With only a week since its launch, Lost Ark has shot to the top of Steam’s charts with over 1 million concurrent players, making it the most played Steam game of all time. Lost Ark is a Korean MMO developed by Smilegate RPG that made its debut in 2018 before being localized in English and brought to the west via a partnership with Amazon Games. In spite of only being in the US and Europe for a short time, it has over 200,000 viewers on Twitch right now, and it is the most popular game on Steam with more concurrent players than Dota 2, CS:GO, and PUBG combined.
Exactly what is the Lost Ark? I spent a week investigating this new gaming craze, eager to find out if it had what it takes to become my next obsession or if I should just let others get sucked in. Lost Ark is a free-to-play MMORPG similar to Diablo. An isometric action RPG, it has all the cultural hallmarks of a free-to-play MMO, including wildly underdressed female models and spam in the game chat. If you don’t take Lost Ark too seriously, it won’t punish you.
Lost Ark doesn’t feel like a game one plays for the story. It’s a clickfest where the numbers go up, and your enemies explode in all sorts of brain-pleasing ways. And that’s okay! Sometimes the body just needs something to do, a game for going through the motions. Lost Ark serves that up just fine. I really did try to absorb and understand everything the game was shepherding me through, but after the fourth quest of “talk to this person, then click this thing right next to them, then talk to them again, then click the thing again,” I gave up. I had a far more pleasing experience when I dispensed with trying. Instead, I thoughtlessly clicked my way through dungeons and quests while the third season of Downton Abbey played on my second monitor.
Lost Ark’s sudden and precipitous rise might be because it fills the Diablo IV-shaped hole in the hearts of those still waiting on that game’s release date. I’d be surprised if it can maintain its popularity beyond its first couple weeks of “newness,” but then again, New World (another Amazon-published game) is still going on quite strong despite its post-launch hiccups.
If you’re looking for a rich world you can get lost in or challenging combat that makes decent use of your grey matter, maybe skip Lost Ark. But if you need something to do for an hour or two and nothing else seems to interesting enough try, then give it a try.