It was probably asking a lot of myself to cut through Lost Ark as quickly as possible so that I could get to the endgame, but even so, I really did give it the old college try for this run of Choose My Adventure. So while I’m not really able to report in with what life is like on a jump start server at the end of all of the leveling quests, I can at least provide my thoughts on where things stand right now and my impressions of the game on a jump start server.
And obviously the headline says it all: I’m not really seeing a whole lot different from this server to the previous one, or to my previous playthroughs of this MMOARPG.
Now obviously the story isn’t any different, so I’ve not bothered to pay too close attention in terms of narrative right now. I know where all of this goes for the most part: I know that Thirain is a very good boy. I know that Armen is a priest who is also part demon. I know that the titular Ark is something some shadowy dude and his cabal of tropes want to get their hands on.
All that I’ve been paying attention to, then, has been how leveling up has felt as I coasted along from zone to zone, and while the pace is certainly faster than my very first run (as expected), it feels less like I’m being jumpstarted and more like this is the pace the game was always meant to be played at. In other words, the leveling experience on a jump start server seems useful from a mechanical standpoint as well as more refined in terms of overall pacing so that I could get through the story stuff faster. I bet I would have loved how this all came together if I weren’t being driven by a compulsion to get to cap ASAP.
On the subject of mechanics, I now feel I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on how the Destroyer class operates. I’ve basically figured out that having three resource building skills and one spender skill on each of my two hotbars is the best route in terms of overall damage output, letting me keep my basic attacks going and burning up the big smashy attacks when I was surrounded or during a good boss fight opening. I even managed to put together a rotation as well as muscle memory with a controller. It was nice to feel it all come together.
With that mental hurdle cleared, I felt more able to focus on the overall feeling of playing the Destroyer, which point I started to feel my interest kind of waning. I don’t know that I was feeling bored – I certainly didn’t feel I was mastering the class – but it also ended up being a bit too simple to play.
I appreciate how this might read as if I’m patting myself on the back with a jackhammer for coming to grips with using a controller in an ARPG, but with the lack of careful thinking required to control, the Destroyer’s simple kit ended up coming across as sluggish mindless gaming instead of entertaining mindless gaming, if that makes sense. Of course, there were still boss fights where I had to wake up and pay attention, but once more, using a controller to position myself out of the way of big attacks meant that I wasn’t quite as engaged or stressed as I was when I was using keyboard and mouse.
As comfortable as everything got, I still kept finding myself logging back in and pushing along over and over again – and I’m not sure it was because I was having a great deal of fun over being goal-driven. I wanted to get to the endgame portion and see what this felt like with other players. I wanted to see if the community here was different from the regular servers. This was especially true since queueing for matchmaking to the Morai Ruins – what I would consider Lost Ark’s first “true” dungeon – didn’t work out, with nobody else bothering to find people to play with.
I guess this all boils down to a sense of overall disappointment. Perhaps this is being compounded by the fact that I’ve now given Lost Ark three chances to make a first impression now, and each time has felt like a missed opportunity, something that I’m clearly not alone in trying, but I guess I’m still wrestling with the fact that there’s this sense of… something about this game that just barely manages to be a bit entertaining. Or endearing. Or enjoyable in a mental popcorn sort of way.
This is really hard to pin down now that I’m sitting here thinking about it and typing this all out.
Lost Ark doesn’t really strike me as a bad game. Its merits are plentiful in terms of its visuals, its sense of combat, its basic mechanics, and its sometimes unique classes. But then those faint whiffs of good things kind of get lost in the wind of everything else, whether it’s boredom or disinterest or the nagging sense that I’m still going to be pushed out of endgame pursuits simply for the crime of not being there at the onset. Or maybe this game has found its audience and (despite Amazon Games’ best efforts) is not going to bring fresh blood in anymore. I suppose that’s not a bad thing overall, but I was kind of hoping I would be counted among that number of regulars.
I appreciate how this all comes off as rather depressing, but I’m still willing to try to press forward with my ultimate goal of comparing jump start endgame activities against regular endgame activities, at least on a community level. But I also get the impression that most reading this feel the horse has well and truly been beaten to death. So I turn this first poll over to you. This is less like a poll choice for the column and more like an opinion poll overall:
Would you be interested in opinions about Lost Ark's jump start endgame?
- Yes. Push forward and see how it feels at cap. (42%, 46 Votes)
- No. The game has moved on and so should you. (58%, 64 Votes)
Total Voters: 110
As you might have suspected, this does mark the end of this month’s game run, and so we move onward to the next poll:
What game should I play next? Choose My Adventure!
- Vindictus. Try some action combat. (13%, 10 Votes)
- Albion Online. Return to this sandbox. (14%, 11 Votes)
- New World. Off to Aeternum. (47%, 37 Votes)
- Open Perpetuum. Become as robot. (13%, 10 Votes)
- Skyforge. Become as a god. (14%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 79
Polling will close up at the standard 1:00 p.m. EDT time on Friday, September 29th. In the meantime, I’m going to sit here and try to digest how I feel about this game. It’s honestly an odd mental hurdle to clear – and perhaps something to blog about sometime later if I’ve reached a conclusion.