Hype Meter is a FreeMMOStation show where we give you an overview of the most anticipated free MMO games. This time we take a look at Lost Ark, the ultimate hack and slash MMORPG coming from Korean studio Smilegate, makers of the successful online FPS CrossFire.
When the first Lost Ark trailer was unveiled mid-November, we knew this was going to be special. The developer, Smilegate, is a fairly humble Korean studio that just happens to be making a shit-ton of money with its free-to-play FPS CrossFire, one of the first in this craze of competitive online shooters and clearly one that is still going strong, having originally launched in 2007. This success is what gave Smilegate the money and confidence, along with Tripod Studio to create their next big game, one that takes the best of the Diablo franchise and adds a much welcome MMORPG aspect.
We would be selling it short if we didn’t say just how amazed we were by the features trailer. Lost Ark seems to have it all: impressive graphics, cinematic presentation, plenty of classes to choose from, mini-games, a combat system that leaves other hack and slash games eons behind, amazing bosses and… well, let’s just say that NCsoft’s Lineage Eternal: Twilight Resistance looks so good, but Lost Ark is shaping up to be even better. We can’t give it a bigger compliment than this.
First of all, Lost Ark has transcended the qualification of a simple multiplayer hack and slash game, or that of an action RPG with cooperative gameplay. This is without a shadow of doubt a full-fledged MMORPG that just happened to look like it wasn’t quite that at first.
18 classes are promised for now, and we’ve already seen 7 of them in action. We won’t go into details here, but let’s take a quick look at those classes.
• The Battle Master is a female character that uses an elemental system to unleash powerful combos in close range combat. She is a very agile fighter and can use the elemental gauge to create devastating attacks.
• The Devil Hunter is a ranged character that has 3 different weapons at his disposal: Dual Pistols, Shotgun and Rifle. You can switch at any time between these weapons and the trick to succeed with the Devil Hunter is to use each weapon according to the enemies and situation you’re in, making the best out of the different skills.
• Arcana is, as the name implies, focused on arcane magic. This is a DPS class that can spin the roulette to get a random card that will give her a boost or effect of some sort.
• The Infighter is a melee class with chi energy, the green and red energy. This is the main source for the Infighter, so this class doesn’t have the usual mana bar.
• The Summoner is true to her name, being able to summon monsters with different abilities. Some will fight by her side until they die, others will use a skill and disappear.
• The Berserker is the heavy melee character that is capable of cutting through endless enemies without breaking a sweat. Killing enemies will take him into a rage state that lasts for about one minute and turns him into a mean killing machine.
• Finally, the Warlord is a tank class in Lost Ark that wields a shield and a lance that doubles as a rifle.
Moving on, Lost Ark features a tripod system that is different for each class and plays a big role in the way that your character faces the battles, allowing for several combos and customization that bring an extra replay value to the game. The Battle Master was given as an example: this character is able to choose an element (earth, fire, water or air), use it a few times and even increase the area of effect. Choosing different builds will improve the replay factor, with different approaches to the various enemies.
The world map in Lost Ark is one of its highlights, providing a much more rewarding experience than what the dungeon crawling gameplay initially led many to believe. You can use a ship to sail around the world in true MMORPG fashion, while seeing other players doing the same thing, discovering new areas, up to the point of using an icebreaker to forge new paths. You can also search for treasure or even board scary ghost ships and fighting spirits for some rare loot.
Back on dry land, the world is a living, breathing place with a lot to see and do. There are many occupations such as fishing, and decision making such as saving a man or letting him fall to his death – we don’t know if Lost Ark will include a moral system, but this kind of event leads us to believe that it will. You can also find many hidden quests, for example when you eavesdrop on strangers and get to know what they’re up to, so you’ll help them or stop them. An NPC relationship system will be the means to unlock some secret quests. There’s also a bit of puzzles too, such as using fireflies to light a pitch-black dungeon. Mini-games include a keg drinking contest and card games. Other times you can take your dog for a walk and he will help you by sniffing buried treasure. Professions such as astronomy and archaeology may affect the way you see the world, for example, obtaining and reading treasure maps that can take you to a hidden dungeon or secret island.
Lost Ark also includes open areas where many players will be able to cooperate to bring down some massive beasts. Since the game world is being invaded by demons, there’s a feature called Chaos Gate in the open world areas which will open randomly with hordes of demons coming through it. Players who are near the gate will be sent a signal to participate in the event, called World Class Crisis, requiring teamwork to defeat the demons.
Guardian raids are regularly impressive and require some kind of teamwork to bring the creature down, as well as awareness to your surroundings and the items that can be used. One of the bosses shown in the video is Berutooth, a colossal creature that can break the icy ground, leaving players to fall to their doom if they’re distracted. There’s also this teamwork that reminds us of a boss in Vindictus, where you have to operate ballistas to stop the beast’s destruction.
The cinematic dungeon experience is one that will make you feel like a star in a thrilling action movie. Judging by this example, the camera will be twisting and turning to give you the most emotional feeling, while you and the rest of your party try to escape danger and come up with a way to slay the monster. While it’s all probably completely scripted, there’s no denying the sense of excitement from taking part in these dungeons.
Finally, there’s a colosseum for PvP, 1v1 or 3v3 as shown in the video. There’s no word on open world PvP but we’re sure there’s still a lot to be said about Lost Ark.
Lost Ark is a promising one, and there’s not much we can say that we dislike at this point. But there are a few general concerns that you may share or not, it depends a lot on what your MMO preferences are.
So, some of you might complain about the highly likely gender lock, but honestly, with 18 classes to choose from and a promising diversity of builds, we’re not complaining about it.
The quarter view camera may be responsible for hiding some important elements or enemies, and we’re yet to see how the camera will behave during the cinematic dungeons – we have a slight fear that it may go awry now and then. Just a guess.
Finally, Smilegate mentioned some kind of western localization, the will to “localize detailed parts of the game to attract foreign users.” Let’s hope they don’t dumb the game down or add some kind of bimbo class to please western teens.
Overall, there’s not much to pinpoint so far, Lost Ark is looking awesome, we can say that much.
Out of the blue, Lost Ark appeared and managed to become one of our most anticipated free MMORPGs. With over 150 staff working on the game and a Korean closed beta scheduled for 2015, development seems to be going smoothly, but the best thing is that Smilegate confirmed in a heartbeat that Lost Ark is getting a worldwide release.
While we may have to wait until 2016 to play it, this announcement teaches a lot of Korean studios how they should build hype around their games and get the entire world – not just Korean players – excited and turn them into potential clients. With Lost Ark, Black Desert Online, Lineage Eternal and Tree of Savior, we’re beginning to get a taste of the best games that the talented Eastern developers can offer us.