Lost Ark has had a whirlwind August, first with the release of a major roadmap for the game, then with the launch of the Aeromancer in the Wield the Storm update, then with this week’s region merge for the European servers. Just after the roadmap dropped, Amazon kindly agreed to go in-depth on September’s planned jump-start servers and the rest of the new content coming through the end of the year, and today we’ve got a whole interview with Amazon’s Soomin Park, who dives into not just the jump-start process but also battle royale rewards, parity with the Korean version, and avoiding the typical pitfalls of development like powercreep and RNG. Read on!
MassivelyOP: First, I want to ask about the jump-start servers. Obviously, the goal here is to help de-gatekeep some of the endgame and give new and returning players a leg up – and also push them together. I’m wondering about some of the possible pitfalls – how is Amazon addressing concerns that the jump-start feature might waste or minimize early game content and experience or push younger players to endgame too quickly before they have properly mastered the game?
Amazon Franchise Leader Soomin Park: Lost Ark shines in its end game, and the goal of Jump-Start servers is to get players there as quickly as possible so they can experience what really sets the game apart from other MMORPGs. Part of why the end game shines is because its raids are a uniquely challenging experience. However, recent game changes made earlier this year have removed a number of wipe mechanics from raids such as Argos, Valtan, and Vykas so that players who are learning can get hands on experience with the content without having to worry about impacting their party. Outside of the game, we also have plans to surface guides and important content to players week over week to follow and aid in the player journey. The Jump-Start servers will encourage players to rise to the end game challenge of Lost Ark, and provide the resources to help meet it.
Will it still be possible to play the game without making use of the jump-start?
Definitely! While we’ll be encouraging new players and those who did not make it very far into Lost Ark to try out the Jump-Start servers, the standard game servers will remain open to new players. If you want to play through the early game story or get acquainted with Arkesia before getting to the end game, you will still be able to do this through both the Jump-Start servers and the standard game servers, with the major difference being that Jump-Start servers will give players an expedited progression rate through the same content as standard servers, while excluding them from matchmaking and trading with standard servers. Additionally, the existing game servers have also seen some adjustments on progression and fatigue, so current players can also benefit from this revamp if they choose to remain on their current servers.
What kind of rewards can players expect from the battle royale mode? Will success on Primal Island translate into power in the PvE side of the game?
Rewards here consist of items useful for progression such as honing materials, honing support materials, gems, silver and more. Meanwhile, players can try Battle Arena more than once per week and strive to get the highest rank they can. At the end of the week, players will get a reward according to their highest-recorded rank. But that’s not all! They will also receive rewards of the other ranks below their highest-recorded rank as extra bonus. This does not have to do with PvE. Players’ item level, and combat stats do not apply in Battle Arena. The arena provides its own gear limited to the content, and players can upgrade the gear during the Battle Arena gameplay.
The core game is due to receive two whole new continents before the new year, and I can’t help get the impression that while the team is busy trying to fix the lowbie game, it might be piling more problems and power creep on to the end of the game at the same time. How is the studio aiming to safeguard the game post-jump-start from needing the same sort of overhauls in the future?
Taking a look at the rest of the roadmap for 2023, now that we’re going to be closer than ever to Korea in terms of releases, the pacing for content is going to ease up somewhat compared to how it has been in the past. Players should have plenty of time to increase their item levels as they continue their journeys throughout the year, and we will continue to bring rewarding opportunities like Powerpasses and Express Events to our players to help them get there. Additionally, our team at Amazon Games will continue to work closely with the team at Smilegate to monitor player trends and make adjustments where needed to ensure the overall health of the game.
As a live-service game, constantly providing new content and new things to do are crucial. Moreover, it is also necessary to revamp the difficulty and convenience of existing content difficulty so as to help players reach the newer content without too many headaches. (Wouldn’t it be grueling if all of the end content and progression kept the same difficulty and grinding while even harder end content keeps arriving? The fatigue, and gap to catch up, would be enormous.) That being said, there have been revamps in Tier 1 through Tier 3, and end game progression made this year that make it easier for players to keep up with the new content coming to the game. There will be additional difficulty revamps to end-game content in the future, such as Legion Raids, Abyss Raid and so on.
Can the devs talk about the decision to make luck such an important factor in the elixir system, given how much gamers grumble over RNG?
The elixir system is not just a random system, it also has a touch of strategy. While it is true that some factors are determined by luck, players can still make choices via their judgment when it comes to how to utilize “Advice of the Sages” during the elixir creation. The fun lies within players making those choices as they can reverse the outcome. Players can aim to achieve high-risk and high-return once per week via this system with in-game earned ingredients and gold.
Any hints about what classes might be on deck after the Aeromancer and Souleater?
This roadmap covers all of the content coming to Lost Ark for the remainder of 2023, and players will have even more to look forward to in 2024! That said, we can’t share details on what that content will be just yet, but stay tuned to playlostark.com and the game’s social media channels for news as it’s released.