Sometimes you think you are done playing a particular game for good, regardless of how much you liked it at some point, only to pick it up and fall in love with it again later anyhow.
Of course, with MMORPGs this isn’t actually that uncommon. After all there’s always a chance that features or design elements you really dislike get scrapped or changed for the better later on, or things you wish the game had are finally realized.
Such is the case with myself and Black Desert Online right now. When I put it down sometime in 2021, supposedly for the last time, it was for one very specific reason: I just couldn’t stand having to compete with other players over grindspots anymore.
Long time readers know that open world PvP doesn’t bother me – in fact I’m usually a big fan. However, the way it’s implemented here is really bad in my opinion.
You see, PvE in BDO basically works like this: you choose a grindspot for a specific reason – for example, I’m currently grinding at the Blood Wolf Settlement for a rare drop needed to craft the legendary (i.e. reusable) health-potion. Once that’s decided you stock up on buffs, potions etc., then mount your horse and hoof it to the chosen spot, which, given the world’s size, can take a while. Upon arrival you get ready to grind, meaning you tether your horse, place your tent if you have one, spawn your pets and pop tons of buffs for more and better loot drops as well as stronger offenses and defenses if needed. After all that you can finally start to kill stuff, preferably as quickly as possible.
It’s a rather optimized process, is what I’m saying. Given the extremely low drop chances for everything noteworthy it’s pretty much the only feasible way to do it if you want to actually get anywhere, which also means that once you’ve got going interruptions aren’t welcome.
The problem here is that a single player can clear out a whole grindspot, at least the smaller ones, pretty much all by themselves, so sharing isn’t really an option.
This is where the aforementioned open world PvP comes in. Since grindspots aren’t safezones every player has the ability to flag up for PvP and attack others at any time here. However, doing so lowers your Karma, so you don’t really want to be the one doing the attacking. Which is why the game’s community has kind of established an unwritten rule: if you’ve been there first it’s your spot, and if anyone else wants it they have to take it from you by force.
I can’t count how often I’ve arrived at a grindspot only to find the mobs lying dead on the ground, sending the unmistakable signal that someone’s already there. What’s worse, if that player sees you they will, more often than not, take the time to stop their killing for a couple of seconds, come to a halt near you and write a single word in local chat: “taken“. Man, I hate that word so much by now! What can I say, I just don’t fancy being told by others what I can and can’t do in a game I voluntarily spend my free time and money on.
Switching servers has a 15 minute cooldown, so if the second one you try is also occupied and you really don’t want to take the Karma hit and fight for the spot you’re basically shit out of luck.
If you actually do happen to be first on the scene once every blue moon you better hope that no one comes along who is willing to fight, because as soon as you’ve activated all those important (and in some cases pretty expensive) buffs you really don’t want to stop grinding until those have run out.
It’s just crappy design in my opinion, simple as that. This is nothing like the PvPvE options other games have (the way Hunt: Showdown does it, for example, is pure genius). In BDO, when you engage in PvE you really want to be able to focus on that, anything else just screws up your efficiency. Those who want to PvP a lot, on the other hand, pretty much have to do node wars and stuff like that because, again, Karma is a thing. There’s nothing synergetic about it, PvE and PvP just get in each other’s way.
Which is why, after I’d ridden all the way out to the Drieghan region numerous times only to find both grindspots that would’ve been worthwhile to me occupied on multiple servers, I decided that I’d had enough. I quit the game, never to return unless Pearl Abyss somehow enabled me to play the game however and whenever I wanted.
I really couldn’t see it happen though, what with this being such an integral part of the game’s design. Why and how would they change something like this almost seven years (at that point) after the game’s initial release?
Well, what do you know! Turns out they added “private monster zones”, also known as Marni’s Realm, in May 2022. You can now go to a grindspot, press a button and immediately have a certain part of that area all to yourself. Hell yeah, instanced grindspots, I certainly didn’t see that one coming! Granted, you can enter Marni’s Realm only for up to 65 minutes per day and it’s not available at all grindspots, but still, this is a huge change and does everything it needs to as far as I’m concerned.
An hour of running around in circles and killing the same mobs again and again is usually all I can take anyway, so the limited duration doesn’t bother me much. Also, since all areas where specific rare drops for the various legendary items can be found are included I’m fine with the choice of grindspots too.
Hence, when I pondered what to play next towards the end of December I decided to give BDO another shot, and so far I don’t regret it one bit. The things that were always great, some of which I’ve already talked about in these here parts, are still great, and additionally I can now finally go and kill mobs…err…in peace…you know what I mean.