Lost Ark Review (PC)

Lost Ark Review: A Newfound Addiction

 

 

The last time I was well and truly into an MMORPG—and I’m talking, like, really hardcore into things—was with the original Ragnarok Online. That game came out in 2002, which was a whole 20 years ago. Granted, I did get into the game later on in its lifespan, so let’s say 15 years ago for argument’s sake. Still, that’s a pretty long dry spell for any one particular kind of video game. Have I played any MMOs since then? Sure I have. I’d even say that I’ve enjoyed the handful that I’ve played. But none of them really stuck, you know? It kind of seemed like, for better or worse, I was destined to have a one-time fling with the MMO genre only to never again find a game that could re-ignite my passion for the series. But then I played Lost Ark.

I’ve never reviewed an MMO while secretly hoping that it would be so good that it would re-ignite my now-extinguished passion for the genre. I didn’t review Lost Ark expecting anything in particular, either—aside from possibly a fun, yet fleeting experience. But that’s not what I got this time around. There was something about this game that came together so well that I couldn’t help but fall for it over the many hours that I quickly amassed playing it. And, while I’m not sure I’ll have room to explain every little thing about this game that I like, I’ll at least try to hit all of the major points within the review!

 

Lost & Found

 

Lost Ark Review Picture 1 - Scroll

Hey, look, we found the treasure! And it’s totally unguarded!

 

The beginning of Lost Ark‘s story is actually fairly generic, as far as MMO storylines go. The game begins with your player character being whisked away to the otherworldly realm of Trixion, where, upon their arrival, they are met face-to-face with its guardian, Beatrice. Beatrice informs the player that the forces of chaos are growing in power and that only by collecting the Arks which have been scattered about the world can peace be restored once more—oh, and it’s your destiny to take care of finding everything, naturally. After that, you wake up on a ship and embark as part of a crew to find yourself the missing “Prophet’s Treasure.” Ironically, this treasure turns out to be a scroll that basically tells you exactly what Beatrice told you, so I’m not really sure what that’s all about, but after being told a second time where your destiny lies, you set out on your adventure to recover the lost arks (ah, so that’s where the titles come from). Credit where it’s due, though—things get a lot better after the game’s intro section.

While the beginning of the game’s story is kind of hum-drum, the rest of its storytelling is absolutely top-tier as far as MMOs go. Part of this simply boils down to the game’s ability to tell a story. While Lost Ark does indeed have its overarching story, each area also has its own story arc, which plays into the main plot somehow—be it helping out a king or fighting back droves of invading demons. Lost Ark does an excellent job by feeding these smaller, equally important stories to players in such a way that they can consume them in one sitting—which helps keep them engaged in the overarching story—while really making them feel like they accomplished something. It’s a great system overall, and I was incredibly impressed by the narrative flow going on. Oh, and the plethora of immersive cutscenes and story-based missions helped, too.

 

Lost Ark Review Picture 2 - The King & Armen

I’m just gonna take a nap on the floor, I guess.

 

The second way that Lost Ark shakes up its story is with the inclusion of a single character—Armen. Armen is a wandering priest that you meet almost immediately after the prologue and is about the closest thing to an NPC traveling companion that you’ll get in this game. While I won’t spoil what goes on with him (because there’s a lot, trust me), I will say that Lost Ark places an excessive amount of the spotlight on him for the first 10 – 20 hours of the game’s story. So much so, that it kind of ends up subverting the player’s expectations. MMOs, more often than not, are power fantasies—you’re the chosen one. It’s all about you. However, while you still may be the “chosen one” in Lost Ark, a mighty big chunk of the beginning of the game’s story does everything in its power to paint Armen as the protagonist and you as his sidekick outside of outright telling you. It’s something that it definitely threw me for a loop, but that’s probably why I found it so amusing.

 

The Devil’s in the Details

Lost Ark Review Picture 3 - Mob

Ack! Too close, too close!

 

I’m sure you’re already sick of hearing me yammer on about Lost Ark‘s story (I did tell you that it was good, though, right?), so let’s get onto what you really want to hear about—the gameplay. I’ll be honest with you—I was thrown for a loop at first. Given the current trend we’re seeing with (most) MMOs, I was expecting a third-person action game, but Lost Ark instead opts to walk a much more retro path and gives us something more akin to an old-school Diablo game (albeit a highly updated one). The entirety of Lost Ark takes place from an isometric viewpoint, with a heavy emphasis on mob-based, PvE combat which means that, regardless of your class, you’re going to have at least a handful of crowd control skills.

Speaking of Lost Ark‘s classes… aside from the fact that they’re gender-locked (which has always been a personal gripe of mine in games), I really don’t have any issues at all. As someone who heavily favors PvE over PvP, I couldn’t necessarily tell you the most optimized class for cutting down other players in record time, but, as far as taking on the word of Lost Ark itself, each class—or at least the ones that I played around with—all feel really solid. Whether you’re going for a front-liner like the Berserker, or a long-range attacker like the Sharpshooter, the fact that each of the game’s base classes splits up into Advanced Classes (which you’re forced to pick from right away, might I add), means that you’ll undoubtedly find something that you like.

 

Lost Ark Review Picture 4 - Co-Op Dungeon

Fighting is always more fun together!

 

I’ve also got to hand it to Lost Ark when it comes to the combat mechanics themselves because, well, they’re fun. Like, a lot of fun. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of MMOs—both figuratively and literally—and I most certainly do, too. But I genuinely enjoy my time with the game. There’s something about the way that battles flow—especially boss battles—that genuinely makes the game feel fun and thrilling. And, really, that’s all that a game needs to be at the end of the day—fun.

 

The Wonders of the World

 

Lost Ark Review Picture 5 - Stronghold

Ah, yes… it’s beautiful.

 

Given Lost Ark‘s isometric, Diablo-esque approach to things, the game doesn’t really offer the same chance for players to freely roam around the world like other MMOs do. This game is combat-centric first and foremost, and, as far as I’m aware, it always will be. That doesn’t, however, mean that there aren’t some fun non-combat mechanics that players can engage in—such as gathering resources, crafting, sailing and maintaining their very own stronghold. Strangely enough though, Lost Ark doesn’t just let players dive into all of the additional content—it’s actually drip-fed to the player as they progress through the campaign! Were the game more crafting focused, I’d immediately slam this idea. However, it works strangely well for Lost Ark, and I found myself enjoying learning what the world had to offer outside of combat bit-by-bit. I still can’t say that I’m 100% in favor of the heavy time-gating that the game does with the stronghold, but I’m not going to let one bad apple spoil the bunch.

 

Getting Lost Isn’t So Bad

 

 

Lost Ark is literally great enough to re-ignite my passion for MMORPGs after 15 years. That’s not a joke, and it’s not something that I’m just saying for the sake of this review. Because of that, I don’t know that I should be reviewing this game so much as I should be thanking it. I’m incredibly happy to have finally found an MMO that I can look forward to playing every day, and, if you’re willing to take my word at all, I think you’ll find that you’ll end up the same way once you sit down with this game for yourself.


Final Verdict: 4.5/5

Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Amazon Games; Developer: Smilegate RPG; Players: A Lot; Released: February 11, 2022; ESRB: T for Teen; MSRP: $59.99

Full disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Starting out with nothing more than a Game Boy and a copy of Donkey Kong Land, Kenny has happily been gaming for almost his entire life. Easily-excitable and a bit on the chatty side, Kenny has always been eager to share gaming-related thoughts, opinions, and news with others and has been doing so on Hey Poor Player since 2014 and has previously worked with both PKMNcast and SCATcast. Although his taste in gaming spreads across a wide number of companies and consoles, Kenny holds a particular fondness for Nintendo handheld consoles. He is also very proud of his amiibo collection. You can also find him on Twitter @SuperBayleef talking about video games and general nonsense. Some of his favorite games include Tetris Attack, Pokémon Black Version 2, The World Ends With You, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Yo-kai Watch, Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Kirby's Dreamland 3, Mega Man X, and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (among many others).

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