MMOs are infamous for a few things - a huge grind, robust end game and enough content to keep you busy for years. Oftentimes, the question you are left asking yourself before you get stuck into it isn’t “is this game good?” but more so “is this game worth my life for the next 6 months?” Lost Ark is just one of many competitors for my time and it’s hard to say how that will pay off in the future. It’s only at the very start of its journey but it sets off on the right foot.
The story, for the most part, is pretty plain but it does what it needs to in order to bring you into the world. Arkesia, the main land you must explore, has been created by a powerful artifact called the Ark. Sensing this power, Kazeros, Lord of the Abyss, aims to use this power to escape his prison and reign chaos across the land. Your goal is to assemble the ark first and use it to restore some semblance of peace
While the story is one we’ve heard before, the way it tells that story is pretty great, hosting unique biomes, interesting side characters and genuinely fun activities. Lost Ark is a game that just continues to build upon itself. As soon as you feel like you’ve seen what it has to offer, it adds just something extra. You get through the opening area, then a pet and rapport quests shape the way you explore the world. You get through the opening, only to be met by mining, foraging and woodcutting skill trees.
“While the story is one we’ve heard before, the way it tells that story is pretty great”
That being said, the grind from one major idea to another can sometimes feel a little long. It feels like some quests are originally designed to be much longer. On more than one occasion it has tasked me with grabbing multiple of one item, only to finish the quest after one. This is probably a good choice that cuts down on a significant amount of grind, but it does point at the game that existed before this one.
Lost Ark is a translation and localisation of a Korean MMO of the same name and it sometimes shows in the setup of some quests. Korean MMOs are infamous for being a huge grind with so much to do. On this note, enemies give you very little exp, leaving quests as the best way of levelling up. Oftentimes, side quests have you complete some small fetch quest and finish it off further on in the map, leaving a natural progression system for every quest, even if it gets in the way of the story.
New areas give you access to new types of quests and they seem very intentionally designed to make you explore in certain ways. Occasionally, you will scope out a map and set up fast travel points, only for a side quest to have you move into a secret dungeon right next to your next main quest. It pushes you forward, constantly working towards the next progression path.
“Under the wing of Amazon Games, it seems likely that this will have a huge support network behind it but the community is what will make this game great”
The combat and levelling system has this same philosophy. If you’ve played Diablo, you likely understand how combat works. Taking a top-down approach, you rely almost entirely on your mouse and a handful of keys. As you pick your character, class, and subclass, you immediately have a handful of powerful skills leaving it easy to pick up but hard to master.
Levelling up is all about adding power to your skills, rather than your stats. This means your build is dictated by what moves you prioritise and what gear you add to that. Much like other Action RPGs, you are constantly inundated with brand new loot, used to catch up with your current level. It has an easy system to spot which has the highest stats but, at a certain point, you actually have to think about your setup.
Lost Ark never seems to really take a tight focus on which audience it wants to appeal to. If you’re looking for a game to play casually in the background while grinding away at levels, it does enough and adds the right amount of complexity to keep you coming back. If you want to really get invested, you can maximise your damage, work on your stronghold and take part in raids to really understand everything Lost Ark has going for it.
Ultimately, a good start isn’t all that Lost Ark will need to really take off. Under the wing of Amazon Games, it seems likely that this will have a huge support network behind it but the community is what will make this game great. In my time with it, I couldn’t help but feel a little lonely without communities of people bandying around it, discovering every little secret. Lost Ark is a really solid game but the community will decide if it’s good a year from now.
For the most part, Lost Ark looked good and played decently. This being said, even with an RTX 3070 and a Ryzen 7, it occasionally stuttered and got hit by a couple of frame drops. The settings do have an option to flick between quality and performance but accidents occasionally happen. It was never substantial enough to hinder the experience that much and the game doesn’t rely on hugely fast inputs but it’s a bit of a shame it wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked.
To my surprise, Lost Ark had an accessibility tab, with the ability to change colours and text sizes, alongside a few extra tweaks. It comes with a photosensitivity mode and some colorblind settings. It isn’t groundbreaking but it’s certainly a welcome addition.
LOST ARK VERDICT
With so many studios trying to hit the coveted MMO market, one thing is clear if you want to succeed - your game has to be unique. You can make up for tonnes of mistakes if you can just carve out a market for it. Although it has its own issues of identity - with a Diablo-like fighting system and enough extra activities to feel full - Lost Ark is a game that I’m looking forward to seeing grow.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Discovering all those extra little systems I didn’t see coming.
Lots of little extra systems
So much to do
A bit grindy
Story set up is a little basic