If there’s one aspect of gameplay I’m most excited about in Black Desert, it’s the knowledge system. If this is as in depth and engaging as it sounds like it will be, this will be the thing that sets Black Desert apart from all other MMOs. So what is the knowledge system? Well, in three weeks when the second closed beta starts I’ll be able to provide hands on feedback but for now, here’s what I’ve been able to decipher.
Energy is a resource used for crafting, hiring workers, gathering, NPC conversations, and a host of other in game activities. Your total amount of energy will grow as your knowledge of the world grows (more on that later) and this energy pool size is shared across all your characters but not the energy itself. Each individual character can use the full amount and will refill their own pool independently. So for example, if you have a maximum of 100 energy, you may have one character at 20/100, another at 60/100, and two others with 100/100.
Energy is gained in several ways. First of all it regenerates over time at one rate while you’re logged in and at a slower rate when you’re offline. It can also be gained by completing certain quests that offer energy as a reward. Energy may also be purchased from the mileage shop, which is essentially a loyalty rewards system. Every day you log on you gain a currency called mileage and with that currency there are a number of items you can purchase including a bottle of 10 energy. However energy cannot be purchased from the regular cash shop with real money.
Contribution is a resourced primarily used to purchase houses and claim nodes however there are a few other items that can be aquired with the resource. Unlike energy, your contribution pool is shared account wide however it is never lost, only invested, and everything you purchase with it will be accessible by all your characters. It’s pretty clear from this and other aspects of the knowledge system that Black Desert is meant to be played with many characters on one account working together toward common objectives.
Contribution is gained by completing quests, many of which will become dailies that you can repeat in order to continue increasing the amount of contribution you can invest. It will aid in your crafting and trading pursuits in several ways. First of all, contribution will be used to buy houses where you will set up crafting shops, establish warehouses, and house your workers. You can have up to five house at a time and you will need them all to accomplish your economic goals. It will also be used to buy nodes; think of these as connecting the dots between cities to establish trade routes. Without the dots connecting, you won’t make nearly as much money peddling your wares.
Knowledge is not a resource you earn in order to spend it on something else, but rather one that is used to improve your influence on the world around you and the NPCs that inhabit it. Knowledge will improve your combat skills, increase your energy pool, it will open up new quest opportunities that you didn’t have before, and I’m sure many other benefits that I haven’t discovered yet. Knowledge is gained by opening up new areas of the world map, fighting new mobs, talking with NPCs, from drops, trades, in game books, the surrounding ecology—everything you interact with in game will be a source of knowledge.
Central to the knowledge system is the importance of gaining influence with the world’s NPCs. When you first start playing, think of your character as someone who has moved to a new city with no family, friends, or networking contacts of any kind. As they explore the world and talk with NPCs, it becomes easier to interact with the people around them, they start to make “acquaintances” opening up new opportunities. This idea is played out as a mini-game which simulates the idea that the more people you know and local experiences you share, the better relationships you establish. Doing so opens up new quests.
Putting it all together
These aren’t three separate resources with no overlap, the acquisition and spending of each influences the other two. For example, you will use energy to gather materials and to hire the workers needed to refine those materials into something you can craft with. You’ll need contribution to establish the houses necessary for that process as well as the trade routes the nodes provide in order to sell the materials in other cities. To gain energy and contribution you’ll need to do quests and to increase the number or quality of missions available to you, you’ll have to increase your knowledge and influence with the NPCs. Greater knowledge expands your energy pool which allows you to gather or craft more items which will be processed in your growing stable of houses, which will require even more contribution and energy earned by the quests you’ve opened up—you get the idea.
This is the kind of MMO gameplay I can get behind. It’s immersive, expansive, and can be tailored in a myriad of ways to your playstyle preferences. If this system plays out as well as it sounds, Black Desert is going to be a unique experience where interacting with the world is the end game. I for one am looking forward to it.