The 2nd Closed Beta for Black Desert Online is now over and I am already having withdrawals! This will be the last review in progress for Black Desert Online until CBT3. My review is going to be a lot longer than the usual because it contains over two hours worth of gameplay footage showcasing end game content, world boss, pvp, gvg, siege, and more.
The Castle Siege
I am going straight into the castle siege mechanics of the game. The 2nd beta was limited with players collecting and crafting materials for siege weapons, cannons, and ammo. The enemy guilds didn't focus on siege cannons as much, thus they had a lot of trouble trying to breakthrough the first and second door of the castle. Putting all the bugs aside, the castle siege was fun. The guild alliance system was bugged so there was a lot friendly fire going on! A lot of my readers and viewers are often asking me if the castle siege mechanics is instanced. There are no instances in Black Desert Online, at least not yet. When players die on the field, they can either choose to respawn a nearby town or the Guild Command Centers. The Command Centers can be placed anywhere outside of the siege areas, so if you're on the offensive side then it's a good idea to place it at a good distance from the castle. Our guild had a separate group hunting down enemy command centers, but some of them were well guarded or bugged and couldn't be destroyed.
I've learned a lot things during my first siege like there was no point of trying to fight a small 1v1 or 2v2 battle because of the potion spams and rushing into a bunch of enemies for no reason. I only died a couple of times and that was because I was trying to test my limits as a Sorceress! Blink striking into a bunch of Warriors was not a good idea because of stun and grab fest. The other death was because I tried to "Potion Battle" against a Giant and Warrior underneath the castle sewers. Either way, I couldn't escape T_T! I explored this castle for an hour and didn't even realize there was a back door through the sewers or if it was a bug. Either way, people ended up taking advantage of the sewers. After the war was over, I went back and explored the sewers again. The enemy guilds took advantage of the Black Desert Online's collisionsystem by creating a one or two human person ladder to boost players into the sewer system. A Giant would crouch on the corner then another player would jump on top of his head and lift the person up so that they can grapple the ledge and climb up. That's how some of the enemy players manage to sneak a flank attack on our shield wall, which might have played a big role in us losing the castle.
This siege would have probably ended a lot faster if the enemy guilds focused on working together and creating more siege cannons before the war started. It seemed like there was no coordination going on and just kill on sight. Most of the action happened in front of the first gate, defending seemed really easy and the enemy guilds had a hard time breaking through our first gate formation. Our guild had a Wall of Warriors had a nice Shield Wall holding the front and Archers posted on the outer and inner walls. If anyone got close to the Warriors a simple grab and they are dead meat! I had a blast during this siege. I'm starting to have PvP withdrawals now. As most of you know, I spent most of my time preparing for sieges, hardcore grinding, enchanting, and etc. The outcome was well worth it because I able to updrade all of my gear and ended up dying a few times. In return, I was able to deliver two very lengthy gameplay videos and kill a lot enemy players!
Speaking from experience, the defending guild will have a lot of trouble holding the keep for many reasons. One is that their armors will slowly go down from the numerous barrage of attacks received from the enemy guilds. Another reason is that they will eventually run out of potions forcing some of them to sneak out of the castle, run to town, and restock. Sounds easy? Think again, you aren't the only one that's dying and losing durability. You will have to think of way to sneak back in against the other guilds who are trying to storm your castle down. They will most likely kill you on your way back or have the choke points guarded. The only easy way to get back into the castle is by being a very steathy ninja and crouch your way in. Your "character name" is not visible while crouching, hence why I was able to sneak my way back in. There is always an option of dying after fully re-stocking, but the death penalty almost makes it not worth it plus you lose the durability of the armor you just repaired. There is also a chance to lose rare socketed gems on death. One of my deaths caused my weapon to go from +8 to +7 the player that killed me will then be able to pick up the enchanting stone that I lost from my weapon. I also lost a lot of Armor enchants, but was able to break even by killing other players and picking up their enchanting stones.
Random Thoughts - What GvG needs (Skippable)
While the castle siege is far from perfect, I am talking about the 2nd CBT so I will try to stay away from any harsh criticism. I would like an alliance system in place that will restrict it to one other guilds any more than one is just pure zerg. Once a castle is controlled, it would be nice if the guild controlling it can add facilities such as repairing NPC. An NPC that would repair equipment instantly would be imbalanced, so perhaps a manual way of repairing through a blacksmith mini game. Enemy players can sneak in and destroy the facility, leaving the defending guild weak. Defending guild can't add facilities during siege war, so once it's gone, then it's gg. The offensive guilds can always regroup, repair, restock potions, and plan out another coordinated better attack at any given moment. This leaves the defending team at great disadvantage. Another ideal way to fix this situation is by having tradeskill classes manual repairing the gear while they consume items or lose durability from their hammer or anvil. I've played so many MMORPG's over the past decade and have so many ideas. I'm going off on a tangent, so let's get back to my main review.
PvP Duels and Open PvP System
The 2nd beta didn't have any 1v1 or team death match system yet and since the game has no instances or arenas, it will probably implement some kind of duel system in the future. Hopefully, one that prevents the use of potion spamming. Somethings to note about the PvP system is that using a stun or knockdown skill is NOT 100%, there is a high chance of resist. It also seems like there is no "escape skill" when players are in daze, stunned, or knocked down state. The video below was recorded before the great siege battle above, my guild members and I wanted to test out skills and stuff for fun. Matches are a lot funner this way. Come to think of it, I just remembered a Black Desert developer video awhile back showing off some arena or colosseum matches. Perhaps it's located in the future areas of the game that is not visible due to the Fog of War system.
The video below shows PvP in areas not located near the castle siege areas. The safe zones for each town varies sometimes it's big and sometimes it's small. One thing I forgot to mention in my previous reviews is that players with red colored text names have too much Karma and killed a lot of players. These players are then automatically attacked by the guards stationed in town. I believe ArcheAge has a somewhat similar concept with pirates and outlaws.
World or Raid Boss Hunting
The higher level world bosses in this game hit fairly hard and isn't friendly towards melee and hybrid characters. I noticed that most of the bosses used melee skills or normal attacks most of the time. Archers could pull aggro and make it dance left and right by bouncing the aggro all over the place. To keep things short, I believe that the world bosses in this game needs more AoE type of spells or skills. Cone or vertical attacks that will keep ranged characters on their toes. World Boss behavior also seemed kind of sporadic or was that because I am playing from USA and lagging? Either way, it looked really funky. A lot of my readers and viewers often asked me wondered why they can't see the HP of the boss slowly going down. Black Desert has a special mechanic where you need to pick up a knowledge scroll from that specific boss. Once picked up by that player, only then that player can see that specific boss HP go down.
The world bosses dropped a lot of good stuff like upgrade stones and enchanted equipment, see the image below for loot samples. One of the raid bosses that we killed dropped a +7 axe. Unfortunately, boss that dropped the axe was from the starting area, so the axe isn't that great for end game. Having control over these bosses will play a big part in the future because of the Black Stones or enchanting stones in MMORPG terms. Some bosses will drop special set items or gear with a unique look compared to normal items obtained from monsters, crafted, or NPC's. The 2nd CBT didn't have any dice or rolling system so we assigned one person in our guild to distribute the loot evenly to all the members who participated in the raid. No one seemed to care about these world bosses during the 2nd beta, but can guarantee that a lot of guilds will try to compete for them once the game goes live. The Open World PvP system will play a big role in monopolizing these bosses, such as PK'ing other guilds while they are fighting the boss. Even if they did not successfully steal the boss, they can loot other players.
The biggest problem my guild faced during our world boss hunting spree was that boss would randomly reset for no reason. Not sure if it's a bug or intentional, but there are a lot of ways for a world boss to reset. One is by dying and coming back to fight the boss also known as zombie'ing in MMORPG term, this will make the boss reset. Another way for it to reset is to have PvP enabled. A boss pulled too far away from its aggro spot will leash and reset. The last way is uhh it will just randomly reset to troll you. A friend of mine in Pearl Abyss said that the formation system will help a lot during the raid boss battles, but as you can see most of my members were lazy to make use of it. It's a great idea, but it requires a lot of work and planning. I'm pretty sure it that the formation system will become mandatory in the future upcoming level 50+ bosses revealed in the next beta tests.
PearlAbyss didn't add any of the new world bosses located around the large city of Calpheon region. Most of the world bosses were located at the level 10-35 CBT1 areas of the game, perhaps this is one of the reasons why most of the bosses didn't look challenging at all. I am sure they will add larger and harder bosses later on. You also have to keep in mind that this is an Open PvP game. If a boss were to hit extremely hard, then trolls can just farm players that fight world bosses. Actually, there were one to two troll guilds in beta who had pure red names with full PK Karma doing this. Pearl Abyss will need to figure out a nice balance between the two. A small group of players can easily gank a guild that spent an hour or long fighting the future and real challenging world bosses found in the higher level areas of the game. No healers in this game and the death penalties in account, other players can loot your items and gear when you die, see my previous reviews for more details. Most players will compare raid difficulty without thinking about the other aspects of the game. A healer or this place is instanced or a non PvP area. They could make the world bosses spawn in a safe zone, but that's just silly. Whatever they do, I just hope they keep the same mechanics with Open PvP and serious death penalties. However, I do like pointing the facts. What can a small group of elite players do when fighting against a world boss and gets ganked against a bigger guild that wants to steal it? Most of the world bosses only respawn in one specific place not randomly in the region. For example, mud boss is always in mud ruins. I also have no clear indication or information on respawn timers, guesstimating 12-24 hours.
Items - No Level Requirement
Equipment in this game doesn't have any level requirements at all. Which means, you can deck out your level 1 character with items obtained from level 50 monsters, players, auction house, etc. An interesting feature because players who focused more on the trading aspects of the game won't fall that far behind. They will have the wealth to buy equipment from the hardcore players and have more money to buy enchanting stones. Meanwhile, hardcore players will focus on hunting field bosses earlier than the players who take it slow. Being a trader isn't that bad, the only downside is running across players that will ransack their cargo. A friend of mine also mentioned that items will have some kind of restrictions later on.
Conclusion - Is it ready for Open Beta?
Honestly, I don't think Black Desert is ready for Open Beta just yet. Don't get me wrong, the game is great I loved it, I want it, I need it in my life again, but there are so many bugs the needs to be squashed! Perhaps another another beta or two would be nice. My inner gaming senses wants the game to be out already so that I can level and grind like crazy without having to worry about data wipe. I wouldn't mind hardcore grinding in the next beta again, as long as there is something new to test. It's a good thing that Korean game companies aren't strict when it comes down to NDA's and aren't scared of hiding any flaws or mistakes that needs fixing during beta stages. The areas that I was able to access during the 2nd beta was fairly big, but if I had to compare the size of the world to another MMORPG, I still believe the final version of ArcheAge offers a much more vast open area with more freedom. I wouldn't be surprised if they made a bigger world once the game is released, after all, they made their own game engine. Lastly, I would like to remind my readers and viewers that this review solely covers the CBT2 content of the game and is bound to change in the future. I just wanted to share my experience, opinion, and knowledge of the game. Pearl Abyss plans on attending E3 this year in search for an NA publisher, keep your fingers crossed and hope they find one. Hope you enjoyed my Black Desert Review articles and see you in my next gaming adventures!
Developer: Pearl Abyss
Game Site: http://black.game.daum.net/
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