One of the main critiques readers made about my first Desert Oasis column last month was that I did not mention Black Desert’s random number generator at all. I appreciate that feedback; I should have at least alluded to the system, but we’ll amend that today as we dive into the world of RNG.
When players note the excessive use of random chance in BDO, it’s not mere hyperbole. Need to enchant your weapon? There’s a chance it will fail and go down an enchantment level. Need to upgrade an accessory? There’s a chance you’ll break it. Need to teach your horse instant acceleration and drift? It’s not a guarantee. Need to gain S-level knowledge on a particular world boss? There’s a chance you’ll learn only B-level knowledge on it.
There are so many RNG-based systems in this game, and we’ll talk about them in future articles, but today I want to focus on enchanting gear specifically. I’ll categorize the criticism of the RNG system in two ways: “plus” and “delta.” Why not just stick with “good, bad, and ugly”? Some of you might be familiar with this style of feedback as a way to critique a meeting. I’m adapting it for this column because if we’re going to talk about the random chance, it needs to be a collaborative and growth-focused conversation. A plus does not imply perfection; it’s a step in the right direction. The deltas are focus areas for growth and improvement.
A quick rundown on how to enchant
This is complicated, so bear with me for a few paragraphs. There are 20 enchant levels for weapons and armor. The first 15 are just numerical, +1 to +15. Beyond that are PRI (+16), DUO (+17), TRI (+18), TET (+19), and PEN (+20). Anytime an enchantment fails, the item suffers semi-permanent durability damage. It gets more difficult the higher players go. Going from DUO to TRI, players also risk downgrading gear.
Enchanting gear really boils down to using four materials: black stones, black crystal shards, concentrated stones, and memory fragments. Each comes in two flavors – one for enchanting weapons and the other for enchanting armor. Black stones are used for enchant levels 1 to 15. Crystal shards are combined with two black stones to make a concentrated stone. The concentrated stone upgrades the items to PRI and beyond. So if I wanted to upgrade my +15 Rosar longsword to PRI, I’m going to combine two weapon black stones and a sharp crystal shard to make a concentrated magical black stone. That stone is what’ll be used for getting the longsword to PRI.
I mentioned semi-permanent max durability damage. To repair that, players can do one of two things. The first method is to buy multiple copies of the item and have the blacksmith repair 10 durability points per copy. The other way is to use memory fragments. Depending on the item rarity, memory fragments will repair a set amount. It’s best to save it only for boss items. Memory fragments only restore one max durability for boss items. Even though using copies of the boss item is possible, it’s not a good idea. It’s too expensive; it’s best to use memory fragments.
Accessories go from only PRI to PEN. They do not need materials; a copy of the accessory is all that’s needed to upgrade the item. The caveat is that both items break if the enchantment fails.
If all that made your head spin, you’re not alone.
Plus: Your chances are transparent
A recent patch finally revealed the chances of an item upgrading. I like this change. It gives players the chance to decide on their own enchant methods and procedures. At least players can control their own personal enchant method.
Delta: Not enough opportunities to gain necessary enchant materials
With Shadow Arena coming down today, we’re losing a big source of memory fragments. Shadow Arena was the place to collect memory fragments. I’ll have to watch the central market if I’m wrong about this, but Shadow Arena’s big draw was the memory fragment reward. We’re going to need something else to replace this; I hope Pearl Abyss and Kakao eventually choose quests.
Delta: You have to use CCs, and I don’t mean crowd control
It’s super tempting to cleave that credit card through the cash shop in this game. Cron stones are items that people can use to prevent items from downgrading or breaking upon a failed enchant attempt. Depending on the level, players will need more of those stones. It gets very expensive. Players can buy them from the blacksmith, but melting costumes from the cash shop is one of the best ways to get them in bulk. There are also artisan memories; they quadruple the amount of max-durability damage restored by memory fragments.
This is a big one, and I want to double down on my above recommendation: quest rewards. After the player gets a second weapon at level 56, an accompanying quest-line should be there to provide a complete set of blue-rarity TRI gear. This will allow a decent reward for loreseekers and a baseline set of gear for the playerbase.
Delta: Increasing your chances to enchant is also based on RNG
Every failed enchantment will increase the success by a small amount represented by a numerical amount dubbed a “failstack.” The higher this number gets, the better the odds. Upon a successful attempt, the failstack resets.
High-level enchanting will need high stacks. Since failstacks are tied to the character and not the item, people build failstacks with one item and use the stacks on another. There are risk factors; every tap of the enchant button increases the chance of enchanting an item a person doesn’t want.
A recent quest-line, Bartali’s adventure logs, did reward players with 100 failstacks, and we need more of those. One commenter in my last article mentioned that repeatable quests are part of the endgame loop. Reaching quest milestones and awarding a hefty stack is an excellent way to get more players to quest and branch out from grinding.
I know pretty much all my recommendations were on quest rewards, but sometimes a simple solution is best. When Pearl Abyss introduced adventure logs, the players enjoyed the family-wide benefits. I really think they should consider it for their items as well.
And now for the bonus category…
Painful: Getting banned suddenly became based on RNG
Getting banned became an RNG event in the last two weeks. The widespread hacking in Shadow Arena led to bans, many of which were false positives. There was no way to tell who really deserved the ban. This ultimately led to Shadow Arena’s removal. It might sound strange coming from a Black Desert fan, but I’m happy Kakao and Pearl Abyss made such a decisive move. It’s far better to cut their losses and focus on the actual game. Let’s just say they’re building failstacks for the enchantment, eh?
I’m really looking forward to hearing from everyone’s input. And I encourage you to do an analysis of the other RNG systems in the game. Fear not; there’s still a lot to say about the game’s obsession with random chance!