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Black Desert Online: how to get EXP and level up quickly

With three types of EXP in Black Desert Online, it helps if you've got a handy break down of how it all works. Here is a handy break down.


Black Desert Online: how to get EXP and level up quickly

Those planning to enter the world of Black Desert Online now it's seeing a full Western release have a slight head start compared to many MMO newcomers thanks to the fact that the game has been out in other territories such as Korea, Japan and Russia for quite a while now, with the Korean release dating back to 2014. Between that fact and our time with the pre-launch version of the Western release of the game, we can offer up some key tips players should try to keep in mind as they go into the game.

One of the things that trips a lot of new players to Black Desert Online up - including me, early on - is the system by which your character gains experience and levels up. To tell the truth, the game doesn’t do the best job of explaining this system, which is fairly different to many other RPGs, so we’re going to try to clear up the confusion here.

Here’s the main headline you need to know: Merely questing doesn’t give the type of Experience Points that level you up.

The game essentially has three types of experience on top of traditional EXP points: Contribution EXP, Energy EXP and Skill EXP. These all have different purposes in the game and are rewarded for slightly different things. It's important to understand the various types of EXP so that you don't grind for the wrong type of EXP and waste hours because of it.

Here’s what the three are:

Contribution EXP

Contribution EXP isn’t spent to level your character or improve skills but is instead used in a variety of Black Desert Online’s lengthy side content. If you want to buy a house in BDO, Contribution points are used to do it, for instance. Likewise for renting items from NPCs – as such it’s actually a vital resource, but not necessarily something many players will benefit from grinding, especially early on.

In a twist, there’s also ways to invest contribution in the game for other less-immediate benefits. Opening the world map allows you to put contribution ‘into’ a node, which uses up that EXP but will increase drop rates in that area.

How to Get Contribution EXP

  • Completing quests – most quests in the game, be they part of the main game path or repeatable side quests, will offer some contribution as a quest reward.
  • Defending towns – at night, monsters can attack some of the towns and settlements in the game. Working to defend these towns in these instances outside of the confines of a typical quest will earn you tokens that can be swapped for Contribution points – but trading them in also uses Energy EXP, which we’ll cover in a second.
  • Crafting & Gathering – If slaying monsters isn’t as interesting to you, contribution can also be gained via cooking, gathering, farming, or alchemy. The items you create can be traded to certain NPCs in return for contribution experience.
  • Previously spent contribution points can be regained – so those spent on a house can be recouped by giving up the house, for instance – but that, again, will cost energy.

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Energy EXP

Energy EXP feels like a strange addition that smacks a little of a free-to-play style play structure, since Energy basically restricts how much you can do in a given period of time. Energy regenerates over time even when you’re not playing, but throughout play you’ll also increase your overall amount of energy, allowing you to do more with a full bar.

Acts that require energy include things like Gathering, Crafting World Chat, Stealing and so on, as well as learning new Combat Skills away from a Skill Instructor.

How to Refill Energy

  • Completing Quests often offers restoration of your expended energy as part of their rewards, meaning if you’re running low you can replenish it
  • Resting in a bed will offer a boost to the amount of energy you naturally regain as time passes.
  • Energy replenishes more quickly while you’re logged in, so one way to have it replenish is to simply minimize the game but leave it running and go do something else.

How to Increase your Maximum Energy

  • In order to increase your maximum energy you must gain Knowledge, another key component of Black Desert Online’s systems. When you fill out sections of your character’s knowledge, your maximum energy will rise. We’ve written a little about knowledge on this page.

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Skill EXP

Skill points should be familiar to all but the greenest of RPG fans, and are used to gain access to new abilities or to level up the skills you already have.

Hitting the K key will bring up the ability menu and allow you to learn or upgrade skills anywhere – but doing so will cost you both Skill Points and Energy. Alternatively you can visit a Skill Instructor NPC, who’ll let you spend your Skill EXP without consuming Energy.

How to Get Skill EXP

  • Completing quests will often offer a boon of Skill Points as part of its Rewards.
  • Killing enemies in combat will also offer up skill points, though at a less significant rate than via completing quests.

Combat EXP (AKA: Actual Level Up EXP)

You might notice that none of the three systems described above actually level your character up in the traditional sense; that’s because beneath those systems is a traditional RPG experience counter that rises through the experience gained by fighting and slaying monsters.

How do I Level Up Quickly?

Many quests will have you kill monsters, of course, but there’s also a lot of running around, chatting to NPCs and perhaps even crafting as part of that. If you want to level up quickly, the wisest thing to do is actually to grind by killing the strongest enemies you can outside of the confines of a quest, which will provide a decent amount of EXP and Silver both.

Most important of all, however, is balance: Just performing quests and other tasks will leave you with lots of Contribution & Energy Points, but a weaker character. Just grinding combat will leave you stifled in how many actions you can undertake thanks to a lack of Energy or Contribution Points – so a balance between the two is important.

Out in the world you’ll of course be in contact with other players. If a player jumps in on a battle you’re involved with, be advised that you’ll be rewarded EXP proportionally based on how much damage you did – so don’t worry too much about landing the killing blow – just try to do a lot of damage.

Back to Black Desert Online guide to levelling, classes and more.

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About the Author

Alex Donaldson avatar

Alex Donaldson

Assistant Editor

Alex started out his career in the games media as an over-eager kid working on fan sites, and now has decades of experience. He's the resident expert on esoteric matters such as Pokemon Go, gaming hardware, and genres like RPGs, fighters, and strategy games. Outside of VG247 he's the co-founder of genre-dedicated website RPG Site. He also collects original arcade machines, Lego, and considers himself a whisky buff.

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