Lost Ark hits Western audiences this week, with a three-day early access event starting today. Amazon Games, the publisher that brought Tripod Studios and Smilegate’s RPG to the West, was good enough to let some early press play it on a private server, so I’ve got my hands on the action-RPG MMO for a few. this week. Much of the game was in play as I played, though I was missing one huge aspect of it: the broader social component. Because of the small player sample size, all of my time in the Arkesia world is spent on my solitude. So for now, I don’t feel comfortable dropping my last review of Lost Ark. Instead, here are some of my thoughts on this impressive free-to-play title after playing before its release.
At launch, Lost Ark features five broader class archetypes (Warrior, Boxer, Gunner, Mage, and Assassin) with a total of 15 subclasses to choose from, some of which are only accessible depending on whether you choose the male or female version of the class. I have spent my time dividing between Berserker and Sorceress. Both make great first impressions, armed with a number of skills that show off that class’s taste. Berserker is a Colossal Warrior who wields a gigantic greatsword into battle to destroy everything in sight. This class has a lot of melee and personal attacks such as carrying, slashing, spinning, and AOE exploding on the ground.
My Sorceress, a subclass of Mage, uses the elements of water, fire, and ice, among others, to wash away whirlwinds of enemies in blood. Instead of rolling around like a Warrior, the Mage will blink a few steps in the desired direction, adding a bit of beauty to the classroom image. Even after playing a class for hours on end, seeing a mob of thieves or monsters explode into bloody tricks using what was supposed to be an early game attack is worth it. surprising and interesting. Unlocking more skills for both of my characters is always fun, and I can’t wait to see even more classes when I start fresh with the upcoming launch.
Classes have a lot of customization in their skill sets. The most basic is to configure your eight hotkey capabilities. They are chosen from a range of attacks and skills you will learn as your character levels up. Stacked are skill points that are granted as you level up that you can load into each skill, unlocking perks that can modify that skill. These perks can deal extra burn damage to a fire-based attack, change a skill’s mana cost, or dramatically reduce its cooldown. You can really make each character your own and greatly tweak these moves to suit your preferred playstyle. The system is super versatile, and I love toying around with different builds to see how efficiently and stylishly I can wreak havoc on my enemies. Of course, you’ll also trade armor and weapon sets as you loot loads of items throughout the adventure, adding another layer to your character’s build.
Movement and combat feel heavy and satisfying, even when I’m at the end of a powerful enemy attack and tumble to the ground. It is necessary to be proactive in locating and knowing how to approach things that are not available in other ARPGs. You’ll need to avoid attacks from stronger mobs to hold your ground, and knowing the tools you have at your disposal is key. It’s important to heed enemy signals and use dodge scrolls to escape an AOE attack or crippling attack. It’s interesting to know my character, although super dead, is also respectable if I don’t pay attention to my surroundings.
Get the cat out of the bag now. Lost Ark is a free-to-play game powered primarily by a microtransaction model. Things you buy with real money include additional character slots, pets, mounts and cosmetics, among others. Some of these items have bonuses attached, like the 30-day Crystalline Aura, which doesn’t increase any character’s stats but reduces the cooldown on certain quests and non-combat abilities. Pets purchased from the store offer a very small chance to improve the rewards you get in specific types of quests. Is it pay to win? Not an ex-loveract. I probably won’t spend money on items that speed up my progress, but that doesn’t affect me if someone else does. However, you should keep in mind that these itemss exists and is being sold in the MTX store.
I wasn’t drawn to the Lost Ark’s story, but from the very beginning I traveled from region to region in the land of Arkesia fighting demonic forces and beyond for a magical item called Ark. My relatively short time searching for this Ark has lost me to quaint guide towns, disease-ridden plantations, and barren salt flats. Most characters are ranked for quest givers, but some have relationship side quests. You can build a relationship with them by completing quests, giving them gifts, or playing music for them. I’m yet to see a real return to this, but I’m glad I found some way to bond with the locals I’ve come across.
Each map is unique and fun to find and explore. My favorite part is hunting hidden dungeons with treasure maps and elite monsters to score more powerful loot. Diving into larger dungeons provides the most important challenge, allows for matchmaking with other adventurers, and has multiple difficulty options. Because I could never match anyone, I took on these challenges alone. I’m happy to announce that even on harder dungeon difficulty (earning sweeter rewards) I can still complete them on my own, although it requires more dexterity and skill. Dungeons are also where you’ll find the most dynamic moments in Lost Ark. Events can cause an isometric camera to often pan and pan in cinematic ways, allowing you to view more exciting environments.
I was blown away by The Submerged Ruins, the first true multi-boss dungeon that felt like a proper adventure. As I descended and faced the challenges within, I had to drain the flooded floors below to continue moving forward. Each encounter poses a significant challenge (I’m on hard mode, so your mileage may vary), and the rush of tension kept me sitting on the couch until I hit defeat the final boss. If more of the fixed encounters work this way, I’ll be in for a while.
Lost Ark has tons of collectibles to find and tons of boxes to check out on every continent in the world. Every region has monsters to destroy, dungeons to find, and world bosses to confront. Search every nook and cranny full of precious Mokoko Seeds, Giant Hearts or parts of a stolen masterpiece. Progress is made in these various collections and lists bonus items like health potions, cosmetics, or cards. Those cards are also found on quest completion or dropped from monsters in the wild, and they can be equipped in a deck of up to six cards to add elemental buffs and resistances to the multiplier. your object. Luckily, as far as I can tell, all of these collectibles, of which there are more than 1000, are shared across the account, making it easier for the whole party to collect along with your other characters. becomes more difficult.
Like collectibles, your Squad Level is shared among characters, increasing stats like Intelligence, Strength, and Dexterity for all of your characters. Little things like this make me feel good about how much has changed in Lost Ark. Although I had to follow the same main story for each new class, at least I had an immediate benefit from the work I did elsewhere. It’s a small way to show that the game and the developers respect my time, and I appreciate not having to scour the lands for every single Mokoko Seed every time I want to go back.
I’m excited to see what Lost Ark has to offer once the servers are up and I can join and adventure with my friends. There’s a lot of promise in this MMO, but playing in a private setting, I feel like I’ve missed out on an important part of the experience. Although, from what I’ve played, I’d recommend trying Lost Ark if you like action-heavy dungeon crawlers like Diablo. It definitely makes me itch, and there’s a ton of content in it that can be accessed without having to shell out any cash. Lost Ark fully launches on PC on February 11, but is playable starting today for those who purchase the $15 or more Founders Pack.