It’s been a long time since there was a game I was enjoying as much as Lost Ark that made itself so very very hard to play. The leveling process is probably a bit too simple, where everything is solo-friendly and you can just mount up and ride through anything you don’t want to deal with. It’s easy to just roll through fifty levels ignoring just about every system the game tries to oh-so-slowly introduce you to, which is just as well, because I feel like there’s very little past the basics that the game actually bothers to explain instead of just opening up and expecting you to figure out.
Personally, I was just as happy to mostly bumble through things. I looked up skill guides, sure, but glossed over the parts about engravings and stat priorities and gear sets. I just equipped things with little arrows on them, indicating a higher item level. I did a bunch of guide quests that were supposed to explain the new systems (but really didn’t) and clicked through the option that says “I understand” in order to collect my reward. So, yes, I realize a not insignificant portion of this is my own fault, but now that I need to get actual end-game-ish gear to progress to the next questing area, I am finding myself frustrated more often than not.
I don’t know that I’ve ever played another game that feels so open, but is actually so very interconnected. Most nights, I log on intending to do one thing, and finding several other things that need to be completed before I can finish my intended task. I’ve finished up questing in Shushire, and to go to the next story area, I need to get my gear up to 460 item level. Since this was a 200+ item level jump, I knew it was time to start poking around in content I’d been avoiding, either because it was scary, or because I didn’t understand it.
Checking out a few of the island quests seemed to me to be the least scary. I picked one – pretty much at random – and followed the convoluted quest chain to it’s conclusion. But instead of gear, or something else I needed to get stronger, what I ended up with was an item that I could bring to one very specific trader (yep, I had to look it up outside the game) to exchange for a mount. Not exactly what I was expecting.
Since then, I’ve managed to dip my toes into Chaos Dungeons, which are less actual dungeons than something akin to Greater Rifts in Diablo 3. It’s basically a whole bunch of running around, gathering up tons of monsters and then blowing them all up with an ability or two. I can do my two-per-day limit in about 20 minutes or so, and – as it turns out – they’re not scary, or even really difficult. This has gotten me all the gear for my base T1 set, and I’ve (mostly) figured out honing and gear transfer, and while I realize I’m probably supposed to be more concerned with getting the right secondary stats, I’ve been mostly just using the pieces that seem to have a higher quality indicator.
… I know, I’m clearly still not getting it.
I’ve done a couple of Chaos Gates (which are absolutely not the same thing as Chaos Dungeons, obviously), which I think you can do once per day. The biggest benefit I’ve seen from these seems to be that there’s a gold auction at the end, and everyone who participated in the event gets a cut of the gold spent in the auction. I have no idea if I’m performing well, or even passably, in this content, because it’s so damn hectic, and I don’t really foresee a time when I’m going to have enough gold in my own wallet to even think about bidding myself.
Although I appreciate the construction that pretty much never leaves you without something you can be working towards, even if you play far more every day than I do, I’m almost always overwhelmed. Everything feels so very incremental, which hey, that’s not a problem, but doing tiny bits of work on 50 systems just doesn’t feel as satisfying as knocking out a pretty solid chuck on any single one.
There are also too many types of currency in my opinion, although I do prefer that to a whole bunch of currency-like items clogging up my inventory. I still don’t even understand what some of them are for, and some I have only figured out when I was unable to progress something that I thought was totally unrelated. I was stuck for a few days attempting to level up my stronghold since I couldn’t figure out where to obtain pirate coins in any significant number. Then, I stumbled upon a guide quest that awarded several thousand, so I should be set to keep doing research and sending out dispatches, at least for a bit.
Despite all of this, I still find myself wanting to log in every day, and each day, I make an effort to try out something new. Nothing so radical as, say, actually playing with other people in content where coordination matters, mind you, but … just a little something different. I don’t see myself in a raid, or even in a guild, anytime soon, and I’ll probably run into a brick wall because of it at some point. There are still ostensibly important systems I’m completely ignoring because I cannot figure out how to make them work. My storage is full of chests that I haven’t opened because I don’t know what I’m supposed to choose from the items inside.
I may not know where I’m going still, but I intend to keep muddling along until I figure it our or I hit a dead end.