The Curious Case Of The Exploding Head
I spent more time in Black Desert Online this weekend than I think I’ve spent in any game, at any time, in recent memory. There’s no way to explain the why that won’t make your eyes bleed, so let me see if I can paraphrase it.
For a game that’s being marketed as “open world PvP”, there’s a stupidly small amount of actual PvP right now. Instead, you’ve got wall-to-wall game systems, of which combat is merely an unidentifiable speck in the soup of a gargantuan 12 course meal. This pleases me greatly.
What doesn’t please me is that there’s absolutely no mechanism to prevent any player from twisting him or herself into knots. Here’s what I mean:
Last week I was raging because I couldn’t find quests that I knew were available in the closed beta. Turns out there’s a setting on the quest log that will show or hide quest availability in the world, and it defaults to just the combat quests (thanks, HIstory of MMOs!). If you click the “ALL” button in the quest tracker, voila! everyone else starts wanting to talk to you about stuff you might want to do.
One of BDO‘s core problems — as in “nice problems to have” — is that every system has a tutorial. One of the core problems of that problem, then — as in “oh shit” — is that BDO has about 12,345 different non-combat systems. If each quest has at least two steps, then that’s roughly a bajillion different quests for you to pick up, and if you clicked that “ALL” in the quest tracker, you get to see all of those quests being offered.
If you’re game-OCD, then you can’t not take a quest because who knows when you’ll be back this way again, am I right?
If you need something to make matters worse, some/most/all/please gawd make it stop of these quests will give you items, or will require you to get items, like tools or crops or ore or trade goods. Were this any other MMO that’d be no sweat, but because it’s BDO, you’re going to be running afoul of the inventory limitations. Now you have to decide if you want to take your 92nd quest, and what absolutely critical item in your inventory you can drop because you’re not near the trade merchant to sell stuff but oh gawd that sells for 13,000 silver and that’s the lowest profitable item I have but I really need to collect two potatoes so I can learn how to cook a stew and get that free cooking utensil for the house I need to buy once I get more contribution points because my NPCS are harvesting chicken and eggs and it’s filling up my bank so I can’t put that 13,000 silver value item in the bank because it’s full and BAM you’ve worked yourself into a corner.
And that’s just with one character, never mind any alts. I honestly feel that those who got a 7 day trial key for this game are going to get screwed, because unless they have a week’s vacation to spend playing this game, there’s no way they’ll even scratch the surface to the point where the complexity can be appreciated as more than “it’s way to confusing”.
So that was my weekend: working myself into a quest-and-item corner with my main, and then switching to an alt so I could earn more contribution points to be able to buy more housing, hire more NPCs, open more nodes. I also spent some time dealing with the trader’s busy work, ferrying special goods from their stock to other trade nodes for meager profit but hopefully some commerce XP.
The good news is that this was all pretty low-key. I could watch Netflix on the other monitor while my horse auto-navigated its way to the destination (assuming it didn’t get stuck on a rock and deplete its stamina completely trying to run through it). But trying to knock down the backlog of quests when seemingly everything was just as important as everything else, but not having the capacity, the time, the focus, or the discipline to not take on “just one more quest” when I happened upon it…BDO can make one extremely tired.
But not frustrated, which is the take home message. Despite the immense wall of work that I generated for myself, there was never any actual down time. Sometimes I’ll log into an MMO and have no idea what I want to do. In BDO there’s no question: whatever the hell will help empty the inventory and bank, will get my CXP, with help clear out the backlog of quests, will get me the next piece of production equipment, which will help me learn (not remember, mind you, just learn) a new tradeskill…it’s all there, front and center and shouting and jumping and waving its hands to get my attention whenever I log in.
It’s good to feel wanted.
In Other News
The Division launches tomorrow, so I’m afraid BDO is going to have to take a back seat for a while, at least. I’ve played in both betas of TD, so I’ve gotten a good chunk of “feel” for the game such that I’ve not gotten an urge to start playing immediately when the game unlocks for both XB1 and PC.
Solo play is fun, but the group modes are funner. I know everyone will be playing at launch so I’ll be there with everyone else before the disparities of level set in between the obsessive players and those with less time to devote to the game.