In this Lost Ark Closed Beta Gameplay Impressions article, I’m going to talk about my experiences in terms of the gameplay, comparisons to other ARPGs and MMOs as well as its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re curious about the current state of Lost Ark for North America and European regions, as well as the improvements that need to be implemented when the game fully launches in early 2022, then this impressions article/video is for you!
Lost Ark Closed Beta Gameplay Impressions: Gameplay, Classes, PvP and More
Lost Ark is a free-to-play ARPG and MMO that mixes the best elements of both genres. On the surface, it definitely draws some similarities from both Diablo and Path of Exile when it comes to the fast-paced combat style, isometric point-of-view, and a point-and-click system. However, what makes the game unique is how expansive it feels due to the MMO qualities it has such as massive dungeons and raids as well as taking on world bosses with other players. This brings us to Lost Ark’s core gameplay.
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Lost Ark Gameplay and Comparisons to Other MMOs
Unlike New World, Lost Ark has distinct Classes and Advanced Classes to choose from but it doesn’t have the same Weapon variety in that each class already has an assigned Weapon. For instance, the Shadowhunter will always wield Shadowblades whereas the Striker wears a set of Elemental Gauntlets. And this is due to what they’re capable of doing. The Shadowhunter’s dual blades allow her to execute rapid attacks that easily shreds enemies apart while the Striker’s Elemental Gauntlets save energy to activate stronger abilities.
Lost Ark’s skill upgrades are not as complicated as Path of Exile’s Skill Tree. However, the game still has depth in terms of the multiple Builds you can come up with based on the Skills you can customize. There’s also no targeting indicator for some abilities in combat so if you’re not used to how a certain class functions, you’ll be missing a couple of attacks in the first few tries and that’s fine.
Furthermore, you don’t allocate points into attributes such as Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence to become more powerful, which is dissimilar to New World. Instead, gear provides you with Basic Effects to boost your Attack Power and Max HP. Together with your skills, you also receive bonuses for Crit Rate, Specialization or Identity depending on your class, and Domination or the damage dealt to those who are staggered and debuffed.
Lost Ark is also known for its multifunctional build variety, which means that the game doesn’t follow the standard Holy Trinity formula. Unlike Elder Scrolls Online, you don’t have defined roles such as healer, tanks, and damage dealers. All classes can deal adequate damage although some of them have relatively stronger AoEs, are tankier, or have more support skills than others.
Similar to other MMOs, gear is gathered and upgraded slowly. You don’t get mountains of loot like in most ARPGs, because of this, you might find the itemization slow and too simple in the beginning. At later levels, you’ll eventually be able to enchant and craft better gear in order to gain access to higher tiers of content, which is a good motivator to keep playing the game.
Lost Ark’s Strong Points
Having played Lost Ark for more than 20 hours, I can vouch that the game definitely has fantastic strong points. These are centered around class variety and combat style, to name a few. Let’s start off with class variety.
Class Variety and Tripod Skill System
Lost Ark has 5 base Classes and a total of 15 Advanced Classes, which greatly differ from one another. Right from the very beginning, you’ll be starting at Level 10. I do find it odd to skip 10 levels in favor of immediately choosing your Advanced Class rather than filling in the gap to experience the base classes first. Although I’m not sure if this is only applicable in the Closed Beta since it had a rather short time frame.
When you’re at the training ground, the game does a good job of allowing you to try out different Advanced Classes by letting you summon monsters and bosses prior to diving into the world. This is highly beneficial since you don’t have the option to switch to another class at any point in the game should you want to.
Before we discuss some of these classes, I’d like to talk about the Tripod Skill System. This particular system allows you to further customize the way your skills work. You gain access to it the moment you accrue enough points every time your Character or Combat Level increases. What makes the Tripod Skill System special is it leads you to experiment with multiple builds for every class. You can simply respec your skill points without spending any in-game resources and revert the changes you’ve made in order to try out different combinations.
If you’re a Shadowhunter and you’d like to enhance the Demonic Clone Combo Skill, you can do so by first investing in Vital Point Strike first to boost your Crit Rate, followed by Chain Attack to deal an additional horizontal attack. Finally, you can allocate points into Enhanced Release in order to fill up your Shadowburst Meter more efficiently when you activate this skill.
For example, you can easily change the Demonic Clone’s Tier 3 Upgrade from Enhanced Release to Encroachment Discharge to deal a large amount of damage instead. The Tripod Skill System is very flexible so if you’re the type of player who enjoys a lot of experimentation and build diversity, then you’ll be in for a treat in Lost Ark.
When it comes to Advanced Classes, I have to say how impressive they are after playing 4 out of 15 so far. These are the Shadowhunter, Summoner, Striker and Paladin that are vastly distinct from each other. There’s a certain level of power and speed that I thoroughly enjoyed while playing as a Shadowhunter, coupled with its special ability to transform into a demon to rapidly deal huge damage. Frequently activating and hitting targets with your Shadowburst Skills let you efficiently recharge your Shadowburst Meter to shapeshift into your demonic form. Like the Soulfist, she also has skills that inflict Melee and Ranged Damage.
On the other hand, the Summoner is a magic-user who deals a lot of AoE, damage over time, summoning spells, and Ancient Elementals to inflict massive burst damage. You can even change the element of your skills by customizing them accordingly. For instance, Earth Collapse is an earth-damage skill, which you can alter to deal fire or water damage instead.
Meanwhile, the Striker is the ultimate Kung Fu class that inflicts damage by activating multiple skilled combos. The more your punches and kicks connect, the faster your Elemental Meter fills up. As such, you gain access to other deadly AoE combos.
Lastly is the Paladin, which is the more offensive type out of the two support classes. With his Piety Meter, he can either improve his damage or that of his allies. The Paladin is able to heal and buff the party using his Holy Book while dealing sufficient damage with his One-Handed Sword. Unlike the previous Advanced Classes I’ve discussed, this class’ mobility is low so his playstyle is relatively much slower.
Next is Lost Ark’s fast-paced ARPG combat, which is another fantastic aspect of the game. Overall, it’s a fun hack-and-slash experience because of how the gameplay and skill integration work very well together. Activating one skill to the next is smooth and strikingly different from the one that came before it as indicated by the game’s visuals and well-developed sounds. As such, I didn’t find the leveling experience laborious even if fetch quests are repetitive. You can simply spam ‘G’ if you don’t feel like listening to what NPCs have to say.
Regardless of your level, you will continue to feel powerful so you’re not urged to reach endgame content immediately in order to fully enjoy the game. To add to this, my favorite part of Lost Ark would probably be the epic Dungeons because of their cinematics and mechanics which are unique. Similar to Final Fantasy XIV, you and your party need to complete various objectives before moving forward. One example is the Lastra Forest Dungeon where you have to light several beacons to gain access to a certain tomb.
In the next area, you’ll then have to defeat the gargantuan boss named Jagan three times while running towards the top of the tower and avoiding burning debris. You don’t simply enter a dungeon to kill hordes of demons but you have to actively participate in it to accomplish your goals in that area.
Exploration, Stronghold and Trade Skills
Lost Ark’s world is massive and similar to Final Fantasy XIV or Elder Scrolls Online, there are so many activities that you can engage in if you’re not fond of doing dungeons and Raids. For instance, you can participate in World Boss Events. Unfortunately, I’ve only encountered one world boss during the Closed Beta. I say unfortunately because the levels of involvement and commitment it necessitated from players were huge given how massive the creature’s HP was. The actual combat experience was exhilarating because there were so many of us who participated and beat the boss even if we died a couple of times.
If you’re the type of player who would rather engage in the more casual side of MMOs by leveling up your professions as well as designing your own island or Stronghold, then you can certainly do that in Lost Ark. You’ll need to raise your trade skills’ levels or Crafting in order to gather resources and research improvements. These then enable you to craft items, unlock designs and furniture for your island.
Do note that you’ll be running around a lot in the game depending on your quests so if this type of system doesn’t bother you, then you’re going to enjoy exploring Arkesia. Furthermore, if you’re the completionist type, you’ll have a blast trying to perfect the Adventurer’s Tome in every continent you visit. This entails that you finish Main Quests, cook special food, discover vistas, and participate in normal and hard dungeons, to name a few.
Lost Ark’s Weak Points
Lost Ark is not without its weak points that include character customization, lore, fetch quests, PvP concerns, and optimization plus network issues. Let’s first talk about character customization.
Similar to Black Desert Online, Lost Ark’s Advanced Classes are gender-locked. Although the developers are moving away from this gradually, it will take some time before the North America and European Regions follow suit. Moreover, if you like to customize every bit of your character, you may be disappointed. Although you can change your character’s face and hairstyle, you can’t alter their body proportions and initial wardrobe, which are very limited at the start. It will take some time before you’re able to fully customize them.
Lore and Fetch Quests
In terms of the Lore, it’s not as in-depth and intricate as the storytelling in say Elder Scrolls Online or Final Fantasy XIV. This is not to say that it’s bad but you won’t find a truly fleshed-out narrative in this game. For now, finding the Lost Ark in order to finally drive away the demonic forces of Kazeros’ Army is always going to be your ultimate goal.
Additionally, you’re going to do a lot of fetch quests to level up your characters. This is the main issue in almost all MMOs because it asks you to do a variety of menial tasks when you should be focusing on saving the world instead. Some of these quests are quite annoying since the NPCs are literally close to one another. Rather than talking to each other and performing the activities themselves, they’ll ask you to intercede and help them with whatever task they have to do. Oftentimes, you’ll have to go from point A to point B so it’s helpful to plan your next moves in order to efficiently complete these quests.
When you reach the Luterra Castle, you’ll be able to begin your PvP journey, which consists of Normal and Ranked or Competitive Matches. If you opt for the latter and you reach a higher rank, you’ll be greatly rewarded. What’s cool with these PvP modes are that they are not affected by the gear you currently have, the skills you’ve upgraded, and your Stats. Everyone starts on an equal and balanced footing where you all select the abilities for your character beforehand using the Book of Coordination.
At the moment, however, PvP doesn’t feel well-balanced. There have also been multiple reports about bugs in the Arena where players deal less damage and their cooldowns are much quicker than intended.
Optimization and Network Issues
Optimization-wise, I did encounter occasional frame drops as well as CPU usage issues when launching Lost Ark so I hope Smilegate RPG fixes these before the game fully launches next year. There were also high pings from time to time but they’re not game-breaking. However, this could be a cause for concern in competitive activities such as raids and ranked PvP modes.
Should You Play Lost Ark at Launch?
Lost Ark has a lot of content for nearly any type of player and I think this is where the game truly shines. Whether you’re into questing, island-building, raids, dungeons, PvP, and even creating several builds per class, you’re always going to find something worthwhile to do. It’s easily one of the most fun games I’ve played these past few years due to its ARPG combat, skill customization, and class variety. Unlike other MMOs, the game’s UI is rather intuitive and therefore, not difficult to understand because of the beginner-friendly tutorials.
Although Lost Ark is free-to-play, you may want to check out the microtransaction updates in the coming months. Amazon Games did release some business model changes they’re planning to implement to stray away from the pay-to-win aspect of the original version of the game. For instance, the in-game items you purchase with real money can be obtained by trading gold with other players.
This includes character skins, Crystalline Aura, which allows you to fast travel using the Triport for free, and Stronghold designs. In the Closed Beta Store, there are no items for sale that boost your XP gains and damage numbers in combat. Hopefully, this remains true when the game launches next year.
If you’re looking for an isometric MMO with an enticing combat style together with a deep class system then Lost Ark could be the game for you. The current release date announced via Steam is on March 31, 2022 for North America and European Regions. So what are your experiences of the Lost Ark Closed Beta? What do you like and dislike about the game? What are your favorite classes? What improvements do you hope to see before the game’s full launch? Let us know in the comments below!
Stay tuned for more Lost Ark content in the coming months and be sure to check out our Lost Ark Wiki if you have questions about the game!