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One of the lingering concerns from the final Black Desert Online beta is the very PvP-centric focus of the game. Given that we’re dealing with an MMO that comes with such a beautifully crafted world, complex gathering and crafting mechanics, interesting housing and farming features, horse taming, boat building and whatnot, it is understandable that there’s more than your average Darkfall crowd lining up for BDO. The biggest questions from PvErs are therefore twofold:
- Can I turn off PvP mode for myself / will there be PvE servers?
- What about classic PvE content, aka dungeons, quests, endgame..?
The first question is easily answered at this point: nope. While there are ramifications for player killing in BDO, once your first character hits level 50 (edited for correction: level 50 is not the level cap as BDO has none), you are available for PvP. There is no opt-out at the present time. This also extends to whatever alts you may create on the same account which will no longer benefit from any newbie moratorium. There is the misconception that “flagging yourself” for PvP in BDO means consensual PvP but that’s not in fact the case; flagging yourself is required to engage in PvP but it does not save anyone from being ganked whether they are flagged or not.
Now, from some of the replies I received to my early CBT2 impressions and also reading more related forum articles since, it appears that ever since the Korean launch PKing in BDO has been nerfed to a point where “it’s no longer fun for hardcore PVPers” due to hefty karma penalties. Indeed, there’s been a lot of outcry over this. This may serve as some reassurance to all those who would like to try Black Desert without being continuously ganked by others; while you can be killed anywhere, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen an awful lot. BDO’s main PvP content is siege / arena / instanced PvP.
What about PvE servers and classic PvE content?
It is always tiresome to see how fast forum discussions on PvE servers get derailed and attacked by those who feel threatened by peaceful playstyles. Or rather that’s not what the PvP player fears: what he fears is the exodus of potential sheep for slaughter. PvP players know fully well that they are a minority. I guess from that point of view I understand their frustration – BDO was primarily developed with PvP in mind, so that audience considers it “their game”. Yet, it is simply a misconception that not having alternatives would mean everyone stays together. This is not the year 2000 where desperate MMO players stick around no matter their environment. These people will simply leave the game never to return. If you want outdoor PvP in any meaningful fashion in MMOs nowadays, it needs to be consensual while allowing everyone else to perform other roles. That said, for reasons already stated above I have my doubts PvE servers are even required.
Furthermore, it de facto doesn’t look like Pearl Abyss have any plans for PvE servers. In this, I believe some of the passionate PvP advocates on the official forums to be correct – it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to have PvE servers in a game with so little classic PvE content or endgame. It’s a sandbox MMO which is basically the opposite of getting themepark PvE content handed to you. And to drive this point home further, the developers have made it pretty clear in a very recent pre-release interview that they have no intention to turn BDO into a classic PvE game:
Q: Are there any plans to add instance based dungeons and or raids for end game PVE content?
A: Adventures and fierce guild wars in Black Desert are strongly established on an open-world system. Some special content might need to utilize an instance dungeon system, but we are not going to add a repetitive instanced dungeon, where the sole purpose is getting rewards. Guild- and party-centric raids are already implemented in the game now, and we are developing more advanced kind of raid.
Q: Are there any plans to do epic quest lines for an in game reward. I.E. Extremely difficult quest lines that could take month+ to complete. Rewards could be unique high end weapons that have special characteristics, stats, or an extremely unique look.
A: No matter how hard a quest is, it can never deliver the same level of achievement or anticipation once it is cleared or a walkthrough is published. Most of the quests in the beginning stages of the game are simple and guiding, but as the player proceeds toward a later stage of the game, such as Valencia, desert and maritime quests demand long-distance travel and intense adventure. A quest in Black Desert should be an extension of the exploration of the in-game region, and can also assist players by making the exploration more convenient or helping with character growth. However, we’d like to state that we do not prefer a type of quest that players feel obliged to complete, in order to become stronger or to gain rewards. Players should play freely and naturally in the game, and it is never fun to be pressed into doing something to get rewards. We do plan to add some difficult quests, but the estimated time of arrival is still not set.
I must admit, while I do not find outdoor PvP enjoyable personally (but I am willing to give it a shot based on everything I know), I love everything about the answers provided above. The devs have no intention to do what’s already been done to death elsewhere. If you want long questlines that everyone can go look up on a Wiki after two days, go elsewhere. If you want to repeat the same dungeons over and over for rewards, go elsewhere.
That’s not to say that there won’t be any types of repetitive grinds in Black Desert Online, I know there will be. But it sounds like there’s a clear vision behind this MMO and a decided focus on sandbox over PvE. And isn’t that what so many have kept asking for in the past? Personally, I look forward to see how things turn out. Should you play Black Desert Online as a PvEr? Let’s find out.