From castles to conservation to content, I had a ball at Black Desert’s Heidel Ball 2024


It may have been a bit since the end of Pearl Abyss’ Heidel Ball 2024, celebrating 10 years of Black Desert Online, but it’s not really over for me. I’m still recovering, not only physically (curse you, traitorous body!), but mentally and emotionally as well. Why, you ask? Because this event was not just something to attend; it was an experience. In fact, it was one of my most poignant gaming moments and is now embedded deep into the fiber of my being — and it didn’t even happen in-game! The Heidel Ball brought to life a MMORPG in a way I barely dared previously to wish for in my heart. And it was heckin’ fun! I had a ball, and I’m still on cloud nine about it.

Other cons have been fabulous and memorable, but I don’t know if anything can quite compare to this experience; it went beyond a game convention in a unique way that I don’t think can be replicated. Yes, we learned cool news about the upcoming content for BDO from the lips of Executive Producer Jaehee Kim himself, but that was really such a small part of it. We experienced Black Desert. I discovered Pearl Abyss’ conservation work focused on Beynac Castle, and I reveled in a beautiful concert inside a medieval church with a special performance by Audio Producer Jiyoon Kim. I got to live and breathe the locale, walking on the narrow cobbled roads just for a brief moment. Adding in special games, in-game NPCs, and cosplay, I can say it was a truly immersive experience.

Between the castle, content, cosplay, and even cuisine, it was was likely a once-in-a-lifetime event for many. How can something like that not linger long after it ends?

CON at the castle

The Heidel Ball fulfilled a bucket-list item I didn’t even acknowledge I had; who could have though that they’d be able to visit a real life space you knew only in game? I’m a girl who is a fanatic about medieval castles, so getting to be in one for a day was amazing. But that was really only the cherry on top. The entire location, with the special features added by Pearl Abyss, was the full treat.

First up, the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac is still a real, functioning town. It has residents, shops, and a post office. So there was life to the locale; it wasn’t like touring a stage or display. Thanks to large cut-outs with QR codes, you could even place NPCs or landmarks from the game into the town using your phone. Watch that blacksmith hammer away! There were also a number of related games for attendees to enjoy to bring the feel of being in the game to life, including fishing and archery (I am so incredibly bummed I didn’t have time for this!). The only really immersion-breaking moment was seeing the flaming horse without a neon flashing parking sign!

Folks were given a fancy book to chronicle their adventures as they followed the wooden signs through the town to get up to the castle. The book also gave quests that players could earn special rewards for completing. You just had to hope you didn’t miss one of the events, or you’d have to trek back down that arduous, slippery walk to get back to it. (And yes, the walk uphill was quite steep, and when it started raining, the stones became really slick!)

Even though Kim was quick to admit that the Beynac castle itself was not used in the game, that did not diminish the grandeur of it. The rough-hewn stones, the iron gates, the drawbridge, the battlements, the spiraling tower staircases, the majestic chapel — it was all so amazing to wander through. Our press room even had quite the supply of polearms lined up. (Wait, was there a message in this…?) Even with the rain and the drafts, I could have stayed there happily for days. But leave, we must.

Exiting the castle, attendees saw a special orchestral concert in the castle’s ornate chapel. There, we enjoyed not only the orchestra’s performance; in fact, Audio Producer Jiyoon Kim played some of the BDO music he composed, then conducted the orchestra himself. His energy and enthusiasm when conducting was fantastic and infectious. Capping the evening off was a special dinner, complete with BDO-themed cuisine. Then folks received special gift boxes that included a model of the castle itself, a leather map of Black Desert, a stein, postcards, and even a signet ring and sealing wax. On top of that, every attendee also received a special limited edition vinyl record of BDO’s music. (Of course, I also bought a black spirit plushy, as did many others, seeing as how many versions were sold out before I even got there.)

In all, I got to live and breathe the locale, walking on the narrow cobbled roads just for a brief moment, enjoying the stunning beauty and atmosphere of BDO. It truly is an experience I will never forget.


I wanted to take one moment to give a shout of appreciation to Pearl Abyss. I am a huge fan of folks — from individuals to companies — doing good (if you hadn’t noticed from Massively Uplifting). So when devs shared that Pearl Abyss has supported the conservation efforts and restoration of the Beynac castle though donation, it warmed my heart. However, it was especially moving when Jaehee Kim emotionally described how coming to Beynac-et-Cazenac, the inspiration for BDO’s first city of Heidel was “a very emotional experience” for him. He said he couldn’t wait to step into the castle. Later, at the concert, Jiyoon Kim also shared sentiments about how much it meant to him to be there. You just knew that the support wasn’t a token or an obligation but a meaningful action.


Of course, sandwiched between the exploration of the town with the events and the concert was the Heidel Ball keynote address. Here, Producer Kim highlighted the new content coming to BDO this year and even gave a hint of what lies beyond.

The new Dosa class has already been released in game. Instead of clouds or mist as I first thought, this swordsman wields the smoke from his pipe, Gombangdae, to deceive his
enemies as well as call upon ghostly fighter figures to aid him. The revamped Jordine saga has also released. This important character played a major role throughout the
main story of Black Desert. Pearl Abyss revamped many of his stories with full voice acting and called the new cutscenes and gameplay more engaging.

The Land of the Morning Light: Seoul expansion — launching  August 7th, 2024, in Korea, and in the fall for North America and Europe — continues part 1’s fable-filled storyline. Kim shared that Land of the Morning Light was about making something from what the devs know best: Korean culture and folklore. By showing it off to the world, he hopes that others will find how great it is. (Fun fact: During an interview, Kim shared that his favorite Korean fable was the tale of gumiho, which did make it into the game.)

Here, we’ll find that Pear Abyss recreated yet another historical building, the famous royal palace Gyeongbokgung. (Can I put in a request for the next ball to be the Seoul ball so we can see Gyeongbokgung?!) Kim explained that Heidel was made using a deep study of Google Maps, this royal palace was also created by using images of the real location to incorporate key points of interest in-game to have accurate and immersive details.

Beyond the story and location, LOTML Seoul adds a number of mechanics as reported previously, from the group boss fights to the palace management system to the 100 -story tower to the guild revamp (the latter which is a way for guilds to earn fame from content such as PvP and PvE). Another addition will be the introduction of hardcore PvP servers. Characters will start at level 60 with provided gear. Unlike normal servers, however, here when characters die, they are shipped off to jail. In this holding cell, they’ll need to either wait to escape or fight other inmates in 1v1 bouts to return to the world.

The final discussion was about the future of Black Desert. With the map fully uncovered, where will players go next? Kim said not to worry, there is still much to do… like going to the past. Players will learn why the world is the way it is and even get to learn the origin of the black spirit. Perhaps actions players do in the past may even affect and change the future when you return. When asked how this might work, Kim noted that he can’t answer yet as development was still a ways out. But we are certain to learn more when the time comes. Perhaps that will even be at a future Heidel Ball.

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