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I’ve had an interest in BDO for a while, so I was pleased to see the 7-day trial. So after a few days, these are my feelings.
The most positive thing, from my perspective, is that BDO is the only MMORPG I have played that feels like a real world. I’m fed up with games where a “town” consists of two buildings and about six NPCs, none of whom seem to do anything other than cater for adventurers. In BDO, the world has an actual rural economy, with lots of NPCs going about their daily business of farming or whatever. It may look more like 15th C Italy than anything else, but it does feel like a proper living land.
Unfortunately, the effect is spoiled, at least at the moment, by the way everywhere is decked out with immersion-breaking Christmas trees and fairy lights. This is supposed to be a fantasy land, not downtown Huddersfield! If there was a MacDonald’s on the street corner it could not be more jarring.
So, I try playing the game for the first time. One of the first quests is to kill some grass beetles. Sounds easy; but where are they? I follow the navigation, both manually and on auto-run, and I go to a field, and grass beetles I see none. So I take a few swipes in case they are very small, but nothing there either. While I am trying to work this out, I’m bombarded with in-your-face notices that mean absolutely nothing to me, and don’t seem to concern me at all. It takes me a while to find out how to turn these off, but what dumb designer imagined it would be good for starting players to see such things at all?
Back to looking for grass beetles. Eventually I gave up and turned to Google, where I find someone else with the same problem. “Check your channel” he is advised. I’m a starting player, I don’t know what a channel is nor how to check it. So after more googling, I eventually find that my character is in a “war zone”, whatever that is, in which all creatures cease to exist. And I do find out how to change channel and leave the war zone.
But I am left thinking, here are designers so incompetent that they can’t even compose a simple combat tutorial that can’t be completed without much recourse to Google. Did it never occur to them that their “war zone” screwed up almost the first quest a new player sees?
I have been playing MMORPGs for over twelve years, but I’ve never encountered one quite so confusing as BDO. Maybe it will all become clear in time, but there are plenty of examples of things that are just poor design. Take money, for example. If I understand correctly, there is only one denomination of coin, the silver penny or whatever it is, such that any top-end item has a price tag in the tens of millions. Now, I don’t think the culture has ever existed that had currency and did not have several denominations to make life easier. And I don’t think I have ever played an RPG in which your wealth was not automatically converted into the most efficient values of coin. Here, it seems you have to hike back into town and manually convert your silver into gold bars at 100,000 silver per gold. What fun is that? And if you happen to have 50,000 silver, then tough, you clink a lot as you move.
What makes this even stupider is that this silver is quite heavy, and slows you down. So the game penalises you for its own design failings. And one cannot excuse it on the grounds of realism, because the coins have weight but no volume, and even in fantasy land this is nonsense.
I’ll pass over the fact that magicians and warriors seem to wear the same armour, and when you wear a helmet you find it is invisible. Maybe I’ll stick with the game and see how it improves, but I’m not impressed with such clumsy game design.