Out of the desert, into the sea

Now that I’d finally dared to traverse Black Desert Online’s Valencia region I deemed it about time to check out another yet undiscovered area: the ocean.

I actually had the deed for a fishing boat lying around unused for a long time, I don’t even remember when and where I got it. At the time I already knew that fishing boats (just like wagons) have a limited lifespan that can’t be restored or repaired, and I didn’t want to waste it just to cruise around for a bit without an actual purpose.

Nowadays ‘wasting’ it isn’t a concern anymore – measured against high-end players I’m still rather poor, but compared to a newbie I’m obscenely rich – but now I also did have an actual purpose to set sail. I recently learned from a guide about lucrative worker nodes that the islands off Port Epheria have nodes for fish and seafood. Since I need fish for making pet feed regularly and don’t like to fish myself very much this was a project I had on my to-do list since then.

So I grabbed the deed and made my way to Port Epheria, the Calpheon region’s harbor town.

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We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot; drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho

To kill two birds with one stone I accepted some quests there that also required me to visit those islands, then registered the fishing boat at the shipwright and spawned it.

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It ain’t much, but it’s mine!

I jumped behind the wheel and held down the W key, eager to feel the sea spraying into my face, which…didn’t happen. The boat started to move all right, but it’s top speed is underwhelming to say the least. Considering that I could already spot the nearest island with my bare eyes it probably wouldn’t take forever to get there, but I was a little disappointed nonetheless.

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It gave me the opportunity to lean back and enjoy the view though

Reaching the first island indeed took only a couple of minutes. I intended to stop the boat in shallow water some yards off the shore, alas for a vessel this slow it has quite the braking distance. I almost ran it onto the beach, but it finally stopped just short of it and calmly bobbed on the water, so I thought everything was fine. I talked to the NPCs, advanced the quests and invested contribution points into the first fish node. As I’d already hired two workers before setting sail I put one to the task right away. Bring me that sweet seafood, little goblin!

I embarked my boat again only to realize that I’d run onto ground after all. Despite only a tiny part of the rudder visibly touching the sand I was stuck in place. I tried every possible movement to no avail. After logging out and in again the boat had turned around for some reason (from facing south to north, not upside down), but it still wouldn’t budge. Seeing no other choice I swam back to the port and collected the boat remotely for a fee. From now on I’ll keep at least a five boat lenght’s distance from any object I might get stuck on!

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*sigh* Why didn’t I bring my wetsuit and fins…this was already halfway back too

Of course a little setback like that couldn’t stop me, so I set sail again and headed for the next island. After investing into it’s node and sending the second worker to…err…work I finished one of the quests and got a new one in return. It asked me to investigate a nearby underwater cave and bring back any interesting stuff I might find. The previous quest had rewarded me with some potions for holding my breath longer which would probably come in handy now. I sailed to the marked location and took a peek below the surface. I could clearly see the cave’s entrance, but I highly doubted I’d be able to dive down there and up again without running out of air even with a potion’s help.

To test the water, literally, I first dove straight downward without a potion. I hadn’t quite reached the cave when my breath bar hit the 50% mark, so I quickly turned around and headed for the surface. Ok then, maybe the potion would indeed do the trick. It did not. I came a bit farther, but nowhere near a point where I could spot anything of interest, let alone get to it in time and back up again.

What to do? Suddenly I remembered that the game had gifted me time-limited versions of various cash-shop costumes over time, the silly named and even more silly looking Splat Fisher’s Clothes among them.

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I…really don’t know what to say

One of it’s bonuses: a whopping 149% to swim speed. That surely would solve my problem. So I decided to head home for the day and bring the costume with me next time.

At this point one could very well argue about the ethics of having quests in the game that are – or at least seem to be – unsolvable without a cash-shop item. Since it turned out that I’d stored away not only one but three of these suits by now, each with a lifespan of one week, and I didn’t have to pay a cent for any of them, I’ll let it slip.

Anyway, back at the cave I donned the suit and dove right in.

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Absolutely the last thing I’d ever do for real

The speed buff is substantial indeed, and not only is swimming at that pace pretty darn fun, I also had no problem reaching the cave’s bottom, finding the chest I was looking for and making it back to the surface even with a bit of air left.

After some research on the topic I now know that there actually wasn’t any need to worry about suffocating. You don’t die when you run out of breath, you don’t even start to lose health or something. You just can’t move on your own anymore until you’ve slowly floated back to the surface. Maybe the quest would’ve been doable without the suit after all.

Because I was having so much fun with it I wanted to zip around some more before returning to the mainland. Since the next quest asked me to gather some oysters I took care of that as well while at it.

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Meanwhile the sunset provided for a spectacular vista

It took some looking around to actually find said oysters, but that gave me an opportunity to marvel at the sea life for a while.

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You’re all gonna end up in my workers’ nets…just kidding

Overall I quite like the game’s take on sea-content from what I’ve seen up to now. It’s not as smooth, as speedy or as gorgeous (at least above the surface) as ArcheAge’s, but it’s still pretty good. Below the surface I’d say it looks even better, and definitely feels more lively.

I’ve already started to work on a faster boat. A proper ship, rather. It’s called Epheria Frigate and is a pretty huge undertaking, but I think it’ll be worth it. Also, having a long term goal is always a good thing in my opinion, and all the more satisfactory when achieved. Looking forward to it.

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More adventures in Black Desert Online

A couple of weeks ago I got the serious urge to play a sandbox MMO (other than EVE) again, so I patched up and logged into Black Desert after an eight month break. I rediscovered why I fell in love with it in the first place pretty much instantly and have been playing almost daily since then.

I tend to feel the most comfortable in a known environment though, especially in a game as huge and complex as this. Hence there’s always the danger to immediately fall into old routines and just do stuff that I’ve already done before over and over. Of course that’s a surefire way to get bored quickly, so I gave myself a push and started to look for more adventurous undertakings.

The game being what it is that didn’t take long.

Last year I had made it just to the edge of Valencia, the game’s vast desert region. I didn’t dare to explore it further at the time because the survival-like mechanics scared me off quite a bit. I already talked about that you can die of heatstroke by day and hypothermia at night. Additionally, sandstorms can suddenly appear which you only survive by setting up a tent for yourself and your mount quickly. The biggest handicap, to me, is that all kinds of navigational help are disabled. No world map, no mini-map, no GPS. A compass and your eyes have to suffice. That wouldn’t be a problem in the game’s starting regions because I know those like the back of my hand by now. Valencia, though, largely looks like this:

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“Just one more dune to go…” “You said that three dunes ago!”

As you can see I finally did make the jump. My current main quest required me to get to a certain oasis, and my only instruction was ‘head towards two o’clock until you get to X, then towards one o’clock until you’re there’. Yeah…no. That seemed much too risky for my first voyage into the unknown, so I decided to head almost straight to the east instead. According to the map (when looked at before entering the desert) Valencia City lies in that direction, and I figured I’d surely be able to spot a large town from afar, making it more unlikely to miss my destination and get completely lost.

I stocked up on water, tea and tents, stabled my horse and took out the camel I’d gotten from a quest. I also bought some acacia leaves because camels don’t seem to like carrots all that much. Then off I went.

Despite the speed buff camels get while in the desert mine isn’t all that fast, and except for the odd scorpion here and there the scenery pictured above didn’t change at all for minutes at a time. What’s worse, camels use up their stamina at an alarming rate, and I soon started to fear I might have bought too few leaves to make it back to civilization.

After a while though, just as I’d hoped, a city loomed at the horizon.

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I sure hope that’s not a Fata Morgana. Seriously, I was afraid it might be.

It was quite a relief to pass the town gate and be in a safezone again. Emboldened by having come this far I was like, what the hell, I’ll have a quick look around and then continue east until I reach the sea. I stocked up on acacia leaves at the local stable master and continued my journey.

After some more minutes in the desert’s vast emptiness I indeed reached another settlement and, just past it, the sea.

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Totally worth the long trek. I obviously took a swim right away. In full gear, as you do.

I talked a bit to the local NPCs and did some quick quests, but it was getting late and I decided to make my way back sooner rather than later.

Finding Valencia City again was easy enough. The journey’s last leg proved to be a bit more tricky though. I sure reached the edge of the desert, an impassable mountainrange, but the settlement where I’d left my horse and the canyon leading through the mountains and back to the Mediah region were nowhere to be seen. I headed south for a while, nothing. Ok, it’s gotta be to the north then. Nada. I started to get a bit worried now.

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Meanwhile the sun began to set, and I hadn’t brought a lantern. Again.

My camel slowed me down even further. I had more than enough acacia leaves, but it’s stamina depleted faster than the cooldown allowed me to feed it, meaning that I had to stop and wait for a minute or two every five minutes. It would’ve actually been faster to just run. I made a mental note to grow better leaves ahead of my next trip. During those downtimes I kept looking for my destination on foot. Behind this big rock formation? Nah. Over that dune? Nope. Damn, now where’s my camel? I’d forgotten that I couldn’t set a waypoint to it and had to run around for a while to find it.

In the end it turned out that the canyon is just a bit hard to spot and I did find my way back before sundown, exhausted but happy. I’d wanted an adventure and I got one all right.

So overall these desert mechanics, while deterring at first, weren’t all that bad once I gave it a shot. I used maybe 15 units of water total, which isn’t much, and to navigate without a map was actually more exciting than a burden. Should I get seriously lost sometime I won’t need to panic from now on either: a quest gave me the materials needed to craft an item that enables using the map for three days once activated. I just need to remember to take it with me…yeah, shouldn’t be a problem at all.

That only left those crappy acacia leaves to be dealt with, so I went to work. Last year I’d already used farms to grow special carrots, which restore five times the stamina compared to normal ones, for feeding my horses. Now I’d just do the same with my camel’s favourite treat.

I bought a couple of seeds for special acacia leaves on the marketplace and rented three small fences for contribution points. I placed the fences at my favourite farming spot just outside of Heidel and planted the seeds.

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Six acacia trees in various stages of growth

When I’ve harvested a big enough stockpile – which, knowing me, is no less than 2k – I’ll return the fences to free up those CP again. I’ve grown about 300 leaves already though, so I’m more than set for my next trip into the wasteland.