Desert Nomad: Avoiding overload in Black Desert
Hello, fellow Black Desert wanderers, and welcome back to another week’s installment of Desert Nomad. If you’ve been reading the column regularly, you may have noticed that the last couple of columns have been a bit— well, I say “critical,” but I’m sure there are some that would choose to say “negative.” It’s all out of love for the game, of course, but this week I decided to put my objections on the backburner and instead talk a little bit about something that I’ve recently heard mentioned quite frequently by prospective Black Desert players: sensory overload.
It has to be the most common thing that I’ve heard from my friends who have tried (and in many instances failed) to get into Black Desert, and from what I’ve heard from guildmates and other players in the game, it’s not unique to my social circle alone. I can totally understand why many people would feel that way when logging into the game for the first (or second, or third…) time, and I have to admit that I’ve felt that way myself from time to time. In this column, though, I’d like to share a few tips – some practical, some mental – that I hope will help at least some of those would-be players surmount their trepidation and take the plunge into the game.
So, let’s start with some practical pointers. A great deal of Black Desert’s potentially paralyzing overwhelming of new players, from what I’ve seen and heard, stems largely from the sheer number of quests available at any given time. If you are one of the people who, after finding your quest log rapidly filling up the moment you set foot in Velia, then perhaps I owe you an apology.
In the premiere installment of this column, I advised players that by default, many types of quests were disabled (and therefore unavailable) and suggested enabling everything to ensure that you didn’t miss out on any of the game’s valuable tutorial quests. It occurs to me now that this is not a “one size fits all” kind of suggestion, so I’d like to provide a modified version of that advice: If you want to cut down a bit on the deluge of available quests, ensure that you have enabled only the types of quests that correspond with the areas of the game in which you’re most interested.
As you can see by looking at the quest preference buttons, shown above, quests are divided into five categories: First there’s combat, represented by the crossed swords icon. This one, I think, is pretty self-explanatory. If your idea of a good time is turning living things into dead ones, then these quests should be right up your alley.
Next is the life category, which encompasses resource harvesting, crafting, farming, and the like. There is no way to further specify which kinds of life quests you want, so if you’re interested in only certain crafting disciplines, but it’s generally not too difficult to just read the quest text and see if it’s something you’re interested in learning. The fishing category, represented by the fish icon of course, is… well, fishing quests. Yes, there are enough of them that they get their own category.
Fourth up is the exploration and trading category (at least, that’s what I assume “Ex/Tr” stands for; someone feel free to correct me) represented by the wagon wheel icon. If you’re interested in quests that task you with delving into some of Black Desert’s more out-of-the-way locales, or if you just want to learn the finer points of the art of making oodles of dough by selling trade items, then you’re gonna wanna have this one enabled.
The last category, labelled “other” and represented by the ellipses icon, is a catch-all category for any quests that don’t fall within any of the other classifications. I’m honestly not sure what kind of quests are encompassed by this category, but if I had to guess, I’d assume it includes the odd fed-ex quest and a few other miscellaneous bits.
My other quest-related practical tip is this: Skip the repeatable quests. Unfortunately, there’s no way that I know of to determine whether or not a quest offered by a given NPC is repeatable based purely on the icon over their head, but if you speak to them and you see a circular arrow icon next to the quest title, like the one in the screenshot below, then it’s repeatable and you can probably safely skip it. My general policy is that I’ll at least check and see what the objective is, and if it’s somehow related to the quests I’m currently working on anyway, then I’ll go ahead and do it, but otherwise, I’ll give it a pass.
While I do hope that the practical pointers outlined above provide at least some relief to overwhelmed players, I think the real key to avoiding feeling overwhelmed by Black Desert is a matter of mindset. See, here’s the thing: Many Black Desert players, including me, are emigrating from other MMOs, many of which are modern themeparks that subscribe to a more streamlined design philosophy. But Black Desert doesn’t operate under the usual flow of “find quest hub, accept all the quests, do all of the quests that are conveniently located in the hub’s general vicinity, turn the quests in, then follow the breadcrumb trail to the next hub.”
Now, lest I start a war in the comments, I’m not claiming that the abovementioned quest flow is necessarily better or worse than the one on display in Black Desert, which isn’t afraid to give you quests that send you to the edge of creation and back again. It’s purely a matter of opinion, and as I said in the previous paragraph, mindset.
So here’s my advice: Don’t worry about being efficient. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing the quests in the optimal order to maximize your rate of quests completed per minute. It’s totally fine to wander, to explore, to make detours (and detours from those detours), and it’s even fine to just say bollocks to the quests altogether and pursue your own self-made goals. If you want to craft a boat, then set up workshops, find out what materials you’re gonna need, and make a frickin’ boat. I know this saying is about as worn out as [Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker], but I firmly believe that if your aim is to truly enjoy what Black Desert has to offer, you need to focus on the journey, not the destination.
Of course, I know that every player is different and that not everyone is content to subscribe to the “not all those who wander are lost” school of thought, and that’s totally fine. It would be ridiculous to think that Black Desert is the figurative One Ring of MMORPGs, binding players of all playstyles and backgrounds together in one unifying, potentially soul-corrupting circle of awesomeness. I do, however, staunchly believe that if you approach the game with an open mind, a heaping helping of patience, and an understanding that you’re not necessarily going to “get” everything there is to learn within the first hour, day, week, or even month of playing. And that’s OK.
Because when it really comes down to it, I think that what makes Black Desert special – and a major part of why I love it as much as I do – is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to play it. Maybe you’re like me, and you want to accept every quest there is and methodically whittle them down, learning about a little bit of everything as you go along. Or maybe you’re like a couple of my guildmates who I’ve taken to calling Horsemeister and Trademeister because they simply decided that they were going to focus their efforts on horse breeding and trade-route runs, respectively.
In fact, the one attribute that I’ve noticed that almost every member of our guild has in common is this: We aren’t focused on getting to max level the fastest, or getting the best gear before anyone else, and many of us are so taken with the sheer variety of possibilities the game provides that we can’t even bring ourselves to specialize in any single area. I am, by all accounts, a consummate completionist, but when I look at my overflowing quest log, full of entries asking me to craft this, harvest that, and kill those things over, I don’t feel the dread of, say, looking at my weekly to-do list of house- and schoolwork. Instead, I see a list of opportunities to learn more about the many facets of the game and to increase my understanding of its inner workings.
If that’s just not how you roll, then hey, that’s fine, but if you’re willing to approach the game from a different perspective and take the time to figure out which of its myriad opportunities really call your name, as it were, I think you may find that the vastness that once overwhelmed you is actually full of potential and possibilities.
That’s all I’ve got for this week, but be sure to swing by next week, where I’ll inevitably either be enthusing about Black Desert’s many wonders, or lovingly criticizing it like an overbearing pageant-parent (Thanks, Kannen!), depending on which way the wind blows. Until then, friends!