Desert Oasis: Hands-on with Black Desert’s new Guardian awakening

    
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Desert Oasis: Hands-on with Black Desert’s new Guardian awakening

Wow, that was fast. Kakao and Pearl Abyss just released the Guardian last week, and we’re already gearing up for awakening her. Just take a peek at the Black Desert PC roadmap. It looks like the devs are busy getting the Guardian up to parity with the rest of the other classes in a big hurry. I literally just did the Guardian’s preview in the last column, and here I am already previewing her awakening!

When the Guardian awakening was previewed a month ago at the Calpheon Banquet, there was a lot of speculation about her weapon. Was it a hammer? Was it a magic staff? Was it a ball-on-a-stick with a retractable chain with some insane range and a long range grab? It turns out the philosophical rule of Occam’s razor, where the simplest answer is the right one, was the way to go. It’s a bigger axe.

Her awakening weapon really could have been anything. She really gave off some “Oracle of Delphi” vibes too.

Ok, well maybe it’s not exactly a bigger axe. It’s more of a halberd. I’m not going to argue if a hotdog’s a sandwich here. Whether or not a halberd is just a bigger axe or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that the awakening is a bigger, slower, heavier-hitting weapon that expands on what the Guardian’s playstyle already is.

That was a good choice. One of the main issues players had with other classes’ awakenings was the dramatic changes in playstyle from the initial characters. The most obvious example was the Ranger. She went from an arrow-slinging battle maiden to a short-ranged, duel-wielding sword dancer type. As my Ranger mains out there will attest, a good Ranger player is a total monster in a fight, but the dramatic playstyle change was pretty sudden.

The Guardian’s original grab attack gets even better when she awakens. It’s got a long animation; it’s at least three seconds. Those longer animation times are problematic, as they can’t be canceled. In a 1v1 situation, it’s a great skill. I couldn’t really playtest getting hit mid-animation in the time I played, but I wouldn’t be grabbing when I’m outnumbered. It also automatically switches from the mainhand weapon to the awakening weapon, so it’s a good way to combo between them.

Another skill that switches to her awakening is her F skill. Like her grab, it’s a deadlier version of her original F skill. She pushes her opponent away before dashing forward, running down anything in her path. It’s easily canceled, so if players need it just to swap to the weapon quickly, the option’s there. If players need to switch back to the axe and shield, simply doing her left/right+RMB skill quickly swaps her to her main weapon.

She is still a slow-hitting character, and she’s enhanced with larger AoE attacks. Holding back and the left mouse button initiates a three hit combo that increases her attack speed for 20 seconds. Higher attack speeds are always welcome with the character type, and it’s a great addition. It’s also an AoE attack and will clear a whole room. Most of her skills fit this theme: They buff her and deliver massive AoE damage. Despite her slow speed, she clears mobs easily with her attack skills.

Getting this thing to PEN was a huge pain, of course I’m going to want to include it in her combos!

She gets a powerful crowd control with her shift+RMB attack. And she does a powerful jumping attack that propels her forward. Anything it hits afflicts victims with “bound,” so it’s basically a root. If it’s used on a knocked down character, they’ll both have the “down attack” and “down smash” modifiers. Both add extra damage. To ensure the attack hits, the Guardian is then blessed with super armor during the animation. It makes her immune to any sort of crowd control as she does the attack.

Quite a few of her awakening skills have this super armor. Her forward+RMB, shift+LMB attacks, and shift+F skills include super armor. They’re all great tools for in both offensive and defensive situations. She’s got many tools in pretty much any sort of PvP situation, and I certainly would not want to have to pick a fight with one of these characters.

Her sustain gets even better when she awakens. Her shift+Q, in its original form, heals her for a massive amount by using her stamina and finishes off with an AoE. In her awakening, the heal is likewise there, but the finishing AoE is ranged.

It’s hard to find weaknesses in this character. Despite her speed, she’s going to be tough to kill regardless. Shes a solid pick, but that’s not surprising. Of course she’s going to be.

But something’s been bugging me about the game, specifically with the ballooning number of classes: What exactly is Black Desert’s plan with all these characters anyway?

The new class releases are major events for Black Desert. It also drives income; people are buying weapon swap tickets, outfits, bags, weight, and whatever knick-knacks that’ll make building a new character easier. But I could already see flaws in that model; we’re going to get into situation like MapleStory where there are 39 different classes. And building characters in Black Desert is a time-consuming, and sometimes expensive, foray.

I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I can imagine maybe three more class releases before the studio has to slow down and possibly move on to focusing on Crimson Desert. I think it should slow down. If there’s too many characters, that’s a lot of moving parts. Unfortunately, for all my love for BDO, I still know that Pearl Abyss carries a much-deserved reputation of not knowing how to balance its game. And with the overwhelming number of classes, successions, and awakenings, it’s going to be a huge challenge to balance, even if the balance team gets better.

Of course, as with life, it’s good to just enjoy the moment. The Guardian’s awakening arrives on February 5th, 2020. As of this writing, players will have about a week to level her to 56 through a variety of Guardian leveling events in the upcoming week. Of course, if you’ve got that all done, there’s still plenty to do in this epic MMO.

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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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

Always enjoy reading your stuff, Carlo!

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Khrome

A new character is much, MUCH cheaper to produce, and to make money off of, than new actual content, sadly.

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3dom

> What exactly is Black Desert’s plan with all these characters anyway?

“Plan” should not be used in the same sentence as “Black Desert” – its development is completely chaotic. Like after leveling the Guardian I’ve found out I can – or more like should – safely delete all my L56-58 alts and re-level each of them to 61 in a weekend via questing. This way they’ll get like +30 inventory slots each.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Since it was on sale on Steam for 4 dollars, I picked up BDO and well…

I do not understand the love for this game.

My UI is all over the place, the storyline is word salad, many of the npcs I have met so far seem to be having fits while they talk to me, I have no idea how to chat in any kind of general or broadcast setting just to ask people questions.

As such I have only gotten to the part where the two archaeologists tell you you have black energy and then the little soot sprite gets bigger.

The game just wears me out to play.

Guess I am NOT the target audience on this one.

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Alex Willis

My “in” was the production economy minigame. It is weirdly compelling. It very much requires you to build rep and management skills and I really liked the relationship to owning property in the towns/villages where the activity was happening. If I could play a life-simulator set in this world, I would. But sadly for me, I was not interested much in the action game or the story, which are **gestures vaguely**. Still the best-designed towns in any MMO, though.

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losludvig

story is meh and the combat isn’t that great until around 30+. But once it gets good, the combat is a lot of fun and I enjoy mindlessly grinding away.
I 100% agree about the UI, it’s always been bad and they keep adding to it.
Sidenote: article mentions hitting 58 before next week, shouldn’t that be 56, as that’s the level for awakenings?

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IronSalamander8 .

I had a friend use their free trial for me way back when it first launched in the NA market. It looks amazing for sure, and lots of customization options, but the rest just didn’t work for me at all. When your game already feels grindy and I’m maybe level 12 or so at most, there’s a problem. It normally takes me awhile to notice the grind MMOs have, not this one. Also the black spirit was super annoying and that didn’t help.

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Bionicall

I guess I fall into a very small camp that actually enjoyed the story. Yes, it wasn’t innovative, it was also very difficult to understand what was going on (I actually had an article penned up to explain it). They did put a fair amount of effort into the rework, as I discovered when I tried the new Guardian. It now branches at various points such that you don’t over-level the zones. It does mean that you only get 1/3 of the old complex interwoven threads.

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Arktouros

The Black Spirit main quest lines are really even only a fraction of the over all game story. Huge chunks of the game’s history and backstory are basically in things like Historical Knowledge categories and other Knowledge based unlocks. All the character stories (as in the characters we choose) have their own stories, largely tied to Awakening unlock knowledges. Really gotta work for it.

I for one liked it over all, and enjoy having to work to figure out the mysteries of a world rather than it just all being handed to me.

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Bionicall

I agree. The story certainly felt more rewarding and deep when it had to be searched for. However the “Black Spirit main quest line(s)” is what most people will see and consume. The cut scenes are still mostly the same, but the speech has been redone to try and help with understanding, and yet I still feel it could be explained better.

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Arktouros

Guess I am NOT the target audience on this one.

Probably not.

Not sure how you make the UI more intuitive. There’s a HP and resource bar up left. There’s an ability bar down below that new abilities automatically get added to. There’s a chat in the bottom left hand corner. There’s a mini-map radar in the upper right. Okay we’ve described just about every MMO in the last 20 years.

You have to work to squeeze the story out of this game. You have to do knowledge and history unlocks by talking to people to understand who is where and why they are there. You have to do obscure quest lines to figure out what happened to that ruined castle. Completely not a game for people who play for story.

You probably saved yourself a lot of headaches not talking to people in chat cause they absolutely would have memed and made fun of you. It’s that kinda community. As always if you or anyone has any BDO questions you can always throw them up in a BDO article and someone will help ya out.

You got about 15 minutes into the game, even if took ya a bit longer than 15 mins, which if you dislike it after 15 minutes of game play I guess got with your gut instinct? I dunno.

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Mia DeSanzo

I am finding the new chat groups friendlier and more helpful than server chat (at least on Valencia), but I don’t think they make it overly obvious to find. I don’t think it is overly obvious that it exists.

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Arktouros

Really? I’ve noticed the heck out of them on the Escape menu. The “Community” section is highlighted and it has a big old “NEW” on them.

I just never clicked on them because honestly this game’s community has pretty much been the worst one I’ve ever seen in a game. Probably going to get really bad again here in 2020 being another election year. Back in 2016 it was unreal, thankfully that Chat Filters button carried me through it.

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Mia DeSanzo

Fair enough. I mean, that’s how I found them, although I had no idea what they were. I just click on all the new things though. :)

I do see where you are coming from on the community, especially as it plays out on server chat. That is often like an open sewer running through a bad neighborhood. No doubt the election year will be rough. Chat Filter = Wise move.

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Arktouros

The custom chat filter is easily the one feature I wish every game had in it. Type in what word you want gone. Boom. Done.

Course these days I just turn off server chat entirely. Like I can appreciate some good sewage, but it’s all just done to death at this point. Like come up with something fresh already, repeating the same jokes for 4 years is just old.

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Khrome

If you criticize anything in BDO, the graphics aren’t it.

At what settings are you playing? What you’re describing sounds like you have the game running at the ‘raid’ settings, the lowest of the lowest, meant to be used only for large pvp fights. Try setting the game to ‘Remastered’.

Also, set the filter from ‘Vibrance’ to ‘Off’, which will fix the “darkness” you’re describing.