On February 11, 2022, Amazon Game’s Lost Ark was available for players to play for free through Steam and Amazon. However, players could pay for a “Founder’s Pack” which allowed them to start the game a maximum of three days earlier on February 8th. The release for Lost Ark for free players on the 11th was unstable. Announced to be accessible by 9 am that day, the release was delayed nearly seven hours until around 4 pm. Less than 12 hours later, they took the servers back down for maintenance on the morning of Saturday the 12th.
Despite these setbacks on the first days of the free-to-play release, the servers have been just fine ever since, only going down for weekly maintenance which is standard across MMO genres. These maintenance times are generally for fixing known issues as well as adding new events or content.
As a somewhat avid MMO player myself, I felt it was only fair to give Lost Ark a try because it is free-to-play and there has been a lot of hype built up around it. So I did, and it is immensely enjoyable. The gameplay is a mix of RPG Dungeon crawler/looter and open-world sandbox adventure. While these are two very different and specific types of games, Amazon Games was able to incorporate both of them into the game.
Without spoiling anything, the story is unique and expansive. There are literally hundreds of quests and events that players have the option to complete which both helps them progress in the game and further deepen the plot. For example, just completing the first set of story quests in Lost Ark takes around 24 hours. There are 4 other sets of story quests that can be completed later on in the game and dozens of side quests.
As for the plot, I will give a general overview without give spoilers. The player is chosen by a deity to preserve the balance between light and dark. They are sent to the continent where the darkness has just begun to spread and with the help of people in the story and other players of the game, progress through the darkness. The further a player progresses, the darker the games gets and the hard it becomes.
All this being said, this could also be seen as a negative part of the game because just getting into it where most of the other player interactions come from takes about 24 hours and is very overwhelming for any new players because of how much there is to do. Even as an experienced MMO player, I felt overwhelmed and had to look up guides to be able to get past some things. On the other hand, Lost Ark offers a lot of gameplay diversity with seven different classes available for play each with two to three different sub-classes. The subclasses are so uniquely different from on another though that they are basically their own class. Each of the sub classes have over a dozen different abilities to utilize.
While this game undoubtedly has a lot to offer in terms of content, there is still a faint doubt in the back of many players head about Lost Ark by Amazon Games. It was less than six months ago that Amazon Games released an MMO called New World. New World was equally hyped up as Lost Ark was and received great initial success. However, a month into the game, players found a bug which allowed the duplication of items and taking away any sense of players to work hard to get an item or achievement they want. Developers tried to remove/fix the problem but did not find a way to fix it in time. Due to this, New World’s player base is below 1/10 of its first month’s player count. This is bad for any game but especially for an MMO which is supposed keep the player occupied for months with its plethora of content. The hope is that Lost Ark does not turn on the same way as New World.