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Could Open World Dungeons Work?

Lewis Burnell Posted:
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I remember when playing Dark Age of Camelot that one of my favorite ‘dungeons’, Spindelhalla, was a non-instanced location set in the open game world. As a classic dungeon alongside other locations such as Nisse’s Lair or Darkness Falls it demonstrated that there isn’t always a need to instance a location in order for it to be fun and functional.

Pearl Abyss have always insisted that there will be no instanced dungeons in Black Desert Online and while I think that’s a sensible decision based on the game and its audience, open world dungeons could be something special. Darkness Falls, for anyone who has never played Dark Age of Camelot, was a triumph of design and to this day I still don’t think anything has come close to matching it.

Darkness Falls could be accessed by all players and entry to it was directly controlled by your realms performance in Realm versus Realm. If you controlled Darkness Falls you would have access to all its creatures and loot but while inside, if your realm lost control, the opposing realm could flood in and fight you before enjoying the spoils. It made play in the dungeon a lucrative, exciting but nervous affair. I have fond memories of hiding in corners as a Shadowblade trying to avoid roaming groups of players searching for any strays that were left behind.

A similar dungeon could work exceptionally well in Black Desert Online. An open world location accessible by everyone, but controlled by one or multiple guilds is possibly the best answer to its lack of dungeon content. Considering the game has generous respawn times on all its creatures, it would be relatively easy to construct a dungeon that was too difficult for a lone player and so encouraged group play. You could also tie in guild control of a world objective, with that guild (or guilds) then gaining access. Inside there could be a variety of bosses that only appeared when the wings of the dungeon were cleared.

The real challenge for something like this would not only be finding the right location for it, but ensuring that no one guild had exclusive control. At the time I played Dark Age of Camelot Midgard were particularly underpopulated so it was often a challenge to wrestle Darkness Falls back from the other two realms. Despite that, it provided a continued long-term objective for everyone to focus on once they’d reached maximum level.

Although I’m not yet level 50 in Black Desert Online (I could be with a few hours if I chose to grind certain locations) I do worry about its end-game. Although I’ve previously written about the freedom players have, something to fight over - whether it’s a location or resource - is always a valuable goal. A long-term objective of this nature is something I suspect the game will eventually need. Exploring will only last so long, I’m already growing tired of having to setup my character for fishing and node management isn’t necessarily something I enjoy doing all the time.

Even with new content on the horizon that has already been released in Eastern shores, we’ll all eventually reach the point, regardless of some sandbox elements, where we need something to do. Having an equivalent of Darkness Falls could very much be the answer. Not just because it would provide an objective, but because it would be desirable for those who love both PvE and PvP.

What do you think? Could open world dungeons work in Black Desert Online? Does the game even need them? Let me know.


Lewis Burnell

Lewis has played MMOs since Ultima Online launched, and written about them for far too long.