When deciding on whether to pre-order I went through a lot of You Tube videos and other resources to learn as much as I could about Black Desert. One of the main questions I had was what the gameplay would entail at end game. One of the videos I found came to the conclusion that there was no end game content in BDO for those who are more PvE minded.
While I understand the sentiment, I think it comes from a misunderstanding of what kind of MMO Black Desert is. Sure, there are no dungeons or raids at max level for players to run ad nauseam but there are lots of activities to do while you’re leveling and once you’ve reached the end game. What I’ve listed below is a basic sampling of what’s available. This is not intended to be a guide but a brief list to help other people decide whether Black Desert is a game to try out or not. Keep in mind I have not personally played, this is just a consolidation of my research, much of which is based on the Korean version so things could change.
BDO has an elaborate system for catching, leveling, and breeding horses. One of the activities you can do (once you’ve leveled the taming skill by riding a donkey…) is go out into the wild, lasso a horse, and make it your own. Horses come in several ranks but the higher level ranks must be reached through breeding. Horses also have their own skills to level, there is gear and cosmetics to craft for them, and they can participate in races for prizes as well.
So many of the systems in BLack Desert are interrelated that it’s difficult to separate them in a list like this. Trading in this case also includes crafting, fishing, and even housing. One of the goals you can work toward is creating a trading empire by discovering and linking nodes (a kind of pathway that connects the various cities and villages) and then moving goods between towns connected by those nodes. If you like grinding monsters, there are goods you can earn that way to trade. Or if you like crafting, you can train an army of workers to craft goods for trade. Or maybe you prefer fishing. Or farming. Whatever the case, the goal is to stretch your reach across the map through the nodes so that you can sell a good from one city to another far away for maximum profit.
However it’s not enough to just have these nodes. In BLack Desert you can have up to five houses and these will be used to store your goods, house your workers, and craft your wares. Placing your houses and warehouses in the right location will be critical to successfully playing Black Desert as a trader, so you’ll want to have a plan for how and where you’ll use your five houses. Thankfully it’s possible to sell a house and buy a new one elsewhere if you need to change your plans.
As mentioned above, crafting is a vital part of trade but it is also an end game pursuit on its own. I have no idea how many different crafting options there are, but I believe it includes weapons, gear, cooking, horse carts, boats and more. Your character will need to level their crafting skills like gathering or refining in order to be more efficient and you will also want to hire workers that can craft to expand your crafting potential. In many ways it reminds me of the garrisons in World of Warcraft but while you are given command over many workers, being a crafter will not keep you locked away from the world.
Gear progression in Black Desert really has nothing to do with dungeons and raids (because there aren’t any) and is more like a specific crafting pursuit. There are lots of aspects to improving your gear that to be honest I still have a hard time understanding but there are a couple of things worth noting. First of all, gear is not tied to a level so if you’ve upgraded a weapon for your high level Valkyrie you can use that same piece of gear on your newbie warrior. Secondly, the process of upgrading includes a lot of RNG in crafting and monster grinding for drops. It’s a lengthy process and reminds me of the gear progression in Trove more than anything else so don’t expect it to happen overnight. Finally, while world bosses technically drop “better” gear than what can be crafted, because of the way the upgrade system works you’re better off fully upgrading a crafted piece rather than trying for a world boss drop.
Guilds, PvP, and World Bosses
The closest thing to what you’re used to seeing for end game in an MMO will be participating in group PvP and world bosses with your guild. There are some bosses that can be summoned by a group of guild members ranging from 5-20 players as well as world bosses on a timer out in the world. PvP includes various types of guild verses guild PvP as well as types that individuals or small groups can join. It would take a while to go into all the ins and outs of PvP in this game, but as near as I can tell if you’d rather not participate in this part of the game, it should be easy to avoid with plenty of alternative gameplay options, just not the dungeons and raids you may be used to. And if you are interested in PvP there is enough variety you’re likely to find something to enjoy.
But wait, there’s more!
And in case you’d like more information on what Black Desert Online offers in terms of gameplay, I recommend this YouTube playlist. It’ll take about an hour to get through it all and it’s based on the Korean game but it provides a great starting point for understanding the game.