In case I haven't said this enough, Black Desert Online ain't your average MMO. And one of the places that is more apparent is when gearing your character. It can be a confusing process thanks to BDO's not-so-great localization and how different it is from typical MMORPGs. I'm going to spell it all out for you in this guide, showing you how to upgrade equipment while demystifying some of the more obtuse concepts—like what the hell a 'fail stack' is.
As well as explaining how all of this works, this article should demonstrate, to those who aren't convinced, that BDO is worth a look even if you're burnt out on traditional entries in the genre.
How Equipment Differs From Most MMOs
In most MMOs, players are used to being handed a steady stream of marginally better gear as they work towards max level, but Black Desert treats its equipment system quite differently.
For starters, gear doesn't have level restrictions, meaning a level one character can be decked out in the most powerful endgame gear. Don't worry though, they won't have the skills to make good use of it so you won't get your ass kicked by a brand new player in sweet gear. There's also quite a small selection of equipment to choose from, and you'll typically only swap pieces a few times on your journey to level 50.
Finding gear can also be a bit challenging. With only a few options to choose from, tracking down where each piece resides can be a headache. By and large, the easiest way is to earn as much silver as you can and purchase everything from the player marketplace. There are a few valuable pieces that can be purchased from certain NPC merchants, and others that you'll find grinding certain monsters or bosses. But by putting crafting skills to good use, you can make more than enough money to cover your equipment costs.
How to Upgrade Your Gear
Because gear isn't level restricted, even the pieces considered valuable for endgame will start out relatively weak. In order to make them stronger, you need to upgrade them through three methods: transfusion, enhancing, and quality upgrading. Let's explore each.
A pretty familiar concept to any RPG player. Using crystals with specific stat bonuses (like +1 attack speed), you slot them into sockets on a given piece of equipment and gain that stat bonus. In order to do this, talk to your black spirit companion and select the 'transfusion' option from his dialogue.
Starting out, focus on increasing your accuracy, which will help you to hit high level monsters easier and make leveling a breeze. Later, transfusion will play a crucial step in rounding out your character's stats. You can read the recommended crystals to use for each class over on Black Desert Foundry in their class guides section.
Enhancing is the most important way to upgrade your gear. Around level 27, your black spirit companion will give you a series of quests that walk you through the steps, but you're more than able to get started early if you have all the materials. To enhance your equipment, talk to your black spirit companion and select the 'enhance' option.
Using black stones, which can be found on level 25+ monsters or purchased on the marketplace, you can increase the base stats on a piece of gear up to 15 times, adding +1 to the name of the item for each success. Enhancing any item up to a certain point is pretty easy, but beyond that can become very resource intensive. Let's break it down.
For armor, enhancing it up to +5 has a 100% chance of succeeding. Beyond that, your chances decrease significantly. Weapons can be safely enchanted up to +7 before risking failure.
Accessories are a bit different in that you don't enhance them using black stones but another version of that same accessory. They always have a high chance of failure, but they're also not as crucial to upgrade and can only go up to +5. Once you've successfully combined two, you'll create a +1 version of that accessory. To increase your odds of getting a +2, use another +1 instead of the +0 version of an item. Just keep in mind that if you fail the enhancement, both accessories will be destroyed.
Failing an enhancement for weapons and armor doesn't have the same consequence, thankfully. The black stone you used will be destroyed, and the equipment you tried to enhance will lose maximum durability. Fail enough times and that item's maximum durability will fall so low that you'll be unable to use it. The only way to restore that item's durability is to acquire another version of that same item and take both to a blacksmith to be repaired. When you've dropped a few million silver on getting one piece of equipment, having to buy another one can really add up.
Fortunately, there's a silver lining to this in that, for each successive failure while enhancing, you earn what's called a 'fail stack'. Fail stacks are a hidden bonus that increases your chances of a successful enhance, and for every failure that chance gets higher.
Now let's say we're trying to enhance a weapon from +14 to +15. That comes with a massively reduced chance to succeed, around 20%. You could throw away a ton of black stones and lower the item's durability trying to luck out, or you can use a much smarter method by exploiting fail stacks.
Remember how I said accessories have a really high chance to fail when enhancing? That's a good thing because some early-game accessories are also dirt cheap. By purchasing several dozen of the same kind, we can combine them together and hope that they fail. Each time that they do the next enhancement has a better chance to succeed. To maximize our odds, create several +1 accessories and then try and combine them with their weaker +0 versions. The odds are so low that you should easily acquire a dozen fail stacks. Once you have as many as you think you can manage without accidentally succeeding, you can use that increased chance to succeed on the item you're actually trying to enhance — often saving some precious silver instead of wasting it on destroyed black stones or sacrificial equipment to repair lost durability.
Getting all of your gear to +15 will take a long time, but it's also not something you need to fret about unless you aim to be one of the top PVPers in the game. Once you're around level 30 and start finding black stones while killing monsters, consider purchasing whatever best-in-slot equipment you can for your class. An entry level endgame set will cost you just under a million silver, which isn't a great deal if you've been investing in your crafting skills or grinding monsters and selling loot drops.
The final step in the process should only be completed once you've already achieved +15 on a piece of equipment, as doing so will significantly increase the costs of repairing max durability. Upgrading the quality will essentially transform the rarity of your equipment, taking it from a common green to rare blue to the coveted yellow. Doing so will also unlock extra stats, which can make that piece of gear all the more powerful.
To do this, you're going to need to purchase special workshops located within cities while also acquiring some special materials needed for the upgrade. To find out more about purchasing homes, you can reference our production guide. which goes through the process, though if you've upgraded your equipment to +15 and haven't bought a house at this point, I'd be amazed.
Upgrading from green to blue will always succeed, while blue to yellow has a random chance of success. Don't worry though, all you'll lose is some maximum durability and your materials if you fail, not the equipment itself. Unfortunately, fail stacks don't seem to apply here, so you'll just need to try your luck.
Final Thoughts and Some Quick Tips
With all of this spelled out, you should be able to start hunting down some nice pieces of gear and working towards a killer endgame set of equipment. Each class has their own preferences for which stats they should prioritize. However, just about every class flourishes using the Grunil armor set along with Yuria weapons and Bares accessories. Rangers are the only ones who work better with the Heve armor set instead, but still use the same Bares accessories and Yuria weapons.
Fortunately, all of those items are readily available on the marketplace for reasonable amounts of money. Even better, Yuria weapons can be purchased directly from an NPC named Ronatz in Calpheon City (use the NPC search button to find him!). You'll need to befriend him first using the conversation minigame, but he'll sell Yuria weapons for 90,000 silver, which is quite a steal.
For more advanced gear choices, you can reference your class on Black Desert Foundry, which will also show you where to find the ultra rare gear for building the ultimate warrior.
Now go forth and enhance!