I wasn’t going to play Lost Ark at first since I already had so many games on my plate, but it turns out that the game is quick to pick up and put down, so it actually fits in between playing other games quite well. I don’t need another MMO hanging over me, but the more time I spend with Lost Ark, the more I feel like it’s just something different to do on the side of my main game choices.
Why did I end up trying it? Well:
- Free to play (obviously)
- Bard class
- Personal Ship (sailing and fishing)
- Life Skills
- Stronghold Housing System
Remember how I was talking about thinking about replacing the Life Skill gaming of BDO with another game? A big draw to me was that Lost Ark does have a Life Skill system (which I’ve yet to unlock), but without the pressure of open world PvP hanging over me like BDO.
Whether this system will be deep enough to keep me hooked is another story, however.
So, what is Lost Ark?
Basically, you take Diablo-type action battle system and smoosh it with many familiar elements of MMOs, and you have Lost Ark. It feels like this game pulls ideas from a number of MMOs I’ve played in the past – vistas from GW2; strongholds from WoW (Garrisons); Life Skills, Roster system and NPC Rapport from BDO; and a story that keeps reminding me distantly of GW1 for some odd reason.
There’s even a MSQ vs side quest thing going on in this game, similar to FFXIV. I find it interesting that the players refer to the main storyline (meant to level you quickly to end game) as the MSQ, though that’s a term coined in FFXIV.
I’ve played just a bit past level 20 so far, and my impressions are:
- Free to play – low barrier to entry
- Beautiful world design
- Fairly fun gameplay (if you like action RPGs like Diablo)
- PvE-centric – PvP exists, but is contained
- Easy to pick up and play for short bouts
- Very solo friendly (so far)
- Quick leveling progression
- Adventurer’s Tome System
- Map overlay system
- NPC Rapport System
- Roster concept
As I haven’t gotten far enough to try the stronghold, life skills or the ship sailing system – which are my real areas of interest – I’ll have to post an update once I get there. But I hope those will be pros when I unlock them.
- Click-to-move takes getting used to
- Gender locked classes
- Somewhat uninspired class choice
- Character name locked to entire server region
- Merely serviceable story and voice acting
- Somewhat limited character creation options
- Some wonky character design – especially female characters
So let me go into some of these, if you will!
What I Liked
The world and art design is top notch in Lost Ark. This is a beautiful world with a lot of thought put into design. It’s somewhat a shame that we move through the zones so quickly as leveling is meant to be a means to the end – the game wants to get you to end game as fast as it can, and I can feel it.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t come back and explore places I’ve already been. In fact, the Adventurer’s Tome that you get plays like a achievement hunting mini-game for each continent you visit, and encourages exploration. I really like this system!
So far, everything I’ve tried, dungeons included, have been solo affairs – and this is good for me. Dungeons are required parts of the MSQ (taking another page from FFXIV). While they scale up to 4 people, and have both Normal and Hard options, you can enter by yourself and clear them on your own. There is a matchmaking system, I noticed, but I’m never going to use it.
Thank you for no forced grouping so far. And thank you for no open world PVP to make me uneasy about exploring and being near other players.
The Tab button opens up a transparent map overlay – think Diablo – which is something I quickly learned to rely on and love. In fact, as I’m hopping from quest to quest, I almost always have it open as it’s easy to see through and it guides me to the next objective quickly. Fantastic system!
Again, this game is about making your leveling fast. Once I came to terms with that, I realized that I’ll be coming back to these places for a more organic and meaningful romp when I explore them for fun.
Lost Ark is also very alt friendly, apparently, and rewards you for leveling a stable of characters. There’s a Roster system – think BDO Family – where all of your characters on the Roster work up and share rewards. Some of these are overall stat boosts, which are nice. The Roster system is a separate leveling system from your character’s battle level, so it’s a neat little reward system on the side.
I haven’t, however, created any alts yet. And that goes into some of my cons.
What I Don’t Like
I’m sure this is just based on personal preference, but I find the class choices rather uninspiring. The only class that really appealed to me was bard, and I was sad it was gender locked.
You have 3 types of warriors. 4 types of martial arts classes. 4 types of classes with guns. 2 mages (bard counts as mage) and 2 rouge types.
For me, I rarely play rouge types and almost never play classes with guns. The martial arts and warrior choices just didn’t jump out at me.
So, I’m not very inspired to roll an alt. I even tried to do some research on what classes didn’t yet release here as I know they held back a few. So maybe I’ll just wait until I see something that really interests me in a new class before I roll an alt – if I’m still interested at that point.
I also find the character creation to be somewhat limiting. While you do get some rather nice options for what you can edit, it’s all limited to the character’s head. And some races are locked to classes – all bards and mages must be a form of Elf, for example.
That goes hand in hand with the typical Korean game character designs – such as my female bard swishing around like a super model in ridiculous six inch heels and silly revealing clothing. There is a skin system – think glamour – but I’m sure I’ll have to plunk down real cash to get something that looks halfway normal as bard wear to use it.
I also don’t like what they do to lock down character name usage. When you name a character, that claims the name for the entire server region. So if you roll a “Bobwhatever” on one East region server, you can’t roll another “Bobwhater” on any other East region server.
Also, if you happen to level your character past 10 (all characters start at level 10) and decide to delete it, your name will be locked for 60 days. That’s just plain yucky. What if you roll a “Bobwhatever” and then decide on down the line you don’t like that class? So you delete them and then realize you can’t roll another “Bobwhatever” for 60 days?
Sure, there’s a rename-for-cash option that you can use 60 days later, but that’s also pretty crummy. Not a fan.
Click-to-move. Yeah. That’s a hard thing to get used to. There is an auto run feature, but you have to remember to click T to turn it off again or you keep running. So while it’s annoying, there’s a work around with an autorun.
You guys knew I had to ding it a bit for story being the story player I am. So far, I find the story in Lost Ark to be serviceable at best and just quite vanilla-fantasy plain at its worst. But I suspect the folks who are coming to play this Diablo-ish type game aren’t here for fantastic story.
From what I heard before I started Lost Ark, I expected a truly dismal story experience. So, I had very very low expectations going in.
I have to say that Lost Ark is a good few steps above many translated games that I’ve played in terms of localization. While the story is nothing ground-breaking or tear-inspiring, it’s also not that bad. It’s never got to a point where I’m giving up on the game because I can’t handle the poor translation or story (I have done that in the past).
Actually, I feel like Lost Ark’s localization is fairly well done. There might be a few points of wonky-ness here and there, but nothing that jumps out at me as total broken Engrish.
The story has recurring characters that I remember when I see them (even if I don’t always remember their names), so it’s doing something fairly right. It also seems to want to develop lore for each area and group of people living there. I do get the vibes of who is who and what is what, though moving through areas so quickly only leads to me not remembering what zone names are, much less the names of lesser NPCs.
I do recall situations, though – like this area is fighting a plague and this area has a terrible bandit outbreak that’s oppressing nomads. That kind of thing. So, good enough.
Again, I don’t think folks come to Lost Ark looking for a MSQ that will change their lives. I didn’t – I already have a story-driven MMO that I’m invested in. So it’s actually kind of nice to have something to just kick around in where I don’t need to worry about that kind of investment.
Hopefully soon, I’ll be getting to the parts I really want to explore – Life Skills. I’ll write a post about my impressions as I continue to level and unlock these systems!