Is Lost Ark worth playing right now? A lot of MMO players have been wondering whether they should try this relatively new MMO. Ever since its launch in February 2022, Lost Ark has garnered discussion throughout the West where it was highly anticipated and criticized by many.
Lost Ark is a top-down MMO action-roleplay game developed by Smilegate and released in South Korea for a few years before it was published by Amazon Games and released to the west. This led to many preconceived notions and expectations for Lost Ark in the west as we had a vague idea of what to expect from the game with how it performed in Korea. This all not taking into account the cultural differences as well as the differences of publishers in the separate regions that could lead to contrasting outcomes of performance.
If you’re wondering if Lost Ark is worth playing in 2023, we could give you the generic answer that sure, anything is worth trying once. But instead, we’re going to list some contributing factors that may serve as pros or cons for the game and hopefully give you enough information to make that decision for yourself.
To start things off we’ll take a look at what we believe really separates Lost Ark from other MMOs out there. The combat of this game alone is one of the main contributors to its success bar none. Each ability and spell you use in the game has a significant amount of weight behind it that really allows you to feel just how devastating and destructive your abilities are. Combine this with crisp audio and big damage numbers and you’ll find yourself immersed in no time at all.
Lost Ark’s combat system implements additional mechanics such as stagger, destruction, and countering that, if not met, means missing out on free damage or a chance to remove a boss’s armor resulting in longer boss fights. This is significant because some classes in Lost Ark excel more at stagger and destruction than others allowing for people to contribute to fights in other ways than just doing big damage.
Raids & Boss Fights
As cool as big damage numbers are, this game’s combat is a little more intricate than just whaling on bosses until they die. Bosses in Lost Ark have different layers, phases, and movesets that really make the boss fights complex but extremely fun and rewarding to learn.
In the case of Legion Raids, you team up with other players in groups of 4 or 8 (depending on the raid) to go through challenging yet fun content to get loot which sounds pretty generic for a MMO. While the raids in Lost Ark are extremely fun once you get around to learning them, it may take some time to actually get into a group as a new player and is recommended to look for learning parties or just start on the new “Jump Start” servers that are catered toward new players.
Because of how many alternate characters (alts) people usually play in Lost Ark, that means they need to complete all of their weekly raids on more than just one character which, as you can imagine, can take a lot of time. Most people don’t fancy taking more time than they need to by having new players mess up multiple times in their raids. This is what the community refers to as “gatekeeping” where groups will usually not invite newer players or players who have not cleared the content already. As mentioned earlier, this issue should be easily circumvented by playing on Jump Start servers as most of the people on there will be newer which means you should see little to no gatekeeping.
A game’s lore and storyline can arguably be one of the more important factors when it comes to MMOs but of course to each their own. At a quick glance, it doesn’t take a story-driven player to notice that Lost Ark’s story and voice acting aren’t exactly up to par with today’s standards of a “good” story (looking at you FFXIV) but it’s there and relatively easy to follow.
That being said, going through the story for the first time and learning about this new world you’ve been thrown into can definitely be fun. Being introduced to different characters and meeting them later on down the line in a completely different situation really adds immersion of just how vast the world can be and just how much is going on around you. So while it may not be at the quality of a game like Final Fantasy XIV, Lost Ark’s story is probably worth sitting through for at least one playthrough of it.
You can tell from the graphical presentation of this game alone that they’re not slacking when it comes to visuals whether that be in cutscenes or in-game. The characters move very fluidly and naturally which makes for a very immersive take when it comes to the combat and movement of everything.
The spells and abilities look amazing and flashy with effects and graphics that you may never have seen in an MMO before. Of course this may differ from class to class but we’re sure you’ll find a spell or ability from each class that will catch your fancy.
Lost Ark in the west differs from the KR version in a sense that it’s split up between EU, NA, and SA regions for the west and then further divided within those regions based on location (eg. North America East, North America West, European Central, etc.). This can rightfully give off the idea that players are a little spread within each region which isn’t necessarily wrong as they have already merged some regions in EU. Overall you should probably be fine regardless and should choose the region closest to your own location for ping reasons. Though if you have friends that already play Lost Ark, it may be in your best interest to just join their specific server instead.
The more controversial issue that is talked about regarding the population of Lost Ark is the very prominent botting issue where, at one point, bots were pretty much taking over the game and could be found everywhere. Worry not, bots are pretty much a nonfactor as of September 2023 and are nowhere near as prominent within the game as they were 6-8 months ago. The “irreversible” effects that they’ve had on the game’s economy is probably unnoticed by the majority of the player base as it has ironed out pretty well.
At first glance some people might think cosmetics are initially just something for players who spend money on the game but that’s not the case for Lost Ark. Outfits from the Cash Shop can actually be bought and sold through the in-game Marketplace for gold which is an in-game currency and something that any player can obtain.
The outfits in Lost Ark are extremely diverse and vary depending on both class and gender. Lost Ark even allows for mixing and matching different outfits together to really give players a chance to express themselves the way they want to. In addition to being able to change the color dye of your clothes, you can also add patterns to them to really make your fit unique to you.
Gameplay Loop & The Endgame Grind
We all know Korean MMOs are notorious for being both extremely grindy by nature and having some form of pay-to-win features that allow players to gain a significant power advantage over others and frankly Lost Ark is no different. We would be lying if we tried to convince anyone that Lost Ark doesn’t allow players to pay for power which is what most people would consider P2W. That being said, we still believe that in Lost Ark, paying doesn’t really win you anything besides earlier access to content that everyone will eventually achieve by playing the game. This also means that if you have the means and not as much time to play, it makes perfect sense to want to invest money rather than time since people are usually limited on one or the other.
As far as the gameplay loop of Lost Ark, the game really revolves around weekly and daily quests and activities that you can complete on up to six characters to earn gold for your account which is the in-game currency used for just about everything. These daily and weekly activities also reward materials that are needed to upgrade your gear in order to reach higher item levels required to do more content throughout the game.
This also means that access to upgrading materials is timegated in Lost Ark and can be a big turn-off to people who want to be able to nonstop grind for progression. And of course with Lost Ark being a Korean MMO, the way to get around this timegate would be to pay real money for material packs in the cash shop otherwise it’s best to just be patient and diligent with your dailies and weeklies and hope you get lucky while trying to upgrade your gear.
Conclusion: So, Is It Worth Playing Now?
Every game has their pros and cons but we genuinely think that with all the events, catchup mechanism, and quality of life updates that have hit the game recently that all work together to make your account stronger and alleviate the vertical progression process, now is not a bad time at all to try the game out if you’ve ever thought it looks fun. We do recommend the Jump Start servers for newer and returning players because they were quite literally made for that purpose but if you already have friends that play the game and have been trying to get you to try it out, go for it!
Join the High Ground
Thanks for reading our take on whether Lost Ark is worth playing. Now we leave it up to you whether you decide to give Lost Ark a shot for yourself and if you do, we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinion on your experience! If you think we missed anything regarding Lost Ark, feel free to leave a comment about it!
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