games / Reviews

Lost Ark (PC) Review

February 23, 2022 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Lost Ark Image Credit: Tripod Studio
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Lost Ark (PC) Review  

I’ll be honest, Lost Ark is a big game. It has a lot of systems and stuff going on, so much so that I’ve still not even scratched the surface of this game. Suffice it to say that if see screenshots or videos of this game and think it’s just a Diablo-like game, you’re in for a big, big surprise.

Image Credit: Tripod Studio

Here’s the thing, I’ve literally been waiting for this game for over 4 years now, possibly even 5. I’m not kidding when I say this, I found an old chat log I had with a friend from 2017 where I was showing him a trailer of this game, from South Korea, and talking about how great it looked. So, suffice it to say, it’s been a long time coming for me.

The other thing with this game, and it’s weird to even say this but the closest game I can compare this to is Marvel Heroes. Marvel Heroes was the first game I can think of that was the first real stab at trying to combine something like Diablo into a more connected online world. I wouldn’t say it was a MMO strictly, since it’s social side was…messy, to say the least, and there wasn’t a lot of things for you to do outside the main story quest. Believe me when I say this, Lost Ark has so much content, it will swallow your time if you’re not careful.

On its face, Lost Ark does resemble Diablo, Torchlight, Grim Dawn or half a dozen of other Action RPG games. You have abilities/spells mapped to hot keys, a health potion/mana potion buttons, you move with the mouse, right click on enemies to attack and so on. This is only the very surface level gameplay of Lost Ark but it gets expanded very quickly.

By far the best part about Lost Ark is the actual combat itself. It actually feels impactful, which is something I can’t stress how different this works compared to other ARGs. Think about combat in Diablo 3, the enemy would just run at you and you would attack them. They had one of three reactions: ignore it, get momentarily stunned, or die. That’s about it when it comes to enemy response in D3.

Combat in Lost Ark is different because your attacks actually seem to matter. My main character is a female sorceress and one attack I have creates a water wave that extends from my character. When it hits enemies they get damaged but they also get pushed away from where they were as the wave continues to travel outward. Or I have another ability that when I cast it, it creates a circle that causes enemies to go flying upward then slam into the ground. I’ve played around with a few other classes, and they all seem to have attacks that, in one form or another, actually have interactions with enemies, whether they slow them down, push them away/draw them in, or just how the attacks connect.

In terms of classes, you are looking at 15 different types, with them split under 5 archetypes. This is one of the more weird parts of the game but there are five basic archetypes: Warrior, Mage, Assassin, Martial Artist and Gunner. Within those 5 main classes are advanced classes, however, certain classes are locked to either male or female character. Strictly speaking, mages/assassins are women, warriors are men, and martial artists/gunners swing both ways. There’s a lot of nitpicking going on with this gender system and I’m here to say: I don’t care. I don’t feel the need to personally identify or pretend that I’m playing myself in the game. I like playing as a mage, so if I have to be a female character to do it, I don’t care. Plain and simple.

For what it’s worth, the classes, Gunner and Martial Artists who do have female/male classes, the gender division is equal. There are 15 classes total, 8 for women and 7 for men. The women get three Martial Artists advanced classes to men’s one, while there are three men specializations for Gunners while women only get one. The respective male and female classes aren’t one to one either, so if you pick a female Gunner (Gunslinger) she won’t have the exact same moves as the male Gunner classes, but a few of them might be analogous to one another.

Generally speaking, every class has an ultimate attack/rage mechanic. Basically, when you attack foes, a gauge will gradually fill up letting you unleash a powerful ability when you need it. This is more of a massive buff system, so like, my sorceress gains a massive boost to her magic spells and decreased casting time. My Berserker gets a big boost to physical attack skills. My Artillerist hunkers down in this cannon and has powerful normal attacks and gains new abilities while it’s active, and so on.

Image Credit: Tripod Studio

The general flow of the game is what you would expect from your typical action RPG. You pick up quests, kill enemies or collect items, turn in quest, rinse and repeat. There are some differences here, some slight and some a bit major.

The slight differences are, there is a lot of story going on here. Every quest you pick up, be it a major quest or a side quest has dialog you can read (or button through), to help give some context to what is going on. It’s not really needed but if you want to get into the details, you can. Or another subtle difference is that there is more environmental interaction going on than the usual fare. You’ll have to move the occasional barrel around, become a ladybug for a few quests, jump between platforms, swing on ropes, etc. This obviously isn’t all the time, but it does help break up some of the monotony in a dungeon crawler.

More major differences are like how major boss fights work. In most games like this, a big boss fight might involve two or three phases of a boss and that be about it. Here, some bosses have several phases and mechanics that you need to actually know or else you won’t be able to complete the fight. An early major boss involved attacking it like usual, but to break through its shield when it was near death, you had to pick up a shield and reflect light back on it, like Link does in Ocarina of Time. Another later boss fight against a demon, involved you climbing a big tower, dodging attacks by the boss, getting to the top of the tower, and going through different phases where it attacked you and you turned cranks to open a drain system to flood the boss.

Image Credit: Tripod Studio

There are also community quests that you can do, which I think are only specific to your character. This is basically the same thing Guild Wars 2 or Destiny do where a random, timed quest will show up and it’ll say “Kill 15 demons with 3 minutes with this certain area and if you leave you fail”. You get a nice bit of loot/experience for doing them and it helps the game feel more dynamic than it really is.

All of the above is more or less the surface level stuff of the game and the most you’ll actually be doing. Questing, killing enemies, going to new areas, and so on. Now, let’s get into some of the nitty-gritty about things that Lost Ark does that most games don’t.

Aside from your combat skills you also have trade skills to do. This is similar to WoW’s profession system, only it’s a bit more open. Here you have: fishing, foraging, hunting, logging, excavating and mining. Some of these work very similar to the WoW skills, fishing, excavating (archeology), mining and foraging (herbalism) are more or less the same as in World of Warcraft, just with one or two small differences. Logging works by you running up on certain trees, pressing a button and you’ll start cutting it down. If someone joins you, you’ll switch to a two-person saw and the tree goes down quicker. Hunting is slightly odd, there are some neutral enemies that you’ll find and you can just chuck an axe at them to kill them. You’ll get various materials if you manage to do so, but there’s no real risk of failure, if you don’t hit the animal (usually a rabbit), you can just wait a second or two and try again.

Image Credit: Tripod Studio

Maps don’t have every activity for you to do, at most, a map might have a combination of these three things, like mining, logging and fishing, or fishing, foraging and hunting. The game says that you can tell which maps have which activities but I never figured that out. This is a problem I’ll address a bit further down below.

There are whole other subsystems that you can do as well. There’s a whole engraving system that you can use to get stat bonuses. You can find Mokoto Seeds in the game world which gives you rewards on the number you find. You can get cards from doing certain quests and put them into a distinct equipment system to get bonuses, etc.

The major system in Lost Ark to contend with is that of your Stronghold. This is where all the trade skill stuff actually comes into play and my god, is it complex. Here, you can research new things to build, actually build items, send ships out to gather materials, and so on. That’s in addition to you decorating the Stronghold to make it more attractive for others to visit, etc. This system has a lot of timers so it’s like “Oh, a sailing mission takes 2 hours” or “To research this potion, it’ll need 6 hours to complete”, that sort of thing.

I’ll be honest, the Stronghold/sailing stuff is where the game kind of broke me a bit and leads to the actual worst part of this game, but it takes a bit of explanation and an analogy.

I’ll draw a comparison to World of Warcraft here, when that game originally launched it was complex but fairly easy to grasp, at least when it came to the basic mechanics, it was relatively simple. As they added expansions onto the game, it got more and more complex, but the expansions campaigns eased you into the new mechanics/systems and you were able to do well. This is how most MMO’s/live service games do it.

Lost Ark kind of half does this. It does, reasonably explain most of the core systems going on. Combat, how to use songs, how to teleport, etc., a lot of the fundamentals are there. It is missing some needed stuff though, or some explanations don’t go far enough. I shouldn’t have to do a Google search on what Pirate Coins are, or how to get them. No joke, there are 8 different nautical currencies, 3 different seals and 5 different actual coins, that I’ve seen, and bear in mind, there is probably more. There is a glossary of stuff, like what some items are, but nothing about how you can get them.

I can’t 100% fault the game for this missing info entirely, though. This game has gotten numerous updates since its early days where I’m sure players were able to follow this better. For me, it just does a bad job at onboarding you for the more esoteric systems in the game but that honestly, is the only real issue of Lost Ark.

Well, the demanding nature is also kind of an issue. When I go to play this game I have to shut everything else down, hit “Start” on Steam, then I can go lie down for a few minutes and wait for it to actually boot. Granted, my computer is fairly old at this point, but this happens on machines that are far newer/better than mine.

The last thing I’ll touch upon, since it’s some weird controversy is the “Pay to Win” mechanics, which I think is bunk. You can have a perfectly fun time playing this game, just as a free game. The later parts of the game, particularly the sailing/stronghold stuff do have some elements of that, but honestly, it is fairly advanced stuff. My level 10-45 (it starts at level 10) journey wasn’t impacted by Pay to Win mechanics at all, and the later stuff is more “Pay to bypass some annoying timers/resource gathering mechanics”, more than anything. You can’t just buy new weapons or gear in the game with real money, it’s all either cosmetics, potions/resources, currency, or the Crystalline Aura, which helps with the resource/timer stuff.

Image Credit: Tripod Studio

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
For me, I’d say Lost Ark has been worth the long, long wait. It fills a nice MMO-shaped hole in my gaming heart that while a bit cumbersome and hard to figure out, is fun. The defining system with this game is the combat and after 40+ hours with it, I’m still not bored with it in the slightest. It has a breadth of content for you to explore and conquer and remains fun and beautiful as you do so.

article topics :

Lost Ark, Marc Morrison