Technology

I’ve played Lost Ark for 100 hours – is it a real competitor to FFXIV and WoW?

I’ve spent over 100 hours on Lost Ark since it came out in early February – and I don’t regret a moment of it.

Well maybe a few of the hours spent sitting in virtual queues to play.

Lost Ark is one of the most complete MMOs available today

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Lost Ark is one of the most complete MMOs available todayPhoto credit: Lost Ark / Smilegate RPG / Amazon Games
There are five classes divided into 15 playable subclasses

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There are five classes divided into 15 playable subclassesPhoto credit: Lost Ark / Smilegate RPG / Amazon Games

Thankfully, those queues have calmed down.

The huge popularity wasn’t unprecedented: it’s a brilliant game.

Lost Ark isn’t really new – it came out in South Korea in late 2019.

But the western release was only a few weeks ago.

The fact of the matter is that it’s in better shape than many new games, simply because technically it’s not a new game.

Lost Ark is an MMORPG at its core: you go on quests, explore a vast world, and level up a character that gets stronger over time.

But it’s also a 2.5D top-down game, much like Diablo – and will also feel vaguely familiar to League of Legends players.

MMOs don’t typically use the 2.5D format, giving it freshness for longtime players of the genre. World of Warcraft, that’s not.

The main story up to level 50 doesn’t take too long.

To me, it definitely felt faster than finishing the Final Fantasy XIV base game.

Of course, there’s a lot more to do once you hit level 50.

You can continue the main story quest, but it’s fenced behind various Gearscore caps.

Gearscore is the main progression method in the game.

The whole PvE experience is about getting that number as high as possible.

For example, when you reach level 50 and complete the first part of the story, you are tasked with going from a gearscore of around 260 to around 460.

Only at this point can you move to the next zone (Rohendel) to enjoy more quests.

This continues, with more story and new zones unlocked as Gearscore increases.

The story is varied and fun: there is a wide variety of zones, with classic fantasy areas interspersed with sci-fi locations.

Maybe you’re slaying a dragon in a castle one minute, only to find yourself working as an in-game journalist in a futuristic cybercity the next minute.

In order to improve your equipment, you spend a lot of time in a variety of endgame dungeon-style activities.

Chaos Dungeons are effectively wave quenchers, while Abyssal Dungeons are more like a World of Warcraft instance.

And then there are Guardian Raids, which are individual boss fights that are typically set to a 20-minute completion timer.

Chaos Dungeons are pretty basic, but many of the Raids and Abyssal Dungeons require you to learn tactics – and work with teammates to implement a strategy.

You have the option to play scaled-down versions of the content solo, or play in groups of 2, 3, or 4 people.

However, the rook is always solo. Each floor has a single challenge for you to complete, and it gets harder as you climb.

All of this endgame content spawns rewards that generally allow you to boost your Gearscore.

Gear is upgraded through a somewhat complicated system of gems, “upgrading” items, transferring stats, and leveling up.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s fine. But many of Lost Ark’s systems can feel more complicated than they might need to be.

Whether it’s a short route or a long one, there are few better feelings in an MMO than upgrading your gear. This also applies to Lost Ark.

I played three classes but there are 15 to choose from.

My main leveling class through 50 was a bard, which is a mage support.

It’s very offensive (almost like a combat heal but without the heal), while support abilities focus more on increasing damage output for the team or providing temporary shields.

Since then I’ve mostly played a Sorceress (the other mage class but full of damage) and Shadowhunter (a bit like Demon Hunter in World of Warcraft, swap between normal damage and a more powerful demon form once you have enough combat resource).

The game is alt-friendly – a lot is shared, including your cash pile and many collectibles.

All classes feel fast, have satisfying skills, and feel like they make a real impact in every fight.

Some classes are better than others, and certain choices will be harder to learn and play.

But there is something for everyone.

There is no real crafting system.

But you can improve gathering skills like logging or mining – and then use traders or your personal fortress island to craft items with them.

The fortress can be entered at any time, is highly customizable and effectively serves as a player-owned house.

The game has a big sailing element.

To enter a new continent you must build a ship and sail there – with many dangers along the way.

But this also creates the opportunity to discover strange and mysterious islands, often with their own rich quest lines.

You can rush through the game or take your time and explore every nook and cranny.

PvP feels largely secondary to PvE in Lost Ark.

But it’s cleverly done – because PvP isn’t strictly tied to your level or gear.

If you go into a PvP Deathmatch, you will be automatically scaled to the max level.

You get a pool of stats to assign, so performance is standardized.

And you can create different builds for skill points depending on how you want to play that particular game.

This means that there is no inherent gear advantage in PvP – all are equal.

This is unlike a game like World of Warcraft where acquiring gear makes a big difference in PvP.

I like Lost Ark’s system because you can dive right in and play PvP with a tedious boot-up process.

Pure PvP is also fun: like PvE, it’s fast-paced and energetic.

Ultimately, Lost Ark is a very good game. Better yet, it’s free.

Some players say it’s pay to win, and certainly you can spend money to speed up your gearing process.

But you can have tons of fun – and make great progress – without spending any money.

And PvP is standardized anyway, so gear doesn’t matter.

Visually it is beautiful.

The world is rich and well-executed, NPCs of all types are cleverly built, and the graphical fidelity is fantastic.

You could easily have hundreds of hours of fun without paying a dime. If that’s not a sign of a good game, what is?

I’m not sure if the endless grind will become too repetitive in the long run.

But it’s an immersive game, an exciting world, and shows that there’s still fun to be had in the legacy MMO genre.

It’s better than FFXIV and World of Warcraft in some ways and worse in other ways.

The great thing is that there is so much choice in the MMO world these days – and at many different price points, so you really can play however you want.

Lost Ark is a great addition to this lineup and should be your first port of call when waiting for dry spells in your other favorite MMO.

The sun says: Lost Ark is fast, fun, and free, with endless content to work through and an entertaining story to boot. Overcomplicated and grinding at times, but overall a happy ride. 4/5

Each class has its own identity - and you should choose wisely when taking on Lost Ark's greatest villains

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Each class has its own identity – and you should choose wisely when taking on Lost Ark’s greatest villainsPhoto credit: Lost Ark / Smilegate RPG / Amazon Games
Sailing adds an exciting element of exploration to the game

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Sailing adds an exciting element of exploration to the gamePhoto credit: Lost Ark / Smilegate RPG / Amazon Games
Many of Lost Ark's boss fights feel genuinely epic

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Many of Lost Ark’s boss fights feel genuinely epicPhoto credit: Lost Ark / Smilegate RPG / Amazon Games
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8462983/ive-played-lost-ark-for-100-hours-is-it-a-true-rival-to-ffxiv-and-wow/ I’ve played Lost Ark for 100 hours – is it a real competitor to FFXIV and WoW?

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