Desert Oasis: Black Desert Mobile is not just a mobile copy of Black Desert


Last week, I taught my freshman classes basic email etiquette. In a time of distance learning, it’s an important skill to teach. We looked into why etiquette matters, writing professionally, and that CC stands for “carbon copy.” I also taught them how to properly use it.

I’m too young to have ever used it during my own teaching practice, but when I was a student I remember seeing those three-layer sheets of paper with the white paper, a yellow paper, and a pink paper. Writing on the top layer also wrote on the bottom layers, creating an exact copy of the form.

The mobile gaming sphere is full of metaphorical carbon copies, and it would be a fair assumption to think Black Desert Mobile is exactly that. But it’s the total opposite.

Eileen plays a role early in the quest chain. The portrait really adds the subtlety to her character!

Black Desert Mobile is not a carbon copy. It’s its own fully fledged game with its own systems. Even I, someone who’s been playing BDO since early 2018, had to adjust to all the different systems in Black Desert Mobile. For this week’s edition of Desert OasisI’ll look into the differences between the two games. Hopefully, this’ll help those interested in the franchise but don’t know where to start.

The story and the setting

Both games take place on an unnamed continent. The Valencian Black Desert in the east, Calpheon to the west, and everything else in between are places that both games visit. Characters and factions from the PC game are all found in the mobile version. While the PC version does an OK job introducing these factions and characters, players who want to know the setting and the characters should play the mobile version. It tells the story better.

What a time to be alive, right? When a game’s story is told better in the mobile game, there’s something to be said about how far storytelling in mobile games have come. The character portraits are such a nice touch in particular. They add so much color to the game.

All the classes in the PC game will also eventually join the global roster. The Korean servers already have the classes available, while we just recently got the Hashashin update on our end. I’m still waiting for the Tamer and Maehwa to join the fray, but they’ll be in it eventually. But after the classes, that’s where the similarities end. Mechanically, the game is a completely different.

Kzarka is still a pretty tough customer in this game

Black Desert Arcade

Attribute it to the device if you like, but this game feels more like an arcade game. The areas we visit are much smaller and more linear, but they’re filled to the brim with monsters out for blood. Every class gets a dodge ability, and boss monsters have clear tells for when to dodge that incoming attack. Don’t take this as a slight against the game; the combat is as engaging as the one found in its older sibling, but this game places a heavier emphasis on dodging big attacks and dishing out damage as a counter.

This game is much faster for traveling as well. Players can teleport between towns they’ve visited freely and can go to their campsite at any time. The same applies to dungeons and mobs: Mobs are rarely far from a town, and players interested in knocking out some enemies while avoiding an awkward conversation with a cousin you have nothing in common with need not wait long to get into the action.

The screenshot doesn’t do justice to the game in motion. With a powerful phone or the Bluestacks emulator, it’s a joy to play.

In the spirit of “getting to the action” sooner, there are plenty of instanced areas and mini dungeons with a boss in the end. The trash mobs aren’t mechanically demanding, but depending on your character’s gear score, the boss can give a healthy challenge that tests the player’s reflexes and positioning. They’re pretty exciting fights. I don’t know if I’m playing it right, but I like playing against the bosses where I’m closer to the required gear score to squeeze out an extra level of challenge.

Your black spirit and character growth

What’s cuter than a chocobo but much more malicious? The Black Spirit, of course! The little blob gets a nice little aesthetic update as the mobile version makes him look like a mischievous teddy bear more than the freaky-looking robed figure that BDO goes with. But the aesthetic change isn’t the only thing Pearl Abyss changed. The black spirit is the visual representation of your account’s growth; in this game, your in-game account is considered a family. Your characters are thus part of that family. It’s the same way as in the PC game.

Early in the game, there isn’t much to do to level the black spirit. But as you journey, more options unlock for the account

Your character’s power growth has a direct relationship with your black spirit. In the PC game, the spirit gives quests that unlock content that can make your character stronger. In the mobile game, growing your black spirit gives a direct increase in your family’s combat power. The stronger your black spirit, the stronger every subsequent character you create will be. This is achieved by feeding your black spirit with surplus weaponry, armor, and accessories. With every item you feed it, a bar fills up. It’ll level up when you fill the bar and it’ll make your characters stronger.

The black spirit isn’t the only way to rack up power in your mobile characters. There are far more systems in this game to strengthen your characters. In BDO, the primary measure of power is in the gear score, the combined power of the attack power, awakening attack power, and the defense power; 261+ AP and 300+ DP is the main goal of many players. BDM follows the mobile conventions of CP, or combat power. It’s the same concept as gear score, but the number is a lot higher. For the highest-end areas in BDM, the combat power sits at 7000.

There are a lot of stats to strengthen your characters

But how exactly are BDM players expected to get to such insane heights? It’s a long list. There’s the black spirit and character levels are the most basic ones. But let’s not forget that this game is still Black Desert, so gear is going to be a major factor. And this has to be the largest difference from the PC version.

Dressing for success

Those familiar with BDO know about the enchant system. Players use a reagent on an item, and if it procs, the level goes up. If it fails, the item suffers semi-permanent durability damage. After +15 are the iconic PRI, DUO, TRI, TET, and PEN levels. From PRI, failed enhancements lower the weapon’s power level as far down as PRI (thankfully, it will never go back to +15) and suffer the semipermanent durability damage. It’s RNG, and while there are methods to maximize chances and minimize loss, at the end of the day it’s still down to chance and luck.

I shudder at the thought of even getting 1 piece to HEP. Imagine trying to get all the gear to that high of a level.

Black Desert Mobile goes a step further, and by “a” step further, I really mean 10 steps. Weapons and armor go as high as +40. After than, they have PRI, DUO, TRI, TET, PEN, HEX and HEP. Holy crud. I can only imagine how much of a nightmare getting anything to just HEX with this game. The use of black stones carry over from the PC game, but instead of just one type of black stones, there are multiple versions, going from weak stones to grand black stones. Players get to choose how many stones they’ll throw into a piece of gear, and every stone increases the percentage of success. The higher it gets, the more you’ll need.

Even two articles in there’s still so much to talk about! Look forward to the next edition of Desert Oasis, where I cover the bosses, explore the camp system, and how the late game grind feels!

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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