Lost Ark Review: One of a kind in all the right ways

I can easily look back on the release of New World in 2021 and still be happy with the time I spent in Aeturnum while admitting that the game didn't do nearly enough to keep me playing past the initial three months. Lost Ark may well struggle with this same issue but the early signs are that whatever time I do spend in its world, it'll be a damn sight more interesting than any MMORPG before it.

As a massive fan of Diablo, an MMO taking its overall gameplay style and making some small quality of life tweaks really boosted my interest. If done right, Lost Ark could have one of the most satisfying gameplay loops, it would just need to back it up with a strong story and engaging world.

Lost in the woods

Lost Ark gets off to one of the slower starts I've ever experienced in a game, especially an MMO. The prologue is great for getting players used to the control system and introducing the various character types you'll be choosing from, but it doesn't offer any challenge and that's a pretty frequent complaint I have.

Lost Ark Sharpshooter class
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I opted to choose the Sharpshooter class because I'm the trash that always goes for a ranger character where possible. The number of classes and styles on offer means there's easily something for everyone and you just need to commit to a path and see where it takes you.

The story of Lost Ark - as in many MMOs - is rather basic but does the job. The Ark, an important item within the story, has been lost (hence, Lost Ark). Our job is to find it to prevent the Demon Legion of Kazeroth from bringing chaos to Arkesia. It's not a race to the finish though as the world of Lost Ark is one well worth exploring.

Interacting with NPCs to build your rapport with them or just learn more about the world you now inhabit is fantastic. Arguably there's more fun to be had in side-missions and engaging with the world than in the main story itself.

lost ark story screenshot
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If you want to race to the end of the story, you'll more than likely max out your character and can dive straight into the endgame content. This mostly comprises of dungeons and raids that are reset daily (Abyssal Dungeon is reset weekly) and must be completed within a strict time limit. The upside is that they are balanced based on whether you're taking them on solo or in a group. There's nothing worse than an MMO that wants to gatekeep its content behind how many friends to have to play with.

Putting the A in ARPG

The reason I drew on Diablo as a comparison for Lost Ark is simply because while it is an MMORPG, its gameplay is in the style of an ARPG (Action Role Playing Game). For anyone who has played games like Diablo or Path of Exile, everything will feel very familiar.

Combat is incredibly satisfying with very little input needed to create devastating combos that leave you feeling like a badass. Think Black Desert Online but with only half the brainpower required.

Using this as the primary combat mechanic in an MMO was a bold move that has ultiamtely paid off in a massive way. Combat can sometimes feel very unchallenging, especially in the earlier stages of play, so having this ARPG style helps eliminate some of that early staleness.

lost ark action screenshot hud
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Single enemies provide next to no threat so it's best to run around an area and build up a mob to defeat. Bosses will also typically come with mobs or enemy waves to attack you as well, ensuring that tension is kept high. Overall, I love the choices that have been made with combat but those moments where things seem too easy can be a slight drag.

PvP is another area where Lost Ark really shines. It's a completely level playing field in a 3v3 battle arena. Your characters are stripped of their gear stats and levelling advantages and it's a fight to see who comes out on top. There is no punishment for playing alone but there are certain advantages if you can arrange with your friends which classes you're going to play with.

PvP is not unlocked until you're at level 26 and have completed the main story quest Rebuilding Luterra. From there, you can access the Bounty Board in all major cities and jump into PvP matches at any time. Like New World, a lot of thought has gone into PvP play to make it fun for all types of players.

Knowing me, knowing you

Progression in Lost Ark isn't revolutionary, nor does it need to be. You'll earn skill points each time your hero levels up and this can be used to improve their various combat abilities. When you hit milestones with each ability, you can choose to improve the skill with more specific boosts free of charge.

Loot drops in the game are also balanced quite well. You'll likely encounter nothing but worthwhile upgrades in the first few hours of the game but eventually, you'll be forced to make some decisions based on the stats you find most useful to your character.

lost ark skill points
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It was a little confusing for the item levels not to be directly linked to your character level to begin with but this is something you will just get used to with time. Lost Ark does a great job with its item interfaces to make sure you know exactly how changing a piece of great will affect your character. This can sometimes be hidden behind additional menus that aren't accessibly without selecting them in an options menu.

The wonders of the world

Graphically, Lost Ark is a little unbalanced in my opinion. The visuals are fantastic, especially from a performance perspective and the game held up the entire time I played it. My issues come from the repetitive nature of environments outside of the large hub worlds.

Certain areas follow a theme - which is fine - but the lack of variation within each isolated area is surprising. It's only something that you'll start to notice with time but once I caught on, it was hard to ignore.

It's a minor issue in comparison to the stunning visuals elsewhere in the game but one I thought was still worth mentioning.


Lost Ark is a triumph within the MMORPG space and if you have any interest in the genre or even just ARPGs, then it's well worth your time, especially given its free-to-play accessibility.

Sink hours into this experience and you'll feel like it's time well spent. Games that go out of their way not to punish solo players while having an engaging, fun and balanced PvP mode don't come along too often. Add in the fantastic visuals and overall polished performance and it's hard to beat.

Don't pass up the chance to enjoy Lost Ark while the community is about to blow up with its Western release.

RealSport Score: 4 Stars (out of 5)

Our review copy of Lost Ark was provided by Smilegate and Amazon Games

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