Does anyone have experience or good knowledge of Bless and/or Black Desert?
I'm no expert, but I did scrounge up what I could on Black Desert in a blog post a few weeks back. I also have a comparative article between the two games in the works. Both games really interest me, but I see a big difference in intent between the two. I'll share a few of my thoughts here to see if it helps you at all.
ArcheAge‘s philosophy appears to be to emulate a lot of EVE‘s game systems, but to implement them in a softer, less punishing way, and to supplement those features with a cadre of themepark offerings to ease players into the game. The two preeminent examples of this are the separate continents, and trade packs.
In ArcheAge, players start off on one of two continents depending on their NPC faction, as determined by their race choice. These continents provide players with a healthy supply of traditional themepark content like quests and dungeons, while the factions give them a set enemy to provide an initial direction in PvP. However, this all changes when players arrive at the third continent (which is optional). This new land is a blank canvas, allowing players to mold the terrain by building their own towns, cities, and fortresses. Same-faction PK restrictions found in the earlier regions are also set aside, with players forming expeditionary forces free to determine their own allies and enemies in their fight for territorial dominance in the new land.
Trade packs in ArcheAge simulate EVE‘s resource driven PvP without actually implementing item loss on death. Where in EVE, everything is lost and can be looted when you are killed, ArcheAge foregoes all of this, instead implementing a new profession centered on trading and commerce. Players in this profession will craft trade packs in one location, then transport them across the world to a delivery location for a hefty gold payout. However, trade packs do drop when you are killed, and severely limit your walking speed on top of it. To avoid being PK’d, players will seek out vehicular transportation to avoid losing their wares, be it by road or sea.
Both of these features seem to do an adequate job of appealing to players with preferences for both high-risk, high-reward playstyles, as well as offering safer avenues of play for the more risk-averse. In this way, ArcheAge has a lot of potential as a game to painlessly introduce sandboxes to the uninitiated MMO masses.
Black Desert, on the other hand, does not seem be thinking about softening the blow in the slightest. Where ArcheAge only simulates traditional sandbox PvP looting, Black Desert goes all the way with dropping your items on death and adds experience loss to boot.
That said, Black Desert's economic features look to much better developed than ArcheAge's, perhaps as a result of its decision to eschew traditional themepark features that ArcheAge incorporated. It features a truly localized economy and a really neat system of regional progression the likes of which I haven't seen before in an MMO (Check out MMOCast's series of articles on Black Desert's economy - I also linked to this in the blog post). With items being removed from the economy, I also have a lot more faith in the longevity of Black Desert's economy than ArcheAge's, where decay and item loss were dropped in favor of casual appeal.
Black Desert is visually gorgeous, a quality extending to all aspects of the game, from its awesome character creation to its beautiful, expansive world. ArcheAge isn’t a bad looking game by any means, but it, as with every other MMO I can think of, finds itself easily overshadowed by Black Desert‘s titanic graphical supremacy. Black Desert‘s advantage in modernity isn’t simply limited to its looks, either. The game’s dynamic action combat, limited action set, and minimalist UI all make the game feel and play much more in line with what I expect from an MMO in this day and age than ArcheAge‘s traditional tab-targeted system, which doesn’t even feature a dodge rolling mechanic.
ArcheAge‘s build-your-own class system with its free skill tree choices presents a more open method of character development, which I find much more compelling than Black Desert‘s rather traditional class design. While neither game has implemented my personal preference for a skill-based classless system ala Star Wars Galaxies (pre-NGE/CU), ArcheAge is undeniably a fair bit closer to that benchmark. Further, I absolutely cannot stand Black Desert‘s gender-locking of classes, putting a huge point in the ArcheAge column for this category.
The real conclusion is that ArcheAge is going to release well before Black Desert does, so we'll have plenty of time to give it a whirl and see what we all think. If you're hooked, then just ignore Black Desert. If you're not, then take it out for a spin.
With ArcheAge‘s strengths largely revolving around accessibility and attempts to bridge the gap to sandboxes for themepark players, it’s great to see it be the first to make it to release. If you have friends who have never played a sandbox MMO before, ArcheAge will probably be a good game to check out and drag them into, even if it’s only a stepping stone on your way to Black Desert.
EDIT: Full write-up is done.