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Lost Ark quick launch and early access guide for dummies

DreXxiN 2022-02-07 10:47:20
  Early access is almost here. The endgame MMO content shortage is eradicated at long last with 2022 bringing new tiers to what I like to call the modern raiding trifecta in World of Warcraft, FFXIV, and now Lost Ark. Lost Ark has a lot of subsystems that contribute to character power (or more importantly, account power) and it can be frustrating to read twenty extremely long guides to get an idea of what to do with the game launches with T3 content. The purpose of this article then is to give you very quick nutshell answers to common questions, with links to guides written by people with way more experience than I have if you want that elaborated upon. Let’s begin!  
GETTING STARTED
DX9 or 11? Supposedly we will get DX11 on launch. Run that. Which Founder’s Pack? Gold ($50 USD). Best bang for your buck, unless you’re a simp, then you can get Plat ($100).  You should at the very least get Bronze ($15) if only for the early playtime, but there’s other perks as well. I would advise against Silver ($25) as it has poor cost efficiency. Worth noting if you really want to, you can “stack” Founder’s Packs. DO NOT CLAIM YOUR FOUNDER’S PACK RIGHT AWAY, UNTIL YOU’VE DECIDED ON A SERVER. https://www.playlostark.com/en-us/shop Do I need a VPN? Unless you’re doing top-end PvP, probably not. Use at your own risk as apparently it’s not their favorite thing and against the ToS. How does it play on a controller? Fairly well, but like every other MMO tried on a controller (yes, including you FFXIV), targeting can be a pain, so certain classes are more suited than others. Melee is probably best on a controller, but keep in mind the UI navigation isn't optimized for the controller, so don't expect it to feel as "native" as FFXIV.
Related: Comparing high-end WoW healing and high-end FFXIV healing
Is there a trinity? No, but there are supports - Paladin and Bard Can I play those as a DPS? No. Please, no. Make it stop.  
ALRIGHT, I’M IN GAME!
What should I main? Doesn’t matter. The game is very “account” focused. Character and ilvl are of course important, but you don’t want to tunnel on those things.  Work on runes, skillpoints, cards, lifeskilling, estate, etc. I’d actually recommend even if you want to “main” a support to level a DPS first that’s capable of mobbing and clearing things quick solo, so you can farm account-wide benefits more efficiently and feed resources to your main. But really, don’t overthink it. But the game is launching with T3 (basically 3 expansions worth of content), I gotta rush now! Not really. None of the content is “new”, so you can choose to race for global server first raids, but there’s already detailed guides and tons of kills on the KR and RU client. Play how you want, but you don’t need to be anxious about progression. My personal take is that the prestige up for grabs isn’t worth putting yourself behind in the long run to “maybe” get ahead. And if you don’t have a full premade doing it, forget about it. Will be a nightmare to pug high-end stuff early on. Do I have to whale to keep up? Honestly, if you want to proceed as fast as possible, sure you can drop a ton of money. But again, if you don’t have other people on the same page, you’re just going to be ahead of people all by yourself.  You can get by fine without spending money and probably have a bigger pool of players to progress with. I’ve made a character. Do I bumrush to 50 and skip everything besides MSQ like every other MMO? More or less. Just be on the lookout for unlocks to better daily quests with higher rewards. Side quests with a chain symbol are a good example. What do I do with my skill build? Resources will be linked later. You want to have an AoE and single target build in mind. If you’re a support, consider a solo/multiplayer page as well. PvP if you want PvP, etc. Are these offensive consumables useless? No, but you don’t need to use them while leveling. Save them for endgame. Damn this game is easy, so many health pots to chug so mistakes don’t matter. Hold your horses there, sport. It’s fine to use healing potions as needed, but don’t use the %-based ones unless absolutely necessary. You’ll need them for endgame and they are very limited in supply. You can’t use the flat potions in high-end content. Alright so I’m working on multiple characters instead of tunneling on ilvl, how should I pace myself? A good ilvl to aim for is 1340. Not a bad idea to get a feel for what you enjoy by playing multiple classes you’re interested in up to this point.  
I’M 50, NOW WHAT?
Super TL;DR - Do N.Vern quests then Shushire quests, do your awakening then unlock raids. Below is an incredible image on a more in-depth progression guide. Click to enlarge. Kudos to Elandrian for this. For the best written resource, check maxroll’s post 50 endgame guide Here’s a link to the Reddit thread that contains the PDF of the above image - https://www.reddit.com/r/lostarkgame/comments/sif5oi/visual_flowchart_for_game_progression/ I’m poor, how do I make money? Weekly goals rewards (Kudos u/Ghostray_325.) https://www.reddit.com/r/lostarkgame/comments/sii5df/weekly_gold_reward/ You can also do repeatable content on multiple characters for resources, and a lot of the loot from raids is tradeable. Also, as mentioned later, you can sell engravings you don’t need. Make sure to keep small stashes of gold to list items on the market. The gold will refund itself if the items you list don’t sell, so don’t worry about “wasting” it in that sense.   OTHER SUBSYSTEMS What are lifeskills? Gathering. You’re limited to how often you can do it. Can choose not to do it, but probably should. Here’s a good video on it from Saintone.
What are estates? They are called Strongholds in this version. Basically, think player housing with mission tables like WoW. A better Garrison is a good way of putting it.  This is worth investing into, and you don’t have to overthink it. Spend 5 minutes a day on this and just start up the long missions (though early on, you can do the ones that benefit alts like reducing mat requirements and so on.) Below is a good video on this. Do note if you don't wish to go out and spend your limited lifeskill points in the overworld, you can do it in your estate. Make sure to lock your estate so others don't rummage through your resources.
I’m collecting cards, but I don’t like minigames. It’s just another horizontal progression feature. When starting out, don’t overthink this (seeing a trend?). Just make sure to read them. If you want to aim for any sets, a good beginner deck is the Borea castle deck.  Once again, relevant video below.
Can I enjoy endgame without dealing with convoluted subsystems? Engravings are a headache. It’s not as bad as it appears on the surface, but certainly the most complicated subsystem in the game so we’ve left it for last.  Long story short is engravings are ways to augment your right side gear by getting points into them (5 at level one, 10 at level two, and 15 at level 3). You begin by acquiring seal books, and there’s resources listed below to help find what engravings are good for your class.  You can also buy these off the market and sell the ones you don’t need, earning them off various activities in the game. The books have a rarity system, and you’ll want to read them in order (green>blue>purple etc). Do not use your engraving books right away until you know what you’re doing. Aim to capitalize on all the positive effects with none of the negative ones. You’ll start out with a stone that has 2 engravings. You can cut the stone to “sculpt” the best possible one for you. After that, start on the neck, and so on. Usually class engravings are really good. There’s universally good ones by role as well like Grudge being typically strong for DPS and Heavy Armor, Spirit Absorption, and Specialist being good for Support.
Before we wrap up, any “tech” I should be made aware of? Lost Ark isn’t a very gimmicky game. It allows a ton of skill expression in terms of maintaining uptime, learning your rotation, and resolving the game’s complex mechanics. One tech that you must learn though are counterskills, of which the timing and execution vary between classes. Here’s an excellent video on it - 
OTHER RESOURCES
We’ve been over most of the fundamentals, so here’s some other resources to top off your knowledgebase. Subjective, but the best overall resource website as they are in my opinion:  Maxroll Papaunika LostArkCodex EsportsHeaven (just kidding…unless?) Saintone also has a nice guide compendium you can see here. Launch Details 3D Model Viewer Been through all of these and feeling ultra-sweaty?  You’re ready for a min-max guide.
Hopefully with this compilation of resources, you’re ready to tackle the game with confidence, without it being overbearing. Best of luck in your launch / early access journey!
Michale 'Drexxin' Lalor is the Editor-in-Chief at Esports Heaven. Follow him on Twitter at @ESHDrexxin.
 

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