Black Desert Online

Calpheon Journal: The Mediah Expansion Already?!

Well that escalated quickly. Here we all were, happily doing our thing after less than a month into the release of Black Desert Online, and then POW! Expansion!

I was emailed a press release about the Mediah expansion the day before its release, and I honestly thought it was a joke, or maybe someone sent the wrong email. An expansion less than a month after the launch of a game? Could this even be possible?

Of course, Black Desert Online has existed for a couple of years in Korea, so unlike Western MMOs releasing an expansion now is more an issue of localization and not coding from the ground up. While this arrangement means that we can’t expect big changes to happen to existing content, it does mean that we can possibly get new-to-us content at an increased pace.

In fact, Korean players got the Mediah expansion roughly three months after the launch of the base game, so we’re already on an accelerated timetable. But is getting new content so quickly really a good idea?

bdo_mediah

What’s In Mediah?

Before we look at whether launching Mediah so soon was a good idea or not, we should probably first see what we actually got in this expansion. The official website promises the following:

  • World size increased by 30%
  • Over 1,000 new quests
  • An enormous boss, Kzarka, that can take on hundreds of players at a time
  • New guild missions including special bosses that drop formidable weapons
  • Instanced 40v40 skirmishes on the Crimson Battlefield
  • New weapons and more powerful armor
  • Craftable Alchemy Stones
  • Soft level cap increased to 55

When Mediah launched in Korea it also came with the Blader and Plum classes. These classes also arrived in the Russian version very shortly after Mediah arrived on those servers. However, right now Daum Games has indicated that while Blader and Plum are on the horizon, they’re not ready for release yet in North America.

What’s interesting about the major features of the Mediah content is that for the most part it doesn’t affect players who are under level 45, particularly if you’re not interested in PvP. There’s the expanded world, of course, ready for explorers to roam. Additionally, this update introduces some new types of harvestable nodes, which will definitely appeal to gatherers and producers, such as cotton, zinc, and cypress trees.

Otherwise, though, the majority of the new content is aimed squarely at the early adopters and fast levelers. Kzarka weapons, high level boss armors, the ability to enchant your gear to +16 and +17 – it’s all entirely the domain of the bleeding edge of PvP players.

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Is Fast Content Always Good?

So is releasing content as soon as it’s available a good idea? Maaaaaaaybe.

The benefits are obvious – MMO players love new things to do! The high-end PvP guilds have new activities and goals, and the serious life skills folks have new places and items to explore, harvest, process, and trade. We MMO fans can be a fickle bunch, and as a group our voracious appetite for new content is the stuff of legends.

On the other hand, BDO is a PvP-oriented game at high-levels, and introducing Mediah this soon after launch is going to put the vast majority of players at a serious disadvantage. This expansion hit well before anyone’s wildest expectations, and even players who want to engage in “end-game” PvP were probably caught unprepared.

Who was prepared, though, were the big PvP guilds. A small segment of the BDO population rushed to level 50+ and have +15 on all of their gear, and they’re in an excellent position now to take hold of a competitive advantage and frankly never let it go. In the world of BDO PvP, there is a huge, almost insurmountable difference between a level 50 player with some +12 gear, and a level 54 player with some +16 gear.

And it’s not just in direct PvP battles that this disparity will be felt. BDO is also a game of resources, either money or life skills. Some of the current big, well-geared guilds have already promised to camp the best grinding zones in the new lands, ensuring that non-affiliated players will have a difficult time leveling up past 50. These guilds have hundreds of players and could possibly even dominate Kzarka kills, removing another upgrade path for folks outside of the guild.

Of course, these top guilds and players have put the time into being the best at their chosen way of playing. They put in the many hours to get to 50+ before most people, and enchant their gear. Yes, it gives them a significant advantage over players who put in less time and effort, but isn’t that a fair exchange?

And on a slightly more cynical note, these players are also the ones most likely to have spent money on a Ghillie Suit from the cash shop. BDO is a business, after all, and if their best customers want new content now… well, it’s a compelling argument, anyway.

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Hooray for the Little Guy

While the release of Mediah is probably not a significant improvement for medium-sized, moderately-dedicated PvP guilds, I suspect it will actually have a minimal impact on most players. Of course there are no official numbers from Daum Games on the current population, but based on my own casual survey of friends, general chat, and Twitter folks, most are still level 40 and lower and focused on other aspects of the game.

For these players, the Cherry Blossom Event, which was also introduced at the same time, probably has more impact on their daily gameplay than just about anything in Mediah!

So was this first expansion released too quickly? Probably, but the downsides will be minimal for most players. The upper echelon of PvPers will appreciate the new content, and the life skill and trade masters will see small improvements but generally remain untouched. It’s probably going to be some tough days ahead or moderately geared level 50 PvPers, though.

But hey, perhaps overly fast new releases are better than no releases, right? Now about those Blader and Plum classes…

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