Until a few years ago, when MMOs were still going strong and people were constantly looking for an alternative to World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV, this name was running, Lost Ark, which promised very well. Developed by Smilegate for the Korean market, Lost Ark is an interesting hybrid that immediately attracted the attention of fans not only for the care given to world building and art direction, but also for the gameplay that, for once, took the lead. distance from the usual grinding on which these titles often focus, guaranteeing a satisfying experience even in solitary thanks to an engaging narrative and a good variety of content. Released in 2018 in Korea and a year later in Russia, however, the Smilegate title never arrived in our country, and frankly we didn’t even count on it anymore, until yesterday it showed up at Summer Game Fest 2021 with a trailer that confirmed the European and US release later this year.
What is Lost Ark?
The first thing you need to know about Lost Ark is that it has little to do with Diablo, although the isometric view may make you think otherwise: the title Smilegate it’s closer to a traditional MMO than a loot-focused action RPG, although the combat system is absolutely fast-paced and dynamic, and the loot is never lacking. The game, which will be released in the west by Amazon Game Studios, will adopt the free-to-play formula, although the extent and weight of the very probable microtransactions that will serve to support the project have yet to be clarified. On the other hand, the choice of languages in localization would seem obvious: dubbing in English; texts in English, French, German and Spanish, but no Italian. Yes, it’s 2021 and they still don’t localize certain games in Italian, but not knowing English in 2021 is just as bad. You know our position on this, so let’s move on.
As for the story, Lost Ark is set in a world called Arkesia over which seven deities reign, each possessing a fragment of the powerful artifact known as Ark. The almighty god Regulus, however, created not only Arkesia, but also a parallel world, Petrania, in which demons in the service of Kazeros, the lord of the abyss, thrived. When the latter attempts the invasion of Arkesia by passing through an opening that occasionally connects the two universes, the Guardians reunite the Ark to bury Kazeros under a volcano and repel demons to their home world. This war was followed by a period of peace that lasted 500 years. The game begins at this point, with a new passage about to open, the volcano that imprisons Kazeros which is about to awaken and the players, new Guardians of Arkesia, required to find the pieces of theArk to save the world before it’s too late.
The game is therefore structured like a typical MMORPG a leveling that winks at theme parks but at the same time tries a less linear approach in structural terms. Players start from scratch and work their way through hordes of monsters across maps, solving main and side missions to accumulate experience points, gain new skills, and get their hands on ever-better weapons and equipment. There narrative however, it has a major impact on gameplay. Most of the main missions are extremely choreographic, cinematically scripted to engage players in real pitched battles, sophisticated gameplay sequences that make use of dynamic framing to maximize the spectacularity of the most important moments in the storyline. The variety of game situations, between fighting aboard vehicles, siege weapons that shift the first-person view and environmental puzzles to be solved to continue from one scenario to another, makes Lost Ark capture the interest of the player for a long time, even the most casual one. he will enjoy following the story without devoting himself body and soul to each content.
On the other hand, those wishing to deepen the more RPG aspects of the Smilegate title will not be disappointed. Lost Ark features a crafting system based on specific gathering and crafting skills, as well as a housing which allows you to customize not only the sailing ship with which you travel by sea from one continent to another, but even an entire island that we can decorate as we like and show off to friends. The social component is relatively important: you can communicate with other players, found guilds and form groups with which to face dungeons for a few adventurers or raid for much larger teams. Lost Ark puts players to the test with gigantic bosses from the very first bars of the adventure, immediately upping the ante and pushing the accelerator on the spectacular gameplay.
Also in terms of endgame content should not be missing: the game has been out for three years now, so it has accumulated updates on updates that will probably be available at the western launch and which will include, among other things, special missions in which we will have to search and defeat particular monsters a little ‘as we were in Monster Hunter, and a particular procedural labyrinth that players will have to face in unfavorable conditions, a bit like in World of Warcraft’s Mythics +.
As we said, Lost Ark is more like an MMO than a Diablo in structural terms, but as a combat system it is a real isometric action that recalls the iconic Blizzard franchise several times, although Smilegate has focused a lot on the spectacularity and dynamism of the action from the very first minutes of gameplay, meticulously taking care of the animations and effects. The game, which also features the PvP in the form of one-on-one duels or three-on-three arena clashes in the dedicated Colosseum, is based on a class system: initially you choose one among the five available, but then for each of them you select a further specialization that it changes not only the weapon held by the character, but also the combat system.
The Warrior, for example, he can become Berserker and wield a two-handed broadsword that makes him a physical front-line fighter, or Paladin and attack with a sword while casting protective spells on his companions, or even Gunlancer, the tank par excellence that combines a large shield and a rifle lance to defend the team and control the enemies on the battlefield. The Mageinstead, he can specialize in support, and become a Bard, who sacrifices offensive power in favor of healing and protection magic, or attack, and change into Summoner, a class capable of summoning different elemental spirits to exploit the vulnerabilities of the enemies. The official Lost Ark website offers a roundup of descriptions, photos and videos of the various classes – which include the Gunner, the Martial Artist and theAssassin – and their specializations, as well as their skills that the player can use in real time after waiting for the usual cooldown.
The most interesting thing is the personalization system called Tripod. Each skill can in fact increase in level and become more powerful, but above all it can be modified, once certain levels have been reached, choosing between two or three options that alter various characteristics such as the cooldown time, the range of action, the elemental property if has a, chance to deal critical damage, and so on. It is also possible to increase the specific level of these modifiers, called Tripods, by finding the equipment that has the same characteristics: in case you want to change a piece of equipment, such as a headgear, you can always transfer a Tripod from an object to the other to maintain the build you prefer, even within certain limits. Between modifiers, Rune that further change the properties of skills and other options, the Lost Ark combat system guarantees an over-the-top variety and incentives for experimenting with unique builds and combinations.
Does it make sense to go out with an MMORPG like Lost Ark, which already has a few years on its shoulders, when the genre has been going through an evident period of tiredness for some time? The hybrid nature and immediacy in gameplay of the Smilegate title would seem to suggest that there is still room for a try, and we’re pretty sure the free-to-play formula will convince many players to try Lost Ark when it finally becomes available in the coming months. . At the moment the official site allows you to sign up for a test that will take place in these days, and there is still no precise release date although Steam has temporarily published, and then removed, a potential 21 October 2021. We, for our part. , we are very curious to try it, and we will not fail to offer you our opinions on it, so stay tuned.