Lost Ark: 1 monthish on…

by stubat
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OKAY. So, Lost Ark officially had its western release date on February 11th, after putting 300 hours into it and hitting Tier 3 (1302+ item level) I’d like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts, what I did enjoy, what I didn’t enjoy and also address the joint statement from Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG on the current state of the game and things they’re looking to change. So if we’re about ready, let’s hop straight into it.

Lost Ark server queue
Those who started early will have spent many hours sitting here… Queue simulator much?

Seems like the best place to start is, what is Lost Ark? Well, it is an MMOARPG (Massively Multiplayer Online, Action Role Playing Game) in the same vein as games like Path of Exile or in some regards Diablo. You grind to collect materials, collect Lost Ark Gold, and use this to buy or upgrade existing equipment. However, unlike in Path of Exile where you can only bump into players in hub cities, in Lost Ark, you’re always bumping into other players, which can be awesome until you stumble onto a PvP island and there are a bunch of berserkers camping the entrance… ANYWAY, this system is awesome for a few reasons. 

The first is that it feels like you’re in an actual open world and it makes it feel ACTIVE versus running about on your own (or with a party) killing stuff. Not only that but it allows for things like field bosses, where you’ll find yourself teamed up with a random amount of people hammering away at a boss with health that scales depending on how many people are attacking them.

Lost Ark actually released MANY years ago, 2019 to be exact, but only in Korea and Russia, the hype train never stopped rolling in the west though as we all hoped and prayed for a western release. The game has been in development for as long as I can remember. In fact, I believe I first heard about this game when I was starting Season 4 on Diablo 3 a LONG F****N’ TIME ago, a quick google search will tell you Season 4 of Diablo 3 started in August 2015. 

So now I’ve gone through what Lost Ark is, it’s time to tell you whether I like it. Short answer, yes. I like it quite a lot actually, but it’s far from perfect. As I mentioned at the top, I’d also like to address the joint statement from Amazon Games & Smilegate RPG, so I’ll talk about what I do and don’t like and anything that I have an opinion on that they’ve addressed, I’ll make sure to mention it.

Starting with something I liked, the game in general, just most of it. Graphically Lost Ark is pretty great, the skill animations are great, and the cutscenes are pretty awesome even if they’re a bit cringe. Something I didn’t like about the way the game looked was the lack of weapon and armour skins.

By 1325 where I currently sit, I’ve had like 3 skins so everybody just kind of… looks the same? I like to feel somewhat unique when playing an MMO and this made it feel like it was straight out of the early 2000s. Although I’m sure in time we’ll be able to buy new skins, which should be easy to do when you can find Lost Ark Gold for sale at places like mmoexp.com.

Next, there’s the story. Lost Ark’s story is decent enough, I don’t LOVE it but I also don’t hate it, I’ve found no real problems with the story and it’s just absolutely… Okay. There are some pretty good side stories and some really fun stuff to do on the varying islands you’ll come across so that keeps things interesting. Most of the dungeons are fantastic with some incredible boss battles, some of my favourite I’ve done in gaming.

One thing I REALLY dislike in Lost Ark though is gender-specific classes. You HAVE to play a specific gender if you want to play certain classes and honestly, in 2022, that’s just not really acceptable, add into that the fact that a lot of players end up LOOKING the same and it doesn’t really add a lot of originality and your character just kind of mixes in with the masses, right? Amazon and Smilegate have talked about changes for this however, how long this will take is another question altogether.

Lost Ark honing system
The honing system has been the source of much debate in the community.

Then there’s Lost Ark’s honing system. *deep breath* So the way gear score works in this game, you acquire items at a specific item level, Tier 1 is 302, Tier 2 is 802 and Tier 3 is 1102. Once you acquire those items you then need to “hone” them which is basically upgrading them. Each piece, for Tier 1 & Tier 2 at least, needs to be upgraded to +15 so you can get to 600 and then 1100 respectively so you can continue the story, more on that in a minute.

Your first 6 upgrades on EACH PIECE have a 100% chance of succeeding, but with every chance following that the chance decreases until you give yourself a 40% chance to succeed in upgrades. Each failure raises your chance by 8% but the materials it takes to go from 13 to 14 or 14 to 15 is insane, so the sheer amount of grinding required OR real-life money spent to get to Tier 3 is ridiculous. There are of course materials you can use to increase your chance of succeeding, but even using the maximum allowed (20) still doesn’t give you a 100% chance to go from +14 to +15 on an item.

Going from Tier 1 to Tier 2 I quit Lost Ark for 3 days. I needed a break, I got sick of failing upgrades and grinding for nothing. I HATED that I couldn’t continue the story until I hit 600 item level. Once I hit Tier 2 I was fine, it was okay. But then you get hit with ANOTHER block, 1100 to continue the story again. This system is ridiculous in my opinion. You’re requiring me to grind HARD to continue the story???? 

I eventually got there, failing MANY times again and I played a little bit at Tier 3, but I’ll be real. I burnt myself out HARD. I’ve put many hours into this game at this point and I’ve had to take a break. Now Amazon and Smilegate have agreed that the honing system needs work and they’re addressing this in 2 ways. First, they’re increasing the amount of honing materials you can acquire, effectively reducing the grind needed. They’ll continue to monitor the situation and then if things still don’t change, they’ll be making their second change.

The second change in my opinion is what should be done, but we’ll see how things go. Their second change is to INCREASE THE CHANCE OF SUCCEEDING with later item upgrades. Let’s be real here for a second, 40% chance is ridiculous. That should NEVER be a thing. But given they want you to spend money on microtransactions you can see why. Amazon has said Lost Ark feels FAR MORE pay to win than they ever wanted it to be. I’m glad they have admitted it and actually used the words “pay to win” to describe it.

Lost Ark overall thoughts…so far the TL;DR version

I’ll be honest I’m gonna stop here because I could go on and on about this. The TL;DR is, Lost Ark is a very good game that has a lot of potential, but isn’t without its flaws and since it’s free to play you have no reason not to give it a go, right? Anyway, until next time, I’ve been stubat, take care folks!

Check out more reviews of the latest games, and older ones too, by clicking HERE.

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