THE E3ODUS [E3 2019 Preview]: Black Desert Online.

“Father” Ryan Forber

BLACK DESERT ONLINE (Kakao Games/Pearl Abyss – Xbox One/PC – Out now) – I’m going to start this with a little story about me. Obviously, I’m old, so I got my start in the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game for people even older than I) world with World of Warcraft. I’m so old, I started on actual Warcraft.

Yet, despite my age, this experience granted me a baseline perspective of how a game grows, attracts a following, and evolves into a more modern version of itself. World of Warcraft was an amazing game…that is, of course, until Blizzard decided to murder it with panda bears, but that’s a gripe for another time. WoW just captured my imagination: the writing was witty and smart, the quests covered a vast landscape of old science-fiction homages, pop-culture references, and plot developments. It was a great game. It is in the footsteps of this noble progenitor that Black Desert Online follows. So, I have to admit my own bias: I don’t believe any MMORPG game has come remotely close to WoW when it comes to an overall gaming experience. With that said, I wanted to dive into BDO to discover what we should expect at this year’s E3 conference…

Let’s hit the ground with an astonishing fact: Black Desert Online has generated a billion dollars in revenue for Pearl Abyss and Kakao Games. Yeah, you read that right, a billion. That means even if they spent $500,000,000 developing, distributing, and marketing this game (spoiler alert: they didn’t), they would have basically doubled their money. You’d better believe any game that can bring in a cool billion is something that the game maker is going to ride until it’s beyond dead.

I get the feeling that’s where we’re at with BDO Remastered, but I’m taking the long view; this remastering is just a bridge to the next generation of console hardware. My bigger-picture view comes from my reckoning of all the tech and money they sunk into this remastered software. Kakao’s updated the user interface, overhauled the graphics, overhauled the audio and paid the Prague Philharmonic god knows how much to play out the score which was originally synthesized; they brought in Xbox and have added so much to this remaster that one wonders just where they plan to go with it.

All of these bells and whistles come with the same downside: it’s still the same game. So, if you loved BDO from the start, chances are you’re going to love this remaster — despite the fact that you’ll need high-end hardware to take advantage of all the upgrades. What does that mean for E3? Naturally, the developers are going to want to show off all the glittery new graphics and fancy audio. I also expect them to articulate their vision for where this franchise is heading.

While Pearl Abyss would love for BDO to be the WoW of the next generation — and they’ve got a good foundation for that — it’s hard to please everyone. Gamers are already complaining about the lack of PvE developments and new content. That aside, the game is ridiculously good looking. I don’t mean that in a overall assessment; I mean it’s pretty. While Xbox players probably won’t be able to experience to full blast of all the graphics upgrades, they’ll get enough to really enjoy the visual aspect of the game.

We all know that we’re probably only a year away from another generation of consoles. This means a new standard of upgraded hardware for software developers to exploit. I suspect this is the primary reason why we’ve had to wait for so many beloved titles and, forgive me for saying so, why this year’s E3 might be a bit of a dud. This remaster is to placate the fans until PA and KG can throw something truly spectacular at us next year (or the year after). Expect a nice BDO showcase and maybe some good Q and A and maybe—just maybe—hold your breath for a big announcement.

-Ryan Forber

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