Desert Oasis: Checking back in on Black Desert Mobile, almost one year later


It’s been a while since I checked in on Black Desert Mobile for Desert Oasis. In fact, I haven’t really played it since my initial first impressions. I did play it when it came out, but I couldn’t really get attached to it compared to the PC version. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a bad mobile game. In fact, along with V4, it’s one of the best mobile games available right now. I think this game has the same issue as music producer DJ Khalid does: It’s suffering from success. Both the PC and the mobile game are great, but since they’re full games, I can only pick one if I want to make meaningful progress in it.

In other words, Black Desert Mobile is not just some low effort mobile game to cash in on the franchise. It’s a fully realized Black Desert title that I honestly think does a few things better than its older sibling on the PC. That’s awesome, but when you’re like me and well-entrenched in the PC version, it’s going to be difficult to uproot and transition into this title. But with the PC version’s season on a short break, and with my newfound interest in mobile gaming, I decided it’s a good time to check out what’s been going on recently with the game. So for today’s edition of Desert Oasis, let’s take a peek at the happenings in Black Desert Mobile.

Getting back into the swing of things

For my return, I decided to roll a Dark Knight. I have some experience with her, and let’s not beat around the bush here: She’s a real cutie. When I finished creating my character, which didn’t take long since I just used one of the top-rated ones and made adjustments to my liking, I was bombarded with the sheer number of prizes this game just had to give me.

Look at all the stuff players need to check daily. Intimidating.

The game is very dense. There’s so much to do, there are so many events going on, and when I started the game again, I spent the first hour sifting through the myriad events and prizes I need to keep collecting. There’s so many that it makes my head spin. Sometimes there would be a notification about a prize I need to collect, but I don’t know where to tap. So there’s this errant notification for a prize I need to collect, but I have no idea where it is on the screen! Look, when a notification is blaring an exclamation point, I just need to get rid of it. And when I can’t, then I guess I’m just SOL, right?

One of the many compromises made when it comes to these free-to-play mobile games has to be making sure free players have a worthwhile experience, and that usually comes in the form of free stuff. And this game gave me so much free stuff that I had no idea what to do with it all. I had to spend another hour just figuring out what I have to do with the 1500 lightstone fragments the game just chucked my way.

There’s something to be said about getting so much free stuff, but even just organizing everything is a daunting task. And that’s one of the issues I have with BDO Mobile as a returner. I won’t just be able to play immediately. They want to show players the goodwill so they give a ton of free stuff but getting back on the wagon requires figuring out where what goes. And it’s even more problematic when I’m short on inventory space and weight.

Going on that epic quest!

When I finally got my inventory items and prizes under control, it was time to go out and start the main story quest. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the lore of Black Desert, the mobile title is the best way to experience the story. The story is the exact same thing as what’s found in the PC version, but the presentation is so much nicer. Whenever NPCs have lines, a semi-animated portrait of them shows up and they’re really well drawn. It’s way better than just having the usual NPC close-ups you’d get from the PC version. The characters are vibrant, they’re lively, and they show personality flair way better – and it adds to the adventure.

It’s a good thing the adventure is so much better because unlike the story on the PC and console versions, the main story quest here is required. The game’s quest will take players through each of the game’s major cities, and players won’t be able to travel to cities like Calpheon and Altinova until they’ve actually been there. This was a little bit of a letdown for me since one of the main draws of Black Desert is how much freedom players get from the very beginning. In BDO Mobile, players will need to play through the Velia chapter to unlock Heidel. So this game feels more like a themepark MMO in terms of pacing.

Something I particularly like about the game is how familiar it is to me. This is BDO Mobile’s version of Karanda Ridge

The story is also character-bound, so players will need to play through the storyline on newer characters… but the game offers an auto-quest only as far as your most developed character has done. So if one character has the story finished up until her first arrival in Glish, subsequent characters will have the autoquest option available to do the quests needed to get there. It’s a nice convenience option, and I’d say it’s not too invasive considering the game wants you to play it.

The campsite is a key feature in this game, be sure to check it daily!

The biggest difference in Black Desert Mobile is the campsite. Unlocked trough the main storyline, the camp serves as the game’s primary way to progress an account. Players build up their camps, adding gardens, taverns, alchemy shops, blacksmiths, and a variety of other things to help players generate resources and act as a central hub for daily missions. This is certainly the most “mobile” gameplay mechanic in this game. It harkens to those city building games that litter the mobile gaming scene, but it’s not the main way to play the game. At the end of the day, the best part of the game is the combat.

Home is where the grind is

This game is still Black Desert. It’s got an entertaining and engaging combat system, and even the mobile version has a punch to it. Hits just feel heavy. Connecting attacks reward players with crunchy sound effects, a little screen shake, and some big damage. The Dark Knight’s attack glow their signature purple and black with violent explosions ripping through familiar beasties. It’s a treat to watch, even on mobile.

It’s also even more fun to actually play the game. The most awesome thing I have to say about the mobile control is that it’s actually playable with a bluetooth controller. I used a PS4 controller myself, and that made all the difference. I’m not a huge fan of playing games on a touchscreen personally; it hurts my hands, so having the option to run the game with a controller is awesome. Unfortunately, it’s not fully implemented in that it’s strictly for combat. Players will still need to interact with the screen to go through their inventory and complete quests.

I hope Pearl Abyss adds more controller functionality with this because it really does make a huge difference; it makes me more invested in the combat and the grinding. And finding ways to make the grind fun is something many players would prefer developers do rather than just add more auto-play.

While the game does feature auto-combat, it’s not a replacement for it. It’s best for moments when players have to put away their phone – say, when the teacher walks over to make sure work is being done or when moving between trains. So many things drop in this game, and the limited inventory spaces means players will need to keep checking back regularly – enough that it’s honestly better to just play the game because this game’s inventory system is a total nightmare.

I enjoyed my time back into this version of Black Desert, and I’m not kidding when I say this game is still one of the best mobile MMORPGs out there. I’ve only scratched the surface this week. Join me next time when I dive deeper into the various systems and the dailies. Like I said, this game is dense. 

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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