Four Winds: Everything you need to know about Amazon’s Lost Ark

    
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Raise your hands if you’ve been eagerly waiting for Lost Ark. Now give me a high five because as announced earlier today, it’s finally coming to the west under Amazon’s guiding hand!

Let me let you in on a little secret: I’ve been playing Lost Ark via a fan translation and a VPN the last few months. Usually, I don’t play MMOs in that manner, but I just couldn’t wait. Our readers always hyping it up in the comments got me curious, so I just had to try it. That means I’m extra excited for the announcement today.

So what exactly is Lost Ark? Well, does anyone remember Devilian? It was an MMOARPG, an isometric MMO action RPG, run by Trion for a few years. It didn’t too well. Lost Ark follows in that same vein as an isometric action MMO, but it’s much bigger. And I’m not kidding how big it is. There’s so many places to visit; players can even explore the high seas and discover various islands and there’s a lot of content we’ll enjoy. Something I personally really like about the game is the controls. It feels like a MOBA with the right click moving the character around, left click as an auto attack, and a limited set of skills to fight with.

The western release will feature 14 classes. Starting from the Warrior, Gunner, Martial Artist, and the Mage, players will grow their characters towards many different character types. And there’s going to be plenty of other classes coming in the pipeline. In the Russian version, I was a Spearmaster, an offshoot of the Martial Artist. That class won’t be available on our release, but there’s going to be a lot of classes to look forward to!

The Mage class will come in DPS and Healing flavors

Originally developed by Smilegate RPG, Lost Ark has already gone live in Korea, Japan, and Russis. Amazon Games picked up publishing rights for English-speaking countries last year, and I was ready for it. But here we are a year later, and we’re still waiting, but the wait is almost over; in addition to the technical alpha this weekend, we’re expecting the closed beta this summer summer, followed by open beta ahead of the launch this fall.

I had the chance to chat with Matthew Huston and Jake Smith from Amazon Games to talk about the various features of the games, the challenges of getting the game ready for the west, and what to expect when the game drops later this year.

What took so long?

My first question for the two was what took so darn long!? When I first heard of the announcement last year, I was expecting the game to be out in six months or so – and this is a game that was originally announced in 2014. Well, making games is hard, and there’s a lot of moving parts, even if it’s “just” porting an MMO to the west, as Matthew Huston and Jake Smith explained it. Smith provided live support for MMOs such as EverQuest, Free Realms, and PlanetSide 2 during his time with Sony Online Entertainment, while Huston worked on World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm in his time with Blizzard. They clearly don’t want to rush the project when they can get it out in the best shape they can.

On gender locking and content cadence

My second question focused on the genderlocking. Smilegate actually launched the game in Korea with genderlocking, then took it out. But at least for the initial western launch, the classes will be genderlocked. It’s a little disappointing to hear that; Smilegate earned a lot of player goodwill when it made the decision to remove the genderlocking in Korea, and I suspect that players will be disappointed that this inclusion won’t be available right off the bat.

There’s ragdoll physics and your hits will feel extra hard with them!

On the other hand, Smilegate and Amazon have taken steps to include better representation and skin tones for their NPCs. (I’m not sure whether those will be available in the character creation.) It’s all tied to the content cadence, so it seems likely that they’ll eventually add the opposite genders for all their classes, following the same release cadence that the Russian and Korean servers have been on. However, while the team said it will share a roadmap in the near future, but that’s all we’ve got to go on in terms of content rollout.

The in-game shop and Twitch integration

Considering how the game’s being published by Amazon Games, I hoped it could share any details on how it plans on integrating the game into their platform. I hoped that the game would be an opportunity for the team to add a unique feature to both Twitch and Lost Ark as an incentive to use both platforms. But aside from typical developer support and Twitch drops, the developers didn’t have much to share on their plans with Twitch integration either.

The bigger question that popped up was the in-game shop. Overseas, Lost Ark has items players can purchase for power. As I understand it, there won’t be many changes to the in-game shop, so we can expect to see those items in the game, but we were assured that those items can also be found from regular play. Whether or not this means that it’ll be a rare drop, daily login reward, or just enough to make the player feel powerful but not too powerful is up for speculation for now, but Amazon’s recent brush with the pay-to-win scenario in New World will hopefully be enough to keep Lost Ark clean.

PvP and endgame content

PvP unlocks at level 50. According to the developers, that’s about 40-50 hours’ worth of gameplay. I’m always a little iffy about PvP unlocking at level 50; some players just play MMOs to PvP, and the PvE content might just be a content barrier for them. The PvP will also be gear dependent, so even when the content is unlocked, players will need to do some grinding to get powerful enough to win. Since I didn’t get a chance to really try this, this will certainly be the thing I’d like to look into once the beta releases.

I love 1v1 and 3v3 duels in MMOs. I’m dying to try it!

Lost Ark will of course feature a variety of dungeons, with normal and hard difficulty, and both types will be soloable. In terms of endgame group content, players will gain access to the chaos versions of the dungeons, which are basically the more difficult versions for players to grind on.

Aside from these dungeons, sailing will be a major part of playing the game going forward – sailing as in boats. Not only will this be the player’s way of discovering new content, but it’s apparently going to feature some randomized content too. Players can find randomized islands and even randomized dungeons as they explore the high seas between the content. I’m personally curious about this feature myself. Will it be fully randomized dungeons and tilesets? Or will it be a hand-made dungeon with random mobs?

Will Amazon keep this game around?

One concern during the press event was Amazon Games’ track record. The company has closed and canceled a few games already and has yet to fully launch anything, so some players would be a little nervous about jumping into a game that might be in danger of a similar shutdown. We were assured that the dev team is passionate about the game and will maintain the game. But let’s be realistic here: We’re all a little nervous. We’ll wait and see.

On the bright side, Lost Ark is already a solid game, already proven to be a success in other regions. There’s no clear reason to think it won’t do at least as well here.

The four wind tiles in Mahjong open all sorts of winning combinations for players of this ancient game – and the “Asian” MMO subgenre is just as varied as the many rulesets in Mahjong. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina here in our Four Winds column as he covers the diverse assembly of MMOs imported from the East!
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Filippo Chinello
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Filippo Chinello

“They clearly don’t want to rush the project when they can get it out in the best shape they can.”

I’m saving this for when, after a disastrous launch, the devs will apologize and take some time (months) to roll out a super big patch to fix and correct the game.

Or for when the monetization will ruin it all :) God, so many ways to fail… i can’t chose where to put my bet

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Lunganor

Can’t seem to bring myself to enjoy isometric games. I tried, and invariably i get bored and never really feel immersed in the games.

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Vanquesse V

The way “p2w” works in the Russian version (to the best of my knowledge, the cash shop is poorly translated, if at all) is that you can buy a bundle that skips the story, levels you to 50 and gives you good enough gear that you get to skip the lowest tier of endgame. It’s not really anything beyond what wow or ffxiv offers.

They offer an optional subscription that’s roughly $10/month that makes you able to progress slightly faster and gives you a bit of QoL, but nothing major like ESO’s crafting bag.

The 1-50 campaign is pretty long with a good amount of variety in monsters and zones, but the endgame is absolutely massive. There’s a massive world to go explore, dungeons, raids, pvp, life skills and combat towers to progress through.

Keep in mind that while the game is played the way you’d play an ARPG like Diablo or PoE the item progression is entirely MMO based. You won’t be getting your next upgrade from a random drop off the ground for instance.

If we are getting the season 1 version of Lost Ark and then season 2 at a later date be prepared that the game will undergo a massive change when that happens. Ocean exploration was more fun to me in S1, but the game is a lot better in probably every single other aspect in S2 so I think it’s weird if they’re launching an old and inferior version.

I don’t pvp, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about the pvp in this game

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Oleg Chebeneev

Ive seen videos with insane outplays. 1v3 like its nothing. This game gives alot to players who put in effort to master their class.
Here is nice vid:

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Oleg Chebeneev

Simply the best MMO in recent years. Definetly the best in terms of polish, combat and visuals. Biggest drawback – gameplay on level cap is repetitive. But the journey to cap is well worth it.

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angrakhan

Good to know. When I first saw gameplay videos of this game it went on my MUST HAVE list, but then I heard about P2W and got leery of it. I really love the visual style and I like isometric gameplay a lot, so I’ll likely give this a go when it comes out. There’s founders packs available on Steam.

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Godnaz

Region locked – Can’t play with friends globally.

Class gender locked – When it’s already unlocked in other regions.

Pay-to-power up items..

I think I’ll wait a while after this releases before deciding to pick this game up. Maybe an Amazon sale. Polished game but not really the decisions I’m attracted to in an MMO.

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Bereman99

The bigger question that popped up was the in-game shop. Overseas, Lost Ark has items players can purchase for power. As I understand it, there won’t be many changes to the in-game shop, so we can expect to see those items in the game, but we were assured that those items can also be found from regular play.

Gonna be keeping a careful eye on this part, personally – “purchase for power” can mean a wide range of things, from actual stat boosts to xp gain boosts or rare item drop boosts to things that make other systems easier to get through (like the RNG enchant style systems where a store bought item increases/guarantees the chance of improvements – a classic “create the problem, sell the solution” situation).

So what items actually make it into the shop for our version is gonna have a definite impact on whether or not I check this one out, especially coming off another beta for a game from Asia that said “Ya know what, cash shop is cosmetic only. No items to purchase for power. We aren’t even going to sell you inventory space, you’ll get that in-game.”

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Simon Gördén

The PvP isnt Gear dependant, only a fraction of it is. The arenas are equalized as in gw2 sPvP (the mode thats actually fun and the mode People are playing). Just throwing that out there.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Hoping this has a successful launch here. Definitely want to see what all the who-ha is about.

Yangers
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Yangers

Should note the game is Region Locked.

Can’t play in Oceania (Australia / New Zealand), South America, Middle East, some parts of Eastern Europe.

Region lock. from lostarkgame

Quite the uproar.

Smilegate love to chop up and delay licensing to regions I guess.

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feleran

Aaand it’s not available in Estonia either. I wonder why…

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Tom De Laet

Hmmmm Belgium isn’t on there either. Guess this game has lootboxes/gambling then and doesn’t want to remove them for my country. Well after pso2 I’m not surprised anymore this happens with Asian games.

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Solaris

I’m wondering how dated this game is going to feel at launch. I played awhile on the Russian servers and it was already showing it’s age. That said, I’ll definitely play on the Western servers because I quit well before experiencing the meat of the game. Good luck to Smilegate and it will be very interesting to see how Amazon does with this.