From Rohan at Blessings of Kings:

The new hotness seems to be Black Desert Online. Normally I’d at least give it a try, but I’m not feeling inclined to. It reads a lot like Archeage, up to the whole PvP’ish endgame. I really would like to see someone do a comparison and say why BDO is better or worse than Archeage.

Ask and you shall receive. I played AA extensively and I’ve been in BDO since early release. First of all I don’t think it’s helpful to compare the two games as I don’t consider them to be alike at all. The only thing they have in common is that they both originated in Korea. BDO needs to be considered on its own merits and what it brings to the table as a fantasy MMO.

The World. The BDO world and landscape are aesthetically gorgeous. The look is of 14th century Italy and it feels very immersive. It is also in-depth. The map features graphs and stats on average groundwater, temperature, and humidity, as well as nodes and resources, and territorial boundaries. All of the nodes and feature areas are up for grabs to be controlled by guilds. This feature has not been unlocked yet as the developers want to give guilds time to get to an appropriate level. If a guild controls an area then they get more resources from it as compared to anyone else. Towns and cities in BDO have pleasing and interesting layouts that make sense. Also, because areas give resources through the node system there are no abandoned areas that players have moved on from due to leveling past them. The instanced housing system is not just for a player’s residence; you can use housing for storage, accommodation for your workers, as workshops and crafting stations, stables, shipyards, and more. As a result the world feels lived in and there is no set path for you to follow.

The Gameplay. There is no tab targeting in BDO. I play a ranger and I can tell you that if you go in wildly shooting you are going to pull a lot of mobs. Skills and abilities are complex but without being confusing. It takes some time to learn the key commands but once you have it down it feels intuitive. At this point I cannot comment on the balance between classes as I haven’t got to level cap and pvp yet. When you encounter a specific mob for the first time you won’t see its health bar decreasing as you kill it. You must unlock mob information by killing them at which point you will see their health bar as well as their special attacks. Once a mob is unlocked it will also give you better loot. It may take a number of mobs to unlock and when you do you will get a random letter starting from C, B, A, A+, and S. These go from least knowledge to top level. I only have got S a couple of times and I’ve been rewarded with some good loot whenever I killed those particular mobs. You gain 80% of your leveling experience from killing mobs.

Crafting. It’s extensive. There are also no restrictions on how many professions you can do. On top of that there is a server ranking system where you can see how advanced you are compared to other players. The developers want the vast majority of items in the world to be crafted by players. I’ve always liked crafting but I’m getting so drawn into this system that my leveling is beginning to suffer. You can hire workers that will gather resources for you from nodes you have discovered. They are animated and in game, and sometimes I will run past a worker struggling down the road with a load of potatoes with the name, ‘Noisy’s Worker’ over his head. Yeah man, you keep working! I have five workers at this point spread around two towns and all I need to feed them is beer which I craft with my cooking.

Guilds. Oh boy, this is in-depth. Guilds can be leveled and are done so by the guild members performing group tasks, up to 5 times a day. It might be collecting a number of resources, (which the players keep), or defending a town from attackers. Leveling the guild unlocks attribute advantages to guild members such as better defense points or accuracy. Guild members are contracted and paid a certain amount of silver per day based on their value to the guild. Guilds can declare war on one another but when guild control of nodes is released there will be strategically relevant reasons to do this. The second stage will be sieges.

NPCs. I’m really impressed with the depth and complexity of the npcs in game. There is an npc mini-game where you can unlock things like special quests, special items for sale if it’s a vendor, or knowledge. You do this by meeting and talking to other npcs that would be of interest to the one you’re talking with. You also have a personal black spirit guide who you can drag out at any time. This helps you with your character development in both fighting skills and crafting. There are other mini-games as well. The trade npc has a bartering mini-game and it also requires you to connect nodes to where you’re handing items in in order to get the best price possible.

Quests. You do quests to advance crafting, your energy points, (used for crafting), to get skill points, (level combat skills), and for contribution points, (unlock nodes and housing). There are story quests that unlock the history of the area that you’re in. Things like the common gathering quests are combined with whatever crafting skill they’re relevant to so they have some meaning. I like how escort quest npcs actually run fast behind you unlike the classic dawdlers of previous MMOs.

Summation. We’ve all played so many games that there can be a temptation to want to walk right in and get to a complete understanding right off the bat. Things that you don’t know aren’t seen as a source of discovery and learning but as a frustration that you don’t know what you’re doing. The majority of our guild aren’t at level cap yet for the simple reason that they are taking their time and enjoying learning about the game. I’ve been going for 2 weeks now and I’ve learned a lot but there’s still a lot to go. I was frustrated at the start; in fact a lot of us were. But this game rewards some effort and time taken to really get in and see what’s out there. I’m enjoying it immensely. I think that it is a real progression on MMO game development. It’s nothing like ArcheAge and for that I can be truly thankful.