Black Gold Online
Black Gold Online Overview
Black Gold Online is an MMORPG by Snail Games that is set in a steampunk fantasy universe. Two factions — Isenhorst and Erlandir — battle each other for resources. You can choose to be human on either faction, or two unique races to each. Isenhorst possesses crafty dwarves and cunning vampires, while Erlandir boasts the blue-skinned Kosh and the mighty brutes. Players can choose to be three classes (dependent on faction); each class also has three different specializations. The amount of systems in the game is quite astonishing as well. Your questing can take branching paths, each path having different results. Players can also engage in mech based combat, which can be upgraded. Players can create custom spells by combining abilities they already have.
Isenhorst – (Steampunk) – Isenhorst draws its background on a future western setting accented by Victorian style mixed into a society run by Steampunk mechanisms. They carry all the hope and glory of the expansionist era along with the realistic modern dread of resource monopolization and limited supplies.
Erlindir – (Nature/fantasy) – built out of a combination of primarily Mayan and Polynesian cultures, but with plenty of reference to lesser known tribal societies from around the world. Transforming the natural world into living weapons to defend their bountiful landscape is the driving motivation of these people, seeing Isenhorst as a sharp corruption of their ideals.
BUVONT – Dynasty of Steam
Naturally all-embracing, these human families settled peacefully in the west after their exile. The Buvonts are smart, agile and exceptionally adaptive. Although the dwarves were the inventors of steam technology, it was the Buvont humans who militarized its power. The Buvontian dynasty is now accepted to be the ruler of all Isenhorst.
LOKEMEAN – Masters of the Forge
Molded in the unrelenting, harsh environments of Isenhorst, the Lokemean Dwarves are the creators of steam technology. The typical dwarf is stout and strong; most are greedy, some take their long beards very seriously. Dwarves are formidable opponents in close range combat; even their females have developed a keen sense for melee strikes. To make up for their lack of magical prowess, Dwarven technology is unmatched in power and endurance.
KOSH - Children of the Sun
The enigmatic Kosh are an ancient race that long ago ruled the lands now comprising the Magic alignment. The Kosh believe they are the children of the Sun God and that Black Gold—bestowed from this divine being—is what endowed them with exceptional intelligence and physical might.
YUTONIAN - The Fearless Blade
The Yutons were among the first to settle in the ancient land of Erlandir, one of the original races created by the Goddess of Light. Taken under the rule of Kosh as a protectorate nation, the humans were left alone to govern themselves. Capricious yet traditional, curious yet reserved: they are light on their feet and roam the forests freely.
2 more unannounced
Black Gold Online Screenshots
Black Gold Online Featured Video
Black Gold Online Beta Impressions
By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
Black Gold Online is the latest game from Snail Games, creators of Age of Wushu. It uses a modified version of the Age of Wushu engine, and features a Steampunk versus Nature theme. The steam-based Isenhorst face off against the nature-loving Erlandir, mechs and dragons will clash in epic battles for the all-important “black gold” that the game gets its name from. Myself, I’m a huge fan of Age of Wushu, so I will be comparing the two games at various points in the review. It seems that Snail has everything they need for a great game, so let’s hope they’ve managed to pull it off once again.
Similar to Age of Wushu, Black Gold has a large amount of customization at character creation. There’s plenty of sliders to make use of and other options to make your character look unique right from the get-go. At creation, you will also choose your character’s faction (and race), picking from one of four of the current races, and a class. Being a massive fan of both the steampunk and mech genres of fiction, I went with Isenhorst. As for classes, it seems that each race has nine classes to choose from, and although some of the names are different between the two factions, they mostly seem to be mirrors of the each other. These classes are your typical archetypes – rogues, support, tank, DPS, etc…
Besides character creation, there honestly is not much in terms of customization. Coming from Age of Wushu, this felt like a huge let down. When you pick your class, you’re on a linear path from start to end. Abilities will unlock at certain levels, and upgrading abilities can only be done when you reach certain levels. As upgrading abilities seems rather cheap, you might as well upgrade everything.
In terms of equipment, there are more customization options. Obviously, you’ll want to grab the best gear possible and Snail (at least so far) hasn’t created a wide variety to choose from. You can, however, use various upgrades to improve the stats of your gear in certain ways. For example, you could choose to stack critical hit damage on all of your gear, or defense if you find that you’re a bit weak. As far as I’m concerned this is a massive improvement over the (in my opinion) poor luck-based system that Age of Wushu used for equipment upgrading, where the stats on your gear were left up to RNGesus.
I much prefer the “You get what you see” philosophy over the randomness in Age of Wushu.
When I saw early videos of the game, I have to be honest and say I didn’t think much of the graphics. However, after having actually got into the game to play, my opinion has changed a lot. Simply put, I feel the game looks great. The steampunk and nature designs are incredible. Mechs look intimidating and the Isenhorst cities look exactly like you would think a city in a steam-powered era would look – with cranes, gears, and smokestacks everywhere. The Erlandir cities and areas look superb as well, with most of the architecture seamlessly blending into the nature around it.
I loved going through the cities, just exploring them.
I also want to praise the skill effects and UI. Most of the skill effects look great, and I find that I actually enjoy watching fights because of how good they look. The UI has a nice sleek design, so it’s not intrusive to the game and is also pleasing to the eye. It was very responsive and smooth as well. The last thing I want to mention (in terms of graphics) is how awesome the armor looks, even early on. It’s completely bad-ass to see a skull with flaming eyes on your level 20 character. About the only place I felt fell short of the overall quality of the graphics were the basic motorcycles – they just looked like crap, and their clear reskinning of standard mounts with no realistic cycle physics made it all the worse.
The light also has a nice trailing effect when you move.
The Isenhorst and Erlandir lands can be eerily similar sometimes. For example, while adventuring around an Isenhorst stronghold, you may come across cyborg wolves. And while you’re in Erlandir lands, you may find yourself facing just regular wolves. I find stuff like this quite nice, as it shows you two ways of life and two different worlds that have collided. With Isenhorst you have zepplins or airplanes and helicopters, while Erlandir has boats pulled in the sky by dragons. Sometimes, it’s incredible to see how these two different life-styles have accomplished (basically) the same thing in completely different ways. For that, I have to commend the lore-writers and world builders.
As of right now, the controls are generally an improvement over Age of Wushu. But there are some quirks. Some of which can be very annoying. There is a lot of customization when it comes to hotkeys and other “control options.” If you’re the type of person that likes to completely customize your controls, you won’t be disappointed with Black Gold.
Something else that is important to mention is that Battle Carriers (or at least the Mech Battle Carriers) have both third-person and first-person mode. Personally, I prefer first-person mode as the view from the cockpit is great and the combat is very fun. To be clear, while you’re in a Battle Carrier, there is no point-and-click – you will need to use your aim and (in some cases) timing to hit your targets. This is why I enjoy this part of the game so much.
This is how I feel the game was meant to be played.
So far, the community has been fairly nice. However, this may be due to the beta nature of the game. For the most part, the only people in the game currently are those who really want to be in. Because of that, a large number of the player-base is extremely helpful to new players. I had no issue finding a helpful guild who was willing to answer all my newbie questions. So far I haven’t noticed any major negative aspects about the community.
Overall, there are a number of aspects I’m disappointed in when it comes to Black Gold’s gameplay, with the questing being the most prominent. Although some of the stories behind quest can be interesting, the questing itself is boring “kill x of y” or “collect x of y” or “auto-path to X and talk to him.” Basically the same crap that has been found in themepark MMORPGs for a decade. To me, this is a massive let down when compared to the freedom that Age of Wushu offered. As far as I understand it, the choice of going with a more quest-oriented approach with Black Gold was made so that it would appeal to Western audiences more than Age of Wushu did.
Black Gold has a pretty interesting exploration system. It seems there are numerous caves, dungeons, and other places for adventurers to get killed in, spread all throughout the land. Most of these are up to you to discover, often by accident. If you happen to be the first person to discover one of these locations, you will get a world announcement about it, letting others know that you have unlocked the cave/dungeon/whatever for everyone else. To me, this is a great system that encourages people to actually stray from the (rather linear) quest-lines to find something interesting.
Combat is a very nice hybrid of action and point-and-click, in my opinion. I found myself enjoying the combat a great deal, and fighting mobs was both challenging and fun in most cases. However, because of the mechs (which I will get into more later on), Snail kinda shadowed its own combat system a bit. How, you might ask? Simply because you can pull out your mech, or dragon, or whatever other battle carriers you might have, and ROFLSTOMP any mob. Whenever I come across a quest that has me killing a lot of non-sense mobs, I simply hop in my Reveler I Model Raging Flame and burn everything to a crisp using the flamethrower. It doesn’t make for much of a challenge and because of that you will usually only end up using the actual combat system while in some of the PVP options, or in the various dungeons and instances. At the same time, I feel I would be more upset if Snail limited my use of the mechs. It’s a catch-22 of sorts.
It’s so easy, even an Erlandir could manage it.
Mechs (and other Battle Carriers)
Before I get into PVP, I want to talk a bit about the mechs, and Battle Carriers in general. In Black Gold, a Battle Carrier is any number of combat mount/vehicle. For Isenhorst, they take the form of mechs, tanks, and flying machines. Erlandir has dinosaurs, dragons, and other such organic-type beasts. As a mech fan, I chose Isenhorst as my faction and spent a lot of my time in mechs.
I love the amount of freedom you get while flying in the aerial Battle Carriers.
Now, there are a lot of different types of Battle Carriers, and most seem to fill a specific role and are best for countering certain other types of Battle Carriers. Some are great when fighting those on the ground, while others are better at hitting the more heavy Battle Carriers, who can deal the most damage and usually have the most HP. This variety when it comes to Battle Carriers is one of my favorite things about the game, and the reason I’ve had so much fun with it. It actually feels like MechWarrior sometimes.
On the subject of Battle Carriers, I feel I should make it clear that they are not mounts. Although, you could use them as mounts if you wanted (but I would advise against it as they require fuel and are usually slower than the mounts). The ‘real’ mounts are generally a lot faster than Battle Carriers and require no fuel to use and that makes them great for getting around. You will get your first mount in the first few levels, if you’re Isenhorst this will be the Dwarven motorcycle. Later on you can get better (both in terms of speed and looks) mounts, such as a mechanical wolf. As far as I can tell, the mount system in Black Gold is not limited in the ways that they were in Age of Wushu – that is, you won’t find your mount disappearing after thirty days, requiring that you buy a new one.
When it comes to PVP, there are a number of options. From the “territory control”-styled Energy Wells, to the Balanced Arena that puts you on completely equal terms with whoever you are facing. My personal favorite PVP option was the Bloodfang Citadel, which felt a lot like a Battle Carrier MOBA. It’s a capture-the-flag style match where the use of Battle Carriers is strongly suggested, and because of that there are tons of them available for you to use (on top of the ones you already have in your garage). It’s honestly a great way to test out the various Battle Carriers before putting in the effort to get them yourself, too.
I love how epic the fights can get in Bloodfang.
The Balanced Arena is a 1 versus 1 match where both participants are “balanced” so the fight can be as fair as possible. Even if one of the participants is level 30 while the other is 20, the fight is as fair as it can be. When you enter, your stats are altered to better match your opponent’s. Of course, fighting someone that is level 40 (the current max level) can be quite difficult as they already have all their abilities available to them, while at a lower level you won’t have all of yours. It is fun, though.
Crafting is very similar to how it was in Age of Wushu. You’re only allowed to take one of the professions (which are Alchemist, Jeweler, Armorsmith, Tailor, and Blacksmith). You can gain recipes by purchasing them from the profession NPCs (and possibly by looting them, although I haven’t confirmed it). There is also a stamina system, just like in Age of Wushu, designed to limit how much you can make in a single day. However, also like in Wushu, there are potions you can take to refill some of your stamina.
Fairly simple, fairly boring.
With crafting, the next question is usually “How does the economy work?” Well, similar to Age of Wushu, Black Gold uses a dual currency system. You have your typical gold/silver/copper coins used to trade with NPCs and whatnot. But you also have Black Gold, which is the currency that is used when purchasing the really important stuff or when trading with players. Probably the easiest source of Black Gold is the Sands of Time, but you can also gain them from participating in the Patch of the Warrior challenge or just by adventuring.
In terms of “fluff” that is available in the game, there are pets and costumes. Unlike in Age of Wushu, pets are relatively easy to come across in Black Gold and you will get your first very early on. Getting new ones didn’t seem very hard, just requiring a time investment and in-game money. Costumes, at least for now, seem kind of limited. However, it could be that I wasn’t looking in the right places. There are also combat pets that can be collected. Either way, there is sure to be a lot of fluff in the game for those that like that kind of stuff.
Looks more like a flea or bug, in my opinion.
The Cash System
I would like to close up by talking about how Black Gold plans to make a profit. So far, the only way they seem to plan to make money is through their “Sands of Time” system. Perhaps later on they will add a cash shop, but so far it seems like this will be their payment plan. Now, the Sands of Time system in general can be confusing and a lot of people were initially up-in-arms about it – who wants to pay for loot, right? However, it doesn’t work quite like that.
As you adventure, your progress for that play session will be saved in a “Sands of Time.” You can then purchase that Sands of Time to get some nice loot, or upgrades for your gear, or other nice things. To be clear, the stuff you loot during your adventuring isn’t automatically put into your Sands of Time (as far as I can tell). And, when you get a Sands of Time, you can either refine it (for gear upgrades) or “gain” from it, receiving a nice item. You get two free Sands of Time each day, and after that you can use vouchers (which are purchased with real cash) to gain access to more Sands of Time.
In the end, Black Gold is quite different than Age of Wushu. Although it’s a traditional themepark MMORPG, it does have a few features that are very fun – namely the Battle Carriers and various PVP options. The Sands of Time cash system isn’t as bad as I had initially feared, in fact it seems like a small part of the game (although it may become more important in the future). The game is not exactly what I had hoped it would be, especially after having experience with Age of Wushu and how unique that game is. However, it is the best Steampunk game I’ve yet to play. It portrays the setting perfectly, and the nature side of the game is just as diverse and interesting. I would say Black Gold is definitely worth playing, and I plan to continue playing myself!
Catch a previous write-up here:
Black Gold Online – An Early Look (Alpha)
By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
Black Gold is the up-and-coming title being brought to us by Snail USA. Using an updated and modified version of the engine that was used in Age of Wushu, we will experience a world where steampunk technology and fantasy magic clash. The game has two factions, the nature-loving and magic using Erlandir Union and the techno-steampunk Kingdom of Isenhorst. As opposed to Snail’s previous title, Age of Wushu, Black Gold will use a class and level system, with questing and other traditional MMORPG features playing a much larger role. The hope is that this more Western-friendly setting and familiar game mechanics will be more attractive to the North American/European crowd.
Before I continue, I want to stress that my experiences were within the alpha version of the game. This means what I write in this impressions article may not be true or accurate at a later date, and there’s a chance for changes to be made to the game.
Just like in Age of Wushu, you have quite a decent amount of customization. You can create the girl of your dreams, or that mutant guy from your nightmares. There’s pretty much a slider for just about everything you could think of. Heck, there’s even a boob size slider. About the only thing you might be able to complain about is the short supply of hairstyles to choose from.
That brings me into the races and classes. Right now, there are six races and four classes per faction (so a total of eight classes). The Kingdom has the human Buvont and Dwarf Lokemean, while the Union has the elvish Kosh and human Yutonian. The Upryian and Yuton races are not yet available in the Alpha version of the game. The classes fulfill the usual MMO archetypes: rogue-types, spellcasters, support, tanks, etc. If you’ve played WoW, or an other traditional themepark MMORPG, you’ll find the classes quite familiar.
Something you’ll notice is that the game looks great. Just like Wushu, there are a lot of amazing vistas to view, areas to explore, and you can have a lot of fun by just wandering around. However, I did feel that the Union areas were a lot more beautiful than the Steampunk zones. This is to be expected, as Steampunk is attributed as a dirty and gritty-type theme, but it also felt like the Kingdom zones were just of an over-all lower quality for the most part. I’m hoping Snail can do some touch ups to fix this.
I really wish I could provide some screenshots, but due to the NDA, I can’t. When I first started playing, I rolled a dwarf assassin in the Kingdom and was a bit disappointed by the quality of the graphics. Later on, I rolled a human pyromancer in the Union and my mind was instantly blown as soon as I loaded in. The starting area for the humans in the Union is just plain amazing to look at. It definitely has a mystical fantasy feel to it, with a calm and homely nature. The architecture of the buildings in that area, combined with the music, remind me a lot of the Hobbit village in the Lord of the Ring films.
Something that will become apparent right off the bat is that questing is an important part of progression in Black Gold. Unfortunately, most of these quests are the typical-and-boring “kill X of Y” or “Gather X of Z” or a combination of both. The tediousness of these quests is slightly mitigated by the auto-pathing system in the game. There are also semi-spontaneous area quests that will appear that you and other players can participate in. For example, you might help hold off a horde attacking a city.
Generally, I was disappointed with the questing experience I found. The game is still in alpha, and there’s still hope that the Devs can take player feedback into consideration and change the game, but I don’t think that something that seems to be the core of the game will change much. I would have much preferred a modified Age of Wushu system, where you weren’t forced to do mind-numbingly tedious tasks in order to progress your character. I honestly think this new quests-driven progression will be something that a lot of former Age of Wushu players will instantly not like after having experienced the more fun and laid-back progression in Wushu.
Combat in Black Gold is tab-target with a bit of an action twinge. The “action” portion comes from the dodging function and the importance of facing your target, which means movement is a huge aspect of a fight. Other than that, the combat is quite similar to any other themepark MMO. Depending on what class you choose, you might be using energy, rage, or mana as your class “resource” for using your abilities. For example, as an assassin you’ll be using rage which is generated by using some attacks, such as your basic attack, and is consumed by using the more advanced attacks. Speaking of assassin, for those who like rogue-type classes, you can turn invisible.
It seems like all attacks are “AOE” in nature. Even the basic attack of my rogue is capable of damaging multiple enemies in one swing. As long as they’re grouped up together and you can withstand their damage output, you can take out a group of enemies incredibly fast. This gives the combat a more intense feeling that kind of makes you forget that the combat is really just a tab-targeting system. Although, at least from what I’ve seen, the combat doesn’t have the same complexity as Age of Wushu, which is a bit of a let down.
Magic, and ranged combat in general, seems to be about the same as in other MMOs. It had a very nice feeling, and I found it a bit easier (and more fun) than melee. Of course, I tend to roll a mage as my main in a majority of games a play, so I may be a bit biased in that regard. There’s a mixture of instant, charged, and channeled abilities. One thing I instantly liked, and this is apparent for both melee and magic, is that enemies will sometimes literally be blown away when they die. It’s a bit mean, but there’s nothing more hilarious than hitting a rabbit with a fireball and watching it fly into a building or an NPC.
While I didn’t get a chance to participate in PVP during the alpha, I have been told that just like in Wushu, PVP will be a huge part of the game. It was even described as one of the primary end-game features. I wasn’t able to confirm it, but a few of the in-game alert messages I received gave the impression that there was a similar guild territory control system as Age of Wushu, guild bidding and all. It seems like the primary focus is taking control of special resource nodes.
The crafting system seems to be similar to Age of Wushu in some ways. For example, there is a stamina system, which the professions in the game use. This means you’re limited to how much you can actually do per day which may promote the use of alts. It seems like high-end gear will make use of relatively hard-to-obtain materials, similar (once again) to Wushu. Crafting was one of my favorite experiences in Wushu, as well, so I’m looking forward to it in Black Gold.
In general, the gameplay in Black Gold had a clunky feel. The combat was difficult to get used to at first, as I found it sometimes hard to get my character to face the right direction in a fight. Sometimes, he would seemingly turn around in a fight for no reason (but perhaps that is some-sort of combat mechanic?). The mounts, especially the motorcycles (which you get very early on), seemed to be a bit stiff. Being able to do impossible turns, and even turning while staying completely up-right, on a motorcycle feels a bit weird and sort of breaks the immersion. However, this is an alpha version of the game and there will hopefully be a ton of polish done before the game is released.
Speaking of mounts, each faction has their own style of mounts. As you might guess, the Kingdom has steampunk-themed mounts, such as motorcycles or robotic wolves. On the other-hand, the Union has organic mounts which you might expect from a fantasy setting. These mounts do not allow for combat, however there are “battle vehicles” that do.
The level cap is currently set to 40, which doesn’t seem like it will take very long to achieve. I was able to get to level 20 in a relatively short amount of time. Perhaps the later levels will be significantly harder to achieve? Either way, the monotony of the leveling process will hopefully be broken up thanks to the hidden cave-dungeons, public events, and other similar features. More than likely, however, you will spend a lot of your time doing PVP battlegrounds, guild wars, open PVP, crafting, and instances.
Dungeons seem to be everywhere. There aren’t quite the same as instances, as they’re more like small caves that multiple people can enter to kill mobs and collect loot. There didn’t seem to be much story to them, at least in the earlier areas. I did like the abundance of them, as I felt like I was discovering something new quite frequently. You feel like an adventurer that is exploring a new place, which is something a lot of new MMOs fail to convey.
The Sands of Time
Some of you may be familiar with Snail’s experimental payment model for Black Gold. In this model, you essentially have to pay real money to gain access to some of the best stuff you picked up during your gameplay session once you log off. At least in the alpha, you got two free Sands of Time exchanges a day, which I guess makes it accessible to even completely free players. There were also hints of a “sand of time” auction, so perhaps players will be able to sell their sands to others for in-game currency. However, there also seemed to be a lot of different types of sands, and I honestly was completely confused about how the system worked.
A bit of tinkering made it seem like you could, depending on your accumulated “Treasure Value,” gain access to better items. Once you get your Sand of Time, you can right click it and either turn it into an enhancement item (which could be used on equipment) or a piece of equipment. Opening the Sands of Time interface lets you see what pieces of equipment of enhancement items you have a possibility of getting when you use the Sand of Time, and I’m guessing the higher your Treasure Value, the better stuff you have a chance of getting. There was a “Items in save file” list of items as well, but I had no idea how to actually get those items. Like I said, the system was just confusing and I wasn’t able to find any resources that explained it well, so all I had to go on was my own experimenting and best guesses.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use any of my own screenshots for this impressions due to the NDA. Hopefully my writing will be enough to convey what I’ve experienced, and the screenshots I’ve provided will placate you. Black Gold seems to be shaping into a good game that fans of both the fantasy and steampunk genres can enjoy. Personally, I have great hopes for this game as I love the steampunk setting and I had a blast playing Age of Wushu. This is definitely a game to keep your eye on in the near future.
Black Gold Online Videos
Black Gold Online Official Trailer
Black Gold Online – First Look
Black Gold Online – Dev Preview
Black Gold Online E3 Developer Preview
Black Gold Online Links
Black Gold Online System Requirements
Coming Soon. . .
Black Gold Online Articles
- Black Gold Online: New “Campaign of Ashes” Details Revealed - Posted on August 29, 2014
Black Gold Online revealed more details about its first major update, Campaign of Ashes, including a surprise change in release date to an earlier day – September 3rd.
- Black Gold Online Announcing Campaign of Ashes Update - Posted on August 26, 2014
Black Gold Online today announced its first major update, Campaign of Ashes, which will take place on September 10th.
- Black Gold Online: Details for OB revealed - Posted on July 29, 2014
As Black Gold Online enters its second month of Open Beta testing, the team at Snail Games is happy to reveal a few quick peeks at what's to come for the game in the coming months. Players can look forward to some exciting new features, including new maps, a higher level cap, and overall optimization of the game.
- Black Gold Online: Goes into Open Beta Today - Posted on June 20, 2014
Industrial clashes with fantasy in Black Gold Online as Snail Games’ steampunk and fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) will be available for Open Beta today at 2PM PDT for Windows PC.
- E3 2014 Most Anticipated Online Games - Posted on June 9, 2014
E3 2014 arrives and we're certainly excited to get our hands on some upcoming online titles. Here's our top anticipated list.
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