Prima Games was invited to preview Black Desert Online’s upcoming expansion. During this preview, I had the opportunity to speak with the developers and delve deep into the core gameplay and all its new features.
Black Desert Online: The Land of the Morning Light Preview – Step into a Korean Fairytale
Every MMO I’ve ever loved had three things: beautiful worlds to explore, intricate and unique classes, and challenging bosses. Black Desert Online has all three in spades in its newest and biggest expansion, The Land of the Morning Light.
A World Straight From a Fairytale, Lovingly Inspired by Korean Culture
When I first heard that Black Desert’s latest expansion would be a meticulous recreation of historical Korea with a fantasy twist, I was thrilled. I spent several years in Korea and in that time came to love the country, its fantastic food, and of course, its deep and colorful folklore.
The Land of Morning Light is inspired by Korea’s Joseon Dynasty, and the amount of detail and love that went into this expansion is clear from the moment you step off the boat. It feels like stepping into a piece of history in a foreign port.
And this, the developers stated, is very intentional. The Land of the Morning Light for many will be an almost exotic experience, giving many players their first glimpse into a country and time they might have no knowledge of. While the towns are beautiful and full of life, music, and energy, what makes this expansion so fantastic is its folktale inspiration.
The Land of the Morning Light features nine bosses, which include a spectral army made of bamboo, a pig king, a ghost, and a high priestess. And they all have one thing in common. They’re based on Korean folktales that are centuries old. Just like their inspirations, they’re bigger than life, offering dynamic and challenging boss battles for players of all skill levels.
And I mean it when I say this expansion is perfect for newbies and veterans alike.
The Perfect Entry Point for New Players
It can be intimidating to start a new MMO, especially one as well-established as the global Black Desert Online. And while it’s true that Black Desert Online has a vast world with golden deserts and alabaster-capped mountains, The Land of the Morning Light is your best opportunity to play the game with a fresh slate in a beautiful island region.
You can roll your very first character and load into The Land of the Morning Light as if it was a brand-new game. And in some ways, it really seems like it is. You’ll get your mount and all the tools you’ll need to succeed.
As a new player, you can start a brand-new character right in The Land of the Morning Light, complete a few quests, and immediately start slaying your favorite boss. Even if you haven’t leveled up or gotten any new equipment. That’s thanks to the innovative new boss tier system The Land of the Morning Light has implemented, which I’ll go into below.
The only thing I’d highly recommend is fiddling with the user interface in the menus. If you do so, you’ll gain access to a menu that details the move combos for your chosen character.
While you can get by spamming random buttons early on (which I embarrassingly did for my first boss), combat is so much more engaging when you know what you’re doing.
A Breath of Fresh Air on The Battlefield
MMOs tend to be defined by their grind. It’s always kill 50 of these things, then kill 100 of that thing. But The Land of the Morning Light has culled the grind entirely with a new system called Boss Blitzes.
Scattered around The Land of the Morning Light are nine bosses, which are tied to specific storylines in the campaign. And it’s these bosses that offer the entire combat experience.
That means no monster zones! No power leveling! It’s just you, your favorite weapon, and a boss that wants to kill you.
Here’s how it works.
Players can expect to face nine folklore bosses: the maiden ghost, the king of tigers, the nine-tale fox, the shaman, the pig king, the bamboo army, the bird spirit, the goblin king, and the spiteful spirit. There’s also a tenth boss that was teased during the preview – a creature that is neither serpent nor dragon called Imoogi that will make its debut during the global release.
You can see the bosses in The Land of the Morning Light on your map, and you’re free to travel to each of their arenas to challenge them. Each offers a unique cutscene and fighting styles that suit each individual boss.
Bosses fall beneath one of three elements, which you can build your attributes around. To do this, you’ll need to complete storyline missions to get upgrade materials to increase your attributes. 90% of your strength will come from this system and 10% will come from your gear.
But beating the boss for the first time is only the start of your journey. Boss Blitzes features different tiers of difficulty, called Calamity levels. The higher the Calamity level, the more difficult the boss… and the better the rewards.
The coolest aspect of this new Boss Blitz is that you’re not really competing against these mythical creatures and spirits. You’re competing against your other players. There’s a leaderboard that will show the players with the fastest boss kill times, which are updated weekly when rewards are distributed.
Don’t worry if you’re playing an off-meta character. This leaderboard is class specific to keep things fair.
Now Let Me Tell You My Honest Opinion
I went into the preview for The Land of the Morning Light with tempered expectations expecting the usual grindfest you get in MMOs. I was so happy to be mistaken.
While the tutorial quests felt like they went on a little too long, once I gained access to the entire island, I was a kid in a candy shop. I love the open-world concepts, fantastic storytelling, and unique bosses. But what’s interesting about the expansion is that it’s surprisingly cozy.
Sure, during boss battles you’re a whirlwind of colorful violence, but outside of it? There are fifteen chapters, 80 cutscenes, and plenty of storylines to really get to know the background of the bosses you’re fighting. And the stories are so well written, weaving together each of the bosses’ plots with tragedy and moments of levity.
Each of these stories offers several hours of content if you’re taking your time, and I really recommend you do. These quests will take you through towns and the countryside and are the best showcase of The Land of the Morning Light’s environments.
But if you ever tire of chasing down lore, there’s an entire mansion you can decorate, with a massive courtyard. I know that people are going to do amazing things with their houses, and I can’t wait to see them.
The Land of the Morning Light is an expansion that offers a refreshing breath into the genre, marrying action and plot in a way that most games simply haven’t. And while I doubt my username will be topping Boss Blitz leaderboards anytime soon, I bet my house will be the best on the block.
Black Desert Online: The Land of the Morning Light will be available on Wednesday, June 14 for PC.
Black Desert Online isn’t the only game that’s striking off in a new direction. Popular horror series, Outlast, has just come out with its own multiplayer game. Check out our impressions of it here: The Outlast Trials Early Access Impressions | Trial Version of the Trials.