Choose My Adventure: Gearing up for Black Desert

It's been real, and it's been fun, but... eh, you know the joke now.
I’m going to be honest with you, folks; the last Choose My Adventure installment left me feeling kind of depressed. It’s a shame to see a game that could have really been something else wind up as little more than a footnote, a shadow of what it could have been. So I’m actually really excited to start up Black Desert simply because that means I’m not going to have that personal connection. Heck, I didn’t expect the game to make it this long, and we gave it Game of the Year.

This is also the first game out of the prior few entries that I’ve never even tried to play before. I’m completely new to it. But I wanted to delay it until the Dark Knight was in the game, because I do tend to enjoy that playstyle. (And then making my characters anything other than grim-faced stoic bringers of death, but that’s a discussion for the roleplaying column I don’t write any longer.) So let’s talk a little bit about the game because that’s what we always do before the fireworks start.

Black Desert is, in some ways, a contemporary of ArcheAge. Not in the sense that it comes from the same developer or anything like that, but in the sense that it’s a mainland Asian game that doesn’t feature typical temport sensibilities. Rather than being a title that was clearly meant to release, be briefly supported, and then shuffle off into the dark, this was very clearly part of a push toward big, sprawling Korean sandboxes.

Also with a big helping of PvP, because who doesn’t like open PvP? Lots of people, really, but shush.

I mean, I sort of get it, but pinning your hopes on things is a fool's errand.

It’s also a contemporary of ArcheAge in the sense that before its launch, there were a whole lot of players who hoped that it would be the Great Eastern Salvation of MMOs in general. And to be fair, it does have a lot of big, sprawling features which are often missing from more recent triple-A titles. The game clearly is a love letter to some of the economic adventures you could have in older games, and it encourages player-run structures, organizations, power dynamics, and so forth.

None of these facts was what turned me off from the game, per se. No, that came down to the fact that it has gender-locked classes, which is one of those things that I hate rather intensely. I’ve never played a game where I like it and I highly doubt I ever will; there’s just something unwholesome about telling me that a lady can’t be an enormous berserker or a man can’t be a Dark Knight or whatever. It doesn’t sit well with me.

It actually goes a step farther than that and recalls one of the more obnoxious habits of the original Guild Wars, where your de facto race is more like your class than anything. So your character creation experience is not about “design character and choose class” but “choose class and then choose from the approved parts of the creator available for this class.” It might seem like a minor issue, but it turned me off.

That was enough to kill my immediate interest, and the PvP environment plus controversy over the game’s cash shop made me a touch wary from the start. However, the game also made the smart move of launching with a buy-to-play model, and a number of people whose opinions I respect were over the moon about the game. Far from being something which launched and then faltered, the game has done pretty well for itself so far. It’s still got a way to go before it can be called a long-term success, but its launch year has certainly gone well, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down too much.

And hey, what do I know? I might wind up enjoying it a lot more than I expected. I’ve had similar surprises before.

I'm cutting it down.

Part of the success is due to the fact that the game has worked on a steady strong of fast updates to get players as close as possible to the game’s original Korean version, and that version doesn’t seem to have slowed down its updates significantly either. Having a lot of stuff to do always helps, especially when that stuff involves a lot of open-world adventuring and new options for classes. I don’t entirely get the whole concept behind the game’s various Awakenings at this point, but I’m sure that I’ll decipher it as I go… and frankly, I don’t think the Dark Knight has one at this point anyhow.

Yes, I’m going to play Dark Knight. I considered that a foregone conclusion. It’s new, so even if you’ve played the game and know far more about it than I do, you’ll be able to hopefully learn something new and interesting.

Of course, the game opens with a tutorial, but from there I only know the barest bits about what I can do from there. I’m going to be going in somewhat blind, and while I know that I could look up guides… well, why not turn it over to you fine readers? In fact, why don’t we make this about more than just picking a handful of options from a poll? Sometimes those can be a bit limited.

For starters, yes, there’s going to be a poll. Let’s say… oh, right here is fine.

CMA: What should I focus on after the tutorial?

  • Commerce and crafting (30%, 96 Votes)
  • PvP and associated frippery (17%, 54 Votes)
  • PvE and questing (53%, 172 Votes)

Total Voters: 322

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But that alone is just going to give me a very loose idea about where to focus. So what I’m asking for from you fine folks is to not just vote in the poll but to give me some advice about what to do. For those of you who have played, what would you recommend? Once I’ve gotten past the bare basics of the tutorial, where should I head off to explore? What sort of things should I stop to see? What’s the most important part of the game I might otherwise miss?

The poll closes on Friday at noon EDT, as usual; suggestions past that may or may not be read, depending on how much time I have and the mood that I’m in. Obviously, the suggestion idea is far less mathematical than a poll, so this idea may or may not work out well, but I’m eager to give it a shot. You can leave your suggestions in the comments, or if you’d rather not open them up for debate you can mail them along to

Next week, we’ll see how this works out and check in after the first few days of the adventure. Please look forward to it.

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. No, you don’t always get to choose the class he plays, he’s a big mean man. But the odds are better that he’ll enjoy the game this way.
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