“As long as you’re willing to play by its rules, Lost Ark is an absolute blast thanks to its perfect blend of visceral ARPG combat and steady MMO progression.”
Engage in battles
Challenging bosses with interesting mechanics
Tedious gear grinding
Not very social
It’s not a question of whether or not lost ark is a game well done. It’s had years of content fixes and updates to refine it to be the best it can be. lost ark was originally released in 2018 and it won six awards at the Korean Game Awards in 2019. Russian and Japanese servers opened in 2020, and now it has arrived in North America and Europe, with a few exceptions.
Clearly it’s doing something right and answering the question “is it a good game or is it a bad game?” does not lost ark Justice. It already has a community, culture and history surrounding it. It is not a game that has been discovered; we have just been invited to a global phenomenon.
lost arkThe approach to the MMO genre may be unfamiliar and frustrating for many in North America and EU regions, but it can still be worth the investment – if you stick to its rules.
It’s not about the loot
lost ark is a massively multiplayer online RPG that draws a lot of inspiration from ARPGs like Diablo 3 and Torchlight. The isometric view and hordes of enemies on screen might make you think this is just another looting game. However, check your inventory after facing a massive wave of enemies and you will find that it will still be nearly empty. lost ark takes the frenetic, savage combat of ARPGs and tempers it with the pace and progression of an MMO. After completing the main questline in each area of the game, I would probably only replace two or three of my items. The obsession with minute stat changes in gear isn’t the main focus, not yet at least.
lost ark can be divided into two vague sections: leveling and endgame. Once I created my character, I was launched and introduced to the three classic Ms of RPGs: Magic, Monsters, and MacGuffins. Players spend their time using X amount of spells to kill Y amount of monsters in order to complete the Z quest line. Then they pack up, move on to the next area, and start over. This is the common rhythm found in many MMOs and RPGs. It’s not as routine as it sounds – it’s actually quite fun – and the stories found in the quests are useful enough to warrant at least some attention.
The real goal of the campaign is to get players comfortable with the game itself. Learning combat mechanics, understanding movement, and perfecting spell rotation are all necessary for the end game. Level one through 50 acts as a streamlined tutorial, and once players have completed the main story quest, they will have plenty of knowledge and proper gear to dive headfirst into the endgame content.
lost ark takes the frenetic, savage combat of ARPGs and tempers it with the pace and progression of an MMO.
The only thing that seemed strange to me about leveling my character was that I usually ended up alone. However, I was playing in the closed beta, so the player count wasn’t as high as it could be. However, even the dungeons I stumbled upon were easy to complete solo, which was good because after waiting five minutes in the party finder, I just wanted to finish the dungeon. I only occasionally saw a player in the world, which made this MMO really empty. That might change once the servers are filled to the brim with players, but the game itself seems to be designed to be a single-player experience when leveling up a character. Most of the social aspects of lost ark really start to start in the endgame.
The game wants you to go through the upgrade part so you can finally “start playing” the game.
A wide world and a long list of things to do
Once players reach max level, the game really begins to open up. Now players have access to a plethora of content. There are chaos dungeons where players face wave after wave of enemies, guardian raids that almost feel like monster hunter battles, ocean crossing via ships, island customization and even more.
lost ark does a good job of giving players plenty to do, and it wants them to do things. I grew up with MMOs, and it’s probably the most consistent genre I play. All the games I’ve played have endgame content similar to lost ark. However, they also gave players the option to do nothing.
World of Warcraft is a perfect example. In wowI’ve spent literally weeks doing nothing but hanging out in Stormwind or any of the other social hubs found in the game. I can walk around and look for stores I don’t normally go to, I I can find interesting bits of lore dotted around the world, or I can literally sit outside the auction house and watch other players go about their business.
lost ark does a good job of giving players plenty to do, and it wants them to do things.
lost ark doesn’t really have moments of silence or inaction; it wants you to be constantly engaged with the systems and content it provides and nothing else. Even gathering skills like mining or fishing have an energy meter that refreshes every day, meaning players can only spend a certain amount of time per day doing simple tasks. It makes the world less believable and more of a giant checklist.
Endgame also has a problem with an entry barrier to its content. If players complete the campaign, they will be properly equipped for Chaos Dungeons and Guardian Raids. This is when the equipment grind really starts to take place. Gear level becomes extremely important as content is locked behind this score. In order to upgrade gear, players need specific items that can be found in endgame content. Simple enough. However, players can only run Chaos Dungeons twice per day for the full rewards, and the same goes for Guardian Raids. After the two allocated times, the rewards are reduced on subsequent clears. Most endgame content runs on this system and it makes prepping for more high level endgame content quite slow.
This may be a problem that many players will not see. I can only speak for myself, but I no longer stuff myself with games for eight hours a day. I have a cat to feed. lost ark could just be another game like Destiny 2 for me, where I check in every week, do missions and events, then time until the next reset. Honestly, I’m ok with that – this game doesn’t need my full attention and it looks like I won’t miss anything in terms of content. While there are sure to be players out there who have the time and want to reach the pinnacle of gaming, so free play may be too slow for them.
Pay for convenience
There is a solution to this problem: use real money with microtransactions.
lost ark is a free-to-play game with microtransactions that can best be described as “pay for convenience”. Anything a player can buy with real money only helps alleviate the need for gear, or is purely cosmetic. A player who has spent money will not have a significant advantage over a free-to-play player, but will have access to more content sooner. Even the PvP arenas are entirely skill-based, so whales won’t upset the balance.
The game is completely playable and still enjoyable without putting a penny into it.
Amazon Games has shaped how microtransactions will be handled with the current launch, making them less abrasive and necessary. While they’re still around, any level of microtransactions can be off-putting to many players and I understand that apprehension.
lost ark won’t be available in Belgium and the Netherlands due to both countries banning loot boxes in-game, and with microtransactions there’s always that internal calculus going through a player’s head. “Is this gear worth $10 or two hours of my time?” This is something gamers shouldn’t have to deal with when playing a game. However, the game is completely playable and still enjoyable without putting a penny into it.
Our point of view
lost ark excels at exactly what it is: a fast-paced, visceral ARPG with MMO elements that has plenty of content to keep gamers coming back every week. The combat alone is enough to keep curious players interested. The leveling process is simple but engaging, and the endgame content offers plenty to do. This is not an MMO to be sucked into for hours; it has rigid systems that want you to do exactly what it says to do. The fact that it’s free means that if you’re even a little interested in this game, it’s worth trying at least one session.
Is there a better alternative?
Path of exile and Diablo 3 are probably closest to you lost ark. However, these two games don’t come close in how many things a player can do once they reach the endgame.
How long will it last?
The campaign takes around 25-30 hours, depending on how hyperfocused you are to reach the max level. After that, the game lasts as long as you want – the blessing and the curse of MMOs.
Should I download it?
Yes. lost ark is a free game, so there is no entry fee for this ride. In terms of microtransactions, you don’t need to put any money into this game on North America/EU servers for this game to be fun. The only thing money can do for you is get you to the end game faster, but it won’t make you better at the game.