Last time around I said that Black Desert Online is a complex game. Oh boy, what a hell of an understatement.
Many MMORPGs I’ve played are designed like a pyramid in that once you’ve left the tutorial stage there’s a broad base with lots of different stuff to do at first, sometimes to the point of feeling overwhelmed by it all, but the closer you get to the top your gameplay options seem to shrink down more and more.
BDO is, to me, the exact opposite of that. When I tried the game out for the first time my initial impression was that running from one place to the next and killing anything that moves on the way is pretty much all there is to it. Unfortunately my chosen class’s combat mechanics didn’t feel too great to me either, so I concluded that the game wasn’t for me and dropped out.
When I gave it another shot a year or so later I’d done enough research to know that a bit of perserverance was called for. It just takes a while until more options start to present themselves – at the time your character had to be at a certain level to even see all quests, for example. I think they’ve scrapped that level requirement, but you still need to proactively tell the game that you want to be shown all types of quests, not only those focused around combat.
Anyhow, once all questgivers deem you worthy to talk to a gigantic rabbit hole opens up and you need to take but one step in any direction to lose yourself completely, as Aywren, Bhagpuss and Naithin all can attest to.
And don’t even think for a second that a somewhat seasoned veteran of the game like myself becomes immune to this. Not a chance.
I mean, sure, I did what I set out to do a couple of weeks ago and started a career in bartering with the (distant) goal of upgrading my frigate to a formidable carrack. Still, I actually ended up spending more time on various other stuff. Much more time. Here are some examples.
Not all of the necessary materials to upgrade my ship are acquired via bartering, I’ll also need a variety of normal land goods. Hence my choice is to either gather those myself or let my workers do it for me. I like the game’s gathering, but since I have enough other stuff to do right now I’m not terribly keen on sucking gallons of sap out of trees manually for the next few weeks. Workers it is, then.
However, as most of my contribution points are always in use I needed to redistribute a bunch of them first, so I had to decide which nodes to give up. In doing that I realised that I’d actually been collecting quite I lot of resources I’d never had any use for as of yet.
In the end I freed up and reinvested considerably more CP than I’d originally planned, the result being that my workers now gather lots of materials I didn’t have before, some of which are actually worth quite a lot on the marketplace. The whole process did take some time, but should pay off nicely.
Yeah, I’ve also picked up fishing again. Not quite voluntarily, mind you. The thing is, there’s a questline on Crow’s Nest, an island hidden out at Ross Sea, that awards a very generous amount of ship upgrade materials for only little work. Or so I’ve heard.
Well, technically it is true, only that the NPC in question now wants me to catch a tuna and bring it to her. Tuna’s a rare fish though, and what’s worse, my fishing skill isn’t high enough to see tuna hotspots yet – at a hotspot you only catch the corresponding type of fish – so whenever I’m not doing something else right now I’m trying to bring my fishing skill up to snuff.
Have you noticed this little checkbox above your horse’s health and stamina bars? It’s not really hard to see, but it still took me a while to realize it’s there, probably because it hadn’t been there yet when I’d last played the game, and I usually don’t pay much attention to those bars anymore.
Holy crap, what a game changer that is! You see, of all skills horses can learn Sprint is the most important one because it provides such a big speed boost. Still, even with that skill at my disposal I sometimes want to use the auto-ride function and do something else while traveling, which, without Sprint, can take ages given the huge distances. Hence this change is a pretty big deal.
Only when I played my main I couldn’t check the box however hard I clicked. Then I finally took the time to read the tooltip:
Well, that explained it. Of course my life skill alt already had the Training skill above Artisan 1, but my main, who only ever uses max level horses and thus doesn’t get to level up his own skill, did not. However, he travels much more and much farther than the other character, so I felt he really needed this too. Consequently I went back to taming and training horses.
Fortunately last week’s patch enabled 50% boosts to both horse XP and Training XP, just at the perfect time for me. Those buffs will stay active until February 9th, by the way.
The Striker hit Artisan 1 on Monday, so now he can ride like the wind too while I play Genshin Impact or something.
As a side effect I also have almost a dozen new tier 5 horses in my stables, which is the highest tier that can be caught in the wild. I’d thought I was finished with breeding for good once I had two good tier 8s, but why let this opportunity go to waste? So now I’m leveling all those horses up – four at a time, in front of a merchant wagon – to breed them, then the foals will be leveled up too, and so on, until I have some more tier 8s. Maybe I’ll even go for a ‘Dream Horse’, who knows?
As if all of this still wasn’t enough I also stumbled upon the fact that a couple of legendary items have been added to the game – and for once these really deserve that lofty adjective.
How about HP- and Mana-potions, a compass and a teleport-item that aren’t consumed upon use and never expire?
Believe me, in BDO these amenities really are legendary. Depending on the class you play you’ll consume potions by the hundreds if not thousands rather quickly. A compass lets you use the map on the high sea and in the desert – a big quality of life boost if you traverse these regions regularly. An item that teleports you to the nearest town can also be a huge boon in a game that has you run everywhere on your own otherwise.
Of course getting even one of these is a monumental undertaking. I decided to go for the HP-potion first. When I checked out one of the grindspots I’ll have to kill mobs at for a rare drop I noticed that there weren’t any daily kill quests available nearby, which is highly unusual.
It turned out that I hadn’t advanced the region’s main story questline far enough to see them. As a matter of fact I hadn’t even finished that of the previous region either. So I postponed the grind and started questing. I also did a few side quests on the way, but only those that didn’t force me to make any detours. “Only” ~150 quests later I arrived at the grindspot and, lo and behold, now there are daily quests on offer.
Needless to say, I haven’t gotten that rare drop yet, nor any other component for the potion.
And there you have it. As you can see playing this game can really be like opening Pandora’s Box, only that in this case it isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually quite a lot of fun.