Tuesday, September 15th marked the beginning of the second phase of the closed beta test for the Russian version of Black Desert Online. GameNet, publisher of BDO in Russia, took feedback from the first phase into consideration and made some significant changes to the game since then. Among the most notable are: pushing the level for PvP to 30 up from 20, nearly complete localization, a smoother leveling curve and more.
My new character, this time a Ranger, happily awoke in the mud by the small city of Olivia, spoke with a disgustingly cheerful Black Spirit and then was promptly tossed out of the game and put back in the queue. This chain of events happened a few times before I gave up. You see, the amount of participants of the second CBT has been significantly ramped up compared to the first in order to check the stability and optimization of the server and that made the first day of the CBT a bit… trying. However, GameNet’s support team immediately started addressing the problems and within a short time the server was stabilized.
“A large amount of users have entered directly at the start [of the CBT]. There were lags, bugs, but we have learned from this experience and will try to avoid this at the OBT. In general, everything was alright, new channels had been added to relieve the load on the server,” – according to one of the producers of GameNet.
On the second day of the CBT players experienced many fewer connection issues, which lead them directly to another one: the amount of people at the starting locations and the fierce fights for quest mobs which were present in a much smaller amounts than the said players.
During my time in CBT2, my experience with the game was been a bit different, not only because of choosing another character, but also because of playing in a group. At times this experience was much better than solo play, especially when it came to tagging some of those goblins we spent hours killing, but at times it for sure did not feel so.
A quick example are the numerous quests to gather certain items from mobs, be it shields from goblins, or maces from… also goblins (I have mentioned you will see a lot of goblins, haven’t I?) or something else. The collecting counts separately for party members – so if you have to collect 2 goblin staves, be prepared to kill 4 goblin-mages. It won’t be so much of an issue once game is released and the majority of players have moved on from the starting locations, but in the CBT it proved to be tiresome.
The same situation happened to the Knowledge quests, which require you to kill a certain amount of mobs of the same kind: the fact that one party member earned the creature’s Knowledge doesn’t mean that others did. I have seen no way to make sure party members are on the same quests as you or to check their progress, but it might be just me being lost in at times overwhelming UI of Black Desert.
One of the main differences between the Russian version and that of Korea are the lowered rates of getting Experience and Skill Points in the attempt to make the game more hardcore for the Russian audience. Just as it was in the previous phase of the CBT, if you go through quests without killing many more mobs than necessary, you will soon find that the ones you have to do now are, in general, 5-6 levels higher than your character. Completing those quests isn’t impossible or even really hard; however, it takes much more time than the quests of your own level. The problem more or less sorts itself out by around level 15, when the character gets access to more skills, equipment and quests, but GameNet has promised to address the amount of early level mobs, their respawn timers and the experience rewards for completing the quests to make the leveling curve up to level 15 smoother. They also mentioned that rates are being modified as we play, although the developers are happy with the current numbers.
The problem with lack of the Skill Points has persisted. During the first CBT, players were leaving comments about the changes to the rates of acquiring the Skill Points (which are not bound to the level-ups and experience) and how it doesn’t match the original idea presented by GameNet, namely, having people level to softcap slower (“100 hours with gradually increasing complexity”), but getting enough skill points to create a gameplay-enhancing build and emerge into PvP immediately. The publisher is currently discussing the rates with the developer but isn’t making any promises. This very problem leads to an issue with low-level PvP where it turns into the clash of potions rather than battle of skills – players do not yet have the abilities to over-damage the healing effect of the potions put on cooldown as small as 4 seconds, and so the winner is determined by the amount of said potions.
Growing tired of said goblins, I remembered that there are other viable ways to get experience in BDO, especially if you are not interested in the gain (or the lack of gain if you ask some players) of Skill Points, and that is by fishing, to name one of many. Imagine my disappointment at finding out that experience gains from fishing have been cut drastically. Previously it remained an alternative for leveling and there were even reports of people who reached CBT’s level limit only via fishing. Since that time, however, it was said to have received many negative comments to be “not quite right” as fishing was giving more experience than actually grinding the mobs. Proving you can’t please everyone, some players seem unhappy with the change.
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, change has been done to crafting system and the Energy Points, which are used literally for everything in Black Desert. Players have been worrying that this is where Pay-to-Win mechanic will make its way into the game, as by calculations, crafting now seems to be next to pointless unless you buy Energy Potions from the shop. The Russian publisher currently is in discussions with the developers about the feasibility of this innovation, as it is obvious it would slow craft greatly.
The new crafting system was applied by the Korean developers at the last second (the patch was said to be introduced on September 14th with CBT starting on the 15th) to gather data from this CBT how it would affect the process of crafting in the game in general and whether or not it would balance the in-game economy, loot, etc. At the end of the CBT the feedback will be gathered and sent to the developers.
Users have also reported that Energy Points do not seem to restore while offline as they do in the Japanese version and have wondered if this was a planned feature or not. The CMs have been vague in their answers, saying only they will check with developers. If anything, changing the system back to what it was before the patch would not take much time and should not affect the date of the OBT.
There are a lot of differences between Korean, Japanese and Russian versions, leading CMs to speculate that at some point in the future it is possible that there will be a single client between all the regionally published versions of BDO, though no hint of this has been given by the development team.
A few things from recent community management questions and answers with the BDO Russian community:
- Server Information: the exact number has yet to be determined, but 1 P2P and 1-3 F2P servers have been mentioned by the community manager. Balancing the amount of players on each will be done through channels, the exact number of which is yet unknown. There are no plans for servers with Korean/Japanese settings for the Russian version.
- Loot has been cut in the CBT due to technical issues and balance, but is said by GameNet CMs that it will be in a normal state by OBT.
- The in-game shop will be added during OBT with items as yet to be determined. One of the items that is predicted by many players to be in the store is Energy Points Potion (on P2P server they will either be sold by a vendor for silver or not appear at all). Besides this, the managers have been unwilling to share any further information about differences between P2P and F2P servers’ shops). Premium items are not available on CBT at the moment as well.
- The date of the OBT will be announced after the CBT has finished and the feedback has been gathered and analyzed. At the moment, the estimated time of OBT has not been changed and remains October - November.
All in all, it appears that GameNet is trying very hard to keep the lines of communication open with the Russian players and works deligently with the developers on the changes to the game that will make it fit with the audience the best.
Have you tried any versions of Black Desert, the Russian version in particular? What do you think of the latest changes to the game? Let us know in the comments below!