Desert Oasis: Black Desert has grown so much in its 3333 days of life


Black Desert is celebrating 3333 days of operation today. That’s a little over nine years, with plenty more in store. The Scholar class just released, there’s a whole new region, there’s going to be a bunch of really important quality of life changes on the way, and Pearl Abyss is planning to drop in Seoul as a whole new region! The game still has legs (metaphorically and literally), and yet I know MMORPG players who are still on the fence about giving the game try.

The game is so different from when I started way back in 2018 that I think it’s a much easier sell than it was even when I first started this column thanks to fresh content and heaps of quality-of-life perks. If you’re one of those fence-sitters, let me tell you what’s changed: In this edition of Desert Oasis, I’ll tackle the small additions that have completely changed Black Desert.

A better sense of safety

In the earliest days of the game, players were likely to bounce hard off its PvP. It wasn’t for everyone. Part of the allure of MMORPGs is the power fantasy of being a champion of the realm, so getting clapped by a powerful player while in the middle of getting some business done is, for lack of a better term, not the business.

I’ve been through it too. A few years ago, I was all about the PvP. I liked the rush. But six years of gaming, a pandemic, and fatherhood changes a guy. I’ve mellowed out quite a bit. Sometimes I just want to grind mobs and be left alone. The fact that there’s even a sense of tension that comes from another player showing up mid-grind is now enough to throw me off.

Some people were able to push through, but I’ve found through my coverage of the game over the years that a majority of people find the open-world PvP to be a major sticking point. There’s a large portion of players who simply won’t deal with it no matter how great the rest of the MMO is.

But fast-forward to today, and the PvP scene in BDO is a completely different vibe. The introduction of season servers has made forced PvP a thing of the past for the vast majority of gamers. Yes, some players can still get ganked in season servers – but only if their guilds are at war with each other. That’s such a small number, and it’s not exactly random, of course. For the most part, PvP is there for people who want to PvP and doesn’t intrude on everyone else any more.

Here’s how it happened: Originally, season servers ran for the duration of a season. The server would then close, converting all the characters into normal characters, and players had to wait for the servers to reopen. So there was a gap where players had to play on normal servers, threats of ganks and all.

But a patch last September changed all that. Now, the season servers are always open. Players can create one character with one season ticket. The season tickets are given at regular intervals throughout the year. The cool thing is that the ticket is only consumed after the character does the quest to convert into a normal character, a process called graduation. In other words, players don’t have to burn a ticket for choosing a class they didn’t like. Now, they can just create a seasonal character and never graduate like Van Wilder.

A lot of the late game grindspots are fun and in a variety of biomes. Providing the progression to actually enjoy these zones has been something BDO has improved on over the last few years.

If that isn’t enough, all players can claim an hour of uninterrupted grinding every day. Popular grindspots now have a special mechanic where players can enter their own personal instance for the grindspot. That means for a whole hour they won’t have to deal with any players at all – no kill-stealing and no ganking.

Pearl Abyss has never been shy about its love for the game’s PvP, but over the years I’ve watched the studio work on establishing a fair middle ground for PvP-averse players. This has been a pretty good upgrade overall, and the renewed sense of safety leads to players being able to move into the other big pillar of Black Desert: progression.


Sometimes, I look back and wonder how I managed to stick to this game for so long. The BDO of 2018 was such a difficult game to get into. Documentation for it was also difficult to parse, spread out along various websites with varying levels of completion, accuracy, and obsolescence. Finding information was a much bigger slog back then.

I started a new character that looks like Jenna Ortega, the plan is to get her a full PEN set!

Finding information on the game was frustrating, but figuring out how to progress gear was even tougher. In Black Desert, PEN is the highest level of power a piece of equipment can achieve – historically difficult to enhance. In fact, the enhance system has a level of complexity that took me an entire article to explain, and for the most part, it hasn’t changed.

When I wrote that article, Pearl Abyss had just released a quality-of-life patch that actually showed the chances for success. I was already pretty happy with that. But now, it’s grown into something much more. The system is still there, and PA’s team has made it clear it isn’t going to change it anytime soon. The big difference is that there’s a chance for everyone to get some of the most powerful items in the game. It’s a big part of the economy and the player culture in the game. Making that PEN attempt, failing, and then grinding for the resources for another attempt. That’s unapologetically Black Desert Online.

With the help of the season servers and various special quests, players are at least guaranteed a set of PEN items that’ll see them through a majority of the old and new content. Players don’t even need to find outside resources ether. PA has made it a point to document just exactly how to get all the items for PEN, though of course, it’ll still take time. BDO has always been a game about delayed gratification. It still needs a time investment. The difference between then and now is that learning how to go about it is a much more streamlined process today, and now, just regularly playing the game can guarantee players a full set of PEN boss items.

A safe bet

BDO is one of the safest bets you can make in the Eastern MMO space. The game’s been around for nine years now, and it’s still a very healthy game – and a profitable one for Pearl Abyss, which unlike other studios isn’t treating it as a cheap short-term cash grab. The studio basically took the biggest complaints players had about the game and addressed them – exactly what you’d hope for in an MMORPG that aims to stick around long-term. If you’re in the market for an eastern MMO that isn’t bleeding with UwU anime vibes or feels like a job, you could do a lot worse than the world of Black Desert.

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! Got questions or comments? Send him a message or drop by his Twitch channel to hang out while he’s streaming the game!
Previous articleCozy multiplayer sandbox Palia heads to Steam early access on March 25
Next articleKickstarted OARPG Last Epoch officially launches as players overwhelm its servers

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments