Desert Oasis: Finding the Shai’s place in our Great Valencian Black Desert

    
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Black Desert is no stranger to controversies. Whether because of the addition-and-removal of its battle royale or its enchantment mechanics, it does a pretty good job of pulling aggro from MMO gamers. I wouldn’t exactly call the Shai’s release as controversial per se; it was more surprising. But it’s sparked some really good discussions both regarding her age and whether or not it was even necessary to add this class.

I initially did not consider playing the Shai beyond her creation event, but I think that’s going to change now. She’s still not going to replace my Tamer, but I can safely say she’s going to be a solid primary alt. For one, she’s an absolutely adorable character, and I totally enjoy seeing her fling her florang to and fro, slicing up enemies in the process. On the other hand, she’s a practical alt pick for me. In node war, she will be your hard healer. And that’s what makes her such a great pick for more casual players. She’s so much easier to gear for when it comes to getting them set up for node wars. And she’ll be a great way to introduce players to the various lifeskills.

Still my favorite pose in this entire game!

Many serious PvP guilds require a gearscore of between 500 and 600. The gearscore is calculated by finding the average between a player’s attack AP (attack power) and their awakening AP. In the simplest terms, attack AP comes from the player’s main weapon and accessories that give any extra AP. The awakening AP comes from the class’ awakening weapon – a weapon obtained at level 56 that changes the playstyle. (It oftentimes completely replaces the other main weapon.)

The average between those two numbers is then added to the player’s DP (Defense power), calculated by the sum total of armor and defensive accessories. So if a player has 250 AP, 250 awakening AP, and 250 DP, then she has a gearscore of 500.

It’s different for Witches, Wizards, and now the Shai. Because of those classes’ support abilities, many guilds don’t mind picking up players with a gearscore of 450; this makes it so much easier for players interested in doing some form of PvP while they build up another character. And that’s what makes Shai such a great addition: She’s flexible in that sense and will make a difference in the battlefield, plus it’s relatively easy to build up to that gearscore.

Right now, there’s not much differentiation between the Shai and the other support spellcasters; however, when Pearl Abyss releases her awakening weapon, the lute, the current speculation is that it will have a focus on buffing, healing, and debuffs more than other classes. Awakening weapons aren’t just stronger versions of the character’s beginner weapon. They come with completely new movesets and oftentimes make drastic changes to the playstyle. For example, the Dark Knight goes from a close range character to a mid-range spellcaster. I’m pretty confident that this’ll be the way PA goes when the awakening weapon comes.

If combat is not your jam, I still recommend rolling one because she already starts out as a professional in both alchemy and gathering. Lifeskills are basically professions from something like WoW. They are the crafting, gathering, and non-combat related roles players pick up. There are 10 total. Players can specialize in one or do all of them. The 10 roles are gathering, fishing, hunting, cooking, alchemy, processing, horse training, trade, farming (the plant-seeds-and-harvest-them kind of farming), and sailing. They all have their own levels, and there’s no max level. After a certain point, it’ll just take a really long time to level up to the next level. There’s also a ranking for it so competitive players can do just that! It’s a great way to make that sweet, sweet, cash. No matter where you fall, Shai will be a pretty good place to start.

Its not about horse armor anymore; it’s the era of the donkey hat.

The Shai didn’t just bring a reliable healer and readily available gathering class to the table; she also carted along a fair share of interesting discussions about her age. It would be an understatement to say that her introduction made many gamers uncomfortable, tilting their heads in confusion. When I first heard of the character, I was surprised too. “Man, they actually went there, huh?” was my knee-jerk reaction. Black Desert already had the lolita character with the Tamer. For many, she was already challenging a decency boundary, but the Shai went a step further. This character straight up looks like a second grader.

Even apart from the obvious memes, BDO players have been discussing this seriously. Did Black Desert just cross a line by the way it portrays a child-like character? A lot of folks believe it’s at least nearing that line and that PA needs to be very careful with her development. It’s nothing new, and plenty of Asian MMOs have inserted similar characters before, but what differentiates Black Desert from those other games is how much bigger this game is both financial viability and visibility.

Pearl Abyss – and Kakao too – have a lot of money to throw around. Thanks to the Xbox port and sponsoring last year’s Twitchcon, PA is part of our western zeitgeist. For many, Black Desert represents a big-time Korean MMO, one of the few that have broken into the top tier of our genre, so its actions will be more scrutinized than lesser-known MMOs imports. It might seem inconsequential and even expected from other such titles, but Black Desert is different. This is a huge game that just released its second lolita-esque class. Of course this is going to set off red flags for some gamers.

As long as they keep the outfits classy like this, it should be fine.

So far, it’s pretty clear that Pearl Abyss is being very careful, and hopefully it stays that course. The company made the right choice by doubling down on how adorable and silly the Shai can be. She has a special emote that lets her sit on her donkey backwards (though you can’t ride it that way), and many of her moves are both funny and cute at the same time. And for now, her clothes are appropriate for her apparent age thanks to the inclusion of pants with her outfits.

Her cash shop items are also tame (so far). For example, one of the cash shop items available for all classes is underwear, but for the Shai? They’re pajamas. This is exactly how Pearl Abyss needs to handle this character. And as long as it keeps up that clear tasteful boundary, I don’t foresee any issues with it.¬†Granted, some players on Reddit have voiced concerns that we might see something called the “kibelius” outfit come for the Shai. It’s a very revealing outfit for the female classes, and people are worried that PA might begin selling something like that, including me. But as long as the studio sticks to its pants-and-pajamas philosophy for its childlike toon, we should be fine.

Overall, she’s a great addition to the roster. As long as Pearl Abyss is careful with the monetization and localization of her portrayal, there shouldn’t bee too much issue. But for me, I’m glad I finally have someone to plant my crops.

The Great Valencian Black Desert is a dangerous place, but thankfully there’s always a chance for respite. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina every other week for just that in Desert Oasis, our Black Desert column! And don’t worry; he promises he won’t PK you. Got questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to send a message!
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