Shadow Arena – Interview with game producer including a bonus gameplay tip!

Developer Pearl Abyss recently announced that its new arena fighter, Shadow Arena, has started its Global Beta from now to March 8. From previous articles, we already know that the 40-player brawler has roots from Black Desert Online, with various characters and lore present. We had the chance recently to chat with Shadow Arena’s Executive Producer, Mr Kwangsam Kim, to find out more about Shadow Arena’s past and future. Read on for more!

Note: Get your Steam beta keys here and play now! There are server on and off times.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning of Shadow Arena. What were the main reasons to separate this mode from Black Desert Online into a standalone product?

A: It was early 2019, right after we launched the Shadow Arena mode within Black Desert. At that time, we realized that Shadow Arena had the potential to become something great. This fueled our team to start developing it as its own game.

However, we faced limitations and concluded that we couldn’t develop Shadow Arena the way we wanted to without changing the framework of Black Desert. So, we decided to separate Shadow Arena from its parent, Black Desert, to make this game a reality.

Q: How does the lore of Shadow Arena ties in with that of Black Desert Online’s?

A: Shadow Arena started as a mode within Black Desert. Even though it became an entirely different game from the original version, the roots of Shadow Arena lore originated in Black Desert and the two games will continue to be connected along with the characters and overall world view.

Q: What were some of the difficulties faced when developing Shadow Arena, since it is the first PVP-focused title from Pearl Abyss?

A: Honestly, there were not any difficulties. I have experience designing PvP games, and have been a hardcore fan of PvP games since I was young. Due to these experiences I had a lot of fun making this game.

The whole team loves PvP games as well, and they enjoy testing Shadow Arena. So there were really no major difficulties while making the game.

Q: Was it always the plan to let players select pre-made characters in Shadow Arena rather than make new custom ones?

A: From the very beginning, we thought that if Shadow Arena is a full-fledged PvP game, it should be based on characters, not classes. So the character system is one of the first things we decided on when making Shadow Arena.

We wanted it to have more unique characters, and to do so it needed something different than the class system of Black Desert.

Q: Was there a reason behind the 40-player max capacity? Games tend to go as high as possible, such as 50 vs 50 or even 1000 vs 1000!

A: We have tested out different numbers and concluded that about 30 to 40 is the number we need for the style of gameplay we originally intended. The original idea was to have a lot of battles with small numbers of players, all occurring within the framework of a battle royale.

If we have more than 40 people, we barely see 1:1 or 1:1:1 battles. A majority of the battles end up being dog fights. We could broaden the map to accomodate more people, but then there would be too much ground to cover. Too much time moving around the map would mean slower game play.

Q: Is Shadow Arena made exclusively for players and fans of Black Desert Online?

A: Definitely not. Shadow Arena is created from Black Desert, but it is not just for fans of Black Desert. The structure of the game has been rebuilt and re-developed for PvP and competitive game fans. If you think this is just another extension of Black Desert, you will be very surprised.

Of course, Shadow Arena takes place in the same universe as Black Desert, so fans will be pleased to learn of the untold stories that will unfold in Shadow Arena. The story of Shadow Arena will definitely be connected to the future of Black Desert.

Q: I noticed that the press release labelled Shadow Arena as an “arena fighter.” Is it part of the whole marketing plan to not call the game a “battle royale”?

A: The core of Shadow Arena is focused on battles among a small number of players in an arena with some PvE elements. We are borrowing the ‘last man standing’ gameplay of the battle royale genre but adding a strong MOBA aspect to classic PvP arena battling. With this twist on the gameplay, we felt it did not make sense to label it as a battle royale game.

In addition, Shadow Arena has many distinctive features that you cannot find in other battle royal games. One of the examples is the black curtain, which is the ‘ring feature’ that limits the space of gameplay. It seems like an ordinary thing for battle royale games, but players can use the black curtain to their advantage by strategically going inside or outside of the curtain.

Q: Are there any key reasons a PVE-centric player should try out Shadow Arena?

A: Shadow Arena is a PvP centric game at its core. There is some PvE gameplay during matches, but that aspect is more similar to that of MOBA. For example, hunting and farming monsters is a very important factor of the game because it’s how you earn gear and strengthen your character. We have some PvE features in the game, but Shadow Arena is definitely a PvP game at heart.

Q: How are the servers divided for Shadow Arena? Will it be a one-global server, or separated into selectable regions?

A: There is still a possibility that things will change, but we are preparing servers for three or four different regions.

Q: We previously read that Shadow Arena will add more characters not just from Black Desert Online, but from all Pearl Abyss’ titles. Is this still the plan?

A: Of course!

Q: On the matter of esports, are there plans to run regular tournaments for Shadow Arena outside of South Korea?

A: If we get a lot of interest from fans, we will definitely have tournaments. However, I think we need to get support from the fans first. (We are ready to respond to your feedback right away!)

Q: Is there any major detail (or unannounced) for Shadow Arena which you can share?

A: I want to give out an “evil” tip for the readers. If you kill a boss monster you can choose an Altar for a buff. One of the buffs you can get from the Altar is summoning a giant named Laytenn that you can ride!

Although only one player who kills the boss can summon Laytenn, anyone can ride it. If you are sure that someone is going to summon the giant, then just stay around the Altar. When the giant is on the field, you can steal the giant by attacking the player.

Q: Thank you for your time! Please share some final words of this interview with our readers.

A: If you like PvP games, please download and enjoy Shadow Arena. We are confident and excited about this game and are sure you will not be disappointed! Thanks!