Here’s a thought experiment: How would have Anakin Skywalker turned out if he had grown up on planet covered in paint rather than coarse, hateful sand everywhere? The answer will surprise you! He probably would’ve still turned out to be a Sith Lord, but he would also be an Artist main in Lost Ark.
Star Wars theories aside, I was looking forward to the Artist’s release. Technically, the artist is a specialization (think advanced class), and the base class is called the Specialist. It shares the same class as the Aeromancer. That class hasn’t released stateside yet, though, so the Artist will have to hold us over until she releases here. Wielding a giant paintbrush for a weapon, the Artist exhibits a Daoist aesthetic with the ink she attacks with, taking the form of various animals to attack her foes and aid her allies. Each ink stroke makes a mark in the air in the same way a calligraphy brush marks a paper.
The Artist is the third support class this game is getting here in the west. In general, supports in Lost Ark are most appreciated in group content. Bards and Paladins historically get into parties easily, so I have no doubt Artists aren’t having any problems either. But there are still key differences in the playstyles of the supports – not so much about the power they bring to the party but rather about how much fun a player gets from playing the class.
For example, the Paladin gets two buffs that uses special meter – one that provides personal damage for the Paladin and one that provides damage for the others players in the Paladin’s party. Bards have similar mechanics; when their personal meter fills up, players have a choice about whether to use it on an AoE heal or a damage buff. The Bard has a little more nuance here since its identity gauge consists of three bars. Using either of the identity skills will fully drain the bar, so the more meters are filled upon usage, the stronger it is.
I don’t play either of those classes, so take what I say with a grain of salt. There are plenty of websites and videos that analyze their efficacy in different content, and they’ll be a better source for learning to play those specific roles. But when choosing between the two classes, that’s what you can expect: For the vast majority of Lost Ark players, a support is a support. They’ll help keep the party alive and clear the dungeon. Since their skills are more valuable, they can often find themselves in parties, even if their gear isn’t up to snuff.
In other words, just rolling an Artist will be a safe bet if your ultimate goal is to clear content with parties. But even if that weren’t true, she’s become my favorite class, largely because she does something that the other support classes can’t do.
At at fundamental level, the Artist’s playstyle is similar to that of the other supports; she gets two support abilities that use a special identity meter unique to her. In this case, it’s called the harmony meter, represented as three orbs in the center of her screen. Successful hits with either the auto attack or various skills fills up each orb one by one. Completely full orbs can be used as a resource that fuel one of two abilities: Sunrise and Moonfall. Moonfall provides damage buffs for the party at the cost of two orbs, while Sunrise will provide healing for the low price of one harmony orb. Since the healing is pretty cheap, it’s entirely possible to always keep one orb available for those emergency situations. And if both abilities need to be used, that’s totally possible too.
I’m pretty sure this is more of a thematic choice since I didn’t really see any button to switch between them, but it’s cool nonetheless and fits the class fantasy of an archetype that takes cues from the philosophy of Daoism. Each of her skills labeled “paint” use one of two types of paint – one for killing and one for healing. The killing paint is black paint, which she uses to create cool tigers and animals that deal damage to enemies. The white paint is the opposite; she uses it on allies to provide a variety of damage buffs and boosts to party members in range.
So what makes her my favorite? Well, it’s her ability called “Paint: Door of Illusion.” Using her white paint, she can create a portal that will teleport anyone that uses it to her location. On top of that, party members who use it gets a nice shield that will absorb 30% of their max health. Veterans of any raiding scene can immediately see the value of this ability. If the artist has excellent positioning, this move can easily fix any mistakes. Out-of-position players can back up safely with the help of a mindful Artist. But of course, there’s always going to be the human factor. And the only real weakness this skill has is if the player the Artist is trying to save has a severe case of tunnel vision!
This small addition adds so much to group play in my experience. A long cooldown means it can’t just be mindlessly spammed, and it’s enough to save a few members of the party – but not all of them. And since its success is linked to the Artist’s positioning, it maintains a high enough skill ceiling to reward the most dedicated Artist mains without making the game too easy.
Smilegate did an excellent job here making the game’s third support a distinct class from the other two. Paladins get one large meter to fill and use a skill of their choice, Bards fill three meters such that using one skill expends the whole meter with increasing potency, and the new Artist gets three meters with each identity skill having a set cost. Neither is better than the others, even if the Artist is my personal favorite, and which one you find most compelling comes down to player preference.
I do want to note that the Artis isn’t without any weaknesses. Maxroll.gg’s raid guide suggests Artists will struggle with shielding allies without risking falling out of position, and because those shielding abilities come out as a line, players will need to be mindful of party positioning to maximize on their shields. In other words, a huge part of the Artist’s playstyle requires being mindful of positioning. But if that’s your cup of tea – and it most definitely is mine – then you may have just found your muse in the Artist.