I’m going to start this off by saying I knew very little about Lost Ark before it was announced it was coming to the West last year. Even after the announcement I didn’t do a whole lot of research into what the game was about. I tend to avoid hyping myself up or consuming a bunch of content about games I can’t play yet. All of this is to say, I knew very little about what to expect going in.
Over the weekend I put 8 hours into it. To give some context, after 8 hours I’m level 23 and have just entered Luterra. There are whole systems I haven’t seen or unlocked yet but I thought now would be a good time to capture my initial impressions.
I thought Lost Ark would grab my attention more than it has. I like MMOs, I like ARPGs, so combining the two should be right up my alley. Right? I don’t find myself with a burning desire to play but I keep launching it when I have some free time. The question on my mind over the course of this weekend is: Where is the fun? What’s compelling me to continue to play the game?
The fun is certainly not in following the story. It’s kind of bland and a bit generic. I’ve read every line of dialogue and the only thing I can tell you is there’s a priest looking for a powerful artifact and a demon keeps popping up to ruin his day. My character seems to be, at best, a side kick. Which is weird because at the start I was told I was the chosen one…I’m always the chosen one!
It reminds me a lot of the story in Black Desert. It seems exists as a back drop to a long tutorial, unlocking more systems as it progress, rather than provide an interesting narrative.
Then there’s the side quests, which I’m not sure why they exist. Typically, I would expect the side quests to flesh out the theme of the zone and add a little flavor or some lore. Maybe even offer a diversion from the main quest. But the side quests are as much on rails as the main story. In most cases, they’re just on the way to the next main quest. I
There seems to be three types of side quest. Go kill X% of enemies, go collect X amount of things from enemies, go pick up something off the ground. Which, to be fair, is your typical MMO quest structure but the number of things you have to do for each quest are very small. They also offer so little lore/story and are so short and uninvolved that the rewards could be rolled in to the main quest line and I wouldn’t miss them at all. It feels like the only reason they are in the game is because MMOs have side quests and this is an MMO.
The fun doesn’t seem to be in the exploring the world either. At least not yet. The zones are filled with enemies who either don’t attack are easily outrun on a mount. They’re not an obstacle and certainly don’t pose a threat at all. There doesn’t seem to be much on the maps besides the designated quest markers and teleport areas. There are vistas to unlock and seeds to find in each zone so there are things to search for if you’re so inclined. I feel like these are something I’ll probably come back to rather than actively pursue right now
Everything else is just kind of there. The time’s I’ve veered off the main quest path I haven’t run into anything interesting
Where I’ve found fun is in the combat. That’s really where Lost Ark is shines. I was expecting a sort of MMO Diablo and instead found myself in isometric Tera.
The control layout is kind of weird but pretty intuitive after getting used to it. It’s kind of like playing League of Legends with an extra row of buttons or a side scrolling brawlers like Dungeon Fighter Online and Closers. It let’s me pull off some nice looking combos with relative ease as long as I hit the right buttons. I have the first row down pat, it’s the second row that I’m miss clicking a lot right now.
When I first looked at the skill tree I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of skills. But now that I’m level 23 there seems like there are just enough skills to keep things interesting. Since you can’t put all of the skills on your bar at once there’s some experimentation to be had on what skills work well together. There’s also enough options to switch things out and keep combat fresh.
There are also a ton of classes with “advanced” classes that look like they all play differently. It’s going to be hard to not roll some alts as I try to finish the main quest on my Shadowhunter.
Along with the combat, the dungeons are one of my favorite parts of the game right now. I find exploring the dungeons way more fun than exploring the world zones. For one, the enemies are actually an obstacle to overcome and sometimes even a threat. There’s also a strong urge to see what’s down this hallway that is clearly not the direction I’m suppose to go.
I’m glad that there’s an option to do the dungeons with people or solo. I did the first dungeon with matchmaking and found myself lagging behind the rest of my party. I tried the next one solo and on the hard difficulty just to see if I could and I haven’t been back to matchmaking since. I’m sure there will be a reason to party up as I get later in to the game but for now it’s nice to take my time through each new dungeon.
Oh, and the soundtrack for this game is awesome. I find myself in zones just listening to the music for a bit before I move on. It’s free to listen to over on Lost Ark’s Korean site here if you’re in to that kind of thing.
I’ll still be playing Lost Ark for a while. I would like to see the other systems I haven’t unlocked yet and progress to the end of the main story to see how the game pans out in the long run. I haven’t looked through the cash shop enough to see what kind of issues might reside there but for now I’m happy to continue to play the game for free and see what else is out there in Arkesia.