Lost Ark has finally hit the lands of the West and already made a colossal impact. Amazon Games, the publisher bringing Tripod Studios and Smilegate’s RPG to us on Feb. 11th, 2022, has truly outdone themselves in the world of lore for Arkesia.
Many people believed this would be a Korean-style version of Diablo. However, I truly think that it’s a game of its own accord. Yes, there are some things it draws from Diablo, but other games as well and then the interconnecting of these styles just makes a wonderful and vibrant conclusion.
To begin with, you of course get to create your character how you see fit. You could use premade choices or even add your own adjustments like nose width, eye height, face tattoos, or paint. The hair color and style are decent as well. Next is choosing the class you wish to explore. Lost Ark features five archetypes of characters that you can choose from (Warrior, Martial Artist, Gunner, Mage, and Assassin), and then they can break down to 15 total sub-classes to choose from, some only accessible depending on if you chose the male or female version of said class.
I spent my time split between the Dead Eye which is a subclass for the Gunner and the Sorceress which is the subclass for the mage. Both give a great first impression, decked out with a handful of skills that showcase the flavor of that class. The Dead Eye has amazing agility and feels to the character. From the far shots to the group kills and then the bouncing around, just made ya feel like you could take on the whole world at one time. Unfortunately, with that thought in mind, I did pull more than my fair share of mobs and died multiple times.
My Sorceress utilized the elements of water, fire, and ice to disperse multiple foes in huge piles of bodies. Instead of having a dodge roll like the Dead Eye, the Mage blinks a few feet in the desired direction, adding a nice little touch to the class fantasy. Even after playing for hours and hours and losing all track of time from seeing hordes of monsters explode into glorious and gory chunks or turning to ashes in front of me, it brought more than a smile on my face. Unlocking more skills for both of my characters is always exciting just so I can see what the next spell would do, or how many I can take out with the next shot.
Classes have plenty of customization in their sets of skills. Most fundamental is the configuration of your eight hotkey abilities. These are selected from a pool of attacks and skills you’ll learn as your character levels up. Stacked on top of that are skill points granted on level ups that you can feed into each skill, unlocking perks that can modify that given skill. These perks can tack on additional burn damage to a fire-based attack, change the mana cost of an ability, or reduce cooldown times significantly for your special attacks. You truly can make each character your very own and heavily tailor these moves to fit your preferred playstyle. Unlike other games at this time, you do not have to follow the meta of what everyone else is doing to get max this or that, especially when you are having so much fun blasting through the enemies. The system is super flexible, and I’ve loved toying with various builds to see how efficiently and stylishly I can wreak havoc on my enemies. Just like any other RPG, you get plenty of weapons and armor gear to add more layers to your character to make it more like you.
Oh, I forgot to mention the Cards. These collectibles are found all over the place, and play a major part in strengthening your character both at the start of the game and in the most challenging content that Lost Ark has to offer. Card decks and books help give more to your character.
A card deck can give bonuses from damage reduction to an increase in health to even a boost of damage from a certain skill. These are very great for your armory that you share across all your characters and make this so fun to collect. I am a collector at heart and have always wanted to get all the hearts in Zelda, the Stars in Mario, Cards in Final Fantasy X so for me this is a new desire. In the famous words of a PVP battler, “I got to get them all.”
Lost Ark’s movement and more importantly the combat, feel weighty and satisfying, even when I’m on the receiving end of a strong enemy attack and sent tumbling to the ground into a stunning prone position. There’s a need to be proactive about positioning and knowing where to approach from that’s not present in other ARPGs. You’ll need to avoid attacks from stronger mobs to stay on your feet, and knowing the tools you have at your disposal is key. It’s crucial to pay attention to enemy signals and use a dodge roll to escape an AOE attack or crippling blow. It’s fun knowing my character, while super deadly, is also venerable if I’m not paying attention to my surroundings.
Like any good MMO, Lost Ark is filled with a selection of side hustles and grinds that allow you to pillage the natural world to your heart’s content. In Lost Ark, these are called Trade Skills and are a crucial part of the Lost Ark experience regardless of how invested you are in a gathering and hard labor. The trade skill that you get to use is foraging, logging, mining, hunting, fishing, and excavating. All of these will be helpful to you in multiple ways.
Lost Ark’s narrative, leaves a lot to be desired by me, which early on has me traveling from region to region across the lands of Arkesia battling demonic forces and more to retrieve a magical item called an Ark. The time that I quested for the Ark has taken me to quaint tutorial towns, plague-riddled encampments, and barren salt plains. Most characters are relegated to quest givers, but some folks have relationship side quests. You can build rapport with them by completing tasks, giving gifts, or playing music for them. I haven’t seen a real payoff for this, as of yet, but being able to react with the local NPC’s gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Each map is unique and fun to quest through and explore. My favorite parts have been hunting down hidden dungeons with treasure maps and elite monsters to score more powerful loot. Delving into bigger instanced dungeons provides the most significant challenge, allowing for matchmaking with other adventurers and multiple difficulty options. Because I was never able to party up with anyone, I took on these challenges solo. I’m happy to report that even on a dungeon’s harder difficulty (that garner sweeter rewards) I could complete them on my own, though it does take more tact and skill. Dungeons are also where you’ll find the most dynamic moments in Lost Ark. Events may cause the typically isometric camera to pan and sweep in cinematic ways, allowing you to see more of the wondrous environments.
The Submerged Ruins, the first real multi-bossed dungeon, is what sold me on this game as being a true proper adventure. I of course played it on hard mode since I wanted the challenge, and I figured it would give the best loot. Descending into its depths and facing the challenges inside, I had to drain the flooded floors below to continue onward. Each encounter posed a significant challenge and the ratcheting tension had me on the edge of my seat until I defeated the final boss. Esctasy filled my character’s soul when he obtained his first 3 Epic Items. I actually shouted at my screen, AGAIN! Which my family was confused with, when I expressed my enjoyment, but they never interfered and left me to my adventure.
Lost Ark has a lot of collectibles to find and tons of boxes to check in every continent around the world. Every area has monsters to slay, dungeons to find, and world bosses to confront. Searching every nook and cranny is full of precious Mokoko Seeds, Giant’s Hearts, or parts of a stolen masterpiece. Progress made in these various collections and lists reward items like health potions, cosmetics. Luckily, as far as I can tell, all of these collectibles, of which there are well over 1000, are shared account-wide, making collecting a team effort with your other characters.
Like collectibles, your Roster Level is shared across characters, increasing stats like Intelligence, Strength, and Dexterity for all of your characters. Little touches like these make me feel alright with having multiple alternative characters in Lost Ark. While I have to follow the same main story for each new class, at least I have immediate benefits thanks to the work I’ve done elsewhere. It’s a small way to show that the game and devs respect my time, and I appreciate not having to scour the lands for every Mokoko Seed every time I want to re-roll.
Lost Ark Helped Me Find A New Love For Adventuring
Lost Ark is a free-to-play game supported mainly by a microtransaction model. Things you buy with real money include additional character slots, pets, mounts, and cosmetics, among other things. Some of these items have bonuses attached, like the 30-days Crystalline Aura, which doesn’t boost any character stats but reduces cooldowns on certain tasks and non-combat abilities. Pets purchased from the shop grant a very small chance to improve the rewards you’d get on specific kinds of quests. Is it pay to win? Not exactly.
I’m probably not going to spend money on items that speed up my progress, but It doesn’t affect me if other people do. Still, it’s good to keep in mind that these items exist and are for sale in the MTX shop. Lost Ark is in top form, and I believe this is a game that everyone could and will enjoy. There is just so much to do and enjoy that one article wouldn’t even come close to summing up this magnificent game.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Lost Ark for PC provided by Amazon Game Studios.