Lost Ark characters

The Lost Ark Review

The Lost Ark Review

need to know

What is it? Massive fantasy MMO with spectacular fantasy battles

expect to pay Play for free

release date February 11

developer Smile Gate RPG

Publisher Amazon Studios

audit date AMD Ryzen 5 3600, Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super, 32 GB RAM

multiplayer game massively

association Official website

Lost Ark is a zero chill game. It’s a Korean hybrid of ARPG and MMO that embodies the best and worst traits of both genres. It’s ambitious, delivering a grand and spectacular fantasy adventure through a stunning combat system and an astonishing sense of scale, but its grand plans are hampered by antiquated storytelling and repetitive mission structures. It’s an absurd, exaggerated, often clichéd, and occasionally inspired section of game design, a particularly tricky clientele that’s hard to condense into reviews. But to sum it up briefly: I kind of like it.

The sketchy plot has your characters on a globe-trotting MacGuffin hunt in search of the eponymous ark, seven relics of immense power essential to turning around the mortal realm’s battle against invading demonic hordes. You can create a character from one of five classes: Warrior, Gunner, Mage, Martial Artist, and Assassin. Several of these are then divided into finer subclasses. For example, mages are divided into musical bards and elemental sorceresses, while fighters can choose from damage-dealing Berserkers, melee/range gunners, and paladins, who balance swordsmanship with divine magic.

(Image credit: Smilegate RPG)

Although I dabble in various classes in the game’s built-in class tester, I spent most of my time in Lost Ark as a Paladin. Lost Ark combat is top-notch, at least on a visual and tactile level. From the start, its mantra has been “You can hit twenty enemies, why hit one?” It gives you the fighting skills to facilitate that. You start the game at level 10 and have unlocked five abilities. For Paladins, this includes abilities like Spin Slash, which is a powerful one-two punch that can greatly reduce enemy health, and Light of Judgment, where your Paladin puts his hand forward Push, sending out a searing beam of light that sends enemies flying back in a never-tiring fashion.

Lost Ark is a zero chill game.

Lost Ark is primarily built around these rich combat skills, so much so that when the battle has already been won, you’ll mostly be using standard attacks to sweep up stragglers. As you level up, your powers also become more impressive. You unlock new combat skills every few levels, up to around level 40, and each level gives you ability points that you can use to improve your existing skills, making your attacks faster, stronger, or longer lasting. After unlocking higher tier abilities, I like to turn on the fight with God’s Wrath, a devastating AOE attack, specially sent from heaven. I’ll then sweep away any remaining enemies with a somewhat clumsy Lightning Slash, in which your Paladin moves slowly forward, slicing the air as fast as an armored lawnmower.

Combat is an important foundation of Lost Ark’s adventures, though those looking for a challenge may find the game’s difficulty curve fairly flat. You’ll be waltzing through most of the fights on the main road, and aside from particularly challenging bosses or dungeon-setting difficulties, you rarely have to think too much about things like positioning or how to deploy your powers.

(Image credit: Smilegate RPG)

Initially, Lost Ark was a very instructive experience. The world is divided into continents, which themselves are divided into regions. These areas are designed to be experienced in a specific order, leading you through a series of main and optional tasks.

The Lost Ark mission approach is like a parody of MMO design. You’ll be sent to kill monsters that respawn so quickly that it’s usually faster to wait for them to reappear rather than explore. The NPCs that fill the area are also some of the laziest I’ve come across, requiring you to talk to someone they’re actually standing next to them, or move objects like crates or barrels 10 yards. The strangest targets are those that let you emote on NPCs. I’m not sure how to stop an aspiring king from doubting his own legitimacy, but I’m not sure if throwing a fist at him enthusiastically will cut it.

Elementary to say the least. But The Lost Ark takes this approach for two reasons. First, missions propel you through areas with extraordinary efficiency. Not only are the objectives clear, but you often use a different NPC to complete them than the NPC that assigns them. This helps maintain motivation and minimizes backtracking, while also providing a steady stream of rewards like coins, new weapons, and armor.

(Image credit: Smilegate RPG)

Second, these crash quests gradually develop into larger storylines and events. Most areas will eventually lead you to a dungeon – an instanced area that can be explored with up to three other players. These dungeons vary widely, from ancient ruins to pirate coves to crumbling catacombs full of heretical priests. They’re a great space to explore, and unlike more general areas, they’re not occupied by constantly respawning enemies, which makes combat even more satisfying.

Speeding along the castle’s fortifications, slaughtering a dozen or so enemies while the siege vehicles pounded the walls with stones and chains, I giggled with joy.

However, the high point of The Lost Ark comes with its main story events. Much of the early game takes place on the continent of Silutra, where you try to help the errant king Thirain retake the throne from the usurper Lord Scherritt. The story where you help Thirain assemble his troops through multiple areas culminates in a massive castle siege that looks more like something out of Total War than an ARPG. Speeding along the castle’s fortifications, slaughtering a dozen or so enemies while the siege vehicles pounded the walls with stones and chains, I giggled with joy. Then in East Lutra, the Lost Ark does it again, leading you into another battle that is not only bigger, but weirder.

When The Lost Ark shines, it’s impossible not to be captivated by the momentous events that lie ahead of you. And what I’ve mentioned here is just the beginning of the game content. Once you reach the end of East Luterra, the game offers you a ship to set off to explore the rest of the vast world of the Lost Ark. There are tons of new places to explore, from quirky isles filled with talking animals and other oddities, to brand new areas where you can keep finding the rest of the Ark. Some of these places are really weird. For example, your first port of call off the mainland is an island inhabited by pixie-like creatures that tend to ladybug farms in the bushes.

(Image credit: Smilegate RPG)

That’s convincing. The main character is a one-dimensional carousel of exhausting noble heroes and villains who look like they stumble across the local S&M club on the way to battle. The only character with any nuance is the priest Amon, who is actually two-dimensional – half-human, half-demon. The way the game cherishes this notion of duality like a collie gives you some clues as to the level of functionality of the story.

My other complaint about Lost Ark is that the loot sucks. Almost everything is geared towards incremental stat upgrades, and very few are unique or unique, at least on the main story path. That’s partly because the game’s leveling system goes way beyond loot, with a whole host of mysterious mechanics dedicated to activities like faceting gems and collecting cards, all of which contribute to your character’s stats. More MMO-oriented players might get attention for making their own upgrades, but to me, none of the Lost Ark metagame scaffolding is as much fun as finding a great sword that shoots lightning, and this The game dilutes the core so much, it’s a shame to collect cool gear spitting out at high speed from oversized treasure chests.

However, every time I start brushing the shallower edges of Lost Ark, the game throws some wild scenes at me, sending me back into its depths. It’s hard to get mad at a game where the boss is a pirate parrot, and you’ve shrunk yourself with a magic potion on the table. Combat alone is enough to give The Lost Ark a go, with its absurd scale and many odd tangents successfully overcoming its bland storytelling and number-crunching quests. It’s not a classic, but I had a lot of fun watching it try to be a classic.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.