Black Gold Online is not a good MMORPG. If that’s all you clicked on this review to find out about, then you can consider yourself informed – you may move along now. However, for those so inclined, let me go into a bit more detail. While it may still be in Open Beta, the game is charging players for feature and has essentially been released, so it’s being reviewed like a finished product. BGO attempts to create a massive, open-world MMORPG that smashes fantasy and steampunk together in an epic power struggle. While the scene is set respectably enough, the lack of execution holds back what otherwise could have been a relatively memorable experience.
Unlike a lot of other free-to-play MMOs, BGO doesn’t really have anything that lets it stand out. Other than what I’ve already said – steampunk meets fantasy – there is truly very little that could be considered unique. From the tired pseudo-action combat, to the cookie-cutter quests, and the bland environments, everything about Black Gold Online is like a foggy trip down a muddled memory lane.
AESTHETICS = 5
If you consulted YouTube, you’d think this was the next great MMORPG from a well-known and established developer, well that is to say if you liked CG videos. They’re flashy, impressive, and do a good job of turning idea to reality on a purely surface level. However, they’re not accurate representations of the game. Much of the marketing for this game has revolved around playing up the setting as “Steampunk meets Fantasy!” as some kind of hardcore dream of every gamer in the universe. While that aspect of the game more or less delivers on its promises – there are in fact two factions and the lore does in fact clearly divide them – but it’s far from being a full realization of its total potential.
Once you get past the title screen, you’ll proceed to character creation, which is once again designed to enthrall you at first glance. The lighting effects and overall glisten on the character models look great initially, but it hides otherwise lackluster designs and textures. In fact, as stated in my first impressions, some of the options appear to have even been lifted from or at least heavily influenced by other games.
Everything from the interface, font, UI designs, environments, animations, character models, textures, and anything else feels utterly uninspired. While many of the areas will look great from a distance in concept, they often feel empty and lacking on closer inspection. Some of the creature designs are interesting, particularly due to the fact that the game mixes such drastically different concepts together, but it never ends up feeling like a fully developed world.
GAMEPLAY = 4
The bread and butter of every MMO, what you’ll be doing for hours upon hours, just has to be spot on for it to be worth your time – alas, it is not in this case. Don’t get me wrong though, because it technically works, it’s just not fun or challenging. If you took the combat system from TERA and took away what made that game feel weighty and satisfying, then you’d have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. As someone that is a fan of both Neverwinter and Guild Wars 2, it was disappointing to play a game that got action MMO combat wrong on such a fundamental level.
The moment-to-moment gameplay of attacking never felt engaging and most skills for classes suffer from an annoying intentional delay. Combined with the ugly interface and the game is simply a chore to slog through. Most of the game is essentially on rails as well, with autopathing and extremely guided quest objectives. Very rarely does the game ever stray from the standard “kill X of this and do X of that” that we’ve all come to hate so tremendously. Recent games have proved that those types of tasks can be hidden amongst other more entertaining activities, but BGO does little in the way of masking the monotony.
What BGO lacks in depth, it makes up for many times over in breadth, especially if you enjoy PvP. The two-faction system is a tried-and-true way to encourage organic competition in the game and it seems to work for the most part here. The biggest thing I noticed though, is that while there are a ton of modes to choose from (Arena, Battlefield, Chambers of Greed, Energy Well, Outbreak, Instances, and more) none of them really feel…unique. It’s a hard impression to describe as they’re all quite different in concept, but everything just ends up feeling very similar in execution.
PvP, while great on paper, usually just results in most players using the same general selection of classes and most people are utilizing their battle carriers. Having large mounts and vehicles for use in combat adds a slight layer of complexity to the mix, but then it undermines the usefulness of the classes themselves. The result is that the majority of combat plays almost exactly the same. It would have been more effective if instead of taking the shotgun approach and spraying a whole cacophony of activities at players, if the developers had just focused in on a few concepts and made them more refined.