Naval themes seemed to be out in force at Gamescom. If it wasn't spaceships in the void, it was more down to earth ships cutting through the high seas. Black Desert Online was very much included in this and is working towards their Margoria expansion. Kakao Games, formerly Daum Games, along with Pearl Abyss have invited us to try our hands at sailing the Margorian seas and awakening new power in your characters.
The Awakening system has been available in Korea for a while now and is finally coming to players on this side of the world for players from level 55 up to 60. In short, for the uninitated, it adds a third weapon to each class to give them new ways to apply themselves in battle. The Devs were particularly keen to show off the Warrior and Sorceress in Cologne. Warriors will go from sword and board tanking defenders to greatsword wielding destroyers under the awakening system. It was great fun to see the otherwise reactive warrior switching from tanking to taking down swathes of enemies. Naturally there was an appropriate amount of Dev god modding going on, no one wants to see a demo where the play tester dies horribly, outside of the Souls series anyway.
After that we were treated to the second awakening demo they had prepared, the Sorceress. The Sorceress plays out like a vicious melee magic user. She's not one for fireballs, she's in close with dark claws. When equipping the scythe, things change though. No longer is she jumping in and out to tear at a single target, she's charging in to lay waste with her scythe to multiple enemies at once. The same mobility she used before to avoid damage comes back to help her get in and deal it instead.
This little design ideal works wonderfully for the time invested in characters. You can choose to take up the awakening weapon and utilize the other skills or go without, but the flavor of your class will carry through and have an impact on the awakening.
A Wider World
The world of Black Desert Online is heading west as far as the map is concerned, doubling in size with the introduction of Port Ratt and the Margoria sea. There's money to be made on the wide ocean and guilds should be getting themselves ready for the voyage out to Port Ratt. The expansion will introduce two vessels with which to ply the high seas. The ship you'll see everyone building is of course the cargo ship, you can't make money without hauling those trade packs. Guilds can build the ships and head out to Port Ratt, forging their own trade routes out west and hauling back their gains. The total sailing time from one continent to the other clocks in near 15 minutes but that's assuming a straight line and no trouble on the way.
Of course once you have high seas you have high risks. Players can also create 10 man warships with which to engage in a nice spot of piracy. The Captain, the lookout and the eight cannoneers can head out and assault those tasty trade ships or the warships of rivals. It's not just players you need to look out for of course, there are sea monsters to contend with. The sea beasts you have seen in the trailer aren't just for show but instead act as world bosses for you and your flotillas to try take down.
Naturally with this much focus on maritime pursuits, there has been an overhaul to the swimming system. It's not just for floating around in the water naturally enough, where there's a dangerous sea there are wrecks on the bottom. Sadly player ships will not form wrecks at this time, so any sunken treasure you find is yours for the taking but don't expect to go for a quick swim the moment you sink a cargo ship.
Guilds will have to repair their ships and there is a financial cost in supporting fleets. Repairs will have a base cost that can start to go up if they have repeated repairs. Keep your eyes on that repair budget as it's entirely possible to face a situation where a new ship could be cheaper than fixing your old pride and joy.
Littering The Ocean Floor
Who knows if Pearl Abyss will introduce the player wrecks? It certainly would be a fun idea and who wouldn't want to come across a ship graveyard on the sea floor marking where guilds have clashed and sunk fleets? Perhaps in the future this is a direction they'll take but until then we'll have to content ourselves with merely doubling the world size and bringing in new awakenings for people characters. Somehow I think players will survive, but the Margoria Sea is vast. We'll see which merely survive and which guilds take to the new high seas to thrive.