In the massively multiplayer online RPG, Lost Ark, the player plays as a hero searching for a lost device called an Ark to fight against the second coming of Kazeros and a legion of other demons trying to destroy the world. Choose between magical casters, brutal warriors, and gunslingers to take on the various threats across the world of Arkesia.
From developers Smilegate and Tripod Studio, Lost Ark was originally released in South Korea in November 2018, but is now set to release to a larger global audience. So remember to keep in mind that while this game is new to much of the world, it is still a three-year-old game. This is also the second MMORPG game published by Amazon Game Studios after New World and further grows the company’s presence in the gaming market.
Lost Ark is free-to-play, with much of its revenue coming from in-game microtransactions, which can result in some pay-to-win strategies. The game even has a link to the Amazon Lost Ark store at the bottom of the screen throughout gameplay to constantly remind the player how they can spend money. There is a lot to talk about with this game, so let’s get into it.
The first thing that becomes apparent in Lost Ark is the beautiful landscapes and incredibly detailed world the player can explore. The game does not hesitate, especially early on, to have the player walk up to or walk past incredible landscapes that will be worthy of screenshots even if not compiling them for a review.
- Breathtaking environments;
- A vast world to explore;
- Deep lore and mechanics to dive into.
- Combat can feel repetitive;
- Somewhat linear progression and story;
- Pay-to-win can be a problem.
Lost Ark does fall into the classic RPG stereotype of featuring heavily overdesigned characters, especially early on in the character select screen. But, when the gameplay actually starts, the characters become much more grounded. Occasionally the game’s cut scenes do show some flaws in the character graphics that can take a toll on immersion.
Overall, for a free-to-play, three-year-old MMORPG, the graphics look solid. The environments are definitely the highlight, making traveling to new areas a treat even early on in the tutorial section of the game. While the characters can be distractingly overdesigned and overly stereotypical, it doesn’t distract from the game too much.
Navigating the map and quests becomes relatively linear, with few actual choices to traverse the map or even to engage in dialogue with NPCs. The maps can be somewhat dynamic and fun to explore, but outside of the clearly signed quest markers, there isn’t always a lot to do on the map other than fight continually spawning monsters. There are plenty of side quests to take on, but without any active quests, there isn’t much reason to explore the world outside of the towns.
Lost Ark is a beautiful and engaging MMORPG, which is surprising considering the game has been on the market for over three years already. Fans of the genre will enjoy all the staples that the genre has become known for, but for others, the repetitive combat and linear quests can bog down the experience somewhat. But overall, while it may not exceed any expectations, Lost Ark does set a standard for what modern MMORPGs should strive for.
Like many MMOs, the combat and the enemies can become repetitive. Plus, it takes time for the combat to become more engaging. Each character class has a select few skills to use in combat, and learning how to utilize these correctly can make or break the fun of the combat. This factor also doesn’t help speed up the slower early game.
The occasional boss battle does break up the swarms of similar enemies that are more often encountered in Lost Ark, but the combat doesn’t present much of a challenge even on that level. The player is given a plethora of healing potions from the start, and even using those liberally can negate the damage done by almost any enemy or group of enemies even through the first hours of the game. Lost Ark will not be bringing challenging combat, but it does scratch that character-building RPG itch quite well.
Finding the Ark
Lost Ark’s story centers around the player finding a fabled item called an Ark that has been lost for generations, hence the name of the game. Without the Ark, a legion of demons will destroy the world, just as they tried to do one before. This drives the main questline of the game and is what much of the game’s deep lore centers around.
While not the most original plot, it does push the narrative forward while continually giving the player a solid reason to fight and progressively harder challenges to overcome. The grand adventure spans the wide world of Arkesia, which also has a lot of unique locales for the player to reach and explore, especially once the ability to set sail is unlocked, which to be fair does take some time.
Unfortunately, there also isn’t a lot of opportunities for the player to affect the story. Especially early on there are some dialogue responses that only give the player one “option” to choose from. At that point, it’s just an extra mouse click. There are some character-developing decisions to be made, such as a moment early on when the player has to decide to save a character who left them for dead or not. But generally, the most important decisions will be which combat skills to upgrade. The story can often be thought of as an afterthought to the gameplay.
Lost Ark is a modern classic MMORPG. It may not have as huge an impact on the genre as games like World of Warcraft did, but it will certainly leave its mark. Despite arriving on the scene in 2018, the game’s graphics still represent what an MMO that releases today should try to emulate.
The action certainly takes some time to really get off the ground and will always have that repetitiveness to it that is common among many MMOs. Following the main quest and picking up side quests will keep the game moving forward and help the player gain the maximum amount of experience and items to consistently upgrade their character.
Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.
Overall, Lost Ark is a pretty fun MMORPG. It may not draw a huge crowd of fans that weren’t already fans of the genre, but there is a lot for hardcore fans to sink their teeth into. Plus, since it’s free-to-play, it does make it very easy to get a group of friends together and play, which can make any gaming experience more enjoyable. Lost Ark doesn’t expand too much on what the genre could be, but it does set the new standard for what other MMOs should strive for.
Matt Buckley | Gamepressure.com