A Great Head Start to an Even Better MMO Experience
I’ve been playing Black Desert: Prestige Edition for about the last two weeks, now. It’s been a whirlwind of an experience, and I can assure you that I’ve got plenty to talk about. However, I know that those of you who are also familiar with the world of BDO are shaking your heads while reading this, thinking “there’s absolutely no way that you experienced everything that this game has to offer in two weeks.” And, you know what? You’re absolutely right! There’s plenty that I haven’t done. And, because of that, I’m going to be very clear about how I’m approaching this review from the get-go.
This is not an “MMO expert’s review” of Black Desert: Prestige Edition. I can’t and won’t promise you a detailed look at every single questline, event, and mechanic that goes on this game. Nor can I promise you a comprehensive analysis of the BDO meta. If you want those things, you’re most likely already playing this game and you’re probably not looking at reviews to find your answers. What I can promise you, however, is an honest-to-goodness first impression of an MMORPG by someone who loves RPGs and adventure games but whose last MMO experience was with a private, mid-sized Ragnarok Online server back in the mid-2000s. Sound fair? Good, let’s continue!
Why so Prestigious?
Before getting into the game itself, I’m going to go over what makes Prestige Edition different from a “normal copy” of Black Desert. Unlike with most special editions, Prestige Edition isn’t some kind of “definitive version” of Black Desert. In fact, it’s not any different at all. The game itself is literally the same Black Desert that everyone else has. What makes Prestige Edition different is the fact that it comes bundled with a handful of goodies worth about $140 on their own, including a Prestige Edition Pet Black Leopard (complete with a radiating dark aura), a Glorious Shudad Premium Set which, when equipped, makes you look like a more competent player than you actually are, (at least it did for me) and more.
Extra stuff for cheap is great. But the real question here is whether or not the stuff in the Prestige Edition is actually worth it. Speaking strictly as a newbie, I can answer that question with a resounding “absolutely!” Along with, at least in my opinion, being incredibly visually appealing, the passive buffs given to you by the Black Leopard and Shudad Set (which is cosmetic, by the way) have been very helpful throughout my entire time with the game. And if you decide to combine said passive buffs with the EXP buffs from your Value Pack and Blessed Message Scrolls (which I absolutely did), it becomes pretty easy to get strong enough to begin embarking on your own adventure.
Becoming My True Self
Black Desert‘s tagline is “become your true self,” and that was what I intended to do. Before that, though, I had to figure out how the game actually works. Now, I can’t say that I’m an MMO expert—in fact, I’ve claimed the opposite—but, when I think about this genre, a playstyle like BDO‘s isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Rather, it feels like some kind of crossover between an open-world adventure RPG and some kind of beat-em-up. Strange, I know, but it actually works really well.
I’m sure it makes sense why BDO would feel like an open-world RPG, but the whole “beat-em-up” thing might throw some of you for a loop. No need to worry. It threw me, too. I’m not being hyperbolic or anything, though; combat really is like that in this game. Rather than having a basic attack and a list of skills that can be performed with the press of a button, BDO‘s combat is all about combos (at least in my case as a Striker). While standard attacks and extremely basic combos work for lower-level enemies, tougher enemies require players to be able to functionally utilize all of their character’s skills—typically in the form of chaining them—which requires a higher level of competency for your character than I expected from an MMO. It’s an interesting approach, to be sure, but I ended up becoming fond of it incredibly quickly.
BDO also has plenty of activities of the non-monster-killing variety, too—and they can take up just as much time as combat does. From gathering and fishing to, of all things, sailing, BDO‘s life skill system really ends up expanding what players can do within the game’s world. It also lets players tackle activities as they please. You could improve your sailing, fishing, and cooking skills to ensure that you have plenty of good food to eat, learn how to gather ingredients and create them with alchemy, all of the above, or none at all. Of course, getting good at everything is beneficial, but not everyone’s going to want to do that—the fact that BDO lets players pick and choose activities so freely was a breath of fresh air to me.
I know that I risk showing my bias by saying this, but I very much appreciated how lenient BDO was with players taking an individualistic approach. Sure, things get hard to solo once you get way up there (at least based on what I’ve seen), and things like PvP and Guild Wars exist, but you could very comfortably explore the game’s impressively sized world on your own, so long as you’re willing to take the time to ensure that you’re strong enough. The seamless melding of single-player and multiplayer elements is never an easy thing to accomplish, and it’s rare that such attempts ever turn out perfectly. However, as far as this game goes, I can’t say that I have too many complaints regarding how it handles things.
Two is Company, Three is Also Company
I thought that I was going to have to write the entirety of this review based solely upon my experience as a solo player. Apparently, I thought wrong. A few days into my BDO adventure I got recruited into a guild—a guild that seemed to house a pretty significant number of high-level players. Realizing that I probably gave off the appearance of actually being competent, I thanked them for the invite but explained that I had literally just started playing—and, to my pleasant surprise, the guild leader was totally okay with it.
I had plenty of fun with BDO before joining up with a guild, and I’m certain that I would have had fun with the game had I been guild-less the entire time. However, after (rather unexpectedly) getting to experience life on the other side, I can confidently claim that being in a guild absolutely enhanced my experience with the game. Not only was I able to do things like go on fishing trips and fight bosses that I probably shouldn’t be allowed to have access to, but even the ability to casually chat with people in my guild while doing my own thing was a lot of fun. I can’t speak for the whole of the BDO playerbase, but, in my experience, its community has been nothing but positive and helpful.
In it for the Long Run
Black Desert: Prestige Edition is definitely worth getting if you’re interested in diving into the game, and probably worth it even if you’ve played that before. More importantly than that, however, Black Desert itself is worth it. Its complexity does take some getting used at first, but that soon wears off and is replaced with an MMO experience with plenty of honest-to-goodness fun and more content than you know what to do with. If you like MMOs, I would assume that you would like this as well. And for those of you who like RPGs but are hesitant to get into an MMO? Well, you might end up liking it way more than you think!
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC ; Publisher: Pearl Abyss ; Developer: Pearl Abyss ; Released: November 6, 2020 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $29.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Black Desert: Prestige Edition provided by the publisher.