BLACK DESERT ONLINE in 2023 | Is it Worth Playing? | An MMO Review
Black Desert Online is one of the most popular, most successful MMORPGs across the globe. This is in part due to the fact that there just isn’t any other MMO capable of rivaling aspects that BDO excels in. BDO provides us as gamers some of the best action combat, one of the largest, seamlessly accessible worlds, and best character creators available in the genre. All that in a game that is over 7 years old.
Yeah, if you didn’t think the genre was stagnant before, try retaining the #1 spot for all of the above for the better half of a decade with absolutely no competition whatsoever.
But no game is immune to decay. Without regular updates, every MMO will suffer from the very same stagnation that the genre as a whole suffers from.
Thankfully, Black Desert Online keeps player engaged with seasonal updates, some consisting of small new areas, others of large entire continents. And most commonly – the addition of new classes.
Every year sees at least one or two new class additions, bringing players back for a few weeks as they let nostalgia take hold of them and relive what they loved about the game, before departing once more. That’s the average Black Desert cycle.
In light of this, Pearl Abyss teased back at the Heidel Ball in 2022 that they were planning a large new update, introducing an entire region to the game. Further details came via the Calpheon Ball, also held in 2022.
As of the 29th of March 2023, just 2 weeks ago, the – what can only be described as essentially an expansion, titled “Land of the Morning Light,” was released in Korea, with Pearl Abyss confirming that the update would be releasing Globally shortly after.
“Shortly,” of course, being entirely subjective, as we were promised Crimson Desert and DokeV years ago and we’ve still received relatively no news on either.
The Land of the Morning Light expansion features the new continent of Haso – located across the seas, beyond the Musa, Maehwa, and Lahn classes homeland – Port Ratt. According to the Black Desert Foundry, the region is going to be roughly the equivalent to Kamaslyvia in terms of size and scale, and has been an actively discussed region for years.
The region itself looks absolutely gorgeous. And that should really come as no surprise given that’s the main appeal of BDO. Black Desert might have its flaws, but it never fails to deliver in terms of beauty, or gameplay.
The expansion brings with it a lot of inspiration from Korean history, specifically the Joseon Dynasty, the last dynastic kingdom of Korea, featuring unique areas, buildings and vegetation specific to that era.
There are new races present, such as the Horang, Hare and Tortois Folk.
Naturally there’s an extension to the story – and unlike what players are typically used to, the story will provide us with a semblance of freedom, allowing us to choose different story-related paths with different outcomes.
The Land of the Morning Light will also feature a slightly different approach to its world. There will be several large boss monsters spread throughout the world, each having their own set of unique complex mechanics, and requiring a different method to defeat.
There are new Gathering mini games, new Hunting Lifeskill, new Cooking and Alchemy tools along with various other additions and alterations to lifeskilling. New Mansions for players interested in player housing. New ships. New gear to obtain, and so much more.
This expansion is going to be absolutely massive, and will provide so many reasons to come back and experience what could arguably be described as one of the best Korean-inspired expansions for any MMO to date.
But this is just for PC. Last week, the Maegu class and Spring Season servers were released on to console, in addition to these releases saw the game also get a pretty sizable discount for players looking to purchase it on either PlayStation or Xbox. This discount will become unavailable come April 20th, though.
I don’t particularly feel like discussing Black Desert Mobile as I feel like it’s an entirely different game, with different content, a different update schedule. Admittedly, I do believe it’s one of the better mobile MMOs out there but the bar for that isn’t particularly high.
Back in February, Pearl Abyss released its 4th Quarter financials, comprising the months of October, November and December 2022. Pearl Abyss has repeatedly expressed their interest in the overseas market – outside of Korea, with them directly confirming 81% of its sales since 2012 have been from Western players.
Although in the last few years, Pearl Abyss as a whole have been underperforming. This isn’t specific to a singular game or platform, with annual revenue for 2022 being at roughly $300 million dollars. Honestly an incredible number, given it makes more than most Gacha games do in the same frame of time.
However this is down significantly since 2019, which saw annual revenue topping $400 million dollars. But we can attribute the large influx of earnings to the fact that Pearl Abyss released Black Desert onto consoles, and Black Desert Mobile within the same year.
Pearl Abyss confirm that as of the end of the 4th Quarter of 2022, Black Desert Online has an overwhelming 50 million total players, spread across every platform. 20 million players play the game via PC, 35 million players play via Mobile – which is actually rather surprising to me. And 4.1 million play via Console.
Since releasing, it has earned the company $1.6 billion dollars, with 77% coming exclusively from the PC version. To put this into perspective, in a single year, Genshin Impact makes more money than Black Desert Online has earned in 7 years.
EVE Online was mentioned, but not really elaborated on. DokeV, Plan8 and Crimson Desert are listed as “upcoming” MMOs, but Black Desert continues to be the driving force behind the studio.
In terms of total active players, as their claim of 50 million is total players – that have registered and played at one point since the game’s launch, it seems as though estimates put BDO at anywhere from 300,000 to 700,000 players.
Many of these are no doubt bots, like most MMOs are plagued with, but the game averages roughly half a million active players all year round. Despites its lows, and in spite of its highs, Black Desert Online continues to remain an MMO that players return to, every year.
I’ve been recording footage of their newest class over the last week and I’ve been having a lotta fun back in the game. It’s been about a year and a half since I last stepped foot in-game, and every year I return, things have changed.
At times for the better, and at times.. for the worst. Right now, I’m playing through an entirely new area with new story, new characters, and a new class. This is an introductory experience I haven’t had the pleasure of witnessing – and I didn’t know they had implemented.
Furthering my point that Pearl Abyss are always ardently working on the introduction of new content. Putting them vastly ahead of all of their competition, with the exception of Final Fantasy XIV and WoW. But then again, how do you compete with those?
Is Black Desert Online worth starting in 2023? Or, if you’ve already played, is it worth returning to? I guess it depends what you want from the game.
Black Desert Online is still very much the same game it has been for the last few years. Sure, they’ve made alterations to the game. Introduced new features, new content. But the core of what the game is remains much the same: It’s an MMO that requires a large time-investment.
It’s a game with a lot of grinding, but also a lot of freedom, with regards to life skilling, leveling, exploring. There’s more to do – more to see – more to find in this game than most MMOs.
But I nevertheless always find myself growing tired of the repetitious grind – like I to in every MMO, so I stop playing after a period. Sometimes a week, sometimes a month.
Yet even so, I continue to find myself coming back, due to everything it provides me that I just can’t find anywhere else.
I think BDO is worth playing. So long as you’re not off-put by tedious grinds. And I think many other people feel much the same, otherwise it wouldn’t have garnered the active playerbase it has.