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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.