Lost Ark Technical Closed Beta Impressions – A Hit MMO Heads West
Five years later, Lost Ark finally comes to a global audience, and we’re here to give our impressions of the Closed Beta. The technical closed beta will run for a week, and the only way to access it is to buy in or to be lucky enough to pick up an access key somewhere on the internet. We recently talked about Lost Ark here on Esports Talk and the Founder’s Packs in general. If you want to know what they cost, what’s in them, and if they’re worth it, that link has you covered for sure. It’s important to note this is a f2p MMO, and it’s coming to the West in early 2022. If you aren’t familiar with Korean MMOs and Lost Ark, I’ll get you caught up with what you can expect and how I feel about it with this Lost Ark Closed Beta impressions piece.
What IS Lost Ark, Anyway? Style of Game, Classes
Lost Ark is an Isometric MMO, so it has a camera angle similar to what you’d find in Diablo. A free-to-play MMORPG, it originally launched back in 2019 in South Korea. It’s an MMO that the Americas have been waiting on for several years, and now it’s finally ready to launch here, through Amazon Games. The game itself was developed by Tripod and Smilegate, and published here via Amazon. An incredibly successful game over in South Korea early on, it was only a matter of time before it came here.
The story of Lost Ark isn’t entirely clear at first. Since we don’t start at the beginning (starting at level 10), we could be missing something. The major characters are cool though and I found myself vested in their role in this adventure. There were issues with voices matching the subtitles though, or they simply don’t explain adequately what’s going on. Lost Ark does have a link where you can read the story if you want to have context.
I feel like it’s something that’s been talked about forever but now it’s finally here for us to briefly play. Korean MMOs aren’t for everyone though. These kinds of games tend to be a grind, where you do an endless loop of basically the same quest types over and over again. That’s perfectly fine for some people – me included. I don’t mind it as a casual way to pass the time. One major thing that’s going to turn some people off is that it has Gender-Locked Classes. That’s right, classes only have a specific gender/look attached. When picking a class, you can also watch brief videos that show the combat style.
Each class also has a series of Advanced Classes to pick from as well. In the Technical Closed Beta for Lost Ark, Smilegate lets the players get impressions of the classes themselves. It starts you at level 10, and at a point where you pick the Advanced Class you want to go with. Even better, the room you start in lets you spawn monsters and bosses, so you can try out the gameplay loop for that class, to decide what you want to be. Most classes have two or three choices – except the Male Martial Artist, and Female Gunner.
Here’s what you can start with, and their Advanced Classes:
Warrior (Male): Berserker, Gunlancer, Paladin
Mage (Female): Summoner, Bard
Martial Artist (Female): Wardancer, Scrapper, Soulfist
Martial Artist (Male): Striker
Gunner (Male): Sharpshooter, Deadeye, Artillerist
Gunner (Female): Gunslinger
Assassin (Female): Deathblade, Shadowhunter
You can also customize the faces of these characters to a decent degree. A wealth of hairstyles, colors, and settings are here, but not for the body types. You get what you get, there. The characters themselves look gorgeous though, and overall, I really like the art style for this game. I say it’s five years old, but it’s going to be five in 2022 when it launches. So this game launched in 2019, so it’s not terribly dated. It just sounds like a lifetime ago.
In my time deciding my impressions of the Lost Ark Closed Beta, I played a few classes. My personal favorite was the damage-dumping Mage (Summoner). The abilities that require you to hold a button to charge/continue casting are clunky and weird, but I got used to it in time. I did not enjoy the Soulfist (Martial Artist), and my roommate seemed to enjoy the Paladin (Warrior), even if the gameplay loop did not appeal to him. As you gain exp and play the game though, you also gain Account Levels, which are a series of bonuses you can use on all of your characters. So alts get a slightly easier start! The most important thing about the game, on the note of classes is combat. Let’s talk about that.
Combat Skills, Life Skills
You can choose to attack with LMB or RMB on your mouse, and the other button will be used to move. In Lost Ark, you use QWER and ASDF for your main abilities, and Z to use your Specific Class Abilities. X will rotate between a set of these. For example, the Summoner will get a few different ranged, powerful summons to call on in this slot. The combat loop is pretty standard. You pick up a quest that requires you to kill some stuff or pick up some stuff, then you go do it.
You have your basic attack, and a list of skills, but you cannot use all of your skills all the time. Unlike MMOs like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, you get a finite number of buttons. So you have to figure out which skills appeal to you most and pump up skill points into these. Each of these skills has a series of talents you can invest in. The choices are picked at 5, 20, and 48 skill points.
Enemies seldom come alone, they’re almost always in packs. You’ll employ these abilities, all of which have reasonable cooldown timers. The abilities are all awesome and look very cool. That said, I feel like knowing when to use what is important. Summoners are pretty fragile, so I wind up using abilities that slow and knockback, setting enemies up into my damage.
One ability for example launches an orb that detonates after a time. You can set it behind the pack, trigger the aggro, and knock them back into it. Now is a great time to fire one of your charging attacks to deal constant damage while the enemies try to get close – only to keep nudging them backward. Each class does feel different though, so the strategies will change.
Enemy packs respawn fast though. This is great when you’re farming something for a quest, but not so much when resource gathering. Several times I’d wipe a pack, start farming trees, ore, or something, and the enemies would respawn and immediately attack. I also noticed that aggroing enemies weren’t always reliable. I would shoot an attack to hit a far-off enemy, but they’d do nothing. I was trying to loop a bunch together and AOE them down, but unless I ran directly on top of them, they wouldn’t chase. This wasn’t always the case.
Speaking of gathering, around level 20 or so, I finally unlocked gathering. I’m grateful that you can do all of the gathering skills, and they’re easy to locate on the map and acquire. The resources also don’t take up inventory space, so that’s another leg-up they have on virtually every other MMO I play. In time, you’ll also have a Stronghold to manage, a ship to sail in, and crafting to do. Gathering nodes respawn quickly too, so if someone snatches it, you won’t have to wait long. Though I did notice something interesting. I went to a logging node opposite someone else. Instead of us each chopping with axes, we suddenly began working together with a huge saw. It was new and refreshing.
All told, combat’s solid, but it can be frustrating to see enemies respawn so quickly, especially if it’s a boss monster or a few packs near each other. With so many potential players coming in, at least it makes sense for them to spawn fast. But when it was just me in an area early in the morning, that’s another matter entirely.
How’s It Going So Far? So Far, So Good
Lost Ark is not a perfect game, but if you enjoy the Korean MMO style of gameplay, you’ll like this. It does sort of start slow though. It took a long time to get to doing anything other than teleporting, killing, and turning in quests. The first continent in general is slow and tedious, but beyond that, you start to get more content, far more to do. You can build reputations with NPCs, collect mounts, pets, do crafting, collect cards that offer stat bonuses, and deal with your own personal Stronghold.
Dungeons are good and long, and so far, I can solo all of them. You can wait for people to join you, but honestly, it took too long for me to find allies to ride with. Instead, I just went myself. Dungeons are gorgeous and well-designed, with plenty of challenge and interesting boss mechanics. Combat is smooth and responsive, and I loved playing the Summoner. However, idling in places can be really annoying. You constantly hear NPCs repeating their voice lines over and over. If I hear “…I’m so hungry…” again, I might scream.
Now I did notice that skins grant a minor stat bonus, but I’m not sure if that constitutes p2w. It definitely straddles that line and sets a pretty dangerous precedent. I’ve heard the legendary skins in Korea grant a +4% to stats, which is pretty high. The skins on offer in this build have +1% to a stat. I want to reserve judgment for later on that point. The aura we discussed in a previous article does make you progress a little faster, but that’s it. It doesn’t grant extra power in PVP. Though on the note of power, I do feel like loot isn’t really dropped at an especially great rate for an MMO in this genre.
I was always above the power level of an area I was in, but I expected to have piles of loot. Another positive, it doesn’t lock your inventory behind a paywall, and not having your crafting mats in your bags is a godsend. I had plenty of potions, and more than enough silver to occasionally buy a gear upgrade in one of the many small towns. My impressions of Lost Ark are mostly positive, after playing the Closed Beta. It’s a solid, enjoyable MMO if you’re into this style of game. It will be worth a shot when it goes live and free-to-play in early 2022.