Black Desert Online is probably more famous for its custom creation than its actual gameplay. Appearing on the scene after videos and screenshots showed the depth of customisation available to the player when creating a character – everything from facial features to spots, freckles, hair dye and curls – the game has recently finished its closed beta where players could get to grips with its systems.
The first thing that struck me playing Black Desert Online, naturally, was the character customisation (sadly slightly limited due to the nature of the beta – for instance I couldn’t change my character’s gender).The creator was indeed impressive, with me being able to change almost everything about my female ranger (except her annoying elf ears). You can set up costumes, emoticons and other in-game situations in order to see what your character will look like.
Despite all this depth something left a sour taste in my mouth. There’s a strange voyeurism to being able to strip a character to their underwear and then pose them however you want as they make various cooing or giggling noises. I ended up leaving the creation kit a little perturbed by what going through all the ‘pose’ options had made my character do in the name of dress-up. Another caveat is that, like most MMORPGs, the game takes place from a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective. So, unless you really wanted to appreciate the effort you put into the back of your character’s head, you might be disappointed.
The game takes place in a high-fantasy setting and drops the player into a quintessentially idyllic start-zone filled with small creatures to brutally murder. The quest system is activated through talking to NPCs and gaining “knowledge” about certain cities and areas, thereby unlocking further features. Quests are given via small cutscenes, which, unvoiced at present, are more irritating than immersive. Thankfully they can be turned in via your black spirit companion – an unnervingly chipper ghost with red eyes who spins about and evokes all the things you found most annoying about Navi in Ocarina of Time.