The Gear in Lost Ark is Not the Carrot on the End of the Stick
Although the skill system is extensive and customizable, the same cannot be said for the game’s equipment. The gear in the game, with the exception of a few pieces of jewelry that grant you access to additional character-altering perks known as Engravings, consists almost entirely of purely stat-boosting items that keep the progression treadmill moving in the direction of new and more exciting content. It has traditionally been the case in ARPGs that getting that legendary or unique armor changes your build, but this is an element that is almost completely absent here. The gear in Lost Ark is not the carrot on the end of the stick. You will only become strong enough to enter the next piece of content if you have Lost Ark gold online to get the proper equipment.
Anyone coming from Path of Exile or Diablo 3 expecting something different may be disappointed. This is a theme park MMO design from start to finish. That said, the content that becomes available after raising your gear score past level 50 and into the endgame will not disappoint. Completing the campaign content grants you access to a plethora of new endgame activities that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Chaos Dungeons are a series of enemy-filled levels akin to Diablo 3’s Greater Rifts that let you smash your way through them.
When you play a Guardian Raid, Monster Hunter becomes an action-adventure game where you load into a map, hunt down, and kill a massive boss with difficult mechanics, limited respawns, and a 20-minute timer. Abyssal Dungeons are difficult, 4-player party dungeons with a series of bosses that each have raid mechanics similar to those found in World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy 14. Communication and strategy are essential in these dungeons. Every day and every week, there are quests to complete, world bosses and events that spawn at least once an hour, a roguelike dungeon called the “cube,” single-player 50-floor towers with floor completion rewards, and much, much more. There are eight-player Legion Raids on the horizon, which are expected to be the most challenging group content in the game. A buffet of activities awaits you at the end of Lost Ark gold shop, and virtually every activity in the game rewards you with the upgrade materials for your gear that you need to complete the next bit of each type of content.
As you progress through the endgame tiers, this type of vertical progression is extremely thoughtful, not least because Lost Ark does an excellent job of not invalidating its own content. In this case, a new patch or content drop does not render everything you’ve done previously meaningless because the first item that drops is better than the raid-level gear you’ve spent dozens of hours obtaining. To progress further in Lost Ark, you must progress through the content until you reach the next tier of content. When new tiers are introduced, you must continue to progress through the previous ones in the same manner as before.
All of this contributes to a very satisfying sense of progression that never makes you feel like you’re wasting your time or efforts, despite the fact that the grind is still present. Because of the game’s alt-friendly nature, there will always be a large number of players actively participating in all tiers of endgame content, regardless of the time of day. However, what is perhaps the most impressive aspect of Lost Ark is how well it caters to both grind-oriented and casual players alike. People who enjoy collecting collectibles will find their efforts rewarded with stat boosts that apply to the entire roster, additional skill points, rare consumables, and other benefits.
There is an NPC Rapport system that functions similarly to a more individual reputation system found in many other MMOs, but it requires you to complete quests, give gifts, play songs, or simply converse with NPCs in order to gain favor. The leveling up with that NPC can also result in specific rewards for each level reached, and many of those rewards are shared with all of the characters on your roster. With your own ship and crew to manage, you can sail around the game’s nearly 100 different islands, each of which has its own quest chains, storyline, and roster-level rewards to discover. Speaking of your roster, each account also receives a Stronghold, which allows you to personalize your own personal base, unlock crafting recipes, and shop at visiting rare merchants while on the go. This is almost a full-fledged management sim game in and of itself, where you can spend time researching additional account upgrades and benefits, acquiring and dispatching crew members on resource-gathering missions, or simply spending time customizing the appearance of your home with cosmetic items.
The stronghold is massive and continues to grow in size as you unlock new content, which includes multiple buildings, islands, and caves to construct. This aspect of the game alone can take up dozens of hours of playtime for players.