INNOVATION = 3
The score in this category, while harsh, isn’t unfounded. BGO is, for all intents and purposes, the same free-to-play MMO you’ve played a million times before, with a slightly fresh coat of paint. Don’t let the steampunk and fantasy based-mixture trick you though – there really isn’t much new here. Some of the open world PvP elements had potential and the overall lore and setting could have led to an engaging story, but that isn’t the actual state of the game.
This was made abundantly clear to me during one of the earlier portions of the game. After making my way through an instanced dungeon, killing enemies that used overtly telegraphed AoE attacks, I realized that the entire encounter was completely staged and pre-determined. Maybe current games on the market have spoiled me into thinking that dynamic content and varied spawns should be the standard, but I could just never shake the feeling that I was “going through the motions” every second I spent playing BGO.
POLISH = 5
You definitely won’t accidentally mistaken Black Gold Online for something extra special and shiny, but it’s far from being considered broken as well. All of the core systems work just fine and I never actually encountered any game-breaking bugs during my couple of weeks playing the game. When you look more closely though, you’ll notice it feels very much like a game that never finished internal testing phases. I get that it’s technically in Open Beta still, but everyone knows that term has lost meaning in recent years. Much like an essay you’d write for school without proofreading, Black Gold Online is just an unpolished MMO that comes off like something that was hurriedly finished at the last minute.
LONGEVITY = 4
The longevity of a free-to-play MMO is so difficult to judge. Unlike pay-to-play games that have such high burdens of delivering consistent and enjoyable content to justify their price tag, most free-to-play MMOs are content with simply sustaining themselves. With that being said, the population in the game has already dwindled significantly in just the first month of Open Beta and most chat channels are overrun with gold farmers. There will of course be a group of dedicated fans that love BGO to the ends of the earth, but ultimately there are so many F2P MMOs that are more worth your time.
SOCIAL = 4
During my time with BGO, I never felt inclined to join a group or really interact with my fellow players. The game pushes you along a predetermined path that feels almost entirely out of your control and devoid of any actual roleplaying. While engaged in PvP combat, I of course was around other players, but the experience was far from a social one. Things like grouping and guilds do exist in the game, but they are far from emphasized. The guild system does show potential though, with different facets like Technology and Contribution points, as well as the skeleton of a diplomacy system, but aren’t really realized yet.
VALUE = 3
If you were on the fence up to this point, then I hope this can be the final nail in the coffin. “But wait!” you may be thinking, “How can a free game have such a low value score? It doesn’t cost anything!” While you may technically be correct – Black Gold Online does not actually cost anything to download and play, its payment model is one of the worst I have ever seen. Once you get farther into the game you will start fighting harder and rarer enemies that will start to drop some of the best and hardest to find loot. Naturally speaking, if you did the hard work of leveling your characters, killing that monster, and investing your precious time to gaining those rewards, you’d think you deserved them. Not the case in Black Gold Online.
Instead of, you know, giving you the loot you earned, BGO uses a Black Gold Time Save System; let me explain. The game records your play data, keeping track of all of the materials and equipment you earned during a specific time frame. You can then opt to purchase the “optional” save file, which may include rare materials and high level equipment. Think about that for a second. Rather than using a subscription model or even a traditional cash shop, the game actually has you spend money in order to purchase the potential for access to end-game items. That’s a real thing.
Black Gold Online is just not a very good MMORPG, even by free-to-play standards. The potential of the lore and setting is buried beneath a massive pile of mediocrity that makes it near impossible to glean bits of innovative entertainment. Ultimately the obsession with providing a litany of things to do caused a massive oversight in the development of those activities and resulted in a watered down and shallow experience. There are many F2P games out there that are much better than BGO, so unless you want to pay to gain access to items you already spent time earning, I’d stay away from this false nugget.