Choose My Adventure: Gearing up for Black Desert

I’m going to be honest with you, folks; the last Choose My Adventure installment left me feeling kind of depressed. It’s a shame to see a game that could have really been something else wind up as little more than a footnote, a shadow of what it could have been. So I’m actually really excited to start up Black Desert simply because that means I’m not going to have that personal connection. Heck, I didn’t expect the game to make it this long, and we gave it Game of the Year.

This is also the first game out of the prior few entries that I’ve never even tried to play before. I’m completely new to it. But I wanted to delay it until the Dark Knight was in the game, because I do tend to enjoy that playstyle. (And then making my characters anything other than grim-faced stoic bringers of death, but that’s a discussion for the roleplaying column I don’t write any longer.) So let’s talk a little bit about the game because that’s what we always do before the fireworks start.

Black Desert is, in some ways, a contemporary of ArcheAge. Not in the sense that it comes from the same developer or anything like that, but in the sense that it’s a mainland Asian game that doesn’t feature typical temport sensibilities. Rather than being a title that was clearly meant to release, be briefly supported, and then shuffle off into the dark, this was very clearly part of a push toward big, sprawling Korean sandboxes.

Also with a big helping of PvP, because who doesn’t like open PvP? Lots of people, really, but shush.

I mean, I sort of get it, but pinning your hopes on things is a fool's errand.

It’s also a contemporary of ArcheAge in the sense that before its launch, there were a whole lot of players who hoped that it would be the Great Eastern Salvation of MMOs in general. And to be fair, it does have a lot of big, sprawling features which are often missing from more recent triple-A titles. The game clearly is a love letter to some of the economic adventures you could have in older games, and it encourages player-run structures, organizations, power dynamics, and so forth.

None of these facts was what turned me off from the game, per se. No, that came down to the fact that it has gender-locked classes, which is one of those things that I hate rather intensely. I’ve never played a game where I like it and I highly doubt I ever will; there’s just something unwholesome about telling me that a lady can’t be an enormous berserker or a man can’t be a Dark Knight or whatever. It doesn’t sit well with me.

It actually goes a step farther than that and recalls one of the more obnoxious habits of the original Guild Wars, where your de facto race is more like your class than anything. So your character creation experience is not about “design character and choose class” but “choose class and then choose from the approved parts of the creator available for this class.” It might seem like a minor issue, but it turned me off.

That was enough to kill my immediate interest, and the PvP environment plus controversy over the game’s cash shop made me a touch wary from the start. However, the game also made the smart move of launching with a buy-to-play model, and a number of people whose opinions I respect were over the moon about the game. Far from being something which launched and then faltered, the game has done pretty well for itself so far. It’s still got a way to go before it can be called a long-term success, but its launch year has certainly gone well, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down too much.

And hey, what do I know? I might wind up enjoying it a lot more than I expected. I’ve had similar surprises before.

I'm cutting it down.

Part of the success is due to the fact that the game has worked on a steady strong of fast updates to get players as close as possible to the game’s original Korean version, and that version doesn’t seem to have slowed down its updates significantly either. Having a lot of stuff to do always helps, especially when that stuff involves a lot of open-world adventuring and new options for classes. I don’t entirely get the whole concept behind the game’s various Awakenings at this point, but I’m sure that I’ll decipher it as I go… and frankly, I don’t think the Dark Knight has one at this point anyhow.

Yes, I’m going to play Dark Knight. I considered that a foregone conclusion. It’s new, so even if you’ve played the game and know far more about it than I do, you’ll be able to hopefully learn something new and interesting.

Of course, the game opens with a tutorial, but from there I only know the barest bits about what I can do from there. I’m going to be going in somewhat blind, and while I know that I could look up guides… well, why not turn it over to you fine readers? In fact, why don’t we make this about more than just picking a handful of options from a poll? Sometimes those can be a bit limited.

For starters, yes, there’s going to be a poll. Let’s say… oh, right here is fine.

CMA: What should I focus on after the tutorial?

  • Commerce and crafting (30%, 96 Votes)
  • PvP and associated frippery (17%, 54 Votes)
  • PvE and questing (53%, 172 Votes)

Total Voters: 322

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But that alone is just going to give me a very loose idea about where to focus. So what I’m asking for from you fine folks is to not just vote in the poll but to give me some advice about what to do. For those of you who have played, what would you recommend? Once I’ve gotten past the bare basics of the tutorial, where should I head off to explore? What sort of things should I stop to see? What’s the most important part of the game I might otherwise miss?

The poll closes on Friday at noon EDT, as usual; suggestions past that may or may not be read, depending on how much time I have and the mood that I’m in. Obviously, the suggestion idea is far less mathematical than a poll, so this idea may or may not work out well, but I’m eager to give it a shot. You can leave your suggestions in the comments, or if you’d rather not open them up for debate you can mail them along to

Next week, we’ll see how this works out and check in after the first few days of the adventure. Please look forward to it.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. No, you don’t always get to choose the class he plays, he’s a big mean man. But the odds are better that he’ll enjoy the game this way.
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14 Comments on "Choose My Adventure: Gearing up for Black Desert"

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so the biggest con in this game is the gender/race/class char creation?

I think that it’s the HUGE grind that means that I can’t play pvp unless grinding 24/7.
THAT bothers eu/na players

Kevin Zhang

most interesting things to do in this game (imo):
1. explore the world! grab your beginner donkey and go see the sights!
2. learn all the classes. the unique combat is really fun
3. tame and breed horses! this means a LOT of afk training tho, which could be perfect for you. there are other professions you can also get into, but horse breeding is my preference.
4. get into a guild and do stuff with people. this probably holds true for all mmos

grinding is fun to do now and then, but dont think you’ll be able to compete in pvp unless you throw your life away at the game. i made the mistake of keep trying to increase my stats when i started the game, and got burned out from grinding within 2 weeks. but if grinding is your thing go for it.

C.c. Regan

Make sure you keep on your black spirit quests. You get to far behind and youll have a lot of catching up to do. I hit 49 and could not figure out why I could not level. Had to go back to beginner area and do all those. But also its good because he gives you a ton of bag space tokens. You will need all you can get.


I’d focus on fishing and alchemy, with a bit of cooking on top. Enjoy the fresh, salty air in Velia and start breeding horses in your afk time. When you made some money and bought a set of Tri armor, take your now leveled Tier 8 horse(which didn’t take me half a year to breed, starting with T1’s) and explore the rest of the game. New herbs! New meats! Unknown alchemy ingredients! The world is full of wonders.

Oh and go to Calpheon if possible. That city is amazing.

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All the original grind guides recommended following the quests up to Heidel, and I still think this is still relevant . I would also highly recommend bracing yourself for overload, turn on all quests(Matt recommended and explained how to here and just explore, picking a few that take your fancy.
You will also find that commerce and trading/crafting require contribution (think of this as a global value of ‘trust’), which is the most common quest award. Without a good amount of contribution, this is pretty tough to get started.
Crafting is a strange beast in Black Desert, because you don’t really do it yourself, you need workers to do it for you, and investment into the appropriate workspace. Cooking and Alchemy are the two notable exceptions.
I recommend considering hunting(including whaling), fishing, and horse wrangling as early experiences.
Gathering is one of the few things remaining that requires energy, and energy is built from knowledge(talking to people/repeated kills/finding places). This will limit how much you can do early on.
As a side note, the earliest level you can PvP is level 30, by visiting the Red Desert, if I recall correctly. I really wouldn’t advise this, PvP is very level and gear dependent.


Just grind those initial quests and mobs, you will not be able to do anything else efficiently if you don’t.

Make sure you talk to every named NPC you meet, if you go exploring be ready to run since most mobs will be almost invulnerable.

Questing itself doesn’t give much xp so grind as many mobs as you can because that’s the expected leveling method.

Melissa McDonald

I guess I’m just a different breed. “gender locking” offends me no more than my local quickie mart having only cola and cherry as Icee flavours… It never offended me that I had to be a Valkyrie in Gauntlet II to have boobz, though, either. It’s just video games.


For one, you want to stick with the Tutorial till it leads you to Veila. Don’t stop following the Black Spirit guides till through there minimum. You can technically break off before that, but don’t do it.

For two, it’s key to understand there’s many forms of progression in Black Desert Online. For example the leading poll currently is “PvE and Questing.” However in BDO, Questing primarily pushes the “Contribution” progression and not Combat XP progression. So if you make the mistake of trying to just do a bunch of quests you will notice your Combat progression not going very far because you are actually working on Contribution progression. A lot of progression systems are tied to each other, such as quests (contribution) that have you go kill things (combat).

The forms of character progression you can work on are:

Combat – This is pretty obvious, go fight things! A lot of people grind out their levels spot to spot. Most guides out there will cover this. Almost no combat XP comes from quests beyond the tutorial. You’ll want to be on the Olvia channels for the 100% Combat XP boost always on (first 30 days).

Skill – This is a secondary system to combat XP and controlls how many skill points you have to unlock abilities for your character. You can get these from quests or just killing mobs.

Stats – Breath (running around), Strength (carrying packs) and Health (eating food/drink) each add passive stats when raised such as additional stamina with Breath or extra HP/MP with Health or carrying capacity with Strength.

Contribution – This is the primary vehicle for interacting or investing into the world itself. So after some contribution you can buy an apartment in a town, or unlock a crafting building in town, or unlock more bank storage, buy worker lodgings. It also lets you link up nodes/areas on the map back to towns that your workers can travel along to work those nodes/areas for resources. You get this via questing and turn ins from cooking/alchemy.

Knowledge – Completing knowledge categories unlocks more maximum energy. Energy lets you do things like roll for workers or manually gather resources (harvesting). To unlock knowledge you need to complete knowledge categories that span the whole game. Some are exploration unlocks, some are combat (kill all the mobs/get knowledge in a category), and others require questing and the amity mini game.

Lifeskills – Each life skill represents a whole subset of activities in fully fleshed out systems. Something like fishing can seem very simple on the surface with AFK fishing but you can take it really far with doing activities like going active fishing and looking for fishing hotspots. There’s no limit on what you can do, but all are good, viable and serve a purpose somehow in the game.

To manage all that progression I used to make days out of things. Like Knowledge Tuesdays or Contribution Wednesdays and of course Combat Weekends. Have been playing almost non-stop since launch and no where close to being able to say I’m “done” with the game.

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agemyth 😩

Right after the tutorial? I think you really want to stick with the quests and go where they lead you because they introduce all of the overwhelming non-combat activities slow enough to get a grasp of, mostly.

So, “PVE and questing” until you feel like most of the tutorializing is over or you just need a change of pace.

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Isn’t PvP in Black Desert level locked something like lvl 35 – 40 ish? Seems a little premature to add it to the what should I focus on after the tutorial list, assuming I am remembering this correctly of course. Apologies if I am not :-)


You are correct. At 50+ they changed the quest now at 49 you need to complete in order to reach 50. Once you do that quest you will be able to be PvP’d and depending where you are at people can and will flag up on you. This is more intimidating than it sounds as most people are unwilling to kill someone repeatedly so just coming back repeatedly is viable tactic (albeit the PVP focused base of players will look down upon you for doing it).


It’s something like level 50 now, but you have so much xp bonus that you can get to that level in 4/5 effective hours. (Especially if you use enchanted gear)

EDIT: But you’re not wrong since you have to get quite a nice gear to be able to compete against players farming 10h/day ;)