Finally, after many years of me pining, Lost Ark has hit the West! Despite login queues and traditional launch-day issues, I have sunk a handful of hours into this MMOARPG. As I started to openly praise the game on Twitter, folks slid into my DM’s to ask for some help, so here I am! While a proper review for Lost Ark is beyond the horizon, I want to provide some helpful starting tips that will assist in not just understanding Smilegate’s take on the genre, but perhaps assist in getting you into the game.
So Many Classes
When you start, the game throws you into a class selection screen. Classes are gender locked which is a shame, so make sure you look around and check out the archetypes. For instance, I wanted to make a female deadeye and artillerist, but I can’t, those are reserved for manly men only… for some reason.
After I reluctantly chose the male gunner class, I was presented with the option to select one of three archetypes. I urge you to play all three to get a feel for how each one plays. If you go into Lost Ark and claim you don’t like the game, it might just be due to not enjoying the class you picked. Don’t be hasty! Give them all a try, at least one of them is bound to be fun to you! It took me playing three different classes before one really clicked with me.
Additionally, 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 has you constantly swapping through three different sets weapons which changes up her abilities. Picking this class first could end up leaving a sour taste. Explore each one, you have six slots with the ability to expand upon them.
As I said before, if you don’t like one class make another. If you decide to go back and play that class, you can do that too! Don’t look at your characters as single entitidies. Instead, view every character as a member of an adventuring party that works together but separately.
As you level up your individual classes you are also leveling up your party, giving stat bonuses to each of your other party members similar to Diablo’s Paragon system. You can jump around to different characters and never feel like you’re not progressing in one way or another.
Additionally, classes will feel completely different as you get to Endgame, so it is normal for folks to swap their mains. More characters equal more options. Also, you can skip cutscenes once a single character has experienced the content already. You can also skip the prologue entirely as well, making your leveling experience on alts much, much quicker.
The mouse and keyboard controls are nice and sometimes chaotic as it uses “click to move” mechanics. There are also a ton of buttons to hit and if you’re not used to reaching for the function keys or managing so many keys simultaneously, you have the option to use a controller.
The action bar converts seamlessly to the controller bumpers and triggers, and as long as you realize what you’re pressing, Lost Ark becomes much easier to handle. It isn’t perfect though, the right thumbs tick controls a mouse cursor for navigating menus, and the left joystick clicks for getting through conversations and whatnot. Sometimes there is a clear indication on what to press so you’re mostly set. The only thing you need to get used to is seeing the cursor move around when you make contact with some enemies. Besides that, everything including Area of Effect (AoE) attacks work pretty well by locking onto the closest enemy. If you get swarmed, you don’t really need to worry about it as your foes will explode in a demonstration of holy power (if you picked a Paladin, that is).
Don’t Worry About Gear
Every ARPG typically has a rotational gear system where you smack an enemy with a sword and they spew out pants or a legendary weapon. While Lost Ark doesn’t throw gear at you in the same fashion as Diablo, it still tosses the occasional upgrade. Every piece is made specifically for your character with some sets able to be transferred to other characters.
Despite the massive amount of gear that will eventually overload your inventory, you do not need to waste time pondering over gear stats. Most equipment that you find will tell you if it is worth upgrading with a blue arrow pointing upwards. By the time you reach the end of the story, you’ll have a full set of gear to take on the endgame content, so don’t bother number crunching, save that for later.
The most requested issue sent to me (and I totally get why) is “where do I go next?” or “Why is everyone standing in my way in the church?” The game holds your hand for most of the time but other times you might get a bit lost, whether it be the millions of systems that come at you or just where to move to next. There is a little icon next to your map that looks like a shrub that once clicked will tell you where to go next or make suggestions on what to pursue.
Main quest lines are highlighted in a special orange icon that floats over the heads of NPCs as well are highlighted in your quest journal. Also, feel free to ask in game when the chat isn’t filled with gold bots and people talking about which metal band is the best (hint, it is always the one you never listened to).
The main quest line will take you all the way to max level, so you don’t need to do the extra side quests if you do not want to. You cannot enter endgame content until you finish the main campaign, but if you want to overpower your way through the end of the story, by all means! Send those demon spawn right back to hell with stories of your prowess! Plus, side quests are pretty easy and barely take up a ton of time at the start of the game, so feel free to gather your potions.
Skills and Presets
Lost Ark is all about making the class feel like yours. A part of this is the skill system which allows you to invest points into specific abilities that become better over time. You can make a tanky Paladin or one that deals an absurd amount of damage. If you don’t know what to do, there is a recommendation button that helps you create something that gets the job done.
The great part is how skill sets aren’t one, you have skill presets that you can swap between with additional slots purchasable. This becomes more important when you get to the endgame area and begin to focus your class more. You can also easily swap through armor presets as well as consumable items with four different formats.
Some items such as your daily login bonuses can be earned can only be claimed on a single character. Pick a character you really enjoy and can see yourself sticking with, and then claim it on that character. Some items are available and cover your account instead of per-character.
Items like Crystalline Aura grant you bonuses across your account no matter which character you pick. The items you claim from certain activities may only be claimed on the character you access the menu with. The great news is that items that are bind-on-character will notify you of such so you can really think long and hard about what you are doing with your items.
Finally, the last thing to know is how Lost Ark really likes pets. Pets are little creatures that follow you on your adventure. They cannot be hurt so don’t worry about getting your little bunny destroyed by the army of the undead. They can assist you by offering bonuses to your health and even offer 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 neat little hat. Sorry, but the bunny I have gives me better stats. Sorry Socks.
So those are some beginner’s tips for Lost Ark. As I get further into this game, I should have more tricks to help you get through the grind! As you progress, you will have more systems to manage, and I plan on doing my best to keep my literal ship and fortress together!