Black Desert offers a glimpse of the future in sandbox gaming.
Earlier this week at Gamescom, Black Desert, Pearl Abyss' soon-to-be-released fantasy sandbox game was available for demo play. During the demo, the latest public build of the game was revealed, showing off some very cool features that Black Desert will have, including reactive environments, a highly nuanced map feature, and a player-driven economy.
In a video recorded by F2P.com, the player takes charge of a character whose name is simply Ranger, and immediately takes off in search of objectives to test out the game. Though it's difficult to tell exactly what is going on during the first few moments (as all of the in-game text is in Korean), it seems that quests are deeper than simply finding the guy with a exclamation mark over his head and clicking accept. During the preview, a nearby developer from Pearl Abyss explains that instead of quest givers, players can find contacts for whom they can accept jobs and missions. Instead of simply killing ten pigs to aid Helpless Jimmy's quest for bacon pancakes, players are given tasks such as guarding a caravan, or exploring a new trade route that the contact plans on using for a trade route. Likewise, instead of Helpless Jimmy giving you his pair of magical trousers in exchange for your help, players will curry favor with these contacts, and will receive resources or connections to their contacts, forwarding the game's story in an organic and realistic way.
Another notable feature in Black Desert is the reactive environment. Though it's something of a detail, it speaks highly of the power that the game's engine has, and the potential it provides for the game. Details such as grass moving as a character walks through it, or having missed arrows stick out of the ground help to make the game a much more immersive and engaging experience.
Black Desert is an MMORPG that takes place in a vast, beautifully rendered medieval fantasy world filled to the brim with unique creatures, characters and locations. Create your character and then take part in activities ranging from hunting and trading to to questing and all-out siege warfare. Master the game's fast-paced, action-oriented combat
The video also spends several minutes looking over the in-game map, one of the more significant features in Black Desert. In addition to showing things such as town and cardinal directions, the map tracks in-game time, the location of the sun, and nearby resources. One of the most attractive things about Black Desert is that the game is fully sandboxed, meaning players can establish their own trade routes and businesses. The developer from Pearl Abyss explains that players can hire NPCs (on a player-generated market wage, of course) to gather resources and bring them to player-owned warehouses.
Finding and trading resources isn't just click to harvest, though. If players wish to have their NPCs bring resources to a city in which they have a warehouse, the player will first need to explore that region and find safe roads on which the NPCs can travel, making the player have to explore regions in which they wish to do business.
The end of the preview also shows off player housing. Players can buy houses (again, off a player market) and furnish them with crafted, purchased, or looted items. Players will not be limited to one house, and can keep homes in several cities if they can afford it.
Black Desert is currently in closed beta, and is slated for a Fall 2013 release in Korea, but unfortunately won't be coming to US or European markets until 2015 at the earliest. Even with a long wait time before playing is an option, Black Desert's willingness to experiment with the sandbox genre makes it a game to definitely keep an eye on. To see the preview in full, check out the video below.