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Black Desert Mobile Is Released! First Impressions

The long-awaited mobile port of one of the most gorgeous-looking MMORPGs has finally been released. Read on here if to know if the long wait was worth it, or if the game ended up as a massive disappointment.

Still One of the Prettiest

Even on mobile, the game’s art style looks beautiful. The game runs smoothly on mid-tier phones and looks good at max settings on the latest devices. Skills still look flashy and satisfying to watch as your character gracefully beat up monsters. The monsters and NPCs look great, too, art-wise. Although many of them aren’t exactly unique, Black Desert Mobile renders them with amazing models. NPCs look great when you talk to them through dialog conversations.

Black Desert Mobile Conversation
Characters look very good, but not when zoomed out

However, the platform’s limitations show in the rougher looking in-game models used. Talking to NPCs, as mentioned above, goes through dialog boxes with the NPCs’ character portrait displayed. Sure, the NPC portraits look great, but the models of those NPCs you’re talking to aren’t that great. The monsters, too, look rough around the edges. The character you created that looks so great in the character creator? Zoom out on the game world and it becomes an unrecognizable bunch of pixels.

Up close, the models look stunningly beautiful. But when you ask your phone to render all of the models visible whenever you zoom out, it downsizes all those models into low-res versions of themselves. The game is still beautiful, though. It’s just not as beautiful as Black Desert Online, and that’s mostly due to hardware difficulties.

Optimized Gameplay

Thankfully, the game runs quite smoothly regardless of which device you play it on. Pearl Abyss’ optimization made the game playable on mid-tier phones. I originally thought that Black Desert Mobile would be heavily taxing on my old phone, so I bought a new phone that runs on Snapdragon 855 in anticipation of the game. It just so happened that my old Exynos 7870 Octa phone was more than capable of handling the game. Granted, my new phone can play the game on max settings at a smooth 30FPS while my older phone can’t. Higher tier phones like the Samsung Note 10 Plus and iPhone X can run the game at 60FPS.

Black Desert Mobile Graphics Settings
Sadly, not even my new phone can handle MAX SETTINGS

Portable Mechanics

As much as we want to see the full PC version of Black Desert Online coming to mobile, it simply isn’t practical to do so. Instead, Pearl Abyss made use of popular mobile mechanics for Black Desert. Without access to a mouse and keyboard, Black Desert Mobile instead makes use of a skill ring in executing player abilities and a virtual D-pad for player movement. There’s also a dedicated button for dodge-rolling, conveniently placed near the attack button. However, the UI can become very cramped, and many times I would end up pressing menu buttons instead of the skills I intended to or even click the button for managing pets when all I wanted to do is move my character. The whole set-up works as a whole, but I wish there were options to remove some of the UI to give me more free screen real estate.

The battling system of Black Desert Mobile has been simplified, but it remains fun and satisfying

Just like the other MMORPGs on mobile, Black Desert Mobile also has auto-battle and auto-questing mechanics. I mostly use these features only to help me navigate around the very large map and then switch to manual control when I arrive at the quest area. Either way, there are areas where auto-battling is disabled, so you can’t just breeze through the game that easily.

Black Desert Online’s combo-based battling system has been simplified in this mobile release. It’s still fun to play, though, even if the depth has been substantially reduced. Skills are learned as you level up, and you can follow up a skill with itself or a different skill to chain combos. However, the implementation of this is a bit limited, as you could really only chain together up to four skills comfortably. If you want to chain other skills, you’d have to rotate the skill ring, which might break the combo.

Whenever you come back to the game, your character would greet you this way,

All in all, Black Desert Mobile’s content is very massive, and it’s a fun game to sink time into. With a lot of places to explore, equipment to try out, skills from six different classes, PvP modes and PvE boss raids, guilds, and other features, Black Desert Mobile is a great MMORPG for the mobile platform.