Black Desert Mobile Review – Beautiful, but Expected

    Title: Black Desert Mobile
    Developer: Pearl Abyss
    Release Date: December 11, 2019
    Reviewed On: iOS
    Publisher: Pearl Abyss
    Genre: MMORPG

Have you ever been hyped up for something so much that once you get that thing, your initial thought is, “I guess that’s cool?” Well, that’s the feeling I got after I spent some time in Black Desert Mobile, the mobile iteration of the popular MMORPG Black Desert Online from Pearl Abyss. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed my time with it, but it left me wishing for a bit more. Luckily, what’s here in terms of gameplay and presentation made it a decent entry in the ever-expanding library of mobile MMORPGs.

I need to preface that I haven’t played the PC or console versions of Black Desert Online. That said, from what I’ve seen, plenty of what makes Black Desert Online loved by many is present in Black Desert Mobile. Players start their journey by picking from five different classes, Warrior, Ranger, Witch, Giant, and Valkyrie.

Next comes customization, where you have an insane amount of options to make the character you want. After the minutes (or hours) that you spend making your adventurer, you arrive in the world of Black Desert. Luckily for newcomers, there’s a well-made tutorial to teach you the ins-and-outs of the game. With how much content there is, it’s good to see developers take the time to create a well thought out tutorial section.

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Early on, I had two criticisms of this mobile iteration. You see, Black Desert Mobile is undoubtedly a beautiful game, but only close up. A lot of little details look great when your camera is zoomed in, including battles, but when your camera pans out, that beauty fades away. Playing on an iPhone 11, this world seemed akin to titles I saw running on an iPhone 6. Textures in the distance look grainy and even take time to load in. It’s difficult to enjoy what’s supposed to be a magnificent fantasy setting if I don’t ever want to zoom out to see it. Things get uglier when hordes of enemies swarm around you as well.

My next criticism is with the game’s story as it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I understand it shares the same story and setting as its PC and console counterparts, but if that’s the case, the story is extremely convoluted. All I could gather was that you’re some “adventurer” with no memory after waking up on a beach. There’s also this little black mischievous spirit who wants to get stronger with your help. You learn about black stones being some powerful rare resource, but I was never sure of what my character’s motivations were. All I seemed to be doing was helping a bunch of random people with their problems and giving my little black spirit friend power.

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If you can get past the disappointing visuals and confusing story, there’s a massive amount of MMORPG content to enjoy. You have your typical main questline where you’ll help different NPCs out along with a ton of sidequests. Players also have a camp to manage, which provides useful resources throughout your journey. If you need a small break from the endless hordes of monsters and people asking you for help, you can fish, forage plants, and mine to gather resources.

Black Desert Mobile has PVE dungeons that you can take on with other players to earn items like new weapons and armor. There’s a PVP arena mode as well if that tickles your fancy. I do find the PVE and PVP modes to be a bit lacking in the sense that there aren’t a whole lot of other options other than what I just mentioned. I know other MMORPGs have similar modes. However, I wish there were more. For example, Maplestory can have you partner up with people on your friend list to help complete missions. With the way Black Desert Mobile structures its questline, it would have been nice to have a friend or two travel along with me since so many of the missions are either fetch quests or kill this enemy mission. While there is a ton of content, it’s pretty much what you’d expect of a mobile MMORPG.

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The gameplay in Black Desert Mobile is standard from what I’ve seen in other mobile MMORPGs. There are several skills to use during fights, which are flashy and exciting to look at. Auto pathing and battling make an appearance (unsurprisingly), which makes it easier to get from place to place and get through those “kill 500 goblin” quests.

Autoplay can be a hit or miss for players. I would turn auto battling off since the fights are rather engaging. I definitely wouldn’t recommend auto battling in dungeons, either. Even if your character is strong enough since standing in one place, smashing your abilities is a sure-fire way to get killed. You’ll need to maneuver around the battlefield and pick your attacks wisely if you want to survive in certain fights.

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There’s still a ton of other content I haven’t reached yet, but playing up to level 30 gave me a good idea of what to expect from this title. Maybe I was expecting too much from Black Desert Mobile only because it has the Black Desert name attached to it. However, it almost seemed like a slightly better reskin of Nexon Red’s AxE: Alliance vs Empire.

Black Desert Mobile operates as a typical MMORPG, which unfortunately isn’t saying much. Yes, the battles are fun, leveling up my character and equipment is mindless entertainment as with many MMORPGs, and the visuals look great when not zoomed out, but I was hoping for a more engaging experience. If anything, I’m now more inclined to get the PS4 version of Black Desert Online to see all this game has to offer.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Brock Jensen

Saebyeolbe is the Tom Brady of Overwatch. MOBILE GAMERS ARE STILL GAMERS. Send me stuff [email protected]