Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up Black Desert and selecting our next destination

Back when I mentioned that I was learning to like Black Desert a while back, I got this tweet from the game’s official account. That was awesome. I liked it immensely. And while I don’t think I ever actually learned to love you guys (sorry!), I definitely do have a degree of appreciation. It just never crossed over into actual love. (Not least because my heart is already sworn to another game. You all know it.)

I’ve kind of struggled to summarize my feelings about Black Desert in my mind. The trouble isn’t that they’re negative feelings; it’s just that, much like my feelings on The Elder Scrolls Online’s battlegrounds, it’s easy to take them as negative when that isn’t how they’re meant. I certainly didn’t dislike the game, and it’s definitely not bad; I kept feeling like I was brushing up against the same territory as I did with the aforementioned ESO. But where I walked away from that game thinking “this is a lot better than I remember, even if it’s still kind of tedious in places,” I’m walking away from Black Desert feeling as if the game keeps giving me tools to solve problems I don’t have.

I really am not good with this character creator.My struggles with the character creator, in a way, seem to mirror that problem. There’s no arguing that the character creator is decidedly powerful, that it offers a lot of different options and lots of chances to nudge and pull the various design elements of your character into a shape you see fit. But I couldn’t actually do anything about the fact that my character had apparently never heard of chest support with battle attire, or the fact that she was consigned to wear high heels in every single outfit. Heck, as near as I could tell, I could bulk up her body but not actually tweak her head size in the slightest, resulting in some downright cartoonish proportions.

It’s a powerful tool with a lot of options that does not allow you to actually solve a very simple problem, like a screwdriver with two dozen attachments but no slot-head options.
Then there’s the fact that, as I mentioned elsewhere, the game has a weird relationship with some of its systems. I don’t mind that you can get contribution points from places other than just trading, but the fact that trading (one of the major uses for contribution points) does not actually give you any of said points seems oddly limiting. The few dozen different things you can level are cool in theory, but in practice it sort of means that you have to do everything. Or you have to do nothing.

And then there’s the knowledge system, which is one of those things I have split feelings about. I love that the game actually rewards you for going out and searching for things; I don’t love that you’re encouraged to go click on random NPCs to have a conversation with a different NPC. It’s an idea I like a lot and an execution I’m not over the moon about.

What I do like, though, is that there are people who are over the moon about it. There are people for whom this is exactly what they want, and I think that’s pretty great. If you want to quest, run a trade empire, hack at things, and prepare some PvP ambushes, it’s all good. I’m pretty sure that by the time you’ve played through a decent chunk of the game, you’ve already hit a point where you have all of the resources you need to unlock various features and you’re down to just following your bliss.

I look forward to receiving hate mail because I hate the game when I have said quite the opposite.The combat mechanics also seem like another thing which doesn’t come into its own until later; nothing I fought in the earlier levels presented a challenge so much as it took a bit of time. (Rarely more than a couple of sword swings.) I didn’t feel as if there were many customization options beyond just inherent class, but I imagine that between Awakening and later gear or skill choices, things look a little bit different.

What reminded me most of ESO, though, was the simple fact that I kept thinking “if this game let me open up earlier, it’d be a lot more fun for me.” Part of what resulted in my surprised positivity for that game was the simple driving openness of everything; at this point, you can pop off of the game’s rails whenever you want to.

Black Desert, at its heart, should allow you to do the same thing. It seems like it wants to. But you can’t, actually; you have to do your quests, you have to follow the path, you have to be told what to do and you have little opportunity to say “eff this, I’m going to explore thisaway.” For all the love it gets as a sandbox, in the early levels, it doesn’t feel like anything so much as a very guided experience with trading incorporated.

But none of that is a synonym for “this game is crap.” It won this site’s MMO of the year award last year for good reason. The game’s presentation is clean, its UI is straightforward and intuitive, its environments are lush, and its designs are distinct. It definitely seems like a pretty darn good game. I did, in fact, like what I played.

I just never really fell in love with it. I could see positives, but also a lot of drawbacks that seemed custom-made to bother me, specifically. So ultimately, I have to kind of nod and say that it’s all right, but it’s not a game I’d ever want to make my main game.

And hey, some games are that way. There are good games you personally don’t want to play, not because they’re awful but because the designers place a high priority on things you don’t value. Black Desert does what it wants to do very well; it doesn’t resonate with me because those aren’t things I urgently want to do, but it still does those things well.

Ah, well. At least we’ll always have wandering about and grinding goblins because they were there and I had the option. That was pretty fun.

Next poll and the administrative side

Here we go with another batch of polls, and unlike the past couple of installments, we’re turning the choices back over to you once more. We go back and forth. Forward!

It goes the same as a thousand before.

ArcheAge is a game I tried early on in its localization testing and bounced off of rather hard, and it has a bad tendency to attract shrieking hordes of player outrage in much the same way that blood in the water attracts sharks.  Still, it’s been running for several years now (which means it’s doing something at least right enough), and it’s had a pretty big update recently. Plus, there is a certain thematic consistency in making that my next game, since it was the Great Eastern Hope before Black Desert fell into that space.

Cheeky.

Or perhaps it’s time for me to go a bit more local while staying in the action combat mold with some time spent in Neverwinter. I greatly enjoyed the demo events I played for the game but never really had the time to sink into it seriously; perhaps it’s stood up over time, perhaps it feels more stale. I do know it contains the best class name ever, though. How can you beat Great Weapon Fighter?

how i make punch

But perhaps I’ll go even more native than that. You can’t look at DC Universe Online as anything other than a distinctly American game, after all. I played this briefly during the postscript of A Mild-Mannered Reporter following the City of Heroes shutdown, but I wasn’t really enthralled. Still, that was years ago and for a very different project, and part of me was still kind of wishing for CoH when it was never going to be that. So who will it be?

CMA: What's the next title to play?

  • ArcheAge (31%, 98 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (40%, 125 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (29%, 90 Votes)

Total Voters: 313

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Polls will close on Friday at 6 p.m. EDT. That segues naturally into the administrative side of things; due to real-life obligations and my own availability, we’ll be putting Choose My Adventure on Thursdays for at least the next few weeks. That’s why I’m extending the poll time to later on Friday, so you still have plenty of time to get in your personal votes.

See you here next week with a new game queued up and ready to go. Until then, you can leave feedback down in the comments or mail it along to eliot@massivelyop.com.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. If you’d like to use your opportunity to leave comments to explain how it makes perfect sense for stiletto heels and a lack of bosom support to exist in a fantasy game, however, please just save some time and walk away.
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30 Comments on "Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up Black Desert and selecting our next destination"

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Neverwinter. I was really into this game when it first came out, but just got disgusted with its economic model. All the same, some great classes and interesting mechanics.

Look forward to reading CMA’s next installment.

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Melissa McDonald

I loved ArcheAge for the first couple months. it had lots of nifty QOL features, like that diving board that suddenly put you in a bikini so you could enjoy some swimming. Clever stuff like that was found all around the game. Climbing trees, ropes, things most MMOs do not have. AA has some of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen in an MMO . And hang gliding is Wonderful!

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Jonathan Vargas

Wow from reading the review of this person, I feel like they really didn’t play the game or didn’t give it enough time to learn the game.

They said so many things that had me wondering if they were really playing BDO…

Mind you there are things to complain about but the writer totally missed the mark in terms of learning the game, anyone who has played BDO seriously would call BS on this…

I never followed this person but usually read what they have to say, going forward I will take what they write about other games with a grain of salt… In other words I won’t trust it..

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Thomas Zervogiannis

“anyone who has played BDO seriously would call BS on this…”

His factual bits about the game were all correct, he did not say anything there to call BS on. There you go. Feel free to say specifically what you think was incorrect in the article.

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chriskovo .

He wasn’t wrong with much of what he said most of the systems and interface are really confusing until you get used to them. Problems with that is if its to confusing it tends to put people off. Don’t have as much time anymore and don’t want to learns these awkward systems. They will move on to another game, there are a lot of fish in the sea.

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MesaSage

Archeage please!

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Oleg Chebeneev

>It’s an idea I like a lot and an execution I’m not over the moon about. What I do like, though, is that there are people who are over the moon about it. There are people for whom this is exactly what they want

So you dislike this but you like the fact that some people like something that you personally dislike?

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Melissa McDonald

There’s nothing wrong with showing respect for something people like and enjoy, whilst admitting it wasn’t your cup of tea.

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Mahyar Goodarzi

What level did you get to? Did you just do any of the non black spirit quest lines? Did you even fully understand the contribution system and nodes? Did you do any fishing or crafting? This article just continually bashes the game based on little playtime, not understanding any of the mechanics of the game, and a lack of desire to truly understand the game because it’s learning curves.

It sounds like you never played through to even get to level 56, which you get your awakening weapon.

The contribution and energy system is one of the most robust systems ever in a mmorpg.

Unlike final fantasy 14, there are no load screens, there’s unlimited immersion within BDO, allowing you to explore anywhere, swim anywhere, etc.. you can’t do that in ff14.

It seems you went in with a huge bias playing the game and comparing it to another mmorpg such as ESO.

The Combat system is one of the most challenging and rewarding systems out there. I don’t know about you but auto attack and tab targeting combat is boring af.

If you really wanted to give an unbiased review, challenge yourself to understand how the game mechanics work that make this sandbox so great.

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Tomas Stene

Thats a silly thing to say. You can mean that you have to wait until max level to enjoy the game (or get that weapon). First impressions and leveling is very important to drag new players inn. Saying it is immersive is something i have do disagree with. The constant popp inn of textures, millions of npc’s that looks exacltly the same walking in the same line, horses that jumps from side to side to max out their speed with no regards to the laws of physics. I understand very well that people love it, but your comment is very biased and your opinions on everything he said reflects that. Why dont you come and play Runescape with me and give me your thoughts of the game (if you know what i am hinting too). Have a great weekend!

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Panzerbjorne

You’ll need to adjust your expectations here. Nothing Eliot or the majority of the mop staff writes is unbiased. He’s a blogger not a journalist. Dont look for journalistic integrity or ethics from video game bloggers.
Its not a knock against them, I just think we need to be realistic.
However, I do think it’s basically pointless and of zero use to the reader to have a choose my adventure done with a writer who is so into their current game of choice. The person who should write this column should be more of a generalist.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I have to disagree. We all have games that we measure new games we’re playing against. Being into one game doesn’t keep me from trying another. And the litmus test really is whether the new game has the pull to take my time away from my favorite. It really is whether I fell in love with it.

All writers bring their prejudice to the game. Most of them won’t tell you so, however. Eliot’s honest about his. It’s not the game for him, but he sees its value for those who like what it emphasizes. He tells you want he thinks that is.

There are lots of other sites that provide supposedly unbiased reviews. MOP doesn’t do reviews. CMA isn’t about providing an objective review, but a subjective first-hand experience. Which means that Eliot’s opinions and feelings about the game are the point of the article.

DeadlyAccurate
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DeadlyAccurate

I voted Neverwinter, because I haven’t played it in years, and I’d love to see what’s changed.

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Godiva

I voted for ArcheAge just to see the Sharks in the water.

I have to disagree a bit with the review of Black Desert. You can receive contribution from Trading if you do the Trade Quests, it’s not the most efficient way but it’s possible and also unique in that it’s an endless supply of Contribution as the Trade Quests never run out.

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cista2bpo

Yea that is some of my feelings for this game as well. It wants to be a sandbox but it’s not. You can in fact choose to gather stuff, or you can chose to stand at the beach fishing all day – but you will not become a good fisherman this way, because you haven’t done your quests, or your points, or your knowledge minigame or whatever before you started fishing. Or the other way around.
So you are free to choose, but you need to do things the way they force you to do them if you want to succeed.

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squidgod2000

Haven’t logged in to BDO since servers came back up yesterday. That’s the longest I’ve gone since launch without being logged in. Finally realized that I haven’t actually ‘played’ the game in six+ months…just been building up silver to buy gear that I don’t even need because all I do is process and trade to get silver to buy gear that I don’t even need because all I do is process and trade.

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Toy Clown

Thank you for the article on BDO. While it is currently my main MMO, or should I say I use it as a platform for RP, and enjoy the ocean and housing content immensely, I do struggle with some points listed in the article. I find myself looking the other way a lot when yet another overly-sexualized costume is released on the cash shop. I’ve developed envy watching my male comrades get awesome-looking armors while female versions are mostly… without pants. I’ve barely touched any Valencia content, and onwards, because travel times to and from a PvE area takes around an hour there and back (in some cases more) from other things I prefer to do. As problems like these becoming more blaring, I admit to searching around for my next main MMO.

I loved ArcheAge in alpha and thought I’d be playing it a long time. I lasted just over a year before the toxic community and griefing of RPers ended up pushing me away. I wasn’t fond of the pay2win monotonization, and game instability and little freedom in housing were the final straws. I keep poking my head in every few months to see if it has a less toxic community or more housing, and get disappointed to find they just keep opening servers, merging them, etc.

I tried Neverwinter when it first came out, and I remember finding the controls and gameplay a bit odd, and quickly lost interest after 20 minutes. I am curious how it’s turned out, since the game fell off my radar. So that one got my vote!

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Denice J. Cook

Yay, Neverwinter’s in the lead! I haven’t played that one yet. Maybe I can live it vicariously through Eliot, then!

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Witches

I should show support for non elves vs orcs games, but DCUO is just bad, sometimes i think that with the exception of the tvshows, they are actively trying to tarnish the DC brand for some reason.

styopa
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styopa

BDO for me:
1) class-gender lock: strike
2) massively customizeable character creator ….that nevertheless all looking like siblings somehow: strike
3) inability to play cooperatively with others “hey, I got this thing you need, want it?”: BIG strike.
4) class balance: typical for Asian mmo’s. strike. I really am starting to think that the whole ‘everyone should be on a fair footing’ is a pretty narrowly western thing?

Despite the strikes there are SO MANY cool things I like about the game that it still ends up on the “I’ll hopefully have the time to come back to it” list.

Reader
Ravven

I think character customisation just takes some work – this was my Valk.

bdo_wallpaper_valk1.jpg
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HNN

Point 2 I’ll have to disagree, you can customize it to the point where it doesn’t look anything like the original or even close to looking like a sibling.

Point 3 is an odd one. It’s one of the few mmos that encourage leveling together because there’s no quests or storyline that forces you to be on the same quest to level together. I actually really like this setup because in most mmos, players don’t normally quest together and it feels like a solo experience especially at end game.

styopa
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styopa

Point 3 has to do with the near-complete inability to trade items with another player.
Point 2: While they aren’t identical, they could nearly all be close cousins: https://blackdesert.su/category/presety/
https://vk.com/presetbd
http://www.bdotemplates.com/class/valkyrie/

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wratts

I think a lot of that is limited by people’s capability and imagination. These are two looks I maintain for my Berserker. I can’t think of another game I’ve played recently that gives me so much flexibility in character visual design, that I can swap out any time when the mood strikes

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pepperzine
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pepperzine

Dcuo!

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Sally Bowls

I voted for AA.

I am not that invested in the poll. As a fan of sly/sardonic/ironic, I am confident I will enjoy whatever Elliot writes.

But I would be curious how a rational adult finds AA. And with the right clothes and lighting, Elliot can pass for a rational adult. :-). Where is the reality on the spectrum between the pre-launch hype where a Tsunami of Sand was going to drown all those lesser themeparks and post launch where it was a certified affront to God and Man and all involved should feel bad? Even today, I don’t think what/how is AA is something I can glean from the … enthusiastic … commenters on any AA article.

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mistressbrazen

DC Universe because its not fantasy.

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arenasb

I’d like to see a non-fantasy game for a change. Here is my vote for DCUO

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TheDonDude

Let’s see how Neverwinter is doing. Is it still a not-really-an-MMO?

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squidgod2000

Last time I checked it out (couple years ago) it was basically everything bad about cash shops and microtransactions all rolled into one game. Can’t imagine it’s improved.

wpDiscuz