Finding the Fun in Lost Ark

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.

I’m always excited when this guy shows up. He seems to be the one voice actor having any fun.

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

Am I training Agility in Runescape or playing Lost Ark?

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.

Chimeraland First Impressions

I was faced with a rather interesting choice once I completed character creation. Where did I want to be born in the world? There are two continents to choose from and the game let’s you know the choice isn’t permanent. You can travel to the other continents at any time. Not having to commit to an area of the map when I have no idea what I’m doing will probably lead to a lot less character re-rolls.

There doesn’t seem to be  a difference between the two. One was labeled “hot”. I took that to mean more populated rather than the climate but whose to say at this point. Wanting to be where the people are, I picked that one and was presented with a 3D map of the continent. I chose a nice little spot at the foot of the Eastmound Benevolent Mountains. It just seemed like a place a small cow creature should start out.

Then I was unceremoniously ejected in to space. I found my character hurtling to the ground like I was dropping for a battle royale. 

Thanks Bella!

After landing gracefully on my feet I started following the tutorial. If you’re familiar with mobile game tutorials you know how this works. A few lines of dialogue from your friendly, neighborhood, NPC guide followed by an overlay showing exactly where to click/tap/what button to press to open a menu or do a thing. There are cutscenes with a voiced narratoion sprinkled in to explain the more involved systems.

Our friendly NPC guide is in Chimeraland is Bella. So far she has walked me through everything from opening my inventory to capturing monsters with a crossbow and everything in between. Each “quest” finished offers a reward. Sometimes it’s equipment I need to complete the next step of the tutorial, sometimes it’s money, and sometimes I have no what the item used for. That’s ok because I seem to be getting a lot of everything.

Inventory is plentiful. There’s 400 inventory slots and you start out with a large carrying capacity. It looks like carrying capacity can be increased further by leveling up. Which is great for me, I’m a “let’s pick up everything” sort of player if a game allows me to be. 

By far, my favorite part about the inventory are the tabs for each category of item. It’s nice not having to search through the entire inventory to find something. Especially now when I have to hover over each item to see what it does.

In case anyone was wondering…

There doesn’t seem to be much of a story which is fine since I’m not playing a sandbox for the story line. Bella tells me that she was the one who shot me out in to space. Thanks for that Bella…She also tells me there were some people who killed and ancient go thousands of years ago and that there is some sort of war going on now. Oh, and I’m the destined one because of course I am. Destined for what? She never really explained that.

I’m most excited about the gathering system so far. I’ve always liked gathering as an activity in games. I find it relaxing wandering around and collecting stuff. I think that’s due to my early exposure to Runescape where the majority of the game was gathering to craft and/or to sell to other players so I could buy nice looking armor. Likewise, I always use Runescape as my ideal standard for a gathering system. I like when numbers go up and I like when I can progressively gather better things.

Chimeraland’s gathering system definitely has numbers going up. Each skill, mining, logging, plant gathering, fishing, scavenging, needs to be leveled up. While the level doesn’t seem to effect the nodes I’m able to hit I think it affects the resources I’m able to extract from the node. Each gathering skill also has a skill tree which is something I don’t think I’ve seen before. There are skills for getting more resources per hit, getting better resources, and spending less energy on hit.

The energy thing concerns me a bit. Each time you use a gathering skill it spends 4 energy from the pool. This is per action so each swing of the axe depletes 4 energy. Energy regens at 100 energy per 10 minutes. In theory, there is a max amount that can be gathered in a given time frame and then I would need to wait to do more. I’m not sure how this will ultimately affect the game play. For one, the energy pool is huge, starting out at 10,000 energy points. The tool tip says that there are foods that restore energy and that the *base* energy recovery rate is 100 per 10 minutes. Which leads me to believe that the base energy recovery rate can be increased and that I can find energy restoring food eventually.

I sure hope so, because as I log back in while writing this post to check some things, it looks like energy only recovers while you’re online.

That’s a rather large bird

I’m honestly surprised with how stable my connection here. I’m assuming all of the servers are in the SEA region and I’m in the US. I haven’t gotten disconnected or felt the game was lagging at all. A couple hours in to the game I experience rubber banding maybe once but nothing that’s made it unplayable. I’ve had worse lag playing Trove.

There’s so much to write about this game and I’ve only played one time. I’ve played survival sandboxes before and have the basic mechanics down. But the way Chimeraland works these systems in with MMO progression has been very engaging so far. It feels familiar but different and a little esoteric all at the same time.