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Black Desert Eternal Winter Goes Big; Falls Short of Expectations

Nick Shively Posted:
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Editorials 0

After much anticipation, the latest expansion for Black Desert Online dropped earlier this month. The Eternal Winter update added both a new class and an entirely new region. While fans of the MMORPG are always excited for a new class, the bigger draw of this release was supposed to be the Mountain of Eternal Winter promising an interesting story and new monster farming zones. Did it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

A Step in the Right Direction

Let’s be honest, Black Desert Online has never had the best storytelling. There is a lot of content within the game and tons of lore, but most of the quests are fairly shallow. They simply exist to introduce a new region or mechanic and get the player from point A to B. Scattered throughout the massive game are a few interesting plotlines and even some challenging puzzles, but those are few and far between.

With that being said, Eternal Winter has by far one of the best narratives in the game. Right from the start, the game introduces a brand new character in the form of fox merchant Lando who brings a bit of comic relief and lightheartedness to the game. While Lando might seem two-dimensional from the start, he has quite a bit of character development throughout the story.

In addition to Lando, players are quickly reunited with an old enemy, Jordine Ducas, who supposedly wants to use the power of the mountain to erase the memories of his past misdeeds so he can live out the rest of his life as a hermit with Jarette. You’ll have to find out if he has ulterior motives or not.

Once players get to the Mountain of the Eternal Winter, they’ll realize things have gone awry and many of the tribes need some form of assistance. Most of the quests involve talking to NPCs, completing a few minor tasks, and solving puzzles. Surprisingly, very few of the content involves killing monsters, which is typically what Black Desert is known for. There are maybe 5 or 6 quests involving combat out of the dozens, and none of them will be particularly challenging regardless of your class, level, or skill.

The entire story will take approximately 5 hours depending on how much you actually read and whether or not you do any side quests along the way. Despite the lack of combat, the quality of the dialogue, voice acting, and cutscenes is significantly improved compared with previous Black Desert content. There is a decent amount of character progression for both Lando and Jordine, and while the cutscenes are nothing genre-shattering, they do provide a nice break from spamming “R” to continue to dialogue.

In addition to the increase in production value, there are a few other things the questline does right. First, it opens up a new starting area for the first time and ties it into the rest of the game. While there aren’t any grinding zones for new players, the story will level characters to 56 and then route them to other regions.

Additionally, it actually introduces all of the gathering skills and ties them into the story, instead of making them convoluted side quests. Finally, an often overlooked reward is the free Bronte’s Bolt earring that provides 12 Attack Power and 28 accuracy. While not the strongest earring in the game, it’s very close to the TET Dawn Earring that’s used in accuracy-based builds that costs nearly 12 billion silver.

Zone Blunders

While the story might be a step in the right direction, the overall zone was not executed as well. There are a handful of new monster zones, but there’s only a single incentive to actually farm them: Embers of Frost.

One hundred Embers of Frost are needed to craft the Flame of Frost. By exchanging a Flame of Frost and PEN Boss or Blackstar helmet, players can obtain the new Labreska’s Helmet. This is now the strongest helmet in the game with the highest innate defense, and it combines the health bonus of Giath’s with resistance from the Griffon’s helmet.

As one would expect, high-end gear is required to farm these areas, but there isn’t much of value to be found after obtaining the Flame of Frost materials. However, one positive aspect is that these zones won’t continue to be overcrowded and will allow new players to farm for their Labreska’s Helmet without constantly having to fight for the spot.

Another side effect of the lackluster farming spots is that the new worker nodes are not that valuable. The Eternal Mountain gives players a debuff, similar to the desert, that must be dispelled with Citron Tea or prevented with Well-Brewed Misima Tea. Well, if there aren’t many people fighting to farm on the mountain, there isn’t much demand for the tea and material prices are staying low. There are some new trading crates keeping the price of Snowfield Cedar Timber moderate, but we’ll have to see how those do long-term.

Ion Storm

Both flashy and stylish, Black Desert’s newest class the Drakania wields a zweihander (Slayer) and dagger (Shard) combo. Her weapons are said to be forged of the desires and scales of slain dragons, and her aesthetics do a good job representing this. Most of her attacks look quite dramatic and powerful, crashing down or slashing across the screen with streaks of lightning.

The Drakania is more of a bruiser class, being able to deliver a punishing amount of damage at close range while still being able to take a beating. This is mostly due to a couple of her passive gimmicks.

On the defensive side, she has a passive that increase her defense points and another that allows her to regenerate health while charging certain skills. Additionally, the Markthanan's Scale ability reduces damage received by up to 50% while recovering HP, essentially making her invincible for a short period of time while on a 40 second cooldown.

Offensively, the Drakania has a passive increase to both AP and Critical Hit damage, and Prime: Bloodthirst allows her to store Ions used from certain skills that are unleashed during her more powerful attacks; this can lead to some absolutely devastating combos.

While the class looks pretty strong on paper, things are a little different in real-world scenarios. One of the biggest issues right now is that the Drakania is slow. Although Dragonwalk provides a Super Armor side or backward dash, it’s not very quick and doesn’t have much distance. Markthanan's Wings is probably her best movement ability because it can be used to dash a significant distance forward while charging other attack abilities, but it can be cumbersome to have to constantly use when other classes can consistently cover more ground through normal dashes.

Furthermore, nearly all of her attacks either need to be charged up or have an incredible long wind-up duration. This makes easy to anticipate with a block or dodge. Finally, a pre-release nerf drastically increased her WP (mana) consumption, which requires her to chug potions or have her monster clear speed dramatically decreased. Between the slow attack and movement speed, and huge mana consumption, it makes her one of the worst classes currently for PvE.

Despite her recent damage nerfs, the Drakania can still deliver a ton of damage in PvP with the right gear. Both Brimbolt Strike and Markthanan’s flourish, especially the 100% Black Spirit version, can decimate groups of enemy players. This makes mid-sized skirmishes, like Red Battlefield and lower tier Node Wars, an ideal place for the class.

However, her slow movement and attack speed, lack of a super armor block, and lack of a grab ability make her one of the weaker 1vs1 classes. Additionally, she’s not nearly as tanky as certain other melee classes, such as the Warrior and Valkyrie, which makes her more susceptible to being picked off during large-scale fights like castle sieges.

Overall, the Drakania is a fun class with a unique aesthetic, but it does suffer in some very key areas in both PvE and PvP. However, it is still missing its awakening weapon, which could drastically change how the class plays and its power level in general.  Hopefully, Pearl Abyss continues to keep tabs on it and provides buffs and/or nerfs where applicable to keep it relevant because it is a cool class to watch in action.


Nick_Shively

Nick Shively