lost ark has finally touched the lands of the West and has already had a colossal impact. Amazon Games, the publisher that introduced us to Tripod Studios and Smilegate’s RPG on February 11, 2022, has really outdone itself in the world of lore for Arkesia.
Many people thought it would be a Korean version of Diablo. However, I really think it’s a game in itself. Yes, there are things that he draws inspiration from Diablobut other games too and the interconnection of these styles just makes for a wonderful, vibrant conclusion.
For starters, of course, you can create your character as you see fit. You can use preset choices or even add your own adjustments like nose width, eye height, face tattoos or paint. The hair color and style are also correct. Then choose the class you want to explore. Lost Ark has five character archetypes you can choose from (warrior, martial artist, gunner, mage, and assassin), and then they can be broken down into 15 subclasses in total, some only accessible depending on whether you’ve chosen the male version or female of that class.
I spent my time between the Dead Eye which is a subclass of the Gunner and the Sorceress which is the subclass of the mage. Both make for a great first impression, topped off with a handful of skills that highlight the flavor of this class. The Dead Eye has incredible agility and feels to the character. From long shots to group attacks and then rebounds, you just felt like you could take on the whole world at once. Unfortunately, with that thought in mind, I drew more than my fair share of mobs and died several times.
My witch used the elements of water, fire, and ice to scatter multiple enemies into huge piles of bodies. Instead of having a dodge roll like the Dead Eye, the Mage flashes a few feet in the desired direction, adding a nice little touch to the class fantasy. Even after playing for hours upon hours and losing track of time watching hordes of monsters explode into glorious, gory chunks or turn to ash in front of me, it brought more than a smile to my face. Unlocking more skills for my two characters is always exciting, just so I can see what the next spell would do, or how much I can get out of it with the next hit.
Classes have a lot of customization in their skill sets. The most basic is configuring your eight hotkey abilities. These are selected from a set of attacks and skills that you will learn as your character levels up. On top of that, there are skill points granted on higher tiers that you can feed into each skill, unlocking perks that can modify that given skill. These boons can add extra burn damage to a fire-based attack, change the mana cost of an ability, or dramatically reduce the cooldowns of your special attacks. You can really customize each character and adapt these moves to your preferred playstyle. Unlike other games right now, you don’t have to follow the meta of what everyone else is doing to max out this or that, especially when you’re having so much fun blasting enemies. The system is super flexible and I loved playing around with different builds to see how efficiently and elegantly I can wreak havoc on my enemies. Like any other RPG, you have plenty of weapons and armor to add more layers to your character to make it more like you.
Oh, I forgot to mention the maps. These collectibles can be found everywhere and play a major role in strengthening your character both at the start of the game and in the more difficult content that lost ark has to offer. Card games and books help give your character more.
A deck of cards can give bonuses ranging from reduced damage to increased health, or even increased damage to a certain skill. These are great for your arsenal that you share with all of your characters and make it so fun to collect. I’m a collector at heart and I’ve always wanted to have all the hearts in Zelda, the Stars in Mario, the Cards in Final Fantasy X so for me it’s a new desire. In the famous words of a PVP fighter, “Gotta get them all.”
Lost Ark’s movement, and more importantly the combat, feels heavy and satisfying to me, even when I’m under heavy enemy attack and drop to the ground in a stunning prone position. It is necessary to be proactive in positioning and knowing where to approach, which is not present in other ARPGs. You’ll need to dodge attacks from stronger mobs to stay on your feet, and knowing the tools you have is key. Paying attention to enemy signals and using a dodge roll to evade an AOE attack or stun hit is crucial. It’s fun to know that my character, while super mortal, 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-activities that allow you to plunder the natural world at your leisure. In lost ark, these are called trade skills and are a crucial part of the Lost Ark experience, regardless of how much you invest in gathering and hard work. The trade skills you can use are foraging, logging, mining, hunting, fishing, and digging. All of these will come in handy to you in multiple ways.
The narrative of Lost Ark leaves me with a lot to be desired, which has me traveling from region to region across the lands of Arkesia to battle demonic forces and more to retrieve a magical item called an Ark. The time I researched for the ark took me to quaint didactic towns, plague-riddled encampments, and arid salt plains. Most characters are relegated to quest givers, but some people have relational side quests. You can build a relationship with them by completing tasks, giving them gifts, or playing music for them. I haven’t seen any real rewards for this yet, but being able to interact with local NPCs gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Each map is unique and fun to navigate and explore. My favorite parts were hunting down hidden dungeons with treasure maps and elite monsters for more powerful loot. Diving into larger instanced dungeons provides the biggest challenge, allowing for matchmaking with other adventurers and multiple difficulty options. Because I never got to party with anyone, I took on these challenges solo. I’m happy to report that even on the hardest difficulty of a dungeon (which brings better rewards), I could complete them on my own, even if it takes more tact and skill. Dungeons are also where you’ll find the most dynamic moments in Lost Ark. Events can cause typically isometric camera panning and sweeping in a cinematic way, allowing you to see more wonderful surroundings.
The Submerged Ruins, the first true multi-boss dungeon, is what sold me on this game as a true adventure. I of course played it on hard mode since I wanted the challenge, and thought that would yield the best loot. Descending into its depths and facing the challenges within, I had to drain the flooded floors below to continue. Each encounter posed a significant challenge, and the rattling tension kept me on the edge of my seat until I defeated the final boss. Ecstasy filled my character’s soul when he got his first 3 epic items. In fact, I screamed at my screen, AGAIN! What my family was confused with, when I expressed my joy, but they never intervened and left me to my adventure.
Lost Ark has plenty of collectibles to find and tons of boxes to check out on every continent in the world. Each area has monsters to slay, dungeons to find, and world bosses to face. Searching every nook and cranny is full of precious Mokoko seeds, giant hearts, or parts of a stolen masterpiece. Progress in these different 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 it a team effort to collect with your other characters.
Like collectibles, your roster level is shared between characters, increasing stats such as intelligence, strength, and dexterity for all of your characters. Little touches like these make me feel good about several alternate characters in Lost Ark. Although I have to follow the same main story for each new class, at least I have some immediate benefits from the work I’ve done elsewhere. It’s a small way to show that the game and the developers respect my time, and I appreciate that I don’t have to scour the land for every Mokoko seed every time I want to reroll.
Lost Ark helped me find a new love for adventure
lost ark is a free-to-play game supported primarily by a microtransaction model. Things you buy with real money include extra character slots, pets, mounts, and cosmetics, among others. Some of these items come with bonuses, such as the 30-day Crystal Aura, which does not increase any character stats but reduces the cooldowns of certain non-combat tasks and abilities. Pets purchased from the store have a very small chance of improving the rewards you would get from specific quest types. Does it pay to win? Not exactly.
I probably won’t spend money on items that speed up my progress, but it doesn’t affect me if other people do. Nevertheless, it is good to keep in mind that these items exist and are for sale in the MTX store. Lost Ark is in top form, and I think it’s a game that everyone could and will enjoy. There’s so much to do and enjoy that one article wouldn’t even come close to summarizing this magnificent game.
This review was written based on a digital copy of the review from lost ark for PC provided by Amazon Game Studios.