I could tell immediately that Black Gold Online meant to be a solid Steampunk themed game so I was like “thank God finally!” The client was around 10 Gigabytes big so I was excited to see the content of the game and it didn’t disappoint. The environment is beautiful, the mechanics are impressive. It immediately reminded me of City of Steam: Arkadia if it was a full three dimensional game. It also had similar elements to Dragon’s Prophet where there’d be impromptu area events. The connection lags a little bit but perhaps it is due to continuous stress tests, but the connection is no less consistent.
The actual tutorial phase of the game was kind of short but the gaps are slowly filled in with necessary details and instructions as I went along my early quests. It could be a little bit overwhelming specially if you are not one that really reads the long dialogues between your character and the quest NPCs but I must say it is worth the time to understand the mechanics a little better because they aren’t just means to “getting by” in the game. Black Gold Online has a lot of amazing features that definitely can keep players glued to their chairs but of course the highlight of the game revolves around the feud between the two factions vying for power in all of the continent of Montel; The Kingdom of Isenhorst and the Erlandir Union. Regardless which side players choose, it is sure to be surrounded with an amazingly rich environment, I just had to check both sides for myself. Gamers are all too used to mystical fantasy worlds with the number of MMORPGs nowadays popping up with better and even more lifelike environments than the last. But on Black Gold Online, we get to see two different worlds with the same level of richness and the game is definitely as good as it looks.
Race and Classes
There are two faction in the game, the Kingdom of Isenhorst and the Erlandir Union as mentioned earlier to choose from and each faction has two different races. Both factions have a similar set of classes to choose from except for a few that are race specific. In this set up, it is unavoidable that a some race – class combinations may have an advantage on certain aspects like how Dwarves of Isenhorst are perhaps the best choice for tankers, their race buffs are all for reducing damage, combined with the Punisher class (the tanking class) of the game. But the Erlandir has the Yutonians’ race abilities include healing support and damage immunity to magic and critical attacks. These races are perhaps the most suitable to take the role of the support class, Geomancer.
Black Gold’s character customization has its high points and low points. There are the MMORPG standards of hair style, scars, and presets. Unfortunately, one can’t get as crafty as they want when it comes to customizing their characters in Black Gold, though there are a lot of extra settings for tweaks, they don’t really produce the changes or adjustments that players could expect. Picking the proper shades or colors for a character’s particulars like the eyes, the skin, facial marks like drawings or tattoos and even the hair was a bit of a hassle. Because instead of actually picking out a color, and I mean to simply click on one like its normally done in most games, what you’ll get is a settings bar where you’ve got to drag that little needle to either left or right until the color that you want pops up then adjust the brightness and the hue to get the right shade. That’s all well and good but not exactly preferable. But aside from that little irritation, the character designs are a very smooth, has an impressive amount of detail and on top of that they look really good.
There are a lot of different features in Black Gold Online that players will look forward to. The list includes the Arena, Adventure, Achievement and Battle System that are pretty much present in any role-playing game but of course has their own unique twists. Black Gold Online also has original features like the Chambers of Greed. These are dungeons located randomly all over neutral zones and of course playing as pioneers of the new world, players need to discover them all on their own like any decent prospector. These caves or dungeons will be in the middle of the open world where lots of aggressive mobs, members of the enemy faction or even those from your own are allowed to attack you. Then again being killed by other players will be the least of everyone’s problems, the Chambers of Greed are filled with different traps and other forms of trickery like being teleported to a random spot. But it will all be worth it for the thrill and the high level rewards that await the victorious.
The most enjoyable part of the game I’ve found so far is the game’s Military Battle feature, Battle of Bloodfang Citadel. Everyone gains entry at level 13 and it doesn’t matter if everyone else is better geared or are leagues away in terms of levels but in this battle, everyone is almost at equal footing. The goal is capturing the flags all that are scattered around the battlefield but the most important one is maintaining the flag that is right smack in the middle of the map. The base for Isenhorst is at the north side of the map while warriors from Erlandir will be coming from the south. Battle Carriers for both Factions are placed at certain points near corresponding bases. Battles are held every hour and lasts for thirty minutes but during Closed Beta, the event reinitiates every half hour right after the last battle. Winners are awarded with military ranks, officer’s salary, carrier points used to upgrade and maintain personal battle carriers, gold and Valor points that could be used to purchase rare items like weapons, equipment, accessories, better battle carriers, mounts, recipes and high level raw materials for production and upgrades.
Energy Well System
The Energy Well System is Black Gold Online’s version of a government system that could be found in most MMORPGs. Guilds will have the opportunity to govern different sectors of the continent by conquering an Energy Well. A faction war is held to decide which side should control all nine Energy Well locations. Then guilds from the winning faction can take up the challenge of going against each other earning the right to govern one of the nine locations.
Designated leaders will have different titles depending on the type of authority they carry; Lord is the given title to the Head Manager of an Energy Well assisted by the Senior Senator tasked with basic management duties. Ordinary Official, Honored Resident and Ordinary Resident are titles given to those that carry out Advanced, Intermediate and Primary Functions of the Energy Well they govern. Guilds awarded with the control to one of the nine locations will have access to rare shops, exclusive daily quests and buffs depending on class or profession within Energy Well territory. The guilds that govern each of the nine locations have the right to protect the area they rule. They can set up and upgrade their defenses, and strengthen the overall structure of their Energy Well. Since every guild can declare a challenge a location host daily, any poorly defended Energy well will be easily over run and dominated.
This is perhaps one of the most original battle setup in a game I have seen simply because it makes perfect sense unlike in most games that that feels like some random siege, Black Gold Online offers this unique and exciting experience to an all out war for absolute control of the land and its valuable resources. I personally can’t wait to see this happen and I definitely will be there to take part.
Like any new game, there are bound to be some criticisms and dissatisfaction about the game like issues of overpowered classes, unbalanced events and even an early assumption on how the game will eventually end up as “pay to win” which is unfortunately true in quite a number of cases. Some even say that the game play is far from original seeing that there are elements quite similar to other MMORPGs like story line, features, gameplay and battle setup. With the continuous number of games released every year, it is unavoidable to eventually end up with some to more than a few similarities but there is a wise saying about ending up with the same idea as others – “Do a better version of it and make it yours”.
It was imperative that I took my time and really play the game and my verdict – I absolutely enjoyed my time playing Black Gold Online and I do wish to see more of it. The publisher for this North American server, Snail Games USA, went through every angle of providing us Closed Beta Testers the best experience with a lot of room to listen to our comments and suggestions. There are some problems here and there but nothing too big, in the length of two weeks it’s sure that they have received enough data from us to properly adjust the game. Further schedule for tests or date of release have yet to be confirmed. But for now hopeful fans out there can keep tabs on their Facebook page and announcements via their website.Related: Beta, MMORPG, Preview, Snail Games