This weekend we have a friend visiting so the focus has been on pen-and-paper roleplay more than MMORPGs but I did have some time to roll a new alt in Black Desert yesterday for a quick look at duo gameplay.
Like many aspects of this online game, there is some confusion surrounding grouping early on. You start instanced in the introduction without it being obvious that you are shuttered away from other players. You’re in Olvia in the world but can only see NPCs. After six or so quests/steps you reach the weapons trainer and suddenly you can see other players. Since the game didn’t make this clear we did waste some time trying to invite one another to a party but that doesn’t work and the error messages are unhelpful. Also friend invites don’t work with characters in the intro and the error messages are not clear why (“character doesn’t exist!”).
Once we were past the training we managed to party up. Other than this initial confusion the game also presents a bit of a mystery with certain quests and NPC interactions. Apparently Knowledge and Quest completion (for some quests) is account level, i.e. shared between all your characters. I realised this when my character had quest steps auto-complete or be skipped entirely. It was most obvious when doing the early Black Spirit quests (kill some imps, then more to “learn about them”) as I skipped the Knowledge quests completely. I also had several quests unlocked that he did not due to my more advanced progress with conversations with various NPCs in the region – that could be a real pain to keep track of the first time you play through zones with someone who has unlocked less content.
It’s an interesting design decision to reduce the amount of repetition in alt-play, although a clearer tutorial/hint the first time a quest is skipped would be nice! I also noticed and appreciate the little “phone-signal” indicator to both tell you that XP gain is enhanced in group and to warn you that you need to keep close to your other party members for this to stay in effect!
We played as far as testing out duo play on the first summoned ‘mini-boss’ fight against Red Nose. It was actually fun to test out the combat system in group, me on my Musa and him on a Warrior. Although I don’t yet understand much about group combat mechanics clearly there is the a concept similar to threat or aggro as we both had the monster’s attention at one time or another. Both of us received quest completion from the fight as I would expect from a modern MMO. Since my friend still had his scroll we were able to summon him again for a repeat performance just for the fun of it.