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Lost Ark Review

Lost Ark Review

It’s finally happening, this is not a drill: Lost Ark is finally reaching Western shores and is on the cusp of being released to the masses. I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to the game’s servers prior to release in order to dump an unhealthy amount of hours for the purpose of writing this review.

Reviewing an MMO title is no easy task, especially one with several years worth of content already available. For those who may be unaware, this is not Lost Ark’s first rodeo, as the game has been available in South Korea and Russia for quite some time. Thanks to Smilegate RPG, Tripod Studio and Amazon, the rest of the Western shores are about to get their hands on what may be one of the most impactful MMO titles of recent times. A free-to-play MMO with an ungodly amount of content to consume, all that content is quite frankly too much to cram into a single review. With that in mind from the outset, this is based upon the content consumed in the confines of the first continent, the classes and their respective subclasses. I’ll then touch on what is available towards the endgame spectrum.


So first things first, character selection and customisation. As with any MMO, it’s understandable that players would like to create something in their own vision. Unfortunately this is where I feel the game has room for improvement. While there are reasonably extensive customisation options available for each character, the game is very restrictive when it comes to the classes that you can pick. These are hard locked to a certain body type and cannot be changed. For example, if you were to pick a warrior, this is hard locked to a male body type, big, muscular meatheads with zero option to switch this to a female body type if you wanted. Some classes are split to two body types, but they’re categorised as being two individual classes with their own subclass selections.

Let’s go over what is available class-wise, with a brief overview of their subclasses. We have seven to choose from at this time, each with their own advanced class preview video to watch, which should help you to decide on what you want to roll. Before dipping into the rundown, you’ll have to bear in mind that there’s no traditional tank/heal/dps trinity system in this game. While some classes may possess some abilities to do these jobs, it’s definitely not a system to worry about.

Warrior - Male only. 

The big burly meat popsicle. What kind of MMO would we have if there was no warrior class? A staple to many games for showcasing visceral melee combat, warrior boils down to the following three subclasses.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

Wielding massive two-handed weapons, the berserker can push out a huge amount of damage in a short space of time. However, their combat animations can run a little longer than some of our more agile classes in the game and their skill cooldowns do stretch out with a longer wait time. That being said, this guy hits like a truck and has some meaty visuals in the attack animations.

The unique ability of this class allows you to build up rage which will increase your movement speed, damage, and attack speed once you unleash your pent-up aggression.

Equipped with a massive gun/sword thing and a shield, the gunlancer is definitely the most defensive class in the game. Aiming more at a supporting role and the only class that can taunt mobs, this is going to suit those that prefer to complement groups and divert damage to themselves. As I said, there’s no traditional tanking role in the game, so this is as close as you’re going to get.

Instead of building up fury to unleash devastating attacks, your ability allows you to create a shield around yourself, which depletes over time as you absorb incoming damage.

Opting to use a one-handed sword and a book, paladins are another supporting role in the game. Attacks split between sword and holy attacks, denoted by the colour of the ability itself — blue for sword and yellow for holy — allows you to weave between the two skill sets to push out some damage while providing buffs to yourself or your group members.

Once you’ve built up your unique ability meter, you can then use this to enhance your own skills or once again buff your party members. You’ll likely find the toolset available to paladins to be in demand for group content.

Mage - Female only.

Of course we have Gandalf wannabe wizards. Just like having warriors, mages are also a staple of any good MMO. If flinging your patronuses tickles your fancy then have a look at what the mage has to offer.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

The musical support class that will be in the background healing and buffing players rather than dishing out the damage. Definitely more passive than our other support class of the paladin. Using a harp to bash out some tunes, this is another class that will be one of those mandatory choices when forming a group.

With the support role in mind, your class ability charges up to either buff or heal your party in one go.

If you are looking for a more traditional mage style character, this may be the pick for you. Hurling massive meteors, fireballs, lightning, and ice based spells, the sorceress can output a huge amount of damage. However, this subclass isn’t overly mobile and some cast times can be on the long side, so make sure you’re relatively out of harm's way before deciding to bring down a shower of icicles.

The class ability will let you choose between either buffing your attack speed, allowing you to chuck spells faster, or a long range teleport to get out of Dodge if things go south too quickly.

Martial Artist - Male.

Only a single subclass for this selection. A highly mobile kicky-punchy guy with short cooldowns and some incredible burst damage. Not the most visually impressive in terms of skill animations, but once you’re demolishing groups of enemies with ease, you kind of forget about things looking fancy.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

Fist weapons are on the menu as you wallop enemies with a range of moves that would get any martial arts fan excited. Your skills are a mix of single button presses to get the full move out, combos, or channelled abilities. Combo moves require two or more presses of the button to complete the full skill, while channelled requires you to hold down the button until the cast bar has completed.

These skills build up your ability meter, which can be used on special attacks, which are the most visually impressive for the Striker — though that’s not really a tough standard to surpass for this class.

Martial Artist - Female.

Here we have the “I know kung fu” gang. Fast moving, high damaging units that can easily weave in and out of combat as they see fit. Three subclasses for you to deliberate on this time.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

This is essentially your female version of the striker subclass for the male martial artist. So nothing really to add here other than instead of picking Ryu, you’ve picked Chun-Li. That being said, towards the endgame, you can change how your class ability works in the fact that you can disable it in favour of a flat 25% damage increase, making wardancer one of the more competent subclasses at raw sustained damage.

Still opting for fist weapons, the scrapper is an easy-to-play subclass that feels more impactful akin to the berserker. Longer animations but harder hitting abilities, this could be a nice middle ground for someone that wants the mobility of the martial artist, but have the hard-hitting and visually impacting abilities of a berserker.

The class ability is a little different as your skills are split, like the paladin, but with yellow and green coloured abilities. Using your yellow skills will drain your yellow meter, but builds the green meter, meaning you need to switch to using green skills to replenish the yellow meter.. As such you’ll be constantly weaving between the two sets of skills as you deplete and replenish the resource bars.

A bit of a hybrid here with a mix of melee and ranged skills, and one with huge burst damage potential. As you combat opponents, your abilities build up your meter, making you hit harder and harder. However, once your bar has been depleted, you’re back to doing unimpressive numbers as you cycle the process again, in order to fire out another devastating attack.

In the right hands, a soulfist is capable of outputting ridiculous damage numbers when at full capacity, so expect these to be floating around the endgame.

Gunner - Male.

Where’s my “shooty bois” at? This one's for you. For fans of wanton destruction and making things go pew pew, gunners can be difficult to play, but also rewarding depending on your playstyle. I’d consider this subclass to be a bit of a glass cannon, so keep an eye on your health and one finger over your health consumable hotkey.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

For anyone of the disposition that shooters are uncivilised, then sharpshooter is for you. Favouring the ol’ Legolas arrow chucker over boomsticks, a sharpshooter will dish out the pointy ends of arrows with consummate ease. While mainly attacking from ranged, a sharpshooter is also no stranger to getting in close and personal with some knife attacks. The closest comparison I could make would be a demon hunter from Diablo III, dishing out a fan of knives before diving back out to use your bow. This class will also no doubt spawn the most spelling variations of Legolas or Hawkeye as people create their characters.

Your ability will summon a hawk that will auto attack some enemies while also buffing the movement speed of the entire party. So it’s quite nice to see there’s something for the more traditional hunter player with a pet that can be summoned.

Not content with having one gun, this greedy guts will utilise three types as you dish out the pain. Pistols, a shotgun, and a sniper rifle, you’ll need to switch between all three weapons if you want to get the most damage out of this subclass. While this is a ranged subclass, you’d still be getting up close and personal with your pistols or shotgun, before dipping out to deliver some packages of freedom via your sniper rifle.

When mere pistols are not enough, this unit just brings along a massive artillery cannon that can switch between a multitude of munitions. The tankiest of all the gunner subclasses, you’ll be in close-to-medium range as you shield yourself while delivering carnage on a scale that could be banned by the Geneva Convention. I’m not kidding, this guy can drop a nuke!

The ability for artillerist makes you sit in a temporary turret, launching a multitude of rockets and munitions from a stationary position.

Gunner - Female.

Another ranged class for those who prefer guns over bows or spells. Rocking three types of firearms, the female gunner will be dancing between short and long range combat styles.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

This is essentially the female equivalent of the deadeye subclass for the male gunslinger, though with slightly better rifle skills than the deadeye. 

Assassin - Female only.

Edgelords unite, this is likely the pick for you just on the visuals alone. Showing some similarities to World of Warcraft’s demon hunter class in the shadowhunter subclass, this is for people wanting to sate their thirst for assassins like stabby stabby combat. Very agile and can be very damaging.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

Another melee-based subclass using not one, not two, but three swords (yes, I’m sure there’s a joke about wishing having three hands in here somewhere). Mixing fast-hitting abilities with hard-hitting charge attacks, you’ll be dancing around the mobs in no time at all.

Your subclass ability allows you to buff pretty much all aspects of your subclass. You can spend this ability to buff your movement speed, attack speed, increase damage, and lower the cooldown of your skills.

This is still a quick and mobile subclass that weaves melee and ranged abilities with a hint of demonic chaos. Wielding glaives that just scream they were taken from a vengeance demon hunter from WoW, this subclass will likely feel right at home with those favouring a demonic/gothic feel to their characters.

Your class ability turns you into an actual demon — shocker I know — that amplifies the amount of damage that you output with a new set of skills. Definitely fun to play, that’s for sure.

At this point, it is worth noting that there are a number of subclasses available in the Korean client that will not be available at launch for EU or NA, and that there’s still three main class slots available for potential future expansion. Once you’ve picked a class, customised the looks, and given your character a name, it’s off to nearly getting to play the actual game.

Customisation may not be as extensive as the likes of Black Desert or other games, but you do have a number of choices to create something unique. Facial attributes can be tailored on a fairly granular level, with sliders for eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, chin, nose, and mouth; the other options are limited to 25 predetermined options, with only the colour being something that you can modify.


Next up is getting some lore out the way, you get a little background story on your class with what has been going on prior to your arrival to Trixion, a heavenly realm where you can test out each subclass of your chosen main in a training environment. Trixion also has a core storyline element to it, but I’ll leave that for your own playthrough to discover. Now I can’t stress this enough, TEST THE SUBCLASSES! While you may think you’re set on picking one, it may transpire that after some messing around in the training room, taking on mobs or bosses that you summon, that in reality you want to pick something else. You can try out every subclass of your chosen main class here so spend some time making sure this is for you.

It’s also during this section in Trixion that you get to grips with the control system of Lost Ark. As this is a fixed isometric view game, akin to other action RPG titles, you don’t move around with WASD keyboard controls. This is a click-to-move game, with your abilities on the QWERASDF keys; those familiar with the likes of Diablo or Path of Exile should be fine with this control set. While combat testing here, you should be able to get used to how you’re actually going to play. I will say that you can happily play this on a controller too, if you happen to have the dexterity of an octopus with your fingers. Abilities are mapped out to face buttons + one of the shoulder buttons to activate, such as LB + X to use a combat ability or RT + Y to use something like a potion.


Now that you’ve got all this out the way, it’s time to finally get stuck into the meat and potatoes of Lost Ark. To dive in and beat up many things to find this Ark that is lost… But wait, there’s still a prologue to get through, le sigh! Fret not though, this prologue will actually introduce you to one of the game’s main antagonists, Kharmine, who is also looking for these Ark fragments.

So what is this Ark and why is it so important? Legend has it that the Ark, consisting of seven fragments for seven gods, was spread across the lands of Arkesia. While Arkesia prospered, another world filled with chaos, Petrania, came under the rule of Kazeros, Lord of the Abyss. A dimensional rift opens up and the forces of Kazeros invade the lands of Arkesia, starting a reign of chaos for the demon lord. These Ark fragments came together in order to vanquish Kazeros, sealing the rift and imprisoning the demon under a volcano. These seven fragments are once again split between the continents of Arkesia and peace returns to the world. 500 years pass as Arkesia rebuilds their nations over time, mostly at peace under the rule of the war hero Luterra. However, trouble starts to brew as the threat from Kazeros once again starts to emerge, and this is where your hero starts their journey.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

You’ll be adventuring in the early parts with a priest called Armen, who seems to be concealing a dark secret. Armen is also on a quest to seek the Ark fragments so, as there is a mutual interest, an agreement is made for jolly cooperation. Progressing through the story, you become involved in more and more important matters for the region and help restore peace and order. Meeting up with Prince Thirain, you become embroiled in a civil war power battle over the throne of Luterra, ultimately culminating in defending the lands against an almighty demonic invasion, defeating literally thousands of enemies and facing off against a massive behemoth demon.

Depending on how you play, whether you want to bum rush the main storyline, or do absolutely everything that pops up in terms of quests, you could be looking at around 20-40 hours of game time just to get to the point of reaching the main city of Luterra. This will still take you through multiple zones of Rethramis, Yudia, then East and West Luterra. All of this is just one main island and there are several to explore in your quests. It’s here in Luterra that you’ll come across hubs for some of the endgame content.

So what is in store for players once they’ve reached the endgame? Well dear adventurer, let’s lightly dip our toes into the multiple pools of content. Bear in mind that these would be available upon reaching combat level 50 and reaching certain continents.


Guardian Raids
Think of these as doing the whole Monster Hunter thing by grouping up and punching a big beastie on the nose. These have different gear level requirements and different difficulty tiers, offering increased loot quality, the higher and harder you go.

Chaos Dungeons
These are large-scale dungeons that vary depending on what gear level you’re set at, and span multiple regions. While we may only have a limited choice on our EU release, these may be the equivalent of mythic dungeons from World of Warcraft.

Again another dungeon-based activity, but this is more of an arena-style event. You’re dropped into an area and need to clear mobs, do objectives, etc. This dungeon is also a source of some upgrade materials, so it’s well worth getting these cracked out. However, you can only access the cube when you have a ticket for entry, which drops from completing Chaos Dungeons.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

While the previous events are group based, the tower is more of a solo activity as you climb floors in a tower, defeating things and trying to get as high as possible. Again there’s a couple of variants based upon the gear level of your character. Every floor you complete in the tower will grant some form of reward.

Abyss Dungeon
This is your more challenging dungeon with a more traditional trash > boss style progression. As the content is more challenging, group composition and cohesion is strongly recommended.

Trial Paths
Another piece of content where entry tickets are required, which again can drop from Chaos Dungeons. In this activity you’ll be performing a boss-rush-style gameplay loop where you’ll just be facing off against one boss after another.

Okay, this one isn’t strictly an activity for a max level character. In fact, you can dive in once you’ve reached Luterra Castle. The unique nature of this PVP is that it doesn’t really matter what level you are or what your gear is like, as everything is normalised and you’re able to create template builds using the allocated attribute and skill points. Featuring 1v1 or 3v3 teams, there’s likely some form of beatdown that will scratch anyone’s itch.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

All of the above content is just a sample of what is on offer as I’ve not even gone into the whole Island Token events, rolling calendar events, lifeskills, your stronghold or adventuring on the high seas.

If you’ve managed to get to this point, then congratulations, you’ve survived an incredible wall of text. However, it’s time to wind down and summarise. There’s an incredible level of detail in this MMO, from the gear items, to environments, to ability effects; your eyes are in for an incredible treat. There may be some questionable voice acting, but for the most part it’s all fine, the music is all pretty sweet too, in fact it’s hard to pinpoint some negatives in Lost Ark.

Lost Ark Screenshot 2022.02.05

While I did encounter some minor annoyances, such as getting stuck on some level geometry when using some skills and a couple of quests where the instructions didn’t match what was actually required, I never encountered anything game breaking or disruptive. While yes, this is a new release on our shores and yes, it is free-to-play, we also have to remember that this game has already been around since 2018, so many problems have already been ironed out.

To conclude, Lost Ark is a well-crafted MMO that’s free-to-play and holds hundreds, if not thousands, of hours worth of content within its hands. I can’t see how the game fails on Western shores. 

9.00/10 9

Lost Ark (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

 A massive time sink which needs an entire rainforest of sticks to shake at. Just grab it and jump in.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Staff Writer

A purveyor of strange alcoholic mixes and a penchant for blowing shit up in games. Proud member of the glorious PC master race.

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Bru - 01:14am, 9th February 2022

What is with these modern reviews? Reciting the game manual and providing tutorial style information or beginner tips is NOT A REVIEW.

Wedgeh - 09:36am, 9th February 2022 Author

Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it!