Black Desert Beta Impressions
Black Desert is an hotly anticipated upcoming MMO coming to Xbox One. It has been available on PC since 2014, granted with several updates since then. Black Desert was announced at the reveal of the Xbox One X, and was originally slated for an early 2018 release date. When "early 2018" came and went, it was quietly slated for a Fall 2018 release. Finally news came for its initial landing on Xbox but in beta. Unfortunately this news came not as an "ongoing beta" like some games do. This beta was only for a weekend and we still have no news on the actual release. With Christmas so close, a final release date in 2019 is very likely at this point. Microsoft initially revealed this game at the Xbox One X reveal for probably for two reasons. Microsoft has been fighting back significantly over the past year over the earned perception that Xbox was suffering in the game departments. While major hits were dropping left and right exclusive to PS4, Xbox was struggling with few exclusives. Launching a new console with this public perception was difficult, and Microsoft has rightly doubled their efforts on obtaining xbox exclusivity from games, and have also acquired many game developers recently. The second reason they featured this game during the reveal is to help showcase the raw power of the console. Xbox One X really shines when showcasing beautiful games like Assassin's Creed Origins or Forza, and Black Desert was no excpetion.
(Black Desert E3 2018 Trailer)
Fast forward to now, the beta left me feeling confused. I have been excited to play this game ever since I saw how good it's character creator and modeling is even way back in 2014. The excitement of it coming to xbox had me excited to finally try it. The game world looks beautiful and the characters look insanely detailed. I have also been wanting an MMO to really feel like a current gen game. Typically MMO's look and feel like PS3, or even PS2 era graphics, with gameplay that is slow, buggy, and doesn't connect hits. I was excited for something that trully looked great, with combat that was snappy and connected. I went into the beta with high hopes, and it left me wanting more.
The things I came to see, trully impressed me. The graphics are there right from the get go. The charcter models are just gorgeous. Although the level of character creator details were small, and the controlls were a little counter intuitive. The models themselve set are a bar to strive for for game developers building characters into their game.
Unfortunately, that is where the positives really end. I can only hope the issues are ironed out before final release.
The UI in the game is one of the worst I have ever seen in a game. The in game menu has dozens of options with little explanation, and the map is even worse. You will be lost. The icon to know where to go next didn't always appear so you don't also know where to go. Worse yet is the HUD. The HUD has an ever present list of moves that take up a good portion of the screen. Imagine how annoying a game would be if the move commands were always on the screen dispite countless hours knowing those commands. Moves would be better put into a menu tab (like every game ever). Even worse yet, half the screen is taken up by community text chat. I understand this is a MMO, and chat is important, but it takes up HALF THE SCREEN. And it's tiny text with hard to see orange lettering that is virtually unreadable from across the room. This beta's UI and HUD look like absoluely no effort was made to adapt to a TV screen viewed from across the room. It's small, messy, and ugly. It takes away from the gameplay experience. This large ugly HUD is covering an otherwise pretty game.
Now I played as a sorcerer, so I do not know if this is true of other classes, but at least for that class, attack motions are a messy hard to see cloud of chaos that only serves to add to the already busy screen. So much is going on the screen it will hurt you eyes. Not that it really matters because the gameplay is very boring. I played several missions in the beta, and they are were exactly the same. Go Here. Kill 25 X Enemies. Report Back. Go there Kill 15 Y enemies. Never once did I come across some variety. Even worse, the enemies never seemed to really fight back or offer a threat. It would be one thing if all the missions were just bland combat, but its another when you just feel like you are going around slaughtering (for no given reason) hundreds of random enemies who just stand there. This isn't combat, its open world slaughter house. When i play a game, I expect a reason to kill and I want the kill to be actual combat.
The world -
The world is filled. This is by far not an "empty" world. There were (pointless) enemies everywhere, there were NPC's and just stuff everywhere. However, there is no explanation as to what is going on, who anyone is, why you are doing anything. It is one of the most oddly empty and filled worlds at the same time. Perhaps this will be improved in the final release, but the world doesn't look nearly as good as it did in trailers or in comparison to the character models. Texutres and shaders seem to be poor when viewing the distant landscape.
This beta was fun to make a chracter but a visual and gameplay chore to play. It is so visually busy, yet the game itself is so empty and bland. I hate to see it delayed, but this game needs alot of work for console readiness and just to be a good game in general. This game will reportedly not be launching free, so we need to hold it to paid game standards.