Black Desert Online Review 2024

Black Desert Online Review
Nova, Ranger, and some Robots.

In December 2024 Black Desert will turn ten years old. Pearl Abysses MMORPG has changed a lot this past decade.

The game's roster has nearly tripled, and entirely new continents have been added to the game world. As well as a slew of quality-of-life changes, graphical tweaks, and a revamping of the game's combat systems that saw players both jumping for joy and tearing their hair out.

Black desert has changed a lot since I first picked it up in 2019, let’s see how it stacks up after all this time.

The Story

The story of Black Desert is convoluted to say the least. Most of the game's story is delivered through questing and NPC interaction. So, mileage will vary depending on how willing players are to interact with the game's characters and listen to what they have to say instead of running from one objective to the next.

Even if you are paying attention, it can be hard to tell exactly what the story of black desert is at times. But the gist of it is that the major powers of the Republic of Calpheon and the kingdom of Valencia are locked in conflict over the supply of black stones. Powerful mystical objects that can grant the wielder great strength. What they don’t know is that that power comes with a price. Within the black stones is a malevolent spirit who corrupts all it touches.

In the background of the struggle between nations a mysterious man in black is going around using the stones to possess people and turn them into monsters.

And amidst all of this is the player, an amnesiac with a bothersome companion calling itself the black spirit.  Together they set off on a quest to recover their memories and uncover the truth behind the black stones and prevent a catastrophe.

Though in recent updates Pearl Abyss have put forth a solid effort to turn Black Desert's main story into something cohesive, as it stands now the front end of the game is rather story heavy and much more fleshed out than the rest of the game.  Something that will likely be fixed as developer PEarl Abyss continues its story updates.

Issues with the main story aside, each class has its own unique story for players to unravel as they regain their memories. Though not all stories are created equal, some classes are much more detailed stories than others.


Graphically  this game is stunning. BDO boasts impressive graphics and in the past few years had them updated by developer pearl abyss. While this makes  the game look great, it also can impact performance. Players on midrange hardware may experience framerate drops if a lot is going on, and the game tends to struggle a bit  when entering high density areas like cities and towns.

If you’re playing on older hardware or on older consoles, long load times will probably be the norm. Along with stuttering and frame rate drops when passing through load zones.  


With the story out of the way let’s get to the important stuff. The gameplay! But first First comes character creation.

Black Desert’s  character creator gives players unparalleled freedom to craft their avatars. Every part of the character's body can be edited, from the fingers to their toes. And most hairstyles can be transformed. The actual character creator can take some getting used to. But once players get comfortable with it a level of creativity that most games can't even come close to opens up.   

The only real restriction is that classes are gender locked, so if you’re looking to play as a male ranger or channel your inner Norse warrior as a male guardian you’re out of luck.


Black desert offers players the choice between 27 distinct classes. Each offering unique play styles and approaches to encounters.  If slugging it out face to face with enemies is your thing, the sword and shield wielding Warrior is your man. Looking to embrace your inner ninja and pick apart the opposition from their blind spots? Then the Ninja or Kunoichi are the classes for you.  Or maybe pelting enemies from afar is more your speed, if so then look no further than the spell weaving duo of the Witch and Wizard, or the bow wielding elves of the Archer and Ranger classes.

Though around a third of the roster are male and female mirrors, each have their own unique skills, weapons,  strengths and weaknesses to help them stand apart. Ensuring that no two classes feel the same.

Where the roster truly shines is in the unique classes. Like the swashbuckling Corsair who wields the power of the sea in one hand and a cutlass in her other.  Or the Bedouin inspired Hashashin who is empowered by the desert and wields the  sands as a weapon to confuse his foes. Or the newest addition to the roster, the Scholar who harnesses gravity to zip around the battlefield.

Scholar Class Trailer

Of course, there are several other classes for  players to experiment with and see which meshes best with their preferred playstyle. Fortunately, Black Desert offers players the ability to create high level trial characters to test out before having to make a dedicated choice.

In typical MMO fashion BDO is all about that grind. There is a certain level of tedium that comes with MMO’s, it just comes with the territory. While BDO can be tedious, especially at the end game. Most casual players can avoid the worst of it unless they’re going for the level cap or trying to max out certain skills. In a game where players will be spending most of their time fighting it is important to get it right.


Here is where BDO really hits its stride. Combat feels more like what you’d expect in a hack n’ slash game rather than an MMO. Especially one that’s ten years old.

Combat is fun and fluid, the core mechanics incentivize movement and chaining skills together to create your own combos to flow through groups of enemies without ever losing momentum due to some pesky cooldown.  With knowledge of your character and a little resource management players can expect little downtime while fighting.

While decimating groups of mobs is great power fantasy, Where it really turns it up is in boss encounters. Typically, bosses are found at the end of quest lines or out and about in the world.

Black Desert Boss fights are right out of a soul’s game with players expected to dip, dodge and evade through attacks to whittle down bosses’ bit by bit. For the most part boss encounters are fun and engaging without being overtly frustrating. Attacks are well telegraphed and color coded based on attack type. 

There is one place where Black Deserts bosses suffer however. Chain stuns. Bosses in the game seem hard coded to repeatedly stun the player. So, if you end up on the ground, you’re going to be there a while.

Black Desert does have PVP, but it is only enabled at level 50, so it can be avoided entirely if players don't take the quest to go past level 49. Though players will lose out on late game content like the succession and awakening skill trees if they opt to stay below 50.


The quest system in BDO is pretty bog standard as far as MMORPS’s go. Talk to an NPC, go to place, get thing, kill monsters, Profit.  

The main purpose of Black Desert quests is to deliver the story to the player. Whether it's the circumstance of a humble barmaid or the juicy details of a brewing political conflict.

That said, BDO does a good job of utilizing quests to get players to interact with elements of the game that don’t revolve around combat. Offering quests centered around all the non-combat skills, like hunting, fishing, taming, and gathering to name a few.  None of the quests in the game feel pointless. Best of all, they're all optional.

Though some of the longer quests do suffer from bloat, like the quest “The Light of Kamasylvia” which tops out at a whopping 98 steps. Fortunately, most are in the range of 8 to 15.

The quest interface also has a habit of tripping up especially if you’re really carving through quests, causing accepted quests to appear unaccepted. This can only be solved by manually reselecting the quest through the quest menu. Admittedly this isn’t a big deal, but it can be a bit annoying.


Let’s talk about the people giving us all those juicy quests, the NPC’s.

The world of Black desert is heavily populated. And while many NPCs fade into the background and can’t be interacted with beyond a single line of unvoiced dialogue. Major NPCs like vendors and quest givers are fully voiced and those that offer services have unique relationships with the player that can be improved, or made worse through a mini game.

NPC relationships are based off of the Amity system,which is affected by several factors like the star sign of the player and the NPC, the player characters knowledge of things and events in the game world or quest decisions..  If you have high amity with an NPC who’s a stable master for example, better horse gear will be available. Giving players a reason to interact with them beyond just taking quests.


There are three main XP types in BDO combat XP which increases the number of skill points for players to spend, Life exp that levels non-combat skills like fishing and cooking which affect the speed and efficiency of item crafting, and finally general character XP which is a combination of combat and life XP.

Skill XP is gained from killing enemies, while life XP is gathered from doing specific non combat tasks, and general XP is gained from both sources mentioned as well as through questing.  BDO is generous with its XP so if players are regularly completing quests they will be quickly leveling up until around level 56 or so.

The other main mode of progression is through gear. While leveling up increases a character's stats to some degree, your damage and defense are affected more by tour equipment than your character level. Gear is separated into two categories offensive gear and defensive gear, the total stats of these two gear types are tabulated into a total displayed in the inventory screen.

While the main quest line ensures that players are at least at the minimum threshold to complete the tasks thrown at them, to raise gear score beyond the minimum most players will either have to buy items from the in-game market or utilize the risky enhancement system to get stronger.

New Content

There is plenty to do in Black Desert, so you won’t be running out of things to occupy your time anytime soon, and Pearl Abyss pumps out events every few months to spice things up, while typically releasing large updates every sixth months or so. Usually, these larger updates signal the release of a new class for players to play around with, but occasionally, the world space is expanded, like with last year’s release of the land of morning light, which introduced a new continent and an entirely new story.

Pricing and monetization

Like many MMOs Black Desert includes micro transactions for things like cosmetics and pets.  Though items that directly impact gameplay like gear have to be obtained in game.

The main player investment is timewith enough time players can get the best gear and hit the higher levels.. But the game does push players to buy gear and boosts to speed things along. Pearl abyss has handed out things like boosts, and even the best mounts in the game to players for free. So, players who don’t want to rely on the in-game market or use microtransactions for cosmetics/ pets will have to wait for an event when those things are made free.

About pearl abyss

Pearl Abyss is a South Korean game studio founded in 20010 By Kim Daeil and Youn Jaemin. With a focus on graphical fidelity and trendy MMO titles. The studio started work on BDO shortly after founding and after the success of the game have started work on a separate standalone title Crimson desert, and have obtained EVE online developer CCP Games, in 2018. They also self-publish their titles.


  • Fun and intuitive combat.
  • A variety of classes that support numerous playstyles.
  • Gorgeous graphics
  • Brimming with content for players to explore.
  • New content is regularly added.
  • Risk scales with reward when it comes to enhancement of items.


  • PVP is force enabled after level 56, meaning that players who don’t want to pvp are locked out from accessing the awakenings, succession weapons/ skill trees.
  • The story can be a bit jumbled in places, and due to the recant story revamps, may not always make perfect sense.
  • Auto loot is locked behind pets. Meaning that players will have to pick up individual items.
  • Leveling and gear enhancement scale exponentially, meaning that leveling and enhancement get more difficult the further along players are.
  • Quest system bugs out sometimes.
  • Performance can suffer on older hardware.



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As a native the alien land of Washington I’ve built up an immunity to the heat and cold. Fueled by caffeine and an unquenchable desire to learn.
Gamer Since: 2006
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Halo infinite, HAWKED, Black desert.
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dark Souls 3 , Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance , SOMA

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