Not just another MMO
Despite how it looks, Black Desert Online isn't your average MMORPG. There are a lot of fantastic ideas under the hood, but figuring out how everything works can be really confusing—something the shoddy English localization doesn't help with. Have no fear, I've come armed with seven tips that will help you start to navigate and make sense of Black Desert's complicated web of crafting, trading, and adventuring.
Not all quests are worth taking
In most MMOs, questing is the only way to level up your character. We've learned that when you arrive at a new town, the first thing you do is run around gobbling up all the quests before heading out to complete them. Doing that in Black Desert Online will only lead you to despair due to the sheer volume of quests, most of them not rewarding any experience at all. Instead, focus on the ones given to you by the Black Spirit you meet at the start of your journey and the ones offered in the town of Velia, which will walk you through various mechanics like trading or crafting. You should also take quests noted with an exclamation mark, as they'll be central to the story and worth completing.
While most quests won't increase your level, they will reward you with "contribution experience"—which we'll discuss in detail in a moment. Be choosey with quests and prioritize ones that give you special items, inventory expansion slots, or teach you something new. If you want to level up your character, the best way to do that is to head out and kill monsters, which is fortunate because combat in Black Desert is a lot of fun.
Profit from contribution points
Doing things yourself is for suckers, so put your contribution points to good use and make hired NPC workers do all the heavy lifting for you. In Black Desert, contribution points are a refundable currency you can use to invest in trade routes and production chains in order to make a ton of money easily. You get these points from most quests, and though you'll only have a few to work with in the beginning, you will rapidly earn more. The system itself can feel a little obtuse, but taking the time to learn how to use it will pay off big time.
As you explore, each area of the world is represented by a node that you can unlock using contribution points and chain together with other nodes leading back to a town or city. Each city will have a work supervisor you can purchase workers from, sending them off to the nodes to gather a specific resource. You can even use contribution points to purchase property, converting houses into workshops and hiring more workers to craft and refine resources. It's all quite complicated, but is an excellent source of passive income. If none of this interests you, dump your points into buying houses and turning them into storage space to increase that city's bank space.
Explore for knowledge
One of the worst things you could do is play Black Desert Online as if it was any other MMORPG—it's not. While the temptation to rush to level 50 might be strong, I really suggest taking your time to talk to NPCs and soak in the ambiance. Black Desert Online is incredibly dense, and if you try to swallow it all at once you're just going to get a stomach ache. What's more, by going slow and exploring the world, you'll increase your character's knowledge. In Black Desert Online, knowledge is power.
Monsters you kill, items you find, and characters you talk to will all contribute to your character's repository of knowledge, which does a lot more than provide you with little tidbits of lore about the world. When you gain enough knowledge on a topic, like meeting all of the merchants in a certain town, you'll be given more energy points which will, in turn, allow you to craft or gather more. Energy replenishes fairly quickly, but having an ample supply of it is going to be necessary once you get further into your journey. By taking the time to comb over environments and talk to characters, you'll be well armed with a ton of energy and a greater appreciation for the lore and history of Black Desert. Plus it gives you something to read on those long trips in between cities.
There's always something to do while AFK
Black Desert asks more of you than just logging in, running a dungeon or two, and logging back out. You also have plenty of options for when you've stepped away to make a snack. Instead of logging out, consider leaving your character at a fishing spot with their line cast. They'll automatically begin to fish, albeit at a slower rate, but it's a great way to level up your fishing skills and earn some money while you're away from the computer.
Even if you have no energy left for fishing, you can always load your donkey up with trade goods and set your character on autorun to far off cities to make an easy buck. Just remember to check in occasionally or plan your routes carefully to avoid the bandits that like to prowl the roads. Lastly, workers that you hire to gather for you are only active while you're logged in, so keeping Black Desert running even when you're not playing can earn you valuable resources.
Horses are more than just mounts
Getting your first horse can be exciting, if only because they can get you places much faster than on foot. But horses are more than just speedier modes of travel, they can be equipped with armor and used in battle, learn skills, produce offspring, and be sold to other players for a tidy sum. In all honesty, you could easily spend all of your time in Black Desert becoming a horse whisperer. So take time to learn about and equip your horse properly.
Horses are a big responsibility because they don't magically appear or disappear at will. If you hop off your horse and leave it somewhere unattended while you go exploring, there's a good chance it might die if a monster stumbles upon it. Taking the time to find a safe place to leave it, and always keeping carrots on hand to keep its stamina high will save you from expensive bills to heal your horse at the stablemaster. By taking the time to train your horse and teach it new skills, it can become an invaluable companion.
Leveling an alternate character is more fun than you think
Leveling an 'alt' in most MMOs can be pretty painful as you run through the same story quests just to experience a marginally different style of play. Black Desert, however, is very nonlinear and makes leveling alternate characters much less of a chore. Once you've watched the intro cutscene, you're free to go anywhere in the world. Even better, all of the characters you make under one "family" share contribution points and can access the other's homes and storage. One thing they don't share, however, is energy.
While you might be tempted to make a jack-of-all-trades character who can do everything, you'll never have the energy points to invest in all of those different crafting or gathering pursuits. Instead, create an alt that is dedicated to crafting while you save your main character's energy for more pressing matters. Doing so will also let you try out how each class holds their own in combat as each is very distinctive. Switching between characters is easy too, you don't even need to log out.
Join a guild
Okay, this one should be a bit of a given, but you'd be surprised how singleplayer focused most MMORPGs are these days. Black Desert Online doesn't actively punish those playing alone, but doing so means missing out on a huge aspect of the game. Though they haven't been released yet, sieges will allow players and their guilds can vie for control of territory multiple times a week. Without traditional raids or endgame dungeons, sieges are going to be how most of the community is spending its time after reaching the level cap. Missing out on that because you haven't joined a guild would be a big loss.
Guilds themselves are also more complex than they first appear. Instead of simply joining up, you sign a contract that pays you a daily salary from the guild coffers. You can also participate in special guild quests in order to increase your daily salary in addition to special guild skills that will provide you with passive buffs like increasing your gathering speed. Playing with friends also gives a huge boost to the experience you get from killing monsters, so you never want to go slaying alone. Plus, it's nice to have people to talk to, y'know?