So, here’s an unpopular opinion that’s sure to piss off fanboys addicted to its mindless grind and whales flexing with high item level through their wallets to compensate for the small rockets in their underpants. Yes, I said it. It had to be done.
Like many, I was super excited for Lost Ark coming to NA after watching all the hype on YouTube and reading through god knows how many Steam reviews. Oh boy. This was going to be the next best thing that would last for years. The WoW-killer if WoW wasn’t already dead as a dodo.
Of course, I had bought the pre-order and was ready to roll on the 11th of February. In reality, I didn’t start playing until a week after because Amazon Games hadn’t learned a thing from the launch queue times in New World. But that’s another story.
I have now played the game for 300 hours. Of course, you’d think I had fun. If I was a masochist who liked being tied up and penetrated by a size L baseball bat, then sure, I had fun. You know how people usually say games get better the longer you play them? Well, Lost Ark actually gets worse.
It started off with promising combat that felt absolutely amazing. What you would expect out of a triple-A action RPG. The graphics were also pretty good for this type of game. I already knew that Lost Ark had quite a bit of complexity to it in terms of skill builds and customization. Being a big fan of Path of Exile, this was one of the things I was hyped about.
Despite things to like, I was, however, disappointed with the game from the very start. The story was as exciting as reading nutritional values on a soda can and the quests as cleverly designed as a 10-piece children’s puzzle. Now, fanboys will say this is what every MMORPG is like, but it is not.
What’s worse, there was no challenge at all. I go through level after level and everything I encounter melts with the click of a single button. Bosses in dungeons may perhaps need two or three – when done in ‘hard mode’ I should add. I can’t even imagine what ‘normal mode’ would be like.
So, here I am going through a mindless and boring story, doing mindless and boring quests while killing mindless and boring enemies over and over with the hope of things getting better at the end game. This is where all the challenging and fun bosses are supposed to be, right? The pinnacle of the content!
It’s not entirely true to say that they aren’t there. But they are also locked behind item level and to increase your item level you need to upgrade your gear. To upgrade your gear, you basically have to do dailies. Of course, most MMORPGs have dailies. The problem is, you are forced to do these in order to progress. This is what the end game is all about.
To get your upgrade materials, you basically run the same “chaos dungeon” two times per day and the same “Guardian raid bosses” two times per day. The former is a joke where everything melts with one button while the Guardian raid bosses were challenging and fun at first but quickly got repetitive and boring.
Now, doing dailies wouldn’t be the end of the world if upgrading your gear and progressing to challenging content were fairly easy to do. But if it was, Amazon Games wouldn’t be able to make money out of its precious cash shop. So, this is where playing the lottery begins.
At first, upgrading your gear has a 100% chance of success. However, this gradually gets lower and lower the more you progress through the game. So, the further you advance, the more time is spent playing the lottery and to play the lottery, you need the materials that you get from mindlessly grinding the same things over and over again.
This grinding is what most of the time in Lost Ark is spent doing. Whatever little new content you unlock after upgrading your gear enough isn’t nearly rewarding enough compared to the work put into it. I play the lottery online and while that isn’t the most exciting thing to do, it sure as hell is more exciting than playing the lottery in Lost Ark. At least I don’t have to work for hours and hours for a minimal return.
People often call the game alt-friendly which I find to be hilarious. Sure, the many different classes you can play in Lost Ark are a big plus. However, playing alts is all about grinding upgrade materials that you transfer to your main character. I guess I forgot to tell you. Everything in this game is time-locked.
The activities that earn you upgrade materials can only be done a limited number of times per day. This is why you are incentivized to run alt characters or use the cash shop. To please father Bezos, you should go with the latter. Or, just not play the game at all. It’s not the only game that exists, you know.
I guess part of me is writing this to myself as I got so sucked into the addictive nature of Lost Ark that I forgot that playing video games is supposed to be fun. Now, there are many elements of the game that are indeed great. But all of it is pieced together poorly along with a predatory business model that sucks every bit of entertainment out of it.
It’s a shame, it truly is.