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Black Desert Land of the Morning Light Review

Anthony Lowry Updated: Posted:
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It has been a week, and I feel that I've gotten a good grasp of what Black Desert Online's Land of the Morning Light is all about. From the story, to the boss rushes, to everything in between.

Or…lack thereof.

Last we left off, I was neck deep in the middle of unlocking all of the bosses and completing all of the story arcs. While I was initially very enamored with how gorgeous and visually stunning each individual boss was, and the accompanying environments.

After finishing all eight story arcs, ending with the Tale of the Gumiho, I was overall happy with just how incredibly well done each and every boss was. As said in my review in progress piece, they truly nail the design of each encounter, and the stories leading up to them. From a giant tiger that tries to maul the hell out of everything in its path, to a Musa that transforms into a crow/bird/legendary pokemon looking creature that still keeps the Musa hat

Each and every boss is interesting, fun and just damn cool. As for the boss fights themselves, they truly felt like bosses. One of the issues I’ve had with field bosses and world bosses in Black Desert is how same-y they tend to be. Some of them are cool, like Nouver, Garmoth, and Vell. And many of them are interesting, but the issue is that they all kind of have a very similar trend: Avoid the one single mechanic that matters, or die. This drags down a lot of the grand feeling of them, and the bosses in Land of the Morning Light address that right off the bat. These bosses almost feel like trials in Final Fantasy XIV, both in presentation, and mechanics. 

It’s not just looking out for a single mechanic here. I’ve definitely challenged myself before, doing grind spots like Hexe Sanctuary much earlier than I should have, just for the heck of it, and I was very surprised at how much of a challenge some of these fights were. Whether it’s constantly looking where the Golden Pig King is facing, or which direction the Bamboo Legion is coming from. There’s a lot to take in.

 Some bosses radically change as difficulty goes up, and will introduce entirely new mechanics that just do not exist at lower ranks. There’s no knowing what’s going to happen until it happens. There’s no hint or tell. It could be a new add phase, or a more difficult existing one. It could be a bullet hell. It could be layered AoEs you haven’t seen before. You’re simply thrown into the deep end and…well…good luck! It’s not just a matter of tweaking some damage or health here and there with these harder difficulties, It’s a very old school JRPG feel, and this is the kind of content Black Desert needed, and it is definitely a step in the right direction for what the already great combat system of Black Desert can do.

Going further, The different branches of lore, and how they relate to each other in a loose, but still coherent mini-arcs makes much of the story easy to follow. The self-contained pieces allow complete freedom in the order they can be completed in, while also making sense of the goings on in the land. Many, many references to Korean folklore are used. Even things like the Dol Hareubang statues can be found! 

I am personally not terribly familiar with many Korean cultural references, but I felt like I didn’t have to be in order to get a strong grasp of how they wanted to convey the overall setting. If the story was told in, say, Valencia, I don’t think I would have been interested at all. If all of the references to Korean folklore and culture were used in, say, the Calpheon storyline, it would have fallen flat. These two components need each other to allow for the region to present itself in the way that it does, and it does so very well. 

I really want to emphasize just how good this is, because I often feel like things like this are taken for granted, and it’s not often that we get whole regions, for free, with this much detail, thoughtfulness, and artistic prowess on display. It is firmly and truly one of the strongest points of this expansion, and a game with an already visually stunning world impressing me even further is very hard to do. Kudos!

I firmly believe that Pearl Abyss did a very good job with the parts of the expansion they were selling to us, but from here, I started to see some noticeable cracks in the diamond, if you will.

The fact that the story was interesting to me at all is a massive step up from what I’m used to in Black Desert. Unfortunately, this was bogged down quite a bit by the actual questing. Quests, puzzles, and other pieces of content may often feel like they're mere obstacles or gates to get over in order to get to the real content. Adventure logs can often feel this way, even if they're incredibly important to a character's progression. Land of the Morning Light almost accidentally highlights this problem with how much focus there is on the bosses and only the bosses. Anytime I started a longer quest chain, I would always think in the back of my mind: “When do I get to fight the next boss?”. The questing feels like just as much of a chore as any other in Black Desert

While I can appreciate that they threw in some life skilling (seemingly for newer players), a small number of them didn’t really function properly for me. Namely, the tanning quest just didn’t spawn the monsters I needed to tan for a good 15-20 minutes. I am unsure if this was a bug, or if I just had to wait, but I was definitely confused for quite a while, despite triple checking my navigation and quest location.

I incidentally realized that I was finding myself…a little bit bored? Maybe unfulfilled?  The magic of the world and story wasn't capturing me as much as before. I continued to complete my 5th, 6th, 7th arc, but I had to stop myself from trying to skip everything just to get to the boss rush part of things. I felt that there was a fair lack of innovation here, wondering what I was doing gameplay wise that wasn’t the finales that were the bosses. 


Black Desert Reveals Giant Serpent Boss Imoogi In Land of the Morning Light

The same old “talk to this NPC”, “fetch/make this item”, “gather this” quests were present, only this time, there was even less variety, due to the lack of mobs to grind. Typically, in other areas of Black Desert, a story arc will lead to where some of the grind spots are, which can open up dailies for said grind spots, and may even show a spot within that area that isn’t familiar. Because there are no grind spots in Land of Morning Light, those types of quests aren’t really present. This is the most clear example of the expansion almost accidentally working against itself. While it is a risk, it's also  a consequence that literally, and figuratively, comes with the territory.

However, my major concern is how the Boss Blitz mode locks out progress with a weekly limit.

The Boss Blitz mode is meant to be replayable, with its eight bosses and 10 difficulty levels each to progress through. However, to earn the rewards needed for the high end loot the Blitz can offer, progression is limited based on a weekly boss limit. In effect, only five of those boss kills in a week will net the rewards needed, which feels restrictive overall. 

For PvE grinders, once the weekly runs are finished, it’s back to the mainland to do non-expansion content. I do not like this system at all. It soured my experience quite a bit, and it’s one of the only parts of the entire open world that just says “Nope, no more”. 

Most MMOs these days have weekly gated content. It’s pretty much the norm. Black Desert is the antithesis of that. Players play Black Desert because they want to be able to grind to their heart’s content, even if it’s not the most optimal thing they could be doing. I do not think that the solution is to simply lift the lockout and let us jam as much as we want, but I do think there can be a better system in place to allow us to receive tangible rewards while also letting us do more than just five. In the end, the limit itself feels restrictive, not that there is a limit to begin with.

I was definitely excited to take a jab at some of the higher level bosses to see how far I could go, but I quickly lost motivation once I knew I wasn't going to be rewarded for it once I hit my weekly cap. It isn't all doom and gloom, though. There’s no penalty for failing a run, and while there are no major rewards for it past the weekly, you can just continue killing bosses for the fun of it. This isn’t enough for me, though, as with a game like this, the encouragement is to spend time progressing, and time not progressing is time wasted.

The kicker is that I don’t even get the rewards until the weekly reset, meaning if I’m, for example, close to finishing, say, an important crystal, and I only need a couple of runs, I have to wait an entire week.While I understand the desire to gate players from going too fast, it makes for quite an unrewarding experience. 

The Land of Morning Light will not replace the day-to-day PvE of Black Desert, nor was it really designed to in the end. It is a gorgeous region with incredibly good worldbuilding, with a story that was actually good enough to get me to pay attention to. The questing, however, quickly got tedious, and while the bosses themselves are great, there just isn’t enough here to really sink into after that initial luster wears off. Being locked out of tangible progression really hurts as well, and puts a damper on the end game involved with it. 

However, new and returning players should definitely check out the Land of the Morning Light. From the gorgeous region that feels thematically different from the rest of BDO, to the epic and refreshing boss fights, it’s worth the time spent hustling around the island. And while the questing can get tedious, especially for a veteran player, the stories and interesting boss mechanics waiting at the end make up for it. It's a tale where the questing experience itself just doesn't live up to the pay off the story  and the boss fights offer.

Ultimately, though, the limits placed on the Boss Blitz mode make the grind there feel unrewarding to me overall, but I appreciate the challenge. Hopefully, with time, the weekly limits can be lifted, or at least increased, allowing for a more rewarding grind experience for those of us who love to just hammer away at Black Desert’s content.

This isn’t going to fully replace the normal Black Desert grind, but Pearl Abyss delivered in creating a gorgeous new place to quest in for new and returning players alike.It’s a good expansion, and a good direction for potential content in the future.

7.5 Good
  • Excellent Worldbuilding
  • Good storytelling and pacing
  • Boss encounters are refreshing and unique
  • Content Is accessible right out of the gate
  • Progressions limits in Boss Blitz blocks meaningful progression
  • Lack of content outside the boss fights
  • Tedious questing, especially for veteran players


Anthony Lowry

Anthony is an avid MMO gamer since childhood, with experience in all different kinds of games. From FFXIV as a Red Mage specialist, to Lost Ark as a Gunlancer, you can always find them (probably) getting way too greedy with mechanics and wondering how they wiped the group