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Columns: It’s The Journey That Matters

By Lewis Burnell on July 18, 2016

It’s The Journey That Matters

A Reddit thread caught my eye this morning with the topic titled "How hard would it be to start today and catch up and be competitive?" Despite some solid responses from the Black Desert Online community, I thought it was a particularly strange subject to raise and one that unearthed a variety of preconceived ideas as to what Black Desert Online is and what it’s offering.

To start your MMO journey with such a question is effectively saying, “when can I have fun like everyone else?”. Any MMO always has some catching up to do, especially if you’ve joined some time after its launch but it’s bizarre to think so far ahead when there’s so much fun to be had in any MMO being a beginner.

I’d always argue that being completely new any MMO is a far greater experience than any end-game that it can offer, simply because you have the luxury of not only exploring a brand new game world but to also discover what the game involves and what its community is like. The journey is unquestionably the best part of the genre and yet people are forever worried about what happens when they reach the end and whether or not they’ll be able to keep up with the big boys.

I have to admit that the only MMO where I’ve ever arrived late to is Guild Wars. I played it sometime after Warhammer Online and I did have initial reservations about playing, simply because I feared that I’d never catch up. Fortunately I quickly realized once I began playing that it honestly didn’t matter. In fact, I never gave “being competitive” another thought because I was enjoying PvE so much and its PvP is largely a level playing field anyway.

Black Desert Online is a very different beast compared to Guild Wars (in fact, that was a unique snowflake full stop) and while there is a gear grind in Black Desert Online, I’m just past caring. The times when I’m enjoying the game the most are when I can wander around at my own pace, exploring the world and what it has to offer. To constantly worry about not being equal to the top 1% so that I can stand shoulder to shoulder with them must be exhausting.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from playing MMOs all these years, is that there will always be someone who has more than you. More armor, weapons, gold, reputation - it doesn’t matter what. To attempt to keep up with such players (who are either incredibly efficient or who dedicate countless hours) is near impossible. Even a game such as Guild Wars 2, which is arguably far more accessible than Black Desert Online, still had players who had vastly more of everything than me. Here I was thinking four legendary weapons and 4,000 gold was a significant sum and then arrives a new guild member who had every single one and seemingly a bottomless pit of money.

To go into any MMO with a view that you have to compete is going about it all wrong. What you should be doing is simply asking yourself whether the game you’re about to start out with can provide enough content to justify the price tag and if it’s free, then you’ve even less to contemplate.

Whenever I buy a single player game the only thing I worry about is whether or not it’s good and if it’s critically acclaimed, I’ll merrily part with my money. I apply the same approach to MMOs and in the case of Black Desert Online, for $30.00 there’s a game here with bags of content. Even if you never make it “end game” and simply spent your time roaming the wilds or talking to players in towns and cities, it would still be good money well spent.

So to the person who made the original post - just go into Black Desert Online and enjoy yourself. Don’t look ahead to the end-game before you’ve even begun. While there’s undoubtedly an answer to your question (anyone can compete if they invest enough time) it’s surely irrelevant. If you can spend your free time in a game where you’re having fun, making friends, exploring the game world and leveling up a character you enjoy playing, then do so. Black Desert Online fulfills that brief in spades, and then some.

Do you look to the “end-game” before you begin a new MMO? Are you like me and enjoy the journey along the way the most? Are you the 1% who aims to be above all others? Let me know. 

Lewis Burnell / The only game to have distracted Lewis away from MMOs over the last 15 years was Pokemon Red. Despite that blip, Lewis has worked his way through countless games in the genre in search of something that comes close to his much loved and long time dead, Neocron.
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