like this game.
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