End Game in Black Desert Online

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.

Horse Breading

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.

Trading

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.

Crafting

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.

Gearing

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.

Black Desert Guides by Hakurai

 

Crafting and Questing in The Secret World

The Secret World excels at taking common features in MMOs and using them in unique ways. Take death for example. Every MMO has some kind of “ghost form” after dying that allows the player to run back to their corpse for a lore breaking second chance (or third, or fourth, or…) at life. The Secret World not only establishes lore for the character’s immortality, but also requires you to utilize the anima form to progress through several missions. A “ghost form” isn’t peripheral, it’s essential.

Death isn’t the only common MMO system that TSW uses in an uncommon way during its missions, crafting is also utilized as well. I really enjoy crafting in MMOs but rarely have the time to use the interface in the way it is intended—as a secondary objective to be “maxed” for end game purposes. Thankfully the Secret World’s crafting system doesn’t require that you earn skill points in order to make more advanced weapons and talisman, rather it is the raw resources and toolkits that determine what you can make.

More importantly, the same system used for crafting weapons and gear is also used for the completion of missions. The interface for crafting is similar to what you find in Minecraft. Using the correct resources in the appropriate shape allows you to make a hammer, shotgun, assault rifle, or whatever weapon or talisman or consumable you would like. Conversely, you can also place a weapon in the interface to disassemble it for the raw materials.

These two features carry over into some of the game’s missions. During your exploration you may find an object that can be disassembled for parts using the crafting interface that will allow you to progress. For example, in The City of the Sun God I found a spear that when I disassembled it revealed a note hidden in the shaft. Other missions may require you to assemble something out of the pieces you find in order to progress. In that same Egyptian zone I had to search for the pieces of a staff and then assemble them in order to have a whole staff that opened up the next location in my mission.

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Four hidden pieces formed a single gear in this mission.

 

What The Secret World doesn’t do is tell you when the crafting interface is necessary to progress through the mission, you have to figure that out for yourself. The first time I ran into this type of mission it took me forever to realize what I needed to do; I think I eventually had to look up a hint. However now I know to check quest items in the crafting UI whenever I’m stumped on how to move forward. This is one of the greatest triumphs of TSW as a game, it gets you to consider possibilities in and outside the box in order to move forward. You’ve got to set aside what you think you now about MMO systems and consider other possibilities. As a result I am far more observant and experimental in this game than in any other.

The integration of crafting (and death of course) in the missions of TSW is one of the many clever things that Funcom does with this game that after I first experienced it I thought, “why don’t other games do this?” More importantly, I started to look at the bigger picture, and wondered why so many MMO developers view the many systems that make up their game as individual parts rather than as a whole. It’s not quite the sandbox vs. theme park argument, but it’s along those lines. Having played a game with more integrated systems, I want more of the same. It’s another reason why a sandbox like Black Desert Online is starting to look more and more appealing.

Trove Progression: Crafting, Fishing, and Building

Trove offers a wide array of progression options for the dedicated player, some of which I looked at earlier this week. I’ve also written on movement progression in Trove and discussed whether or not the overall end game model is a shallow grind. Today I’ll be looking at a few of the remaining options for progressing your character in Trove: crafting, fishing, and world building.

Early on in Trove you'll want to craft as many stations as you can for your cornerstone or club world.

Early on in Trove you’ll want to craft as many stations as you can for your cornerstone or club world.

Crafting Progression

Crafting in Trove includes gathering materials, obtaining recipes, creating mounts, forging gear, crafting decorations, and leveling the three professions: gardening, ringcrafting, and runecrafting. I’ve already discussed gear progression in a previous article and will touch on recipes and decorations later which leaves the three professions and mount crafting. My experience is limited to ringcrafting and gardening but leveling runecrafting should follow the same pattern as those two. Currently in each profession there are five tiers that require 50 skill points each to unlock, 250 being the maximum number of skill points. As with any other crafting system the higher tiers require more or rarer materials. As you are leveling classes you should be keeping everything you gather that is listed as a crafting material which includes the fairie dust, bleached bones, robotic salvage, and anything else that drops from mobs. I would also recommend you get in the habit of gathering sunlight bulbs every time you see a giant sunflower as you will need quite a few of these to level gardening.

As you level ringcrafting you will progress through the same ranks as with the other gear slots with the final tier allowing you to craft shadow rings. Unlike many MMOs, the only way to obtain a ring slot item in Trove is through crafting, either yourself or by paying another player with flux for a crafted ring. Advances made in gardening will allow you to make decorative grasses and other plants and it will unlock the ability to grow crafting materials like glass bottles and steed feed. In the highest tier of gardening, you will be able to craft a mount and grow primary blocks for building, however the latter seems less efficient than gathering in the open world or purchasing from the cash shop. Lastly, as you level runecrafting you will be able to craft your own recipes for decorative blocks and in the final tier you will be able to craft tomes, an equipable item that over time grants various materials depending on which tome you craft. If your goals in Trove are primarily focused on building or collecting, you should focus on gardening and runecrafting. However if you want to create the best set of gear in Trove, you should focus on ringcrafting.

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Here is the basic Meownt and one of my earlier attempts at building a cornerstone house.

When I first looked into crafting in Trove, I was mostly excited about being able to craft mounts. However this area of crafting will require a lot of materials gathering and a little luck. Firstly, you need to level your gardening at least to 150 in order to grow steed feed. You’ll need a lot of the sunlight bulbs and fertilizer to do this so make sure you are gathering the former and growing the later (which is in the first tier of gardening). One important detail to note is that growing fertilizer must be done indoors while steed feed (and most other plants) must be grown outside. Some plants even require a specific biome or season so if your plants aren’t growing try placing them somewhere else or check the tooltip for other requirements.

Once you have the fertilizer and the steed feed you’ll want to look at the recipe lists of the various mounts to determine what else you need to collect. Several of them require a base mount—either Pemblock or Meownt—in order to make an alternate version. However these two mounts are random drops off of any mob in the game and can be tricky to obtain. Your best bet is to pay for one with flux which is itself obtained most efficiently by deconstructing gear and running challenges. Lastly, there is also a mount in the final tier of gardening and runecrafting which requires maxing out each profession. Needless to say, whichever mount you choose be prepared for a lot of work before you are able to craft it. And before you even get started, look over them all as many require the same crafting materials and you will need to make some choices.

I'm still rocking the simple raft and tattered sail, I have yet to make one of the good boats.

I’m still rocking the simple raft and tattered sail, I have yet to make one of the good boats.

Fishing and Boat Building Progression

I haven’t put much time into fishing yet so this will be brief. First of all, obtaining a fishing pole requires glim and can be purchased by a pirate vendor in the hub world. This NPC will also sell you your first raft and tattered sail, all of which can be equipped by going to the character panel and clicking the empty boxes for ship, sale, and fishing pole. You will also need to purchase some bait before you head out to sea. Your first fishing pole will only work in regular water and can be used from the shore or on your ship so long as it is not moving. Pro tip: pressing “W” will cause your sail to billow more and more increasing your speed while holding “S” will cause the sail to progressively collapse until the ship is no longer moving. Hold “S” until your ship stops in order to fish.

Here is the pirate cove in the hub world where you will buy your first raft, sail, and fishing pole.

Here is the pirate cove in the hub world where you will buy your first raft, sail, and fishing pole.

To my right is the crafting station for advanced fishing poles, ships, and sales.

To my right is the crafting station for advanced fishing poles, ships, and sales. It’s right in front of the wooden boxes but is difficult to locate if you don’t know where it is!

Once you’re ready, press “F” to cast and “F” again to reel in your catch when you see the bobber move. As you catch a variety of fish they will be logged into your collections tab. Deconstructing the fish you catch will earn you all kinds of loot, including crafting materials like the ancient scales which are very rare and required for ship and fishing pole crafting. In order to craft ships, sails, and fishing poles, you will need to use a unique crafting station found near the pirate that sells the starter items. Looking at the various recipes will give you an idea of what else you need to collect in order to work toward the ship or fishing pole you want to create. Better ships will include a cannon that can be used to blast buoys and crafted fishing poles will allow you to fish in lava and chocolate. You can look here for a complete list of fish, their rarity, where they are caught, and the loot they give.

This is my green lantern power battery, constructed on my cornerstone plot. All my portals and crafting stations are underground.

This is my green lantern power battery, constructed on my cornerstone plot. All my portals and crafting stations are underground.

Building Progression

Building in Trove also has a kind of progression to it, albeit far less linear than all the other progression options. Your choices are broad and your end goals are your own, but no matter what you choose there will be some work required. First of all, there are two areas you will be able to build in: your personal cornerstone which is limited to a very small space and in a club world which can be expanded to be quite large. Every character starts off with a cornerstone but will either have to join a club world (and be given building permission) or craft one. To craft a club world, go to a crafting bench and open up the club world drop down menu. Craft a club card and then equip it in your action bar to get started. Activating the club card will prompt you to name your club world and entering your new world is as simple as pressing “P” and selecting the correct club name. Trove allows you to be a member of up to five different Club Worlds, so there is nothing preventing you from crafting your own and joining your friends in theirs.

Once you have a space for building, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials and create a few crafting stations. For basic primary blocks you can either gather them in the open world or purchase them from the cash shop. They are so incredibly cheap that if you are really invested in building I would recommend purchasing them. 2000 blocks cost 50 credits with 750 credits sold for five dollars, so for that amount you can purchase 30,000 blocks. If your building is ambitious you will go through that many quickly (my green lantern power battery pictured above took about 4000) but for most projects that will be plenty.

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Here you can see two different colors of the Movember moustache style blocks.

As for crafting stations you’ll at least want a cube converter and a workbench which will allow you to craft different colored blocks and decorations respectively. However you won’t start out with all the recipes, you’ll have to collect them. Block recipes will be found randomly while gathering ore or they can be crafted with the runecrafting bench. Some are also given out during special events, like the moustache blocks from Movember. Decoration recipes are found in recipe lairs which can be identify by the scroll hovering above the dungeon and by the miniature shadow minions and shadow knight boss. Each biome has its own recipe lairs with recipes unique to that biome and several items require multiple parts obtained through separate recipes in order to craft the whole. Thankfully, you will always receive a recipe you do not have already, duplicates cannot occur. Nevertheless, for serious builders a lot of time must be spent farming or trading for recipe scrolls.

In addition to the cube converter and the workbench you may also want to craft a wheel of seasons and a fun factory. The wheel of seasons will allow you to craft season specific decorations, the crafting materials for which can only be gathered during the seasonal event. The fun factory provides recipes for crafting movement blocks, spikes, balls, music notes, and musical instruments. Currently there is no way to spawn mobs within a club world (and I have no idea if this is in the works) but otherwise the fun factory gives you everything you need to create your own lair or dungeon. As for the music notes and instruments, check out Trove Tunes, a weekly feature here on Waiting For Rez to see what players have composed with these musical blocks.

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All in all, there’s plenty to keep a player busy in Trove. Whether it’s the kind of activity you’re interested in or not is up to you, but there’s no question that Trove has plenty progression paths available for the dedicated player. And while these two articles have covered the bulk of the options for character progression, I haven’t even touched on the latest addition of challenges and dragons, nor have I discussed collecting styles, allies, emblems, flasks—there’s plenty more to this game left to be discovered once you get started. The problem with Trove is never “what do I do?” it’s always “where do I begin?” which is a good problem to have.