Lost Ark is the Biggest MMO of the Last Decade
Despite reviews having been mixed, and opinions on the game being highly divisive, the fact remains: Lost Ark has gone down in history as one of the largest MMO releases in decades.
The game managed 1.5 million pre-orders, and the day it launched, it launched to almost 5 million active players.
Granted, of those 5 million players, only a fraction managed to make it into the game in a timely manner, with many European players still having queues in the tens of thousands due to them not wanting to lose their current progress and migrate to another server.
Today, I want to discuss the monumental success that is Lost Ark. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, this game has broken so many records and it’s only been out for a week.
As of Saturday, February 19th 2022, Lost Ark peaked at 1,130,000 concurrent players. This is 7 days after its release, where it peaked at 1,320,000.
It’s natural to see games decline in concurrent players over the course of the first week. Players interested in the game will try it out and leave it if doesn’t interest them. Players will rush to endgame and complain they have nothing to do.
It happens with every game, and is expected even with Lost Ark, as is evidenced by the decline in almost 300,000 concurrent players over its first week.
But despite the enormous numbers logging into the game, is the title worth it? What about Lost Ark makes it better than competition in the form of – let’s say – Final Fantasy XIV? Black Desert Online? Path of Exile?
I think Venture Beat put it about as eloquently as I imagine it can be, and that is that it is “a lot of content in an attractive package.”
At the end of the day, Lost Ark has a lot of content, a lot of story, and a lot of systems while all being presented in one of the most gorgeous visual representations of the genre.
This game is a unique amalgamation of two very different genres: MMOs – massively multiplayer titles built specifically around larger-scale group content. And ARPGs – action role playing games that are traditionally either single-player or features small-scale multiplayer.
Lost Ark throws you into a massive world filled with a plethora of things to do.
Beginning the game, you’re greeted with a brief tutorial that walks you through the various systems you’ll find populating it – how to move your character, your abilities that are – at times – frustratingly bound to letter keys, the narrative.
This can very easily be skipped by clicking the massive blinking “Skip tutorial” button that remains present over the course of the tutorial, for players that have either already experienced it or have a basic understanding of how games like this work.
You’ll find the leveling experience to be relatively painless. It’s quick, and you’re only required to progress with the main scenario to hit level cap. This removes the need for players to engage in side-content that let’s be honest, most players often ignore in MMOs anyway.
You will notice there is an abundance of fetch and kill quests, though. Which at times become repetitious. Even dull. Thankfully, on the way to level cap, you’ll find that you continue to unlock additional things to do. Things that supplement the repetious nature of questing.
It’s not as simple as “hitting level cap as soon as possible,” and while that’s definitely a route you could take – if your ultimate goal is to “complete” the game, you’re going to miss a lot of fun activities along the way.
Yes, zones are linear. To the point where you hold down your right mouse button and watch something on Youtube while slowly riding to your quest objective because it’s unlikely you’ll need to alter your course.
And you’ll encounter other players out while doing this – but open-world content, with the exception of larger, much more powerful zone bosses, doesn’t require other players to engage in. This is both a PRO and a CON.
Many players from this generation are of the opinion that you should be capable of completing an MMO without ever having to participate in group-content. That group-content should merely be an afterthought. An additive feature. Something that you can do if you really want to socialize a little.
I get it – some of us just don’t have the time to wait on other people. Being given the option of moving through the entire story solo is beneficial for those of us that don’t want to be forced to rely on other people to finish our content.
That’s why dungeons are doable solo or with a group – heck, even Blue Protocol is providing the option for solo queueing or queueing in a group. Group content used to be the focus of MMOs, but general player disinterest is very evident, and developers are aware of this.
The most difficult competitive content will likely always require a multitude of players to engage in, scaling it would likely just be too difficult otherwise.
MMOs these days often feel like you’re moving through the game with no purpose, and Korean MMOs are by far some of the worst culprits. And – I’ll be the first to admit, here, that while Lost Ark is no Final Fantasy XIV or Star Wars The Old Republic, its narrative is interesting enough, engaging enough to keep you thoroughly entertained.
To grow attached to some of the characters. Sure, the premise is simple enough, but it’s executed well. The story pushes you into dungeons. Pushes you into unique instanced scenarios – some of which takes 30 minutes, an hour to complete.
Like infiltrating a massive castle with an army of troops at your side. Or when you were forced into your own castle and had to ride out to save “what’s his face?” Because he’s a pampered princess.
There’s.. ugh, Mokoko Seeds. Which – if you can bring yourself to actually collect, is an achievement in and of itself. I collect the ones I find. Mrs Stix though goes out of her way to actively seek them out via dedicated guides. Yes, she has the patience of a saint.
You gain access to your own island, which you can slowly work on, building, upgrading. Turning it into your own tropical paradise.
There’s an active PvP scene, although like most PvP MMOs… if you’re not playing one of the classes that excel at preventing you from playing your character, you’re going to have a very rough time.
You can also work on maintaining a relationship with a growing number of characters. These relationships can grow, and as they continue to progress lead to… certain.. outcomes. And this is just off the top of my head. What you’ll experience on the way to level cap. Completely disregarding all the content that gets thrown at you once you hit endgame, which we’re admittedly still working towards in this version.
Honestly, at times Lost Ark can feel overwhelming. It can. At times, you’re bombarded with so many little red dots you need to click that you feel like you’re in a mobile game.
Logging in daily to receive your login rewards. Running your daily quests. Yet even so, Lost Ark provides an experience that is so easy to get into – so easy to understand.
It’s basic, it’s fun, and not overly complex.
It takes the formula that games like Path of Exile and Diablo used to dominate the genre, and innovates it by combining elements from MMOs – like the open worlds filled with players, group PvE like dungeons and raids. PvP. Player housing.
There’s an exorbitant amount of content to consume, and it allows you to take it at your own pace. There’s no need to rush to endgame – because so much is unlocked on the way there.
With how little variety we’ve gotten over the last decade with regards to top-down isometric action RPGs, Lost Ark is a breath of fresh air.
It’s not going to dethrone Final Fantasy XIV as the most played MMO long-term, and player numbers will definitely dwindle down over the next month or so. But it’s enough to scratch that itch we’ve all had for a while now.
A gorgeous, fun, easy MMO to get into and to enjoy. It’s an MMO that doesn’t rush you, and rewards you for playing longer.
How many other MMOs can say they do that?