I had originally intended this piece to focus on playtime in Villagers & Heroes, but I didn’t get in enough to do it justice, so that’ll have to wait. The good news is that I was able to take a much closer look at the cash shops for both Villagers & Heroes and Black Desert Mobile, so I can instead report my thoughts there – and you may like this part better anyway.
We’ll start with Black Desert, which absolutely rides hard on the pay-for-convenience train. It likes to offer up all sorts of consumables, materials, and currencies in its shop, with a couple of cosmetic items sprinkled in. There are also some bundles that pack together a few of these different types of items as well.
The cosmetics section is what I tend to like most in my cash shops, and I have to say, the offerings in BDM’s shop are pretty weak. There were only three looks that were on offer, and only one of them tickled my fashion nerve. Otherwise there was some horse barding, a few pets, and these bunny ears. Disappointing, if you ask me.
The vast majority of the cash shop is all about those other things. There are health potions and stamina potions, there are weapon and armor-enhancing black stones, there are fragments of Relics and Lightstones as well as bundles of those same items, there’s food that can be planted for your camp… basically, it’s a lot of convenience.
How convenient those items really are is kind of up in the air for me still. The game does like to throw a lot of free stuff at you as you play, including enhancement stones, Lightstones, and potions. I also have found more than a few things from killing monsters like plant seeds for the camp. It really seems to be less about buying what’s missing and more about having vast stockpiles of these materials; there’s a Sunflower item that coughs up over 1,000 units of food for your camp, for example.
The cash shop of Villagers & Heroes is fairly similar by comparison, though its boosts feel a little less like convenience and a little more like smoothing the advancement curve, especially when it comes to activities like gathering.
I think the nearest this store gets to an uncomfortable point is the Sockets item, which lets you add additional sockets to weapons and armor when you Gnogment (destroy lesser items to strength new items). Having these extra sockets grant extra feats, spells, and proficiencies as described in the item’s tooltip itself inches pretty close to pay-for-power. Then again, I also didn’t really feel like I was in any danger or like I was being hamstrung while I was playing with regular drops and typical Gnogmenting. Both stores do have some pieces of gear for purchase as well, but they didn’t really provide what seemed on paper to be a worrying power boost.
The biggest sticking point for these stores is the real-money value of their respective cash shop currencies. Black Desert Mobile’s lowest cost funny money offering is 40 Pearls for 99 cents, while the lowest number of Crowns for Villagers and Heroes is 70 Crowns for $4.99. That strikes me as a teensy bit greedy, especially when you consider that Black Desert Mobile hands out an alternate form of Pearl currency that drops for free, as well as Ancient Coins that can be turned in for some random pieces of gear.
So where does that leave us with these two mobile MMOs? Ultimately, I’m pretty pleased that I’ve played both of them, especially since they’ve effectively jolted me out of the assumption that mobile gaming hasn’t made any real advances. BDM in particular feels like a quantum leap in terms of presentation and PC game-like bombast, while V&H really replicates the traditional PC MMORPG feeling on a small screen. They both approach mobile gaming differently, and they both have acceptable cash shop nonsense going on, though V&H pushes the envelope a bit too hard with its Crowns pricing.
I think, in the end, I am liking Black Desert Mobile just a little bit more because of that. It really does seem to pointlessly pile on the advancement mechanics and the ways your character rises in power level, but it also seems uncommonly generous in general. Also, I can’t deny that it’s fast pace just feels more fun. Honestly, though, there’s enough to like in Villagers & Heroes that I can appreciate how it gets a fanbase. Until we get WoW Mobile, this game certainly feels like a good stand-in. Assuming, of course, that’s the kind of MMORPG gaming experience you’re looking for.
Now that I’ve experienced the pocket version of the game, I think it’s high time I really try to dive in to the big brother version. Yes, next month, we’ll be putting away our cellphones and firing up our PCs (or consoles if that’s how you play) as we move on to Black Desert Online proper.
Why this game? Is it because of the mobile game? Is it because of all those ads Pearl Abyss is running? Nope – actually, it’s you, the readers. There were so many people in our audience (and on our staff!) who felt that Black Desert should have gotten the nod for Best MMORPG of 2019 that I feel like I really need to dig in to try and evaluate just why that’s the case. I’m also hoping to perhaps pick the brain of our own Desert Oasis columnist Carlo Lacsina for some help in this little adventure.
First, of course, is the question of what to roll as. I’ve been playing around with a Dark Knight for about 10 levels or so, but I also have been keeping an eye on a couple of other classes, such as that beefy-looking (and shiny new) Guardian. So that’s this week’s poll: Tell me what class to roll!
Which class should I select for our Black Desert Online adventure?
- Musa. Live your best samurai life. (14%, 8 Votes)
- Guardian. Big stompy axe lady! (37%, 21 Votes)
- Dark Knight. Stick with your current character. (11%, 6 Votes)
- Lahn. Kung-fu finesse it up. (39%, 22 Votes)
Total Voters: 57
As usual, polling closes at 1:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 31st. In the meantime, here’s to some further Black Desert adventure, and maybe to learning just whether my own personal vote for Game of the Year was misguided.