Friday, March 18, 2016

Black Desert Online: Annoyances

I've said a lot of nice things about Black Desert Online (BDO) recently. Which is all well and good, but we all know nothing is perfect, and MMOs even less so than most things. So here's the things that have most annoyed me thus far.
Crowded dock...all AFK fishing.
There's a lot of downtime while waiting on things to happen. You can try to minimize this by doing multiple things at once - go out gathering wood while waiting for crops to grow, that sort of thing. That only goes so far, though. Gathering materials in particular takes forever, as you move between nodes, spending 10-20 seconds at each one to mine/chop/etc. Using workers can help, but there are some materials workers just can't gather for you.

The game has no teleport-style quick travel, so location-specific tasks (such as turning in completed quests) can be painful. You can use automatic navigation to send your character riding/running to the proper location, but it still takes a while for them to get there. (And occasionally it doesn't work - been stuck a few times on weird terrain.) Travel between towns for trading is particularly slow, at least until you build up your resources to have a decent trade wagon. You have to pay attention to those trade trips, too, or bandits are likely to get you. So the auto-navigate is less useful in the trading sub-game, meaning it's just tedious to get where you're headed.

There's a whole lot of tiny things to micromanage. Tools break, for instance, so you may be well out into the woods and realize you have to run all the way back to town for a new axe. Gathering any significant quantity of materials on your own is painfully slow at first, though that does get better as you improve your skills. Working to increase NPC amity takes forever, and the little mini-game gets old after the first several dozen iterations. Inventory management is just as much of a challenge as in any MMO, and complicated by the fact that each major town has its own separate storage.

The game's Korean roots show through with some poor translations in some places. Whoever wrote the English translation of NPC dialogue could definitely use some more practice. There's also the usual minor new-launch bugs in quest descriptions and the like. More than once I've had to do a web search to find out what exactly I'm supposed to be doing for a quest or craft skill, only to find that the info in-game is simply wrong. Go use your mining skill in that cave to get a special crystal? Oh, nope, we really meant go kill the goblins in the cave, who will drop the crystal. Turn in two widgets for a reward? Sorry, it's actually five. The errors aren't particularly common, but even one quest in a hundred with wrong information sticks out.

My least favorite annoyance this is the way the game encourages you to leave it running while you go do something else. Energy recovers at a very slow rate when you log out, to the point where it may take days to max it out. Thus, it's fastest to just leave your guy sitting around to recover, while you minimize the game and walk away. Or better, set him up to do some fishing, which can be done with zero player interaction for hours on end. Come back in a few hours and see an inventory full of fish, and a full energy bar. It just doesn't feel right to me, purposely going AFK while my character just sits there. I still do it, though, because that AFK fishing is a huge money-maker in the early going, making your life much easier when pursuing everything else.

I realize all these things could be a lot worse, which is why I'm terming this post "Annoyances" rather than something like "Reasons to never play BDO." I'm still playing despite these issues, and will for a while yet. But when I do decide to give it up, the things mentioned here are likely a major reason why.

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