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8:35am on Thursday, 3rd March, 2016:
I've been playing Black Desert for a couple of days.
It has some similarities with WildStar in the way that it has sophisticated features that are rendered entirely opaque by bad (or no) explanations. For example, there's an entire trading game built up around concepts of manufacturing and transportation of goods between "nodes", but NPC node-assigners talk about nodes as if the player knows about them before the concept has even been touched upon in any kind of tutorial quest. It doesn't help when you're told to open the map and click on a node when the map doesn't open because of a bug (pro tip: hit enter and type /reloadui). I also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find out how to get into the house I bought, only to surmise that you can only get into the one you've specified is your residence (I'd bought a storage unit) (well, two storage units as they were really close together and I thought I'd made a mistake in buying when I'd actually made a mistake in selection).
Combat is combo-based, so you need to do things such as hitting E then pressing both mouse buttons then pressing W and the left mouse button. Or was it the right mouse button? The raw moves seem quite arbitrary, but probably have some kind of system to them if you care to look at the animations (charge attacks, single-opponent attacks, melee frontal AOE, that kind of thing). A simple explanation would have sufficed. Combining the raw moves gives extra damage. This is probably fun for people who like mastering combos, but I'll be putting them straight onto my programmable mouse buttons and hoping that dynamic changes mid-combo aren't a thing. Any requirement to show dexterity with the left hand (should that be sinisterity?) is a complete show-stopper for me, as I'm extremely right-handed. So far, the fights have been a blast, but simply spamming random buttons probably isn't the way to progress. My character has only died once, and that was when the screen froze as I was chopping down a tree and I had to switch users on my PC to get the screen back (Task Manager couldn't help); when I came back, something had eaten me. I think there was an experience point penalty for character death (well, "death"), but I don't know how much.
Talking of chopping down trees, gathering is a grind. You want beech wood or corn or potatoes or iron ore, so you go to where they are then wander around until a circle appears saying there's some within range. Having equipped the right gathering tool, you then hit R and watch an animation for 15-20 seconds, whereupon you are told what you extracted. This is usually some rubbish (weeds, rocks, general wood) but will occasionally be what you're looking for (corn, spuds, iron, beech wood). You have to keep looking for places and gathering from them until you finally acquire the materials you actually want. Oh, and because everyone else is doing the same thing, good luck with that. I spent half an hour fishing during a double-XP period last night before I caught the fish the quest required. I might have caught it earlier, but the mechanics of the fishing mini-game weren't explained beyond "press it at the right time" (whenever that is).
Quests aren't obvious to find. You have to look on the mini-map for exclamation marks. I don't know how many I missed before I reaslised this. Sometimes, you complete a quest and it doesn't believe you (I have two pieces of iron ore right here in my inventory, please stop telling me where I can go to mine iron ore and just take the damned things!). There's an auto-run facility for quests that kinda works: you can tell your character to go where the next step of the quest is and it'll auto-run you there. The main problems with it are: sometimes it runs you to the gathering site to gather something you already have, and it won't recognise you have it; the same path-finding is used by all players and NPCs, so you repeatedly collide with anyone coming along the road in the opposite direction, slowing you both down; the key to invoke it, T, is right next to the key to loot stuff, R, so it's easy to hit by accident unless you remap it; it quite frequently tries to run you through obstacles, especially when you're sitting on a donkey (my first mount).
There are some slow mechanics in action that aren't explained but seem to be important. For example, my stamina went up from running around, so there's a skill-use thing going on there. There's an energy mechanic mainly for trade-related activities, so you can only register so many nodes and set off so many tasks before you run out. I expect that's where much of the "free-to-play" money will be made. It's also going to be made from selling clothes, because at the moment everyone looks the same as everyone else of their (gender-locked) class in terms of cosmetic items.
Some nice features include weather that has a tangible effect (you can't dry fish when it's raining), actually looking wet when you've swum in the sea to try to find a part where the resources aren't exhausted, and a weight mechanic (although the slot mechanic looks more restrictive for general adventuring).
Overall, there does seem to be substance to this game. It's not explained well, if at all, and I'm not sure how well the grind-level crafting is going to play out. The combat system is going to be a big factor for some people who can't get to grips with it (such as me). It is different, though, and different is good.
Oh, except in one case. Do your worst impression of a movie pitch announcer and add a slight Far-Eastern accent: that's how the opening voice-over sounds. It's so bad I'm tempted to believe it's deliberate parody...
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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).