Black Desert Online: Guide to Enhancing
One of the best parts of any MMO is getting new gear. Stats, looks, and progression are what many online games rely on for end-game content. Black Desert Online is no exception. The enhancing system in BDO is as rich and detailed as many other aspects of the game. However, there is also a significant amount of luck required. You’ll often see players bemoan the random number generator (RNG) element that’s involved. This is because enhancing, particularly for high-level gear, can be an expensive gamble. Despite this, the system can still be incredibly rewarding, and there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the cost in terms of both time and in-game currency.
Enhancement can be a frustrating yet rewarding experience in Black Desert.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the basics of enhancing in Black Desert Online. We’ll cover how Black Stones are used, how different items have different prerequisites to enhance them, and how failstacks work.
Finally, we’ll look at how durability and item degradation works and is dealt with. By the time we’re finished, you should have a good grasp on how to make the most of enhancing gear in BDO.
Enhancing raises the level of your gear. There are no level caps associated with equipment, meaning that you can wear high-level items at any level. The only exception is life skill-related items. Because of this feature, you can continue to upgrade items that you acquire or purchase early in the game.
There are some basic elements of the system that we should cover to start with, listed below:
It is possible to enchant and upgrade the majority of armor, weapons, and accessories in Black Desert Online. Some items, such as those given as quest rewards, cannot be upgraded at all. For those that can be enchanted, there are multiple levels. Each subsequent level is indicated by a number with a ‘+’ symbol preceding it, seen on the item in your inventory or character window. The levels range from +1 to +15 and then move into numerals beyond this. After +15, the order is PRI, DUO, TRI, PEN, and TET, represented by I, II, III, IV, and V respectively. As gear reaches higher levels, it becomes stronger and more valuable. By the time you reach level 56, you’re going to need gear that’s around +15 or better.
Gear has different levels, ranging from 0 to 20.
The Black Spirit
So, how exactly do you enchant an item? It’s a relatively straightforward process in principle. The Black Spirit is the agency that allows you to increase the level of your gear. You first need to summon the Black Spirit, with the ‘,’ key as default. Next, select the ‘Enhancement’ option to bring up the enhancing window. This option is available after running through the first few Black Spirit quests, which usually only take a few minutes to complete.
When the window is open, you are given a few options. Right-clicking on a weapon, armor, or accessory item will auto-add it to the enhancing window, on the right-hand side. On the left, the required items to complete the enhancement are shown. If you have the necessary material, it will be highlighted in your inventory and right-clicking will add it to the menu. Hovering over the item will show the level and stats it will reach if you’re successful. Press the Enhancement button to begin the process. You can also select to skip the animation, which gives you an instant result. Regardless of whether your action is successful, the material you place in the left-hand slot will be used up. You can continue to attempt the enhancement so long as you have sufficient enhancing items and item durability on the piece you’re trying to improve.
The Black Spirit is used to increase the level of your equipment in the game.
Enhancing Success Rate
As mentioned in the introduction, there is a significant element of chance involved with enhancing. The RNG can seem unforgiving, but there are ways to maximize your success rate, as we’ll see further on in this guide. As a general rule, the higher the level of the gear, the lower the chance of your enhancing being successful is. This also applies to the tier of items; green items are easier to enchant than blue ones, for example. The first 5-7 levels of armor and weapons usually have an almost guaranteed rate of success, but the returns diminish above that.
Failstacking is a process through which you can increase your chances of success. Every time you fail an enhancement attempt, you will be given extra enhancement chances. These are displayed at the top of the enhancement window, and stack up with each fail. The higher the stack, the more chance you have of your next enhancement try being successful. The counter resets as soon as you achieve a success. As we’ll see later in the guide, it’s possible to increase this chance through a variety of methods.
One of the downsides of building failstacks is that each failed attempt reduces the durability of your gear. Again, the amount of degradation depends on the quality and level of the item you’re trying to improve. You cannot attempt to increase the level of an item that has a durability of 20 or less. Thankfully, it is possible to restore the durability of your gear through a variety of methods, as we’ll see further on.
An item’s durability decreases with every failed attempt at enhancing.
One of the options afforded to players is to force-enhance their equipment. This means that there is a 100% success rate of the enhancement. There are multiple caveats to this, however. The first is that the item’s durability has to be more than the maximum durability consumed in the process. The second is that more resources are used than if you try your luck with the RNG. Whether or not it’s worth this depends on various factors.
To make the process even more of a gamble, higher level items can decrease in level if the enhancement attempt fails. Enhancing weapons and armor from DUO (+17) and above has this risk. So, if you fail going from DUO (+17) to TRI (+18), your item has a chance of dropping to PRI (+16) instead. For accessories, the risk is even greater. Above PRI (+1), they have a chance of being destroyed entirely.
Items can be downgraded if the enhancement fails, so be careful!
There is a way to prevent the level decrease when enhancing, but it’s fairly resource-intensive. Items called Cron Stones are used to enchant items safely. Often, a lot of them are required. With a cost of 1million silver each, you can see why it’s an expensive way to enhance. It should be noted that for accessories, Cron Stones prevent them from being destroyed, but there is still a chance that the accessory will decrease in level. Regardless of whether the enhancing process is successful, the stones will still be used up.
The main component of enhancing in Black Desert Online is Black Stones. There are a variety of types and variations of these items, and they can be crafted, collected, and purchased on the marketplace. In order to improve your gear to a sufficiently high level, you’re going to need a lot of these stones. Thankfully, the game is fairly generous at handing them out to you. Many of the main Black Spirit quests will reward players with them, as well as daily quests that you can do to pick them up.
Another way of farming them on a large scale is to do boss scrolls, which can be undertaken by collecting certain items. One final option is to obtain them by grinding in either combat or gathering, depending on the type of stone you’re after.
Below are listed the types of Black Stones you can collect, and what they’re used for:
Black Stone (Armor)
As the name suggests, these items can be used to enhance your helmet, body armor, gloves, or shoes. Along with their weapon counterparts, these are the most common black stones in the game and can be found through questing, defeating enemies, and gathering. There are also attendance awards that will give you plenty of these.
Black Stones are easy to come by but you need to use a lot of them.
Black Stone (Weapon)
These stones are the same as the above, but can instead be used to improve your weapon and sub-weapon. They’re equally common, although often sell for considerably more than their armor counterparts on the marketplace.
Sharp Black Crystal Shards
Although these aren’t directly used in enhancing your gear, they are a still a crucial part of the process. They are used to create Black Stone (Weapon) items; grinding two will yield 1-3 black stones. They’re also used to form higher-level items for improving weapons beyond +15. They’re sometimes found through gathering and farming, but can be obtained by melting down certain accessories as well as attendance rewards, treasure chests, and quests. Investing in Nodes can increase the drop rate of both hard and sharp Crystal Shards.
Black Crystal Shards are harder to find but are essential for high-level enhancing.
Hard Black Crystal Shards
These are the equivalent of the above sharp shards, except they’re used for armor enhancement instead. Again, they’re more affordable on the marketplace than their weapon counterparts.
Concentrated Magical Black Stone (Armor)
To increase your armor above +15, you will need to use one of these stones. They’re hard to come by, only rarely being awarded through questing. However, you can make them by heating a Hard Black Crystal Shard with two Black Stone (Armor) through the processing life skill.
Concentrated Magical Black Stones are expensive, but needed to progress items beyond +15.
Concentrated Magical Black Stone (Weapon)
The same as above only used to improve weapon and sub-weapons beyond level +15. To reach TRI, DUO, etc., you’ll likely get through a lot of these. They’re currently around twice the price of their armor equivalents on the marketplace.
Enhancing Weapons and Armor
Weapons and armor are enhanced in a slightly different way from accessories. For that reason, each has been given their own section. Although the principles of armor and weapon enhancing are identical, the resources used are slightly different, as we saw above.
Increasing the level of your weapons will increase their AP (amount of damage), and other stats. This applies to both main, awakening, and sub-weapons. Some items, such as those given as Black Spirit quest rewards cannot be enchanted. This is indicated on weapon’s item card when you hover over it with your cursor. You can safely enhance weapons safely up to the level of 7+. This safe enhancing means that you can use the enhancing panel without risk of failing and losing weapon durability.
Black Stone (Weapon) items are used up to level +15, while Concentrated Magical Black Stone (Weapon) are used to go from +15 to +20 (PRI to TET). As we mentioned above, a failure at level +18 and above will result in your weapon losing a level. Failures at all levels reduce the durability of the item by 5 points each time. Players can force the enhancement of items from level +7 to +18, provided they have enough black stones and item durability.
When enhancing, you can see the stats of the upgraded item by hovering over the icon.
Although the process is the same for armor as it is for weapons, there are some differences in terms of numbers and items. Black Stone (Armor) items are used to progress your gear as far as +15, and Concentrated Magical Black Stone (Armor) are used to go from +15 to +18. However, you can only safely enchant, with a 100% success rate, until level +5. You can then force enchant from level +5 to +18.
Accessories use a different method of enhancement and are by far more of a risk than weapons or armor. To start with, they can only be enchanted to a level of +5. The chance of a successful enhancement is considerably reduced each subsequent level you reach. Rings, earrings, belts, and necklaces cannot be safely enhanced either. In fact, beyond +1, there is a chance that the item will be destroyed in the process of enhancing. You can prevent this by using Cron Stones, as we mentioned above, but the item can still decrease in level even when using them.
Enhancing accessories requires two of the same item, and can result in the destruction of both.
The second unique feature of enhancing accessories is that you don’t use Black Stones to fuel the process. Instead, you must use other items that are the same as the one you’re leveling up. So for example, if you’re trying to enchant an Ancient Weapon Core (belt) to +1, you’ll need another Ancient Weapon Core which will be consumed in the process (even if it’s not successful). It should be noted that you do not require an item of the same level to carry out an enhancement. So for example, at +2 accessory can be enhanced using a base-level equivalent.
There is one further method you can use to enhance your weapons and armor. That is by using Reform Stones. Like most items in Black Desert Online, weapons and armor have tiers that reflect their quality.
These tiers, in ascending order, are:
By using Reform Stones, you can add extra stats to your gear, by increasing it from one grade to the next. It’s currently only possible to use them to reach Yellow Grade or Ultimate level. The Black Spirit is also used to reform weapons; after summoning the spirit, select ‘Item Reform’ from the menu. Once again, you’ll be greeted with a window requiring you to insert two objects. Unlike enhancing, the item you choose to reform cannot be destroyed or lose durability.
Ultimate gear can be achieved using Grade 3 Weapon and Armor Reform Stones.
To ensure a 100% success rate of upgrading your gear to Ultimate level, you will need to use an Ultimate Weapon Reform Stone or Ultimate Armor Reform Stone as applicable. These aren’t easy (or cheap) to come by, but they’re more than worth it for the 100% success rate. To obtain one of these stones, you’ll need to process ten Grade 3 Weapon/Armor Reform Stone with one Sharp/Hard Black Crystal Shard through heating.
Getting your hands on ten Grade 3 Reform Stones is easier said than done. They need to be processed with a level three refinery and require a lot of materials to do so.
Below is the list of materials you’ll need to process just one weapon stone:
Melted Platinum Shard x3
Black Crystal x3
Red Tree Lump x2
Clown’s Blood x2
Black Stone Powder x40
You can see that it’s quite resource-intensive, and you’ll need ten of these to increase the tier of just one item.
One of the ways to increase your chances of success when enhancing an item is by Failstacking. What does this mean? Put simply; you stack failed attempts at enhancement to give you a plus to enhancement chance. There’s quite a skill to it, because every time you succeed in enhancing an item, your failstacks are used up. You want to fail as much as possible so that you can eventually succeed on a higher level item. There are a broad range of in-depth guides that claim to have the most accurate data or method of building failstacks, but it really depends on luck and what works for you.
Failstack on Items
We’ll try to keep this section as brief as possible but lay out some accepted fundamentals of failstacking using items. It’s possible to purchase cheap armor, such as Reblath Gloves, and gain failstacks on these. If you increase it to level +14, your chances of getting to +15 are quite low. This means you can build around 8-10 failstacks by failing at progressing the item. Once you reach this, switch out for a green weapon or armor piece that’s also +14. This can get you up to 20 failstacks. Next, try enhancing a PRI (+16) to DUO (+17) on a green armor piece to get as many as 26 failstacks. Continue moving up item tier and level to build as many stacks as you can before trying the actual enhancement you want.
Now, it’s clear that you already need to have some high-level gear to build failstacks in this way. It’s also evident that you’ll need a lot of Black Stones to do this method. Don’t forget; the RNG could ‘reward’ you with a success when you’re building failstacks, which means you have to start again. The exact number of failstacks you need to progress an item could also differ. You might get incredibly lucky with very few, or incredibly unlucky with a lot. It’s one of the more risk-reward based systems in the game.
Advice of Valks
Thankfully there is another way of gaining failstacks. There are items that you can obtain called Advice of Valks. These have different levels to them, ranging from 10 to 50. Consuming them will give you as many failstacks as the level of the item. So, Advice of Valks 50 will give you 50 failstacks. However, they can only be used when your failstack level is at 0.
Advice of Valks is used to increase the number of failstacks you have.
You can collect these items in various ways. Firstly, there is a quest line from the Black Spirit called ‘Advice of Valks’ that rewards a few. Secondly, you are given them as attendance awards. By logging in every day, you’ll receive one on specific days. These items are family-bound, meaning you cannot purchase or trade them. This makes them rare, so be sure to use them wisely.
Our final section deals with durability. As we’ve mentioned already, failing at an enhancement attempt will reduce the durability of your item by 5 each time, from a maximum of 100. Once an item reaches 20/100 durability, you cannot try to enhance it again. Thankfully, it’s possible to restore the maximum durability of your items at a blacksmith.
There are a couple of ways you can do this:
Use an Equivalent Item
Players can purchase another item that is the same as the one they’re trying to repair. So, Grunil Gloves, for example. If your +15 Grunil Gloves have failed to enhance and now have only 20/100 durability, you can take them, along with a level 0 pair, to a blacksmith. By sacrificing the level 0 item, you can repair 10 max durability points to the +15 pair. Now, this can get expensive if you constantly have to repair your main equipment, so be careful.
Items called Memory Fragments can help you repair your gear. Thankfully, these can be purchased on the marketplace, and are also rewarded for various in-game actions. Memory Fragments increase the max durability of your weapons and armor. The tier of the item determines how much durability is recovered. For Green tier, it recovers 5 points, for Blue, 2, and Yellow, 1.
Memory Fragments can be used to restore the max durability of your items.
One useful, although rare, item is Artisan’s Memory. This increases the amount of durability recovered by either a Memory Fragment or item recovery by four times.
Black Desert Online Enhancement: Final Thoughts
Enhancing is one of the most rewarding and frustrating elements of Black Desert Online. Once you reach higher levels, you can experience the joy of achieving a TRI, PEN, or TET enhancement, or the despair of being downgraded at any one of those levels. The RNG certainly keeps things interesting in that respect, but it can be punishing after many fails.
Like just about every other mechanic in the game, it takes a lot of time, patience, and in-game resources to reach the higher echelons. However, it’s pretty much essential if you want to be competitive at an end-game level. Although you could certainly purchase items of level +15 and above, it’s usually prohibitively expensive to do so, particularly on boss gear.
It’s advisable to gather as many Black Stones and shards as you possibly can and learn how to effectively failstack. Be sure to save your big failstacks for high-level items; switch to a different character to upgrade your lower level items if you have to.