I figured the first article of this year should be one my most commonly asked question and no, it's not another question about my mysterious identity or gender. It's a question regarding whether they should play Black Desert or Blade & Soul! It's going to be one long article, so I hope you're ready for it.
Introduction - About Me
I'm sure there are a lot of people who don't know me, since I'm a ninja and all. I'd like to say I'm pretty experienced with both games having played them for over a year or two and longer. Both games were my main MMORPG during the early beta phases and releases in various languages. I played the CBT, OBT, and release of Blade & Soul since the early 2012~2015 on and off and Black Desert 2013~2015. You can find my ancient videos on my Youtube Page or my site. I figured now would be the best time to write about both games given I'm not as actively playing them anymore, which can rule out favoritism or that "fresh" new video game feeling. Honestly, I would suggest trying em both out just for the experience alone, but if you can't decide, well, that's why I'm here to hold your hand!
World and Themes - A New Adventure Awaits
Let's start with something simple. If you want to play an oriental martial-arts MMORPG go with Blade & Soul. If you prefer playing a fantasy medieval themed game with anything goes, then go with Black Desert. Which game has a better world to offer? That's a very tricky question you see mainly because both worlds have unique themes, but the right question to ask is which world is bigger? If you've done your research, it's no secret that Black Desert offers a massive open seamless world without loading nor any fast travel teleporting mechanics. Blade & Soul also offers a big world, but you'll most likely run into a loading screen here and there. It will offer a lot more unique looking areas because of the zoning to zoning at the same would be a nice choice for people that prefer teleporting from one area to another with fast travels. If you don't have a lot of time to play games, playing Black Desert might pose a problem, because you're going to be running or riding from one area to another which takes a lot of time. Black Desert offers real-time day and night, so you're going to be in for a treat at night with the new pitch black changes in the NA version. The only drawback with Black Desert Online's world is the noticeable pop-in though you will get used to it in due time.
Blade & Soul has a cooler way to interact with the world and environment with the Qing Gong features that lets players glide or run in the air, dragon stream, speed run through water, and more. At the same time, Black Desert will offer players a small parkour climbing feature on ledges, leaning on walls, sitting down edges. Not as cool as Blade & Soul, but still a useful feature to get by certain places faster. Blade & Soul seems more story driven so most of the areas are going to be a bit linear. I actually prefer the story in Blade & Soul more because it had a lot of cutscenes and voice overs that I could actually understand what was going on in the game with my limited knowledge of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. I heard they're changing the story in the NA version so...yeah.. Black Desert uhh... I've not a single clue about the story of the game because most of the story related content had limited voice overs or cutscenes and since you know, I can't fully read Korean. Blade & Soul will offer a lot more variety in terms of unique looking areas early on while Black Desert is going to have a lot of green grassy areas early on. The desert part of the game won't actually come out until months laters, lol. Black Desert's world also evolves in time with areas changing as big updates come.
Now let's move on the immersive part of the MMORPG which is very important. Both games have insane customization features with a lot of sliders. Blade & Soul doesn't have a limit on customization and you can even make unproportioned disfigured skeleton looking characters if you wish. The same features can be found in Black Desert though not as much as Blade & Soul because the disfigured part is limited to the face alone. Black Desert Online has a better character creation, but I believe players will enjoy personalizing their character better in Blade & Soul Online, especially if they're into Anime stuff. Players will feel much more connected with the story, world, and theme of Blade & Soul as they advance from chapter to chapter. Black Desert on the other hand, offers an overwhelming large beautiful immersive world that any gaming adventurer would enjoy. Set out and discover hidden areas, dungeons, caves, sail, etc. Given it's your first time playing through one of the two, you will enjoy either one.
Gameplay and Combat - Pick Your Poison
I can guarantee that both games will give you an action packed experience. It's extremely hard for me to decide on which game is better combat wise because they're both unique in their own distinctive way. Both games are equally fast-paced in terms of combat and can become spammy depending on the class being played. I fell in love with Blade & Souls combat mainly because of the gameplay mechanics. You can block, parry, counter, dodge, reverse counter, and more. You can execute various combos depending on your skill setup and PvP isn't about spamming all the skills after the cooldown refreshes. In PvE you will have to coordinate your skills with the other players in your party against bosses and that's where the built-in voice feature of the game comes into play. In short, Blade & Soul Online's combat requires precise timing! Some classes are restricted to certain races, but no gender lock issue unless you're planning to play Kun.
Black Desert's combat leans towards a new direction in terms of playstyle because it's not your typical rotation or skill bar hot bar whatever type of game. It's a lot easier to watch the video below other than explaining, but here goes nothing. Skills can be executed in various ways in Black Desert Online such as a combination of various keys that involve LMB, RMB, Q, E, F, WASD, Spacebar, Shift, and more. For example, if you press Shift+LMB it will execute an attack skill. While pressing S+LMB will execute a different skill and so on. It may seem like there's not a lot of skills, but once you start memorizing all the key combinations, there's actually a lot of skills and combos you can come up with. Lastly, not all of the skills can be executed by keyboard commands alone and players must equip and activate that skill through the limited hotbar slot.
I've been playing both of these titles with a big disadvantage living from USA so my ping is rather high, but I've grown used to it. Ping also know as Latency will play a big role in both games more so in Blade & Soul Online. For example, if you're Kung Fu Master and in NA and your friend from EU wants to play with you on NA. Your ping of 50 vs their ping of 200 is a huge difference. Your auto attacks and skill execution will come out a lot faster resulting is faster DPS during PvP and PvE or boss fights that require you to hold aggro. Is it still playable? Heck yeah, I've PvP and PvE with the disadvantage for years and got to Plat rank just fine. Moving on to Black Desert's latency issues if you ping over 300+ desync and rubberbanding randomly happens and well the players you're hitting isn't there anymore or vice versa which means you might randomly die when your enemy is far away? Huh? It usually happens a lot more in PvP and rarely in PvE. You shouldn't worry too much about this paragraph given you're going to actually play in USA. This is one of the main reasons I want to try the English version of both games, just to feel the OP ping difference, someone always ends up stealing my name though. Curse you fake Steparu posers!
Playable Classes - Quality Over Quantity
Blade & Soul will have better playable class options at the release for players that don't want to play gender locked classes at the same Black Desert will also offer counter-parts of the gender locked classes released as content updates. Both games are still being updated constantly in terms of new playable classes, balance, and revisions. In fact, the KR version of Blade & Soul recently released a new playable job called the Soul Fighter while Black Desert Online is releasing a new awakening system for all of the current classes in a monthly basis. The awakening system gives all the current classes a brand new weapon to wield which expands PvE and PvP combat possibilities even further. The new hybrid Kung Fu Master and Force Master class for Blade & Soul can be seen in the video below.
Black Desert gets a lot of updates character and weapon wise while Blade & Soul updates at a slower pace. A lot of new class updates can be a bad thing, especially if you're a competitive player because class balancing is going to be all over the place. Black Desert does a great a job of releasing content and playable classes at the same time they're having the trouble of class balancing each one. Which is why the awakening system is supposed to balance it all out, at least that's what the rumors are saying. I'm waiting for the Tamer awakening weapon, I will definitely return to BDO and test it once it's released. You can see a sample of the Giant Awakening video below. The Giant usually dual wields axes, but with a press of a button, a Giant can swap to their one hand armor cannon anytime they see fit.
PvG, GvG, and Esports - Go Pro Go Troll Go Casual
Commence with the PvP and GvG! For some reason, this topic always attracts a lot of trolls and elitist. If you're looking for a competitive game to play with item equalization and somewhat balanced 1v1 with Global Esports, then you definitely want to go with Blade & Soul Online. If you lose a match it's mostly because you failed your timing on an escape skill, specced the wrong skills, failed to block or counter, etc. If you lose match in Black Desert it's mostly going to be like, damn that player had better items than me or that class is OP and I'm still talking about 1v1 here. In short, I prefer 1v1 combat in Blade & Soul compared to Black Desert. However, GvG wise, Black Desert Online offers a better experience because it's on a massive scale. Random GvG on open fields, farm spots, field bosses, along with the weekly GvG to claim territories in certain regions. Formations used to play a big role along with terrain in Black Desert during sieges though I'm not so sure how it is now since I haven't participated in a siege in a very long time. The only downside with siege wars is that it becomes so massive that you'll end up seeing rainbows, if you don't turn down your effects. Blade & Soul Online focuses more on the Faction PvP system where you can collect and earn money in faction hub areas. There is a chance you will run into enemy faction players while doing your daily quests. However, you can only freely attack an enemy player if they have an opposing faction uniform on. There are various faction uniforms other than the default Red and Blue one, so if you see another player wearing one, you can wear the opposing uniform and engage a 1v1 battle with them in an open world PvP or spar.
(This part only applies to the KR version because I'm not sure how the NA versions will be.) Now let's talk about whales, if you've got a six figure salary and have a lot of money, you might enjoy YOLO'ing in Black Desert it's a game where you can actually feel godly given you're all max out in enchantments and in favor with the RNG gods. Which is extremely hard by the way, for your wallet or purse. I haven't played Blade & Soul in awhile, but if they go by the Korean version then upgrading evolving or enchanting should be the same for all players and no RNG involve. You just had to farm a lot more compared to the Chinese version, but upgrading was 100%. Though there is a purification system on weapon evolving where your weapon can't go further unless purified, but it's not as serious as BDO. Upgrading should be the least of your worries for now. It's a lot less troublesome to upgrade gear in Blade & Soul compared to Black Desert for those looking to play game without a heavy investment. You're still going to work your ass off though in both games, but in the end, you will feel good that you achieved something. There is more glory in it for Black Desert Online when obtaining a max upgraded weapon due to the current difficulty being presented in the enchanting system. This topic feels a bit irrelevant due to the NA changes in both games, but I felt the need to share.
Graphics and Music - Really?
I wasn't really sure if I should write about this section, but you know, there is always that one guy that complains about missing stuff. If it wasn't obvious, Black Desert wins in terms of graphics quality, but as far as music I would have to say that Blade & Soul is much more soothing to the ears. Rainbows aside Blade & Soul is also easier on the eyes in terms of explosions and special effects while Black Desert goes way overkill with the effects, screen shake, and black spatters, rainbows everywhere, and more. Do note you can turn it off, but it looks much cooler with it on. It's okay, right? Just please don't seizure out on me. Either way, both games have pretty good optimization for people with ancient PC's. There are also extreme low mode settings for both games, once turned on, it will feel like a whole new game.
Leveling Up and Max Levels - The Grind is Real
Both games will have a quest to quest hub like feature, but Black Desert Online being a somewhat sandbox game, you can skip most of the quests and just grind. However, you're going to be missing out on a lot of bonuses if you wish to do so. It's fairly easy to reach a high level in both titles upon release day which can be done in less than week. It shouldn't be hard to get to level 50 or 55 cap during Black Desert Online release, but once the level 60 cap arrives, the grinding becomes unreal. Why? Mainly because the game wasn't supposed to have a level cap. Leveling up in Blade & Soul should also be easy during the first few patches, but once the level 50 the plus 20 extra levels come out, it's going to be grindy ride and not really worth your time to aim for the ultimate maximum level in both games. If you're a person that's picky and want to be maxed level in a game, then both games will eat you up inside, because the grind is going to literally kill you or your wallet with EXP boosters or VIP services depending on the game. Unless they change the rates or tone it down in the English versions. Rates may also change depending on the content update schedule for each one. What do you mean? For example, if the publisher of the game wants to delay content, they can always add a level cap and make the grind painful. What's the magic word again? Localization.
Both games are most likely going to have some form of EXP boosters except Black Desert will have a ton of them that stack. If it's your first time playing either one, you're going to have a lot of fun leveling up to the max level and may even stay up for more than 24 hours playing all night long. In Black Desert players who's played the other version are most likely going to take advantage and pay for the head start thing, which is really OP if you know what you're doing, don't bother if you don't unless you want the perks of the package. Get max level very fast, which is most likely 50 for the time being and monopolize the early farming areas, PK newbies that enter your zone, unless mega server system is in place like the Korean version, then they can just change channel or server. Blade & Soul Online's headstart won't be as bad since the game is more focused on the PvE during the early release of the game. Not to mention the headstart is even across all early pre-order packages.
Community and Politics - Solo or Friends
Which game is more enjoyable to play with a small group of friends? Content wise, I'm probably going to go with Blade & Soul Online because there are so many dungeons to do where teamwork plays a big role. If you're a solo player like me, you can go with either one. Black Desert doesn't really have much group content to offer or any party related features at the moment other than GvG related stuff. No real benefits playing with another player. Politics wise both games will be good because Blade & Soul has the faction PvP system and Black Desert has alliance system based on a word of trust. You never know when one of your allies is going to throw a random coup d'etat in Black Desert.
End Game and Goals - In the End
End game varies from game to game and people to people. Most people prefer an end game of challenging dungeons while others prefer PvPing then there are those who enjoy doing other things such as exploring, crafting, roleplay, etc. If you're the type of person that enjoys party content, raiding, equalized 1v1 arena, and instanced dungeons then I suggest going with Blade & Soul. Players with a high tolerance for grinding and farming can go with Black Desert because the end game there leans towards more on the GvG side and perhaps PK PvP with new NA changes. You're only farming because you want to upgrade your gear to contribute in large scale sieges, node wars, or overpower players in farm spots.
In the long run, I feel like Black Desert will have more room for expansion in terms of content being added being a sandbox type genre game and all. You'll just have to be patient with the game as they add things slowly. It also offers a lot of crafting, housing, trading, whale hunting, world bosses, and economy mechanics. I didn't get around to focusing with the life mechanics of the game because I was so focused on trying to keep up with the best gear just to stay alive during GvG and make videos. The game also has three world bosses that look.. well better see for yourself. Queue Darude Sandstorm.
Conclusion - You Decide
You're probably waiting for me to give you the "GO" on which game to play, but the point of this article is to help you decide on which game fits your style more. Even if I wanted to suggest one title over the other, it's not an easy answer because I enjoyed playing both games for a very long time. A true gamer would definitely try both without a 2nd thought, but I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who don't have the time to try both out. You can always try out whichever game comes out first! If you actually read the review, then you would notice both titles have their own weak and strong points. My job was just to highlight them for you. I may have missed some points here and there from my recollection, but I'm starting to have gaming withdrawals from too much writing. I'm not giving out any scores because games tend to change or evolve over time for better or worst. If you enjoyed or found this article helpful, then make sure you to follow me on my social links below!
Blade & Soul
Developer: Team Bloodlust
Game Site http://www.bladeandsoul.com/en/
Game Site: https://www.blackdesertonline.com/