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The first closed beta test for Black Desert Online Mobile started on Feb 9th, and ended on Feb 12th. 3 days were too short to fully explore the game, but were long enough to see the great potential that the game has. This review will give you some information on what is different from the PC version, what is new in the mobile version, and what can be improved in the future.
BDO Mobile was smoothly playable at medium graphical settings with a ZTE Trek 2, which is a low-budget tablet. The tablet has a Snapdragon 617 Processor, a 2GB RAM, and is nowhere close to a high-end tablet. Despite this, the game did not experience any significant frame drop throughout the character creation, tutorials, and early gameplay.
Of course, the tablet could not display top quality graphics like the latest models can do, but the level of optimization was beyond initial expectations. The optimization proves how much Pearl Abyss has improved since the release of BDO PC in 2014 and throughout the development of BDO Console and BDO Mobile. Pearl Abyss has developed an engine that can be used not only for mobile devices but also for other platforms.
The Enhancement system in BDO PC is the thing that gave players the most frustration. Items will lose maximum durability when an enhancement fails, Accessories will be gone for good when an enhancement fails, and you need “failstacks” to enhance an item.
The Enhancement system in BDO Mobile is very different. First of all, items do not have durability, so there is no need to restore them. The success rate will always be displayed on the Enhancement Screen, and there are no failstacks. When you want to increase the success rate, you use multiple Black Stones in one enhancement session instead of accumulating failstacks. Black Stones have 4 grades, and each Black Stone gives a different success rate. The higher grade the Black Stone is, the higher success rate it gives. If you have enough Black Stones, you can spend as many Black Stones you want to and increase the success rate up to 100%.
When you fail an Enhancement, your gear won’t be downgraded. However, you will lose all the Black Stones that you used and the success rate will go to 0. After failing an Enhancement, you can choose to restore some portion of the success rate by spending silver. You can increase the restored success rate by spending Artisan’s Memory, which is a Pearl item.
The Enhancement Transfer system is a new system in BDO Mobile where you can transfer the enhancement level of one item to another. If you transfer the enhancement level to another item, you do not have to start all over from the base level and spend tons of Black Stones again. Enhancement levels can drop a bit during the process, but a good amount will be safely transferred to the new gear.
◆ Teleport, Boss Dungeon, and Manor
In the mobile version, you do not have to run for minutes to go to other region. You can teleport to other areas, and your horse will always come to you wherever you are. Only some parts of the gameworld were available during the CBT, but Mediah, Valencia, and Kamasylvia will be added to the game in the near future. Teleport is an absolutely necessary function in a mobile game with such a huge map.
Boss summon scrolls (e.g. Ancient Relic Crystal, Forbidden Book) are replaced by Boss Dungeon Tickets in the mobile version. The Tickets are obtainable from daily quests and daily free gifts. Each Boss Dungeon needs less than 10 minutes to clear, and the animation when the Boss is summoned is pretty similar to that of the PC version.
The Manor is similar to the housing system, but is much more than that. The Manor is a separate field that you can enter at anytime by tapping on the Manor button at the top right corner. You can construct buildings with different functions which are crucial to the gameplay. There are buildings that can produce Black Stones, gear, potions, and Cron Stones.
◆ Knowledge and the Black Spirit’s Level
In the PC version, you had to collect multiple Knowledges to complete a category in order to increase your max Energy. However, there is no Energy in the mobile version, and Knowledge will instantly give additional stats (DP, additional life skill exp gained, etc.) when you acquire one.
The Black Spirit has its own level in the mobile version. You can give unnecessary gear to the Black Spirit, and the Black Spirit will absorb the items and gain exp. When the Black Spirit levels up, the character’s stats (applied to all characters in the account) will go up.
◆ Auto-play and Action
Pressing keyboards and entering commands is impossible in mobile devices, so you just have to tap on the skills that you want to use. And sometimes you don’t even have to do that, since the auto-play in BDO Mobile is incredibly well-designed and convenient.
Although the same level of action is not available, Pearl Abyss tried to bring out the dynamic action of the PC version to the mobile version using camera angles, camera vibration, and frame movements. When the character is using skills, the camera puts the character at the center and rotates following the direction the character is aiming at. The graphical effects of the skills will be fully displayed on the screen, and the player can see that the skills are working as intended.
▲ BDO Mobile Witch combat video
◆ Microtransactions and Loot Boxes
Pearl Abyss stated in 2017 that there will be no loot boxes that give random gear. PA has also assured that Pearl Costume buffs will be as small as possible, and BDO mobile will be different from other latest mobile games.
Did PA keep their promise? In the CBT, there were some loot boxes with in-game items but the effects of cash items were insignificant and there were other ways to get the items.
Cash items are similar to those of the PC version. Cosmetics and Weight limit boosts are the main cash items, and you can also buy potions with Pearls in the mobile version. However, potions are also available at NPC shops and won’t affect the gameplay much.
One in-game item available in Pearl loot boxes is the “Illumination Stone”, which is a new type of item available only in the mobile version. Illumination Stones will give additional stats, but the stats are not that big and the stones are available in an RNG box that can be purchased with silver.
Pearl loot boxes won’t give you any gear/items that will make you get ahead of others, and the best gear is only available in a special type of in-game shop called “Shakatu’s Shop.” There are microtransactions in the game, but buying Pearl items will not affect the gameplay much.
◆ Overall an exquisite game, but still has room for improvements
BDO Mobile is generally an amazing game, but there is still some room for improvements. The amount of microtransactions is acceptable, while the graphics and actions are amazing. However, the game could not diverge from the ordinary routine of quest-combat-level up and the Manor system does not add anything unique to BDO mobile.
Of course, it is not possible to bring all features of the PC version to the mobile version. A grand gameworld without any warps, the complicated life skill system, and the trade system might not be suitable for a mobile game.
But it is amazing that all the content is connected and no content can be left out in the gameplay. Also, BDO mobile has the same Marketplace system as the PC version, so no one can manipulate the Marketplace.
There are still plenty of chances for reworks and adjustments. When more regions including Mediah, Valencia, and Kamasylvia are added and mass PvP wars are added, the game will be in even more fascinating.
BDO Mobile will captivate you, regardless of whether you have played the PC version or not. BDO Mobile was an exquisite game, and definitely lives up to the title of “the most anticipated mobile game of the year.”
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