Skip to main content

Crimson Desert gameplay revealed: Black Desert Online meets Dragon's Dogma

There are moments during the Crimson Desert trailer that look indistinguishable from Black Desert Online. That's not a bad thing—Pearl Abyss's MMO is gorgeous—but it does make me curious about what Crimson Desert will actually play like. Announced days ago but officially unveiled at The Game Awards today, Crimson Desert is an MMO that clearly builds upon the strengths of BDO but with a much bigger emphasis on singleplayer storytelling.

In an email with PC Gamer, a spokesperson said that Crimson Desert would still feature a single-server, massive open world that players share. At the same time, players take on the role of a defined protagonist called MacDuff, "a downtrodden mercenary fighting to reclaim their land," instead of the generic make-your-own character you see in most MMOs.

I find this really promising. There's a lot I love about Black Desert Online, but its MMO grind can be tiresome. And I'm hoping Crimson Desert's focus on storytelling can help offset that—all while keeping the same breadth and scope.

I also am excited by some of the subtle differences between the two games. The combat looks nearly identical at first glance, but there are some cool improvements. Instead of fighting large packs of monsters, it seems there's more of an emphasis on small-scale duels, and I really like how you can grapple enemies and throw them or choke slam them into the earth. Later, the player climbs on a dragon and rides it through the sky and stabs an ice troll repeatedly while grappling onto its back. It evokes Dragon's Dogma in all the right ways. Pearl Abyss also confirmed that PvP battles—including castle sieges—will be a feature.

It sounds cool, but I'm a little concerned about how this will all come together and whether it'll be weighed down by the grind and other free-to-play shenanigans that make Black Desert Online hard to recommend. Details are scarce, but Pearl Abyss said it will be sharing more over the coming months as we approach Crimson Desert's winter 2021 release date.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.