I can categorically state that in all the years I’ve played videogames, I’ve never once encountered one that has as severe pop-in as Black Desert Online. For all the beauty of the game world and its characters, it’s marred by scenery, trees, characters and everything in between appearing out of thin-air right before your eyes. Even non-player characters often appear as totally black objects without texture or appearance and only render in once right next to them and no settings in the game serve to reduce the severity.
What’s so frustrating about this is that Black Desert Online is an incredible game. I’ve waited years for it and there’s little, if anything, I dislike about it. And yet a game that prides itself on visual beauty is arguably only beautiful when you’re stood perfectly still. Before anyone suggests there must be something wrong with my system, there isn’t:
1. i5 2500K Overclocked to 4.5ghz
2. MSI GTX 970
3. 16 GB Crucial Ballistix
4. BDO installed on an SSD
Even with absolutely everything on maximum, including High End Mode enabled, I get 55 frames per second. Does it stop the pop-in? Sadly not. In fact and logging in today, it seems worse than ever.
What’s frustrating about this issue is the fact that Black Desert Online provides so many options, whether it’s customizing the HUD or even removing the lantern effect from players. Yet despite that, there’s no draw distance slider. I think this is a massive mistake by Pearl Abyss and I’m struggling to understand why. I know many might make the argument that Black Desert Online is an MMO and has much more to contend with than the likes of The Witcher 3. While that might be the case, a draw distance slider affects only me and my machine. My cranking up the graphics settings on Black Desert Online doesn’t add strain to Pearl Abyss’ hardware and neither will it have repercussions on their server system (I’ve asked some tech-savvy friends who confirmed the same).
An example of Very High versus Ultra in Black Desert Online
My pursuit of greater draw distance should be my choice and it if reduces my frame rate from 60 to 30 (or worse) that should be down to me. But as it currently stands, the pop-in in Black Desert Online is so jarring I’m actually struggling to concentrate and immerse myself in the game world. I shouldn’t constantly be distracted by an NPC with no texture coming into view, or a tree miraculously rendering in front of me. Instead, I should be looking at the horizon wondering where to go and what I should explore.
I’ve no idea why Pearl Abyss have chosen to limit draw distance as heavily as they can as without blurring and vibrancy filters, Black Desert Online isn’t a technical marvel. In fact, it’s a rather generic engine that happens to look lovely thanks to some clever effects. Unfortunately the only means of attempting to even mitigate the poor pop-in is to use High End mode and even that does very little besides reducing your frame rate.
I’ve not heard a single thing from Pearl Abyss about this issue, despite Black Desert Online being out in the wild for years. I’m hoping someone manages to provide such a feature, even if they won’t.
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