I love scavenger hunts in MMOs

For the better part of two weeks I’ve sunk quite a lot of time into the Traces of the Black Spirit event in Black Desert Online. It asked players to visit five of the game’s cities and find and examine 20 traces the Black Spirit had left in each of them.

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What do you mean, you didn’t see anyone? Fell asleep while on duty, did you?

At first I didn’t think much of it gameplay-wise. I intended to do it mainly for the rewards, specifically the Advice of Valks (+80) you could earn by finding at least 80 traces total, an item greatly helping with enhancing stuff to high levels.

My plan was to look around and find as many as I can for a while and, once I’d grown tired of that, use a video guide someone would surely have created by then to collect the rest.

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The Heidel Herald reports: Multiple Acts Of Vandalism Around Town

However, as it turned out the folks at Pearl Abyss knew full well that most players would opt to go the lazy route, so they’d decided to make things a littler harder: The traces changed locations every day!

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Apparently the cleaning personnel has been working double shifts

I guess there were about 40 possible locations in each town, so if you didn’t manage to find all 20 on the same day – and I sure didn’t – there was quite a bit of searching to do. It did get tedious at times, especially once you’d found 15 or more in one place, making it ever harder to remember where exactly you’d found them and where you might not need to look anymore.

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It’s Getting Worse – Now The Culprit Is Using Waterproof Markers

While that probably doesn’t sound like a lot of fun it actually was, at least to me. It shouldn’t have surprised me either because I’ve always liked scavenger hunt type quests in the games I’ve played.

The main reason for this is that they make me look at those worlds with different eyes. When I have to search for something I see so much stuff I’d never noticed before.

It’s a testament to the enthusiasm and love for detail game designers incorporate into their work. For example, have a closer look at the topmost screenshot’s uncropped version (click to enlarge):

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Hello?!? Jeez, I think his lance is the only thing that keeps him upright

I definitely hadn’t noticed those barrels full of swords, the sword rack or the toolbox before, nor the stabilizing crossbars running beneath the walking planks.

Now, I get that those details aren’t there to be actively noticed and admired – though the person who made them would certainly appreciate it. They mainly serve as props to give the scenery more believability and realism, and as far as I’m concerned they do a hell of a job.

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Why is all that stuff lying around here? Someone call the safety officer!

Over the years I’ve participated in quite a lot of scavenger hunt types of content, and they’ve always had this effect of fleshing out the world and making it feel more real to me.

I cannot even count the quests that made me trek all over Norrath to look for hidden doodads in Everquest II. The most notorious ones are probably the dragon language quest I already talked about and Knights in the Round, which had you collect 50 (!) statues scattered across the game’s already pretty huge world at that point in time.

The hunt for Datacrons in SWTOR kind of falls into the same category, although finding those often wasn’t the challenging part, but actually getting to them. I’ve heard a lot about jumping puzzles in GW2 and how much some people loathe them. Well, at least the jumping mechanics in GW2 are, you know, good. I’ve always wondered how Jedi, bounty hunters and the like even survive, let alone do their jobs properly while being as stiff and nonathletic as an arthritic 80 year old. Snark aside though, it was still fun, and the stubborn controls added to the challenge.

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WoW called – it wants its trademarked giant shoulderpads back

A Halloween event in APB Reloaded made players look for (and shoot) pumpkins for various rewards. Not only did I see some funny graffitis and other details I’d missed before, I even found some really good hiding spots I hadn’t been aware of. So in a way the event had a lasting impact on my normal gameplay.

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Obviously not this one, hiding behind pillars always ends badly

While we’re in non-MMO territory, the GTA series always had boatloads of collectibles to find, and San Andreas was the title where I spent the most time looking for them. I sprayed over rival gang graffitis in Los Santos, made photos of specific places in San Fierro, collected horseshoes in Las Venturas and went pearl diving in the ocean. The worlds of Rockstar Games games (heh) are always brimming with detail and atmosphere, so it’s no surprise that I stumbled upon more funny stuff while doing this than I can recount.

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GTA V, meanwhile, has the most stunning views on offer

This particular BDO event lasted for three weeks, but I had found all 100 traces towards the end of week two. It was a lot of fun, but I’m also glad that I now don’t have to be quite as focused while playing anymore.

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Time to stretch my legs. Why isn’t there a sun lounger up here? Clearly a design oversight!

Sometimes I’m close to giving up when doing these scavenger hunts, especially when there’s a huge number of things to find. Like I said, it can get tedious. But I usually pull through, not only because I want the rewards, but also because I like the feeling of satisfaction when I’m done.

Besides, who knows what other secrets I might uncover if I just keep looking?

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How RNG made me happy for once

I’ve shared my thoughts about randomness in MMORPGs before, my verdict being that it can be good or bad depending on how it’s utilized.

The RNG elements in Black Desert Online, of which there are many, are mostly bad in my opinion. Losing a bunch of progress you’d already made with a single click, for example when an item downgrades again due to a failed upgrade attempt, is just the antithesis of fun.

So color me surprised when the game’s third anniversary came along and with it an event that had a kind of RNG I actually liked quite a lot.

This event gave us the opportunity to earn four pre-enhanced pieces of gear. Spread across four weeks you could get one temporary accessory piece and some event-only upgrade materials per week by doing a quest and being logged in for a certain amount of time every day.

If you were lucky and got that piece to enhancement level TRI you could then exchange it for a regular accessory piece, also at TRI level. A huge prize! The real kicker, at least for me, was that even if you weren’t that lucky you’d at least get a DUO version of that same piece at the end of the week, provided you’d completed the quest (which required to kill a thousand mobs of a specific type) each and every day. At that time a DUO accessory was still a big deal for Lakisa and myself, so I knew that doing the event would be a win no matter our amount of luck.

It went really well, much better than anticipated. After week three we both had already scored two TRI hits, so we had to settle for the ‘consolation DUO ‘ only once each. In week four the best of the items was up, the Ogre Ring (which is actually worn as a necklace, apparently Ogres have pretty thick fingers). Unfortunately Lakisa only got the DUO this time, I on the other hand…

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It is indeed, my dear Rudd, it is indeed

I was very excited to get it – I made Lakisa jump in her seat by cheering rather loudly – and also pretty happy with the event as a whole. Getting those TRI items was obviously huge, but, again, the fact that we at least got a DUO whenever the RNG wasn’t in our favour was what made the event feel really rewarding and fun to me. I would’ve also been happy, if a bit disappointed of course, if I’d scored only one TRI, or even none at all. I guess I can enjoy randomness much more if it’s not either win it all or lose it all. Not winning the main prize stings much less if I at least get an adequate reward for my efforts so that I don’t feel like all I did was for nothing.

Anyway, that particular day the RNG gods weren’t quite done being nice. After finishing the event quest we did some boss scrolls, and I finally got a pair of Bheg’s Gloves while Lakisa was even luckier and received Dim Tree Spirit’s Armor. What are the chances of that happening on the same day?

As if that still wasn’t enough I pulled a DUO Eye of the Ruins Ring from a Dark Rift reward box later that same evening. Say what?

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Finally cracked that 200 AP threshold; I didn’t think I’d ever get there

Whoa. Not only did all that additional attack power boost my damage output quite noticably, having made such a substantial leap on the gear ladder actually motivated me to try and push even further. Since I now had Bheg’s Gloves lying around, as well as a Kzarka weapon box I got during another event a while back, I decided to buy the remaining boss armor pieces I wanted, namely Dim Tree, Griffon’s Helmet and Urugon’s Shoes, from the market and have a go at enhancing them all at once, which is the most efficient way anyhow.

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All prepared and ready to dance the failstack dance

I knew that 300 Armor Black Stones wouldn’t be enough to build all those failstacks I’d need, but I kinda hoped that the rest of the items you see up there, especially the Memory Fragments, would suffice. Haha, not a chance. Over the span of three hours I used up about 700 Mem Frags, well over 1k Black Stones, more than 100 Concentrated Black Stones, 50 Valk’s Cry, almost all Advice of Valk’s I had and like 100 million silver. But I got there.

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So beautiful it almost didn’t hurt anymore

At the time of this writing those five items have a combined worth of about 4,5 billion silver on the marketplace, so I actually made a profit, hard to believe as it may be. Still, I’m glad I got it over with. From here on out I’ll only try to enhance anything when I have accumulated enough Cron Stones so a failure won’t bounce the item back to DUO.

The only thing left to do then was to bring the remaining accessory slots up to par. I had long since decided that I’d never try to enhance those myself – because they don’t just fall back a level when an enhancement attempt fails, they are destroyed instead – so I’d held on to any I’d found in order to sell them later and use the silver to buy already enhanced pieces from the market.

I activated a 7-day Value Pack and put all kinds of stuff I had accumulated over the months up for sale. Just 12 hours later I’d made almost 2,5 billion silver. I used that to buy a second TRI Narc Ear Accessory and a TRI Eye of the Ruins Ring. Not satisfied with wearing one last DUO piece I then sold that DUO Eye Ring and also the DUO Ogre Ring I had lying around since after the anniversary event to buy another TRI Eye Ring.

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As a huge fan of symmetry this pleases me to no end

It’s ironic, and also a bit schizophrenic I feel, that I still don’t like this gear upgrade system at all, yet looking at what I’ve achieved with it makes me feel really satisfied and happy.

But, again, it probably wouldn’t have happened at all if not for the anniversary event and its rather generous and rewarding form of RNG.

Anyway, at the end of that arduous play session it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea what those shiny new items actually look like on my character since he’s always wearing the costume you’ve already seen in numerous screenshots. So I toggled the hide costume switch.

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911? Yeah, there’s some nutter in a bird suit loitering on the bank’s roof

Ehhhh…I think I’ll stick with my costume, thank you very much.

 

 

Case study: BDO’s business model

From my next post onward I’ll talk about playing games and having fun again instead of all this meta stuff, pinky promise. In fact I can hardly wait to talk about this:

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It’s so good to see you again, old friends

First I’d like to get something out of the way though.

As you all know I’m a huge fan of Black Desert Online. If you’ve read my posts about it I assume you can understand why I enjoy it so much, even if the kinds of gameplay it offers might not be for you.

On the other hand, if your knowledge about the game mostly stems from what you’ve read somewhere else on the internet, for example in the comments over at Massively OP, you are probably under the impression that it’s a mismanaged, RNG-riddled, Pay to Win trainwreck, albeit a good looking one.

If that were true, and I were still supporting it financially despite of what I talked about in my last two posts, that’d make me quite the hypocrite, wouldn’t it? Maybe I am. I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder, as everything.

Anyway, today I’ll talk a bit about the game’s business model, and why I’m ok with it.

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The shop front sure ain’t subtle

First of all, its monetization isn’t perfect. Far from it, actually. The game definitely encourages you to open your wallet, and I’d say you need to spend about 70-100 bucks total to be able to really enjoy the experience. In my opinion it’s totally worth that though. More than that even. There’s so much content to enjoy here, so much variety in things to do and classes to play, so much to explore; there just aren’t enough hours in the day to indulge in everything. It’s also still expanded and iterated upon on a weekly basis, years after launch. Pretty much every week’s patch notes have stuff in them that I’m happy about. Proper expansions have been huge, and always free of charge. I guess what I’m saying is, regardless of how much you actually decide to spend, you’ll definitely get a lot of bang for your buck here.

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this business model, shall we?

Technically the game is Buy to Play. I say technically because buying it sets you back just 10 bucks, only half that during its quite regular discount periods. I realize that even at that price point it isn’t the same as F2P. Still, when I look at a game’s cash shop and ponder if I’m ok with it it makes a huge difference to me whether buying the game itself already costs 60 Euros, or just 5 or 10.

There’s an optional subscription called Value Pack. Many players say that you definitely need it, thus making it anything but optional. I do agree that it’s a big advantage to have every now and then, but I certainly don’t need it all the time. It gives a bunch of bonuses, the only really important of which is a reduction in marketplace sales tax. The math is a bit complicated, but the bottom line is that you get 85% of your item’s selling price with an active Value Pack, only 65% without. That is a pretty huge difference. The thing is, since I started playing the game I was gifted a total of twelve 7-day Value Packs just for logging in regularly, doing events and stuff. To this day I’ve only used up three of those to sell expensive goods I had stockpiled beforehand, so I don’t see me ever feel the need to actually buy a Value Pack for real money.

Of course the cash shop also sells all kinds of items we’ve already seen in most other such shops, if applicable. Costumes, weapon skins, pets, horse-, wagon- and ship-armor, furniture, consumable XP boosts, the works.

A big difference to most games I’ve played is that pretty much all those items do grant actual gameplay benefits here, which of course strongly reeks of P2W. And I guess it technically is. It doesn’t bother me though because once you understand how the game actually works you realize that most of these bonuses are negligible. Example: among other things costumes give a 10% bonus to combat XP. Not bad, but given the fact that you generally have bonuses amounting to at least 250% running whenever you actively grind for XP those additional 10% are but a drop in the bucket.

The item category that stands out are pets. You need some pets. Well, you can play without, but it won’t be much fun. What they do is pick up loot for you. Since you kill mobs by the thousands in this game, you really don’t want to pick up all that stuff by hand. New players get one pet as a login-reward pretty early on, but you’ll probably want to have more than one sooner rather than later.

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Always by my side, wherever I go

I won’t go into detail about the game’s gear upgrading system again, I’ve already done that here and here. Suffice to say, there’s indeed a lot of RNG to it, and there are pretty severe consequences to failure on higher levels. Now, there are no items in the cash shop that actually increase your chances at a successful upgrade, but you can buy costumes and melt them down to Cron Stones. Those can be used while enhancing high grade gear to protect it from falling back one grade on failure. This is obviously pretty huge, and definitely P2W if you’re dead set on getting your gear to the highest tier of PvP-competitiveness. You’d have to pay a lot of money in order to do it this way though. I mean, a lot of money. Not dozens or hundreds, I’m talking thousands of Euros here.

And that doesn’t bother you? I hear you ask. Well, yes and no. Yes, I’d rather not have stuff like that in the game. Goes without saying, really. But also no, because if you’re willing and able to spend that much money just so the little numbers on your imaginary items are a bit higher than mine, more power to you. I’m serious. You and your peers basically keep the game afloat and development rolling single-handedly, which means that Lakisa and I don’t have to feel bad for playing countless hours without paying much for it. Also, we’ll never participate in Tier 3 node wars and stuff like that, so chances are you’ll never wield your shiny weapons against us anyway.

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Besides, we’re far too good-looking for that kind of stuff

You see, the non-consensual part of the game’s PvP, despite of what you may have heard, is pretty much non-existent. I talked about how I had been ganked for the first time over a year ago. Since then it has happened to me just once more. Structured PvP, like the aforementioned node wars, is separated into tiers, with hard caps to attack power per tier. Bottom line is, you can engage in PvP and will still hardly ever be fighting significantly better geared players, unless you deliberately choose to. In consequence I really don’t care how those top geared players got their stuff. Yes, P2W still stinks, but it doesn’t ruin the game as a whole here like it would have done in, say, Battlefront II, hadn’t they reversed their course.

I obviously can’t go over each and every item on offer in the game’ shop, but this should suffice for a broad overview.

To summarize, I’m ok with BDO’s business model because it lets me play and enjoy an outstanding, content- and feature-rich virtual world for about the cost of a normal full-price game plus one paid expansion, and to me it’s worth much more than that. It has P2W aspects to it, but the way I see it those are pretty much irrelevant to all but the top 2% or less of players, and hence don’t affect me personally at all.

It sure isn’t perfect, but I actually enjoy spending money on the game every now and then. I don’t need to, I just want to. That’s saying something, isn’t it?

Yo ho, this ain’t no work for landlubbers

I engaged in more of Black Desert Online’s oceanic content during the past week, because of course I did. After all I was eager to take out my new frigate and explore the open sea, brave its dangers and hopefully make some profit in the process.

A quest I had had for quite some time wanted me to visit a settlement quite a distance away, on the other side of the Margorian sea, so that’s where I was headed first. I filled my ship’s cargohold with trade items bought in Port Epheria in hopes of getting a hefty distance bonus, stocked up on cannon balls and ship repair kits, then off I went.

Since map and waypoints can’t be used on the open sea I set a course roughly to the northwest and just hoped for the best. The first obstacle wasn’t long in coming.

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The lighting changed dramatically from one moment to the next and that whirlwind appeared right in front of me. I steered around it and that was that. I took no damage or anything. Looks nice though. I think I’ll sail right through next time, just to see what happens.

A bit further I hit another road…err…seablock.

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Would use that skin for my own ship in a heartbeat

Good thing I had brought those cannon balls. I manned a cannon and opened fire. Two hits was all it took.

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Give my regards to Davy Jones, you scallywags

It didn’t leave any loot behind, but I guess it can’t really be expected for this little effort.

I assume both storms and ghostships indeed serve as roadblocks more than anything, preventing AFK travel. They look pretty cool, I’ll give them that.

After traversing the open sea for maybe 15 minutes total the map flickered to life again. It turned out that I’d veered a bit too far to the west, so I corrected my course and headed due north for the last leg of the journey.

After passing a bunch of islands, some small, some pretty huge, my destination finally came into sight.

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Land, ho!

This beautiful, asian-styled little town is called Port Ratt, and it’s at the time of this writing the first and only settlement of a whole new continent. Unfortunately the continent itself isn’t developed yet, so islands aside the town is the only accessible part of it. Actually it’s not even a proper town, everything but the lowest level is just backdrop, closed off by invisible or actuall walls. All NPCs are located right at the piers you see on the left and right.

I was pretty disappointed to discover this, especially because it’s so atypical of BDO. Until now I’d never hit an invisible wall anywhere. If you can see it, you can reach it had always been the game’s motto. Oh well, I just hope the continent will be developed eventually.

For now I had to be content with advancing the quest and selling my trade goods, which indeed yielded a nice distance bonus. Of course I would have liked to fill my cargo hold with exotic goods for the journey home, but my trading skill level was too low to buy them.

I also took a quest to deliver a special trade item to one of four possible destinations, the reward being a big chunk of sailing XP. I chose to bring it to Altinova, the second farthest option. Since this item doesn’t slow you down like a normal trade item does I figured I’d just sail back to Epheria, then take it the rest of the way on horseback.

I completed a few more quests in the area, then decided to head back towards the mainland – I had some more things to attend to on the way. Before leaving Port Epheria I’d accepted some daily quests to kill various sea monsters and pirate ships for even more sailing XP, which I wanted to try now.

Both monsters and ships are abundant on the open sea, so I didn’t even have to actively look for them. I chose a small pirate ship for my first target.

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Doesn’t look like much, does it?

I did sink it, but it took quite a while, and as you can see my ship took a serious beating too. So much so that it definitely wasn’t viable to fight anything else without fully repairing it first.

Since I didn’t get loot right away I dove after the wreck to check if there really wasn’t any.

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Give me my loot, dammit, you’re not taking it down with you!

It had dropped something after all, albeit only sell-loot. At least it had a cumulative worth of just over three million silver, which ain’t bad. I would find out later that it can only be sold to a guild shop though, so the silver goes to the guild account, not your own. Much of the game’s oceanic content seems to be designed with guild members working together in mind. In a game that’s overall very, very solo-centric this strikes me as a bit odd, but it is what it is.

Then I finally headed back to Port Epheria. The wharf manager repairs even badly damaged ships for chump change, which is nice. I delivered the trade item to Altinova and received a pretty nice sum of sailing XP.

The sea called out to me on the very next day already, and I set sail again.

This time I hunted down an Ocean Stalker. Instead of using a cannon I tried to kill it with the ship’s ramming skill.

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It didn’t like that. Not. One. Bit.

Maneuvering the ship and learning the beast’s movement patterns again took a while, but I prevailed. It too dropped guild-only sell-loot, but also some crafting materials I’ll need for the better ship parts, yay!

This time around I’d also brought my fishing gear because I needed to catch two specific rare specimens for another quest.

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Gone fishin’ instead of just a wishin’

While I managed to catch one of them relatively quickly the other remains elusive for now. I made a killing catching fish close to Port Ratt and selling it in Altinova though, so I’m not complaining (too much).

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On the way back the game’s weather system treated me to this stunning view

If you only have like 30 minutes or an hour to play I wouldn’t recommend tackling BDO’s sea content, but if time isn’t an issue it’s a really great and immersive experience. Another fine example of sandbox gameplay that sure isn’t for everyone, but is exactly my cup of tea.

Time to buckle some serious swash

Huzzah, it is done! Sometime Wednesday morning my workers finished the final construction cycles for my Epheria Frigate in Black Desert Online.

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This was the state of affairs when I went to bed

Construction had started on February 1st. Of course I had to gather and process some of the needed resources beforehand, so all told the project took me just about two months, maybe a bit longer.

I obviously couldn’t wait to register it at the wharf manager in Port Epheria and hoist its sails for the first time.

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No way would I’ve sold it…dat market price though, holy crap

I wanted Lakisa to be there to share the moment, and since she had a quest to explore some islands anyway she was more than happy to oblige.

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A real beauty, isn’t she? The ship’s nice too

In preparation I’d already bought and enhanced the available ship upgrades like better sails and cannons, so I installed those right away.

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For some reason she got a red paintjob in the process

The really good upgrades are player crafted, making those will be my next project. Some of the necessary components only drop from sea monsters though, so starting off with the ones sold by NPCs seemed the way to go.

We began our journey by visiting the islands closest to the mainland so Lakisa could invest contribution points into those fishing nodes like I had already done a while ago.

Whenever she was ashore talking to node managers I seized the opportunity to take tons and tons of screenshots. Obviously the best place for that is the crow’s nest. Not only does it offer a great view – as it should – it even has the option to activate a free-look mode that completely detaches the camera from your character.

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Enabling you to take shots like these. I really need to find out how to turn off those darkened edges though.

Since the first island Lakisa needed to visit for her quest was near Velia, which is also where she got the quest in the first place, we sailed all the way there from Epheria.

The ship isn’t lightning fast, but waaay faster than a fishing boat. With better upgrades and a higher sailing skill on my character (which unlocks the ship’s special abilities) travelling distances like these should become a breeze.

We made a quick detour so that I could pick up the quest too, then off we went to do some island hopping.

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Of course I sported my self-crafted sailor’s clothes for the occasion

And boy, island hop we did. One quest turned into five, into ten, into…I completely lost count on how many isles of various sizes we had to discover.

Day turned into evening…

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…and evening into night. We were still sailing when dawn came.

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It was well worth it though. The final quest rewarded us with tons of XP, silver and some crafting materials, and discovering all those islands showered us with Knowledge. My maximum energy pool went from 241 to 253 due to that.

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Islands as far as the eye can see

Since this took way longer than expected we didn’t have time to also head out into the open sea, as I had originally planned. Just like in the desert the map doesn’t work there, so you have to hone your navigational skills. Additionally storms, ghost ships and sea monsters try to make your voyage difficult. I’m actually looking forward to that, sounds like another adventurous undertaking. I hope we’ll get to that soon.

So is the ship worth the time and effort I poured into its construction? Absolutely!

Not only was working on it mostly fun and only rarely felt like actual work, the freedom it gives us to explore the ocean and engage in its content without the need to join a guild, which we don’t want to do at the moment, is really great and will undoubtedly enrich our experience playing the game. Would do again.

Playing Whac-A-Boss in Black Desert

I’m still having a lot of fun beating the crap out of Dark Rift bosses in BDO. I guess I was pretty lucky to get almost one spawn per day on average since the feature was introduced, as some folks are reporting that they got a lot less.

I’ve fought most existing bosses at least once by now. Some are basically identical to their daily or weekly scroll counterparts, for example Giath, Bheg or Red Nose, just much stronger. Others were new to me, like this strange centaur-tree-hybrid called Ronin.

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I’d rather not meet his former Shogun then

I also got to fight Ferrid again, the Balrog-like creature I talked about last time. His spawn location was changed since I met him the first time though, apparently because many players weren’t able to find the cave’s entrance he spawned in before. It’s a real shame because that cave looks awesome with its pools of lava and was a perfect fit for that particular boss.

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The new locale has nice lighting in the evening though

I mostly got base grade accessories from the treasure chests, but I did get one PRI Serap’s Necklace, which is cool. Overall the bosses are definitely worth doing, and I’ll probably have amassed enough stuff to seriously get into jewelry-enhancing soon.

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This alt’s inventory would even make Mr. T envious by now

To make it easier for lower geared players the bosses have a power level that degrades over time. They spawn at level five and lose one level every 24 hours, becoming weaker in the process. Lakisa conquered her first Dark Rift boss yesterday after waiting for it to drop to level one. At character level 56 with +10 to +12 gear it still wasn’t easy, but manageable. I assume that most players enhance their gear to a higher grade than that until they reach 56, so I think it’s fair to say that this content doesn’t lock anyone out, which I think is great.

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This is assuming you can even see the boss for the trees though

After having beaten so many Dark Rift bosses, all at level 4 or 5, I finally felt ready to tackle an important part of Black Desert’s PvE-endgame I had chickened out on until now: world bosses.

These spawn about twice a day each on specific timers and are the main source for boss gear. Since the piece I’d really like to have right now is the off-hand dropped by Ancient Kutum I picked that one for my premiere.

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Savouring the calm before the storm

The most important thing to keep in mind about world bosses is that normal PvE death-penalties apply if they kill you, resulting in XP loss and possibly one or more crystals slotted into your equipment being destroyed. Naturally I wasn’t eager to see that happen, so I watched and read some guides to the fight beforehand. I also did a short questchain to get the knowledge about Ancient Kutum, which allegedly improves the chance for more or better loot.

To be safe I had made my way to the spawn location early, and as the minutes ticked down I became a bit nervous. At T minus one I popped my buff-food and elixirs. At that point more and more players arrived or logged in right there.

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Being fashionably late is as cool as ever it seems

Finally the serverwide message announcing the spawning world boss came up, and Ancient Kutum dug itself from the ground.

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Okaaay then…at least there’s no Fremen riding on it

Once the fighting began I immedietely knew I’d made a mistake. My preparations hadn’t included turning off other player’s skill effects.

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“Remember, always stay at the boss’ back!” “…what boss?”

The framerate didn’t actually drop all that much, but I could barely see anything. Despite that I miraculously made it through the fight without dying. Phew.

And thus I’d earned my first few boss auras, a hundred of which can be exchanged for the corresponding piece of gear. The piece can also drop directly, but I assume the chance for that happening is pretty slim.

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Look, I made more money than fits into the window, I’m rich!

To me bossfights in BDO are a welcome diversion from mob grinding and absolutely worthwhile. I defenitely recommend checking them out.

These are the rifts you’re looking for

I don’t follow Black Desert Online’s development over in Korea too closely. While it can serve as a mouthwatering preview of content or features that might come to our version of the game sooner or later it’s not actually guaranteed that we also get that stuff, nor that what we eventually get will have any kind of resemblance to what they have. So why bother?

Due to that I wasn’t prepared for the content drop we got last week. To say I’m very pleasantly surprised would be a huge undestatement.

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Yes, Dark Rifts are a thing now. Every now and then a rift spawns somewhere in the world and spews out a boss for you to fight once you get close. Funnily enough these are pretty much the exact opposite to the rifts in, well, RIFT insofar that the bosses aren’t meant for groups of people, it’s a pure solo experience instead.

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That’s no boss, that’s a…I have no idea what the hell it is

Another player won’t be able to see your boss, not even when grouped up with you. That last bit is a shame I think, but it seems the devs wanted to specifically give us bossfights to test our mettle 1 vs 1. A bit strange for an MMO maybe, but since the game already has bosses for groups as well as proper world bosses galore I just see it as yet another option to play you can either embrace or ignore.

After encountering five different rifts and their respective bosses I already know for sure that it’s definitely the former in my case. It’s great fun, and the rewards are very worthwhile.

I know a lot of folks have complained about the lack of classic dungeon- and raid-gameplay in BDO. Well, fighting these bosses is pretty much the next closest thing, if you can ignore the fact that you’re doing it alone of course.

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Oh, oh, I’ve seen that before, I know what to do!

Positioning, dodging attacks, healing myself, dealing with adds, these fights provide it all.

The bosses come in different flavours and difficulties. Of the five I fought one was labeled ‘normal’, three ‘hard’ and one ‘very hard’. The latter indeed killed me a couple of times while I downed the others relatively easily – they all take quite some time and concentration with my current gear though.

The hardest one doesn’t telegraph its AoE attacks quite as clearly as the others do, which combined with the fact that pretty strong normal mobs surround the place makes that fight much more unpredictable than the other two.

The guy you see above, on the other hand, throws different telegraphs at you all the time and also spawns adds regularly.

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Weaponry used with kind permission of Tony Stark

As mentioned the rewards are pretty good. In addition to some black stones and memory fragments they seem to always drop a new type of currency item that can be exchanged for boss weapon boxes or other rare stuff once you’ve accumulated enough of it, and a box that contains an accessory item up to DUO grade. I assume that the chance for actually getting a DUO is very slim, but the five base-grade items I got until now have a combined worth of about 270 million silver, so I’m definitely not complaining.

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Give me that sweet loot, piece of rabble. I hope Stark Industries offers warranty

My biggest fear going in, other than not being able to beat the bosses at all, was that I might feel pressured to drop whatever I’m doing as soon as a rift spawns from now on so I don’t miss out on its rewards. That would’ve been very detrimental to the way I love to play the game, which is to just do whatever the hell I feel like without any kind of schedule or must-do’s.

Fortunately there’s no time limit at all, once spawned the rift stays open until I can be bothered to show up and kill the boss. It doesn’t even prevent more rifts from spawning as there can be up to ten open at a time. Now that’s what I call unobtrusive and player-friendly.

In my opinion this is a great addition to the game and I can’t wait to see more rifts spawn. Next time I’ll even remember to take some screenshots of the awesome, Balrog-like boss at Omar Lava Cave. Promise!

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Until then a picture of Rednose charging at me will have to suffice