Finally, after many years of languishing, Lost Ark has reached the West! Despite login queues and traditional launch day issues, I spent a few hours in this MMOARPG. As I started openly praising the game on Twitter, people slid into my DMs asking for help, so here I am! While a proper review of Lost Ark is beyond the horizon, I want to provide some useful starting tips that will not only help you understand Smilegate’s take on the genre, but perhaps help you to get into the game.
So many lessons
When you start, the game throws you into a class selection screen. Classes are gender locked, which is a shame, so be sure to look around and check out archetypes. For example, I wanted to do a female deadeye and gunner, but I can’t, those are for manly men only… for some reason.
After reluctantly choosing the male gunner class, I was presented with the option to select one of three archetypes. I invite you to play all three to get an idea of how each plays. If you enter Lost Ark and claim that you don’t like the game, it could simply be that you don’t like your chosen class. Don’t be in a hurry! Try them all, at least one of them is sure to amuse you! It took me playing three different classes before I really liked one of them.
In addition, each class has a skill level ranging from “easy to manage” to “incredibly difficult”. Classes like the Berserker can be easy to pick up and play while the female Gunslinger constantly has you swapping between three different sets of weapons, altering her abilities. Choosing this class first could end up leaving a sour taste. Explore each of them, you have six locations with the possibility of developing them.
Like I said before, if you don’t like one class, take another. If you decide to go back and play this class, you can do that too! Don’t think of your characters as unique entities. Instead, think of each character as a member of a group of adventurers who work together but separately.
As you level up your individual classes, you also level up your party, giving stat bonuses to each of the other members of your party, similar to Diablo’s Paragon system. You can jump from character to character and never feel like you’re not progressing one way or another.
Also, the courses will feel completely different as you get to Endgame, so it’s normal for people to swap out main courses. More characters equals more options. Additionally, you can skip cutscenes once a single character has already experienced the content. You can also skip the prologue altogether, which makes your leveling experience on alts much, much faster.
Mouse and keyboard controls are nice and sometimes chaotic as they use “click to move” mechanisms. There are also a ton of buttons to press and if you’re not used to reaching for function keys or managing so many keys simultaneously, you have the option of using a controller.
The action bar seamlessly converts into controller bumpers and triggers, and as long as you realize what you’re pressing, Lost Ark becomes much more manageable. It’s not perfect though, the right thumb tick controls a mouse cursor to navigate menus, and the left stick clicks to move through conversations and so on. Sometimes there’s a clear indication of what to press so you’re almost ready. The only thing you have to get used to is seeing the cursor move when you come into contact with certain enemies. On top of that, everything including area of effect (AoE) attacks works pretty well locking onto the nearest enemy. If you’re overrun, you don’t really have to worry about it as your enemies will explode in a display of holy power (if you picked a paladin, of course).
Don’t worry about equipment
Each ARPG usually has a rotating gear system where you hit an enemy with a sword and they spit out a legendary weapon or pants. While Lost Ark doesn’t throw gear at you the way Diablo does, it still throws the occasional upgrade. Each piece is made specifically for your character with certain sets transferable to other characters.
Despite the massive amount of gear that will eventually overwhelm your inventory, you don’t need to waste time thinking about gear stats. Most gear you find will tell you if it’s worth upgrading with a blue arrow pointing up. By the time you reach the end of the story, you’ll have a full set of gear to tackle the endgame content, so don’t bother doing the math, save that for later.
The most asked question I’ve been sent (and I completely understand why) is “where do I go next?” or “Why is everyone standing in my way in the church?” The game holds your hand most of the time, but other times you might get a little lost, whether it’s the millions of systems coming your way or just where to go next. There’s a little icon next to your map that looks like a shrub that, when clicked, will tell you where to go next or give suggestions on what to pursue.
Main quest lines are highlighted in a special orange icon that floats above the heads of NPCs and are also highlighted in your quest log. Also, feel free to ask in-game when the chat isn’t full of gold bots and people talking about the best metal band (hint, it’s always the one you’ve never listened to).
The main quest line will take you up to the level cap, so you don’t need to do the extra side quests if you don’t want to. You can’t access endgame content until you’ve completed the main campaign, but if you want to fight your way to the end of the story, by all means! Send those demons back to hell with tales of your prowess! Also, the side quests are pretty easy and barely take a ton of time at the start of the game, so don’t hesitate to collect your potions.
Skills and Presets
Lost Ark is all about making the class feel like your own. Part of that is the skill system that allows you to invest points into specific abilities that improve over time. You can create a tanky paladin or a paladin that deals an absurd amount of damage. If you’re not sure what to do, there’s a recommendation button to help you create something that does the job.
The great part is that skill sets aren’t one, you have skill presets that you can swap out with additional purchasable slots. This becomes more important when you get to the late game zone and start to focus more on your class. You can also easily swap out armor presets as well as consumables with four different formats.
Some items such as your daily login bonuses can only be earned on a single character. Choose a character that you really like and can see yourself with, then claim it on that character. Some items are available and cover your account instead of per character.
Items like Crystalline Aura grant bonuses to your account no matter which character you choose. Items you claim from certain activities can only be claimed on the character you access the menu with. The good news is that character-bound items will let you know so you can really think long and hard about what you’re doing with your items.
Finally, the last thing to know is how much Lost Ark really loves pets. Pets are small creatures that follow you on your adventure. They can’t be harmed, so don’t worry about your little bunny being destroyed by the undead army. They can help you by providing bonuses to your health and even inventory slots to carry more items. You can also rename your pets to make them more personal. I have a cat named Socks and he has a cute little hat. Sorry, but the bunny I have gives me better stats. Sorry Socks.
So here are some beginner tips for Lost Ark. As I progress through this game, I should have more tips to help you get through the grind! As you progress, you will have more systems to manage, and I plan to do my best to keep my ship and my fortress together!