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Crimson Desert is an open-world action-RPG from Black Desert Online studio Pearl Abyss, and it's coming next winter

Crimson Desert
(Image credit: Pearl Abyss)

Black Desert Online developer Pearl Abyss officially revealed its new game Crimson Desert at The Game Awards tonight with a lengthy gameplay trailer. The first full Crimson Desert trailer showcases heavy action sequences, a few monsters, and even shows off some dragon-riding. 

Crimson Desert is an open-world action-RPG, but it ditches some (but not all) of Black Desert's MMO elements in favor of a single-player focus with lighter multiplayer overlap. Crimson Desert is set on the continent of Pywel, which you explore as Macduff, a mercenary who enlists the help of his old crew to reclaim their lost homeland. 

Macduff is Crimson Desert's fixed protagonist, but Pearl Abyss still promises in-depth character customization, which is no surprise given that Black Desert's character creator pretty much set the bar for its time. Macduff is also handy in a fight, and Crimson Desert's combat system bears the same flourish as its predecessor with swords, daggers, axes, shields and hand-to-hand attacks landing flashy, heavy blows stemming from different fighting styles. The enemies taking those blows range from enemy soldiers to mythical beasts, some of which are pretty dang big and can be grappled Dragon's Dogma-style, as evidenced by the boss fight shown in the gameplay trailer. 

Pearl Abyss has hinted at vast plains, frozen northlands, and – obviously – sweltering deserts for players to explore, and there seem to be plenty of activities and secrets nested in those environments. Apart from story missions and mercenary activities, Crimson Desert boasts dungeons, puzzle challenges, and large-scale siege battles. 

I'm assuming that those siege battles will feature multiple players, which is where the online components start to come into play. The details on multiplayer content are still a bit unclear, but we do know that Crimson Desert will offer PvP – again, no surprise after Black Desert's PvP focus – and that its combat system supports "team-up attacks with other players." And as PC Gamer reports, Crimson Desert is played online through a megaserver that creates a shared world for players. Pearl Abyss is really beating the story-driven drum with Crimson Desert, but it's clearly got some of the more online bits of Black Desert Online to it. 

Black Desert was a great action-RPG buried in an often off-putting MMO, so it's exciting to see Crimson Desert double down on one of Pearl Abyss' strengths. It's scheduled to release on consoles and PC in winter 2021.

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Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.