Choose My Adventure: Muddling through the start of Black Desert

Someone's dropping a solo album, from the looks of it.
After my first week of playing, I don’t know if I actually like Black Desert very much. I also don’t know entirely if it’s very good at what it’s trying to do. These are not the same thing.

My first experiences with the game were not exactly what I would call positive, but little of that had to do with the game itself (it’s hardly the game’s fault that one of my credit cards did not want to properly activate, for example, and while that made purchasing the title more annoying that’s really just my own problem). Once I actually got in and started playing with the character creator, though, it… well, it still had problems. But it’s an open question whether those problems are the fault of the game itself or just the problem of who is playing. And I also wonder how many of those will change over time as I do get accustomed to the game.

But, hey, at least it can’t be accused of being generic.

I'm not actually sure if I'm happy with how she came out or not. It seems like a kind of open question.The actual character creator is, I’m sorry to say, the sort of character creator that provokes very mixed feelings from me. On the one hand, I can’t ignore the fact that this creator is intensely powerful. It offers me a whole lot of control to really fine-tune my character as I want… arguably too much power. There are a lot of things to adjust, frequently in ways that seem kind of counterintuitive, and very little guidance on how to use the various parts of it.

Faces, for example, give you the opposite to gently massage every little detail of the facial structure. You can subtly tweak and twirl character hair and the length of specific parts of the hairstyle. There are several dozen parts of the body you individually nudge and move, full-body tattoos that you can carefully customize, and so forth. It’s very elaborate.

It’s definitely built for fine control, but it’s fine control that has two major limitations. The first is that there are some hard-coded limitations in the creator which are not immediately apparent as you run up against them, which are frustrating. The second is that you have no actual basis to start from, no pre-defined lineups that you can use as a basis of comparison for “all right, my character is taller than average” or “this is more of a runner’s body type compared to a body builder or model.”

So I’m conflicted. I like, for example, that I could make a lady with a bulkier body type… but I don’t like that I’m doing so in a vacuum with no basis of comparison to other body types, and I also don’t like that there’s really no way to stop her from wearing high heels or adjusting her muscles to not look as if she’s rolling around in oil on an hourly basis. I have enough control to lose hours in the creator, but not control over the things I actually want. And it’s made all the worse by certain sliders or adjustments that seem to do little to nothing.

Mind you, I am certain – beyond certain, in fact – that there are probably some good tutorials out there which could help me navigate this creator and provide a better baseline. That doesn’t really change the fundamental problem, though.

Once you start the game, you’re treated to an introduction that’s supposedly setting up events of mythic importance but really winds up feeling oddly weightless. “A thing happened, but it was soon forgotten.” That’s great, why are you telling me about it? What bearing does it have on right now? What does that tell me about the world? Then you wake up in the middle of a field with a fuzzy black puffball coaching you through your next actions.

This aspect I honestly like a fair bit, at least so far. I don’t know if this changes, but the Black Spirit is oddly compelling as a narrator and guide who seems to have its own agenda without really filling you in on what’s going on. It keeps insisting that you’re friends, which is the surest sign that you aren’t, but it doesn’t actually seem to have any ill intent baked into its actions. It’s just… there, inscrutable and guiding, and paired with an odd sort of non-voice that has more character than the actual voice acting.

After a couple of “go here and talk to this person” quests, you get introduced to combat. This brought to mind thoughts of a number of games which I rather dislike simply because they have the tendency to shove a bunch of attacks in your face without giving you a clear picture of why each of those attacks might be useful or relevant. I’ve got a small arsenal in my hands, but I don’t yet really understand how all of those abilities work with one another… and the tutorial just lists some of the abilities, followed by the Black Spirit informing me that I must be getting the hang of this now.

The part that bugs me about this armor is that there are a lot of elements of design that I really like. Then she's wearing sheer stockings and metal high heels. It's like she got halfway dressed for combat and then finished getting dressed in a costume shop or something.No, Black Spirit, I’m not, because you told me what they are instead of what they do. (Think of a Mario game telling you just “press A to jump” without mentioning that landing on enemies is your main method of defeating them.) And everything seems to be dying in seconds of just basic attacking, which rather prevents me from learning how these things work.

Is this bad? Sort of. It does mean that the flow of learning what your abilities do as you get them winds up kind of blunted, but I know there are players out there who would prefer to get a handful of skills and figure them out on their own. That’s valid. Beyond that, combat is fast and responsive, and I definitely get the sense of having some impact; the mechanics of Dark Knight are as fun in play as they looked in previews, even if I barely understand how the class is meant to work beyond “hold the left mouse button to attack.”

Please, do let me know if this all feels more natural on a gamepad. That would be helpful.

As it stands, the game definitely throws you into the deep end and expects you to learn how to swim. Which is certainly an approach one can use (for example, it’s how I actually learned how to swim in the real world), and I’d probably appreciate the hell out of it if I had been playing for a while and were starting yet another alt. Alas, I have not been. It’s all rather overwhelming, albeit more from the standpoint of “what am I doing” rather than “there’s too much stuff happening at once.”

I’m relatively certain that I’ll get the hang of it with a bit more time, though. For the moment, the overwhelming vote was to focus on the tutorial and keep in on PvE questing, along with some really great and detailed advice from a whole lot of fans, all of which I very much appreciate. You people are awesome. (A couple of you even sent me in detailed guides by email, so thanks to both Master Nuke and Shenryll for a whole lot of useful advice that’s at least guiding my somewhat disjointed thoughts!)

That having been said, I would like a poll here… and my first week’s adventures actually prompts a concurrent question, so that works well.

CMA: Do you prefer being thrown into the deep end with a new character?

  • Yes, I'd rather figure things out as I go. (35%, 71 Votes)
  • No, I prefer a more gradual introduction. (54%, 110 Votes)
  • The real introduction should come from being ganked by the side of the road and then teabagged. Why does no one want to play games with me? (11%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 204

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Also, I cannot seem to find the keybind for hiding the UI for screenshots, so I have had to have fewer shots than I normally use in these columns. I apologize! Next week will hopefully be better in that regard; until then, please be sure to tell me how obvious things are in the comments or via mail to

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. He also briefly considered letting the audience determine if he should get a haircut, but he knew that was just going to result in having a Mr. T mohawk, so that seemed like a poor choice.
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Ctrl+U will hide the ui, and the more you proceed through quests and level, the more you learn what attacks are useful and not


The thing that truly drove me away was indeed the ridiculous sexism of the clothing. I played a valkyrie – and my plate armor was that puny little strip of metal on my chest area. Oh and a metal belt. No way of avoiding the ultra-short skirts/dress and the heels and these horrible laying-down animations that look more like submissive/suggestive crawling toward someone.
Was spending several month in it and willing to throw money at it so I could look halfway competent. No way, not even the cosmetic items were anything reasonable.
Now I’m in ESO as full on plate mail wearing templar. I miss quite some of the gameplay features of BDO but I don’t care to feel like a belittled sex object in my spare time, thanks.

Oyjord Hansen

The gender-locked classes plus the pure “Asianness*” of the game make it unplayable for me.

*NB: I’m Asian-American and I’m not being racist. The game’s attempt to whore up the women and soften up the men, the silly hair styles, the attempt to make things too cutesy, the horrible voice acting, the ridiculously childish story…all amount to typical Asian gaming. Pass.

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what about the story did you find childish? I understand if you don’t care to elaborate, but personally I found quite a hidden depth in the story.


My personal pet peeve with the story (and something i couldn’t get over) was the delivery of the lore. The one-liner dialogue that doesn’t sound natural (i’m assuming due to localization), coupled with characters and plots being introduced nonchalantly and all over the place made it really hard to really understand what’s going on and where it’s heading. I find that a lot of eastern games “suffer” from the same issue (at least from my perspective), with FFXIV being an exception.


All the laughable female characters for example? Either left alone with the kids to do all the work because their husband was off on some hobby endavour (and this was considered amusing), or immature emotionally (child like, silly, pouty, spoiled, choose one), abusive and demeaning or such? And of course the guards in the towns are all male as are the chiefs or other main characters.
And that weird thing that a town disappears after the explosion and it is just forgotten (quickly, to quote) with no relationship to where that was or what that has to do with the character and why it is the first intro scene?
Or this “king” Crucio, who just let’s his proxy do whatever he wants and nobody interferes or says something? It is all too superficial and laughable in many situations, the world doesn’t even have a name.


As someone with a fair bit of the knowledge unlocked, you’re wrong about female characters. For example in Calpheon there are many examples of women in powerful positions. From the Leight Merchant guild ran by two sisters (one on the Council) to high ranking military officials in the Delphene Knights (Margaret and Elgriffin) there’s a wide spread of female NPCs of all temperments and position. In the very beginning parts of the game, such as the extremely rural areas of Balenos and Serendia, it’s unsurprising that women are in the kinds of positions you mention. However you see in later, more progressed areas, women are in prominent positions such as Ganin Arth the leader of the deployed Valencia military forces the “Black Leopards.”

The town mentioned was in Valencia. The video actually only shows a few of the game launch characters (warrior, berserker, sorceress, ranger, etc). It has to deal with the main character because that’s where the Black Spirit was released, you then made a deal with it for a mysterious reason and it cost you your memories. You later get these back both through the Black Spirit quest as well as through your Awakening.

Crucio was once the king of Serendia. There was a huge war between Serendia and Calpheon because Calpheon wanted Serendia’s marsh black stones. Things were going okay but a sneak attack by Calpheon captured Crucio and he was forced to surrender and is essentially powerless. Jordine is Jarrette’s partner and he’s trying to make Serendia great again by taking revenge on Calpheon.

All of this is in game and in the knowledge. It’s admittedly a lot of stuff to pour through and also acquire but it’s all there. There’s also some good guides out there that walk through what’s going on story wise if you’re too lazy to put all the pieces together yourself!


I’ve played all the way to Calpheon. Margarete is a cheerleader for soldiers who fight and devoted to “all for captain Brego”. Seriously, watch here what she does (and more importantly does not) and what she says (very little, to immediately switch to Brego who deals with the actual issue).

Elina Leigh? Yes, she happens to sit at the table but adds nothing substantial to the game in any importance or quest besides the fact that she does charity to this family. You think that would be something make a male character stand out? Nothing about politics, power plays, trade success and intrique. She sits and sends you to give food to someone. Her sister is more of a factor than Elina – and Norma has been the only women I met in all the game over many month who actually is having respect, a position of clear authority she exerts and impact in the game – without being childish, silly, mooning or spoiled. Of course she only got into that position because her husband was killed. Prior she was a nobody noble woman.
Ganin I haven’t met and can’t judge. But that would still rather stress my point: we have to search and find TWO female characters who might have any importance and realistic standing?

I know about the lore between Serendia and Calpheon, I wrote large lore wiki entries.

Ever heard of the Bechdel test?

Mr Poolaty

I can’t wait for the console release

Melissa McDonald

I think it’s best MMO to come out in last year. Still waiting to see a better one launch in 2017. Hasn’t happened yet.
It’s deep, rich, stable, “play your own way”, best graphics hands-down. No game can be all things to all people. I like it though.


No game can be all things to all people. I like it though.

This. I gave it a shot with the game, it did not entice me enough to continue playing it. Does that make it a bad game – not even close. I’m happy people are finding it enjoyable, and i respect developers who stick with their vision.


The character creator is one of those things, like much of BDO, is really in depth and you can do some really crazy things with it. It took me a huge amount of time to finally come up with a Musa that didn’t look like an oriental character. Thankfully the Value Pack (subscription) comes with the Appearance Coupon that will in turn let you redesign your character as much as you please while active.

The game is complex. I’m fond of saying, “Everything is a thing in BDO.” Admittedly, the game itself does little to coach your way through that complexity. As a completionist player I enjoy this immensely because it gives me a great deal to do. A year into the game and I have yet to get into hunting or really get what hunting is all about. Even if you figure something out it takes a while to really Master. This is something I find sorely lacking in many MMOs today where they are “ankle deep” and you can master/beat them them within 2-4 weeks tops.

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agemyth 😩

That is not a CMA-worthy poll. :harumph


I found it surprising that the character creator, for all its bajillion options…still pretty much puts out toons that (even setting aside the ridiculous class/gender locks) all look like close cousins, if not siblings. I mean, look at – they all look like a bunch of fraternal siblings that decided to color their hair or wear different makeup so people could flipping tell them apart!

I like SO MANY things about how BDO approaches gameplay and mechanics (the Black Spirit and lack of storyline info about him was especially clever), but there are a few (like you can’t give anything but what, food? potions? to anyone) that are really mood-killers for me. The AH price fixing is pretty stupid, class/gender locks are even moreso, and the insistence on grind is the worst.

Good luck in your playthrough; I’m still deeply conflicted on the whole game.

Mr Poolaty

I actually liked the fixed auction house prices


I’m not a fan of BDO’s character creator, or any character creator with a million sliders. I don’t want eight different ways to change my character’s nose. Just give me a few pre-defined noses so I can pick one and move on with my life.
In terms of whether or not BDO is good at what it’s trying to accomplish, I can’t say (even as someone who overall loves it). The game sends me mixed signals in that regard. For every aspect that gives me freedom, there’s another that makes me feel restricted.


Hiding the UI is CTRL-U. Removing the oiled look is the “shine” percentage when changing skin color in face options


Beat me to it!


I wonder if the hide-UI function is disabled, as is (or was?) getting into the settings menu, until you reach a certain part of the tutorial? That was quite a problem for me at launch as somehow the game managed not read the settings file I had left over from beta, in particular key bindings… could not continue without pressing an unbound key (see pic), and couldn’t get to settings to check bindings. (I ended up just wiping the settings file.)

Which also leads into why I voted against a gentle introduction in the poll–it’s often associated with feature gating. I gave up on a certain other Asian import (name rhymes with Vinyl Pantasy Boreteen) because it gated me from using my mount until after something I didn’t want to do (a dungeon).