Choose My Adventure: Black Desert Mobile is absolutely crammed with stuff


This first-ever edition of Choose My Portable Adventure was more hotly contested than I was expecting. By the narrowest of margins – six votes, to be exact — Black Desert Mobile won out the vote against Villagers & Heroes, and so that’s where we start our new year of steered MMO gaming.

I pre-registered for the game and even installed it the moment it was ready, but I never really went too deep before this column, making it as far as the character creator. That said, even from those early few steps, it seemed clear that Black Desert Mobile is a surprisingly robust piece of mobile MMORPG gaming, with a character creator that’s just as in depth and involved as its PC counterpart.

Which is a long way of saying I spent a lot of time fashioning my Valkyrie.

I chose the Valkyrie out of habit, really. Whenever I step in to a new MMORPG, I tend to favor the tanks first, as they provide the survivability I need while I learn the ropes of combat and what happens out in a game’s world. I’m still undecided if that was a wise choice for BDO Mobile, mostly for the fact that I’m yet to feel really truly tested in combat. But boy do I look good carving up some enemies.

Just like the full-size version, combat in this game is flashy, fast-paced, and supremely stylish. My Valkyrie was cleaving through throngs of random wildlife and goblinoids in almost no time at all, and even with only a couple of rudimentary skills, she looked really good doing it. The combat animations in this game are not really beaten by many, whether it’s mobile games or otherwise.

In fact, for a mobile MMO, this game looks desperately pretty overall. I’m playing on an LG G7 ThinQ, which handles things well, though not on what I’d call a particularly crispy framerate and not without some graphical load-in. Still, I can’t say I was surprised by this – the PC version had that problem when last I played, so I was pretty much prepared for it. As a result, I find that BDO Mobile is a desperately pretty piece of gaming, mobile or otherwise.

About the only thing I could fault this game for is the amount of crap that’s on the screen. There are a lot of little buttons that clutter the corners of my mobile device, and several of them blink and glow like a semi-restrained pachinko machine. These UI elements generally do aim me at things that I’m meant to collect like login rewards, achievement rewards, and other freebies, so I suppose it’s not a big deal. Still, there are a lot of these buttons everywhere. Also, BDO Mobile is guilty of the cardinal sin of the login popup ad for its own store, which I detest.

Even so, BDO Mobile has made a strong first impression, at least in terms of general visuals and combat feel. As for the regular gameplay beats, the mobile version once more seems to follow its big brother in that the early game’s hub-style questing serves as a tutorial for the many systems that BDO Mobile has to offer. And, just like its cousin, this game has lots of systems; already I’ve been introduced to pets, equipment enhancement, feeding the Black Spirit, Boss Fights, and my own Campsite.

It sounds like a lot when put on paper, but thus far these tutorial quests have done a solid job of layering things on at a reasonable pace. There are a whole lot of currencies and materials one has to keep in mind, and I’m not really often too clear how many I have at any given moment right now. Still, when I get to the associated UI element, it becomes pretty clear within moments what things I need to perform what activity.

And it just seems to keep piling on, too. Black stones for armor, black stones for weapons, silver, pet food, food for Workers, gathered materials; there is so much stuff in this game. It’s loaded with stuff. It’s honestly a bit dizzying.

And, frankly, a bit worrying. A cursory glance of the game’s cash shop shows a multitude of items that appear to be geared to the pay-for-convenience route, and while the amount of freebies I’ve been getting from the game for doing even the most rudimentary of things has been alarmingly generous, it also makes me wonder at what point the rug will be pulled out from beneath my feet. Because I know it’s coming. That well is going to dry up any moment now…

Still, I am having way more fun in this game than I thought I would. Don’t let detractors fool you, it’s not quite the auto-playing thing that a game like Lineage II Revolution may be. There is auto-pathing to quest objectives, sure, and pressing combat buttons does lock your character to the nearest enemy to engage the skill. That said, it’s more active than one might assume, and certainly a lot more engaging. And, again, it’s hard to hate an auto-targeting action combat model when it looks this good.

In fact, I’m so keen to keep on playing Black Desert Mobile that I’ve even got a poll option lined up! Right now, most of my stuff is focused on the PvE/tutorial beats, but I’m nearing the point where I should be able to unlock the PvP Arena and even the Boss Rush in a matter of a couple of hours, so I’d be willing to give those a shot. Or, perhaps, I should just focus on the PvE stuff that’s unfurling before me first. So, which direction should I go?

What should be my primary activity in Black Desert Mobile?

  • The PvP Arena. Because PvP on mobile has to be not so great, right? (18%, 22 Votes)
  • Boss Rush. Fight the big fellas! (33%, 39 Votes)
  • The PvE quests. Ignore the extra stuff and just level up. (49%, 59 Votes)

Total Voters: 120

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Like usual, polling will end at 1:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 10th. In the meantime, I’m going to hop back in, auto-walk to some more quest objectives, and maybe continue to grow in levels, CP, and general power. I’m seriously eager to see what more stuff this game hands over to me.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.

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Beat rush feels strange. You kill the boss in manual to unlock it and your reward is unlocking beat-rush which makes the boss repeatable with multiple leveland can be completed with auto-combat on. I did a couple last night while making sandwiches.

Vitor Braz

I really liked Black Desert Mobile, and I can appreciate the camp as its own medieval-building kind of side-game. If they had the boldness to send all mobile conventions to hell, they would have scrapped auto-combat.

I know that you can’t auto-combat some missions, but they should have pushed players to use combat at all times, since it is probably the best in a mobile MMORPG. The grind would take more time, but that would be a good thing for me since you’d be actually interacting and using your skills, not watching your character play by itself.

Games that have to be played? Tsk, that would be nuts, right?

Hikari Kenzaki

As we’ve talked about, I’m having quite a bit of fun with it. I haven’t played in a couple of days and I’m kinda regretting it, heh.

Also, BDO Mobile is guilty of the cardinal sin of the login popup ad for its own store, which I detest.

Point of order, the login pop-up isn’t really the cash shop, it’s the daily login stuffs and freebies. .

See the pictures below. No links to the Pearl shop. Nothing that sends you to the store. All the things a player might need to play the game and/or freebies. Not something you should ignore.

Hikari Kenzaki

They’re actually all useful.
Patch notes.

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Yeah, I actually like the popup. It’s got cash shop stuff in there, but it’s also got your rewards and recent info on updates etc.

It’s a heavily monetized game for sure, but they’ve made it not feel like it’s constantly trying to reach into your wallet and take money out (at least for me) which is a nice change of pace.

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I was looking forward for a V&H articles … next time? :-)

BDO is a beautiful game and i want to try it but i can’t, i live in a country restricted from accessing the game, and yet the website allowed me to make account, download the client, and in the client tells me that i can’t even download the game.

Sent a ticket to delete my account and suggested that they provide this info before allowing people to make accounts.

I know this have nothing to do with article, just frustrated, i thought after all these years things will change.

Hikari Kenzaki

There are *ahem* ways around that. That’s how I played the SEA version.

Rodrigo Dias Costa

I was looking forward for a V&H articles …

Me too. My phone won’t run this game, and I was hoping to see a mobile option to my daily commute. Oh well, there’s hope for the next one!

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Almost made a valk, but since I played that on PC I went with witch. Been having a blast auto-playing the game. It’s probably got more menu’s than the EVE mobile game (which was too many for me), but it feels much more manageable. Especially since the game constantly yells at you when you have shit to collect or upgrade etc.

Pretty as hell game for the most part, even if it can look kinda pixely zoomed out. And runs surprisingly well on my “old” Galaxy S8 (3 year old phone, it’s a dinosaur!)

Biggest gripe is inventory management. I guess I could find a bank and try to stash a ton of stuff, but that’s really my only annoyance. Been enjoying the heck outta it otherwise, and I’m hoping more of the characters from PC make it over, even if my witch is only like level 40 because I play too infrequently.

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Just keep going with the story. Until you get to 2,300+ CP it’s the best way to progress and gain power at a good clip. Also work on building out your camp as it will become essential before long for higher level progression. Basically just follow the “Path to Power” and it will keep you pointed in the right direction. The one big thing I’d say skip for now is Node Manager, until you have your main camp fully built out.

Boss Rushes and Ancient Ruins are a nice break once in a while from the questing grind, just clear them once a day or so for daily rewards and when you have an excess of passes and tablets on hand. They will provide loads of silver and eventually lots of green and blue gear via Shakatu’s Shop to feed the Black Spirit. Once in a while Shakatu may even give you some gear you can actually use. Maybe.

I have to say overall I’m very impressed with this game. I’m not much of a mobile gamer and tried BDO a couple times on console and just could not get into it. The standard version on console just feels clunky, weird, and baffling to me. The mobile version though is both the first MMO/RPG that I’ve really gotten into on any handheld platform, and the first mobile game that I’ve had any enthusiasm for at all. Played it more in the first couple weeks than I have any new MMO for a long time, on any platform.

Big part of that, tbh, is the auto-path and auto-play features, and the AFK / offline grinding modes, which combined with the fact that it’s on my phone makes me feel like it’s completely available to play anytime, anywhere (actually all the time and everywhere so far). Whether I have an hour to plow through boss rushes or just a minute to roll over camp tasks and reset my Black Spirit Mode grind, there is always something I can pick it up and do with zero waiting or fiddling.

Relatedly, I’ve been waiting for a long time for a proper MMO to come to Switch and so far have been disappointed in every one that has tried. Having seen this now, I really, really hope that they decide to port BDM to handheld instead of downscaling the regular console version even more. It would be simply brilliant on Switch and would beat the pants off every other MMO or MMO-alike that has tried so far.