Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
- Have you ever played a game so much it changes your dreams?
- What's the last game that made you cry?
- Do you buy games for full price?
It's exciting to see an MMO doing such booming business. New World really blew the doors off the barn (opens in new tab) when it was released, and lots of players are busying themselves with quests, exploration, crafting (opens in new tab), and territorial wars (except for those who keep getting left out (opens in new tab)).
With all that comes a grind. Farming mobs, killing bosses, leveling skills (opens in new tab), and even just running around to various ponds and streams and doing hours of fishing (opens in new tab). Sometimes it's done in an effort to net XP, other times it's for a hard-to-get achievement, but usually it's to acquire to a single bit of gear that you just can't live without.
Which brings us to our question: What item did you grind or farm for the longest? In any game, what was it you just had to have and spent more time than you care to admit to get it? Our answers are below. Let us know yours in the comments!
Jody Macgregor: I don't know how long I spent farming the Bee in Borderlands 2, but it was a while. It's an amp shield, a kind of forcefield that normally gives bonus damage at the cost of its own defensive capability. The Bee variant provides bonus damage without draining itself, and the bonus multiplier applies to every projectile if you've got a multi-shot weapon. Small wonder it got nerfed in a patch, but even rebalanced it's a sweet deal. Thing is, it's a random drop, and the closest thing to a consistent way to find it is by killing a guy named Hunter Hellquist, a radio DJ from a sidequest, who has like a three percent chance of giving it up. I killed him a bunch on my Ultimate Vault Hunter replay to get a Bee, and it was worth it.
It's not exactly farming or grinding, but I did go through hell when I replayed Pathfinder: Kingmaker to get the Briar. It's a magic sword made from a nymph's extracted capability to love, a thorny cursed thing that you can only obtain by bringing a specific companion with you to a dungeon, giving the correct answers to a bunch of moral dilemmas he poses on the way, then talking him into destroying a different artifact you find just so somebody else doesn't use it to get the Briar before you do. It's not a particularly powerful item, but without it you can't get to Kingmaker's secret ending (opens in new tab), which I spent 126 hours doing because I have a problem.
Lauren Aitken: The Benevolent Leader trophy for Fallout 4. Took over 100 hours of gameplay and farting about with settlement stuff, then waiting for three hours for it to tick from 99 to 100 happiness. Not worth it.
Evan Lahti: My greatest recent grind was hitting Covenant 25 in Monster Train, which apparently took 95 hours!
Covenant 25 basically means beating the deckbuilder 25 times on incrementally ascending difficulty. Monster Train adds a few more rocks to your backpack with every rank of Covenant, in the form of added boss health, merchant cost, higher damage, lower unit capacity... by the end of it you're carrying many burdens down the track on your path to hell. I'd gladly do it again: Monster Train was one of my favorites from 2020, and chugging my way to the end meant some fun epiphanies about how to create more powerful combos.
Sarah James: I spent months trying to get the Vial of the Sands mount recipe in World of Warcraft. The mount transforms you into a Sandstone Drake and another player can ride on your back, and the minute I saw someone with it I decided I needed to add it to my collection. After an obscene amount of time spent completing Archaeology dig sites across Azeroth—I had to level up the profession before I could start farming—I eventually got the recipe. Then I had to farm the materials needed to actually make the mount. The best bit is, I could've just bought one from the auction house but I'm stubborn and wanted to be able to make it myself.
Natalie Clayton: Tragically, mine was also a World of Warcraft month. This was years after the fact, but I'd wanted a Netherwing Drake since they first arrived in The Burning Crusade—and somewhere between Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, I decided to go ahead and get one. Being grossly overleveled didn't stop the fact that Netherwing rep grind is an absolute chore, with the fastest method involving the collection of unpredictable, scarcely-available eggs from a small floating island. I spent maybe a month combing every inch of that island for eggs, and while the mount is lovely, I'm still not sure it was worth it.
It's been years since I was actively subbed to WoW, but I'm pretty sure I still have one of those eggs in my backpack. A single, yolky reminder to never waste my time grinding again.
Robin Valentine: I spent god knows how long searching for every single one of those bloody shard collectibles in Dragon Age Inquisition, and the worst thing is what I eventually got from it was so forgettable I had to go look it up just now to remind myself. Turns out it was small boost to my electricity resistance. Sigh. And I got so late in the game that I bet I didn't even get hit with any electricity attacks between then and finishing it! There's a lesson in there somewhere, but based on how I've continued to play games I don't think I learned it.
Tim Clark: Oh god, where to start? I'll absolutely be looking back from my deathbed at the endless nights I've spent grinding for a gun with a very slightly more optimal set of perks in Destiny 2. Right now, I'm logging on every evening with a small group of likeminded addicts scooped up from LFG in order to grind the Cube encounter of the Prophecy dungeon. We're all looking for The Last Breath autorifle with the Demolitionist perk in the second-from-left column.
Before you nod off entirely, let me tell you that Demolitionist normally only appears in the rightmost column. That makes this gun very special. The Cube encounter is a brilliant piece of design that utilises CQC and some light puzzling in a rotating cube arena. It was super fun on the first, oooh, maybe dozen playthroughs. But after multiple weeks of getting gloves, sidearms, and autorifles with the wrong perks (screw you, Adrenaline Junkie) let me tell you it is absolutely numbing and I still can't stop. Only a combination of podcast and CBD edibles makes the farm bearable. Eventually a sort of gallows humour sets in, but even that gives way to a yawning sense of desperation fuelled by the sunk cost fallacy (opens in new tab). "Of course I'm not coming to bed now. I can't give up, can I? Yes, it's still the same cube."
Wesley Fenton: Okay, this is an ability, not an item, but Final Fantasy 9's blue magic spell Frog Drop may be the thing I've spent the most time grinding for in a game. Frog Drop is an early spell for your bizarro frog-loving chef party member Quina, and as you'd expect for an early spell it does some pretty piddly damage. Its damage increases as Quina levels up, but the real damage comes from a modifier based on how many frogs you catch in Quina's home swamp. That's right: a frog-catching minigame lets you turn Frog Drop into a beastly 9,999 damage spell with every hit. I remember wanting to max out Frog Drop so that I could use Quina to take down FF9's optional super boss Ozma. If I remember right, I took on Ozma around level 80, which means I had to catch 125 frogs, with the catch that it takes the frogs awhile to respawn, grow from tadpoles, and mate to produce new frogs in between minigame runs. Boy, was that a process.
Phil Savage: My longest grind, by some margin, was for Bifrost—one of Guild Wars 2's legendary weapons. These are the pinnacle of the gear grind, and while they don't offer any stat benefits over the also-very-grindy ascended tier weapons, they come with enough quality-of-life and cosmetic perks that they're nonetheless some of the most desirable items in the game. Each has a unique cosmetic effect, giving your character everything from custom footprints to unique attacks. Bifrost's theme is, unsurprisingly, rainbows.
In terms of what you have to do to get it: a little bit of everything, really. First you need a precursor weapon, either from extremely rare random drop, the trading post, or—a more recently added option—ridiculously extensive crafting chain. Then you've got to collect resources from pretty much every activity, from dungeons, World vs World and PvP. There's also full stacks of the game's rarest trophy materials. And you've got to fully complete every base-game map in the game. It's impossible to work out how many hours crafting Bifrost took, because it relied on progress I'd been making since I first started the game. It says a lot that I've been playing on-and-off since release, and only ever got one of these things.
Katie Wickens: I deplore the grind, honestly, but my brother always tells me the tale of his escapades as a lucrative lube farmer in No Man's Sky. "It's the best way to make money," he says. I never asked for details.