Lost Ark Game Development
Hey Lost Ark fans! It has been awhile since Smilegate has released any information over the last months… however, Lost Ark is still alive and beating.
A new video was recently released on October 22nd 2015 regarding Focus Group Testing (FGT). For those who are unfamiliar with the term FGT, it is similar to a very restricted pre-alpha stage of testing, where few people are invited. The aim of the FGT is to review the game and correct any apparent bugs, as well as test out the interactions between characters and environment. The aim of the FGT is to prepare for an alpha-release of Lost Ark, where the game will allow for more players to test.
It is safe to say that Lost Ark will require a lot more testing and a lot more time before a beta date can be announced. Nevertheless, fans should be relieved that Smilegate has not forgotten about them and we will delve into what was featured within their most recent video, pointing out the major highlights it featured.
The first scene that appears interesting is the destructible environment. Although there most likely will be pre-set areas where players can interact with the environment, it is remarkable to note that environmental destruction does play a significant part in the overall gameplay.
Some beginner gameplay for the Berserker class is featured, showing off many area of effect spells, as well as charge/combo spells that rewards the player if done correctly. It is clearly shown that even though slow, when the Berserker lands his blows on his enemies, he will hit monumental force!
On the other hand, the footage during the Battlemaster test, featured a very different playstyle. She seemed reminiscent of the Monk class from Diablo III, incorporating dashes and very high speed combination attacks, as well as well-timed knock-up skills and a tornado death-zone spell that allowed her to shred through her enemies. Although it is not yet confirmed if each class will have a dash spell, it is interesting to know that Lost Ark may be affected by mobility creep, where one class may have more than one dash while other classes are relatively immobile.
In addition, we were able to get a slight glimpse of character customization, when one player was creating a Battlemaster character for the first time. It appears evident that many options are available such as facial looks, hair style/color, and base clothing appearance. However, it still remains to be seen whether classes will be gender locked.
Besides the gameplay shown with the Berserker and Battlemaster classes, a unique game mode called Cube Mode was featured as well within the video. This segment presented a group of 4 players entering into a fascinating area that looked like it was in some other dimension, comprised of surrounding stars and other space-like elements. Once they crossed the ethereal path, the players found themselves within a cube-like arena, where they had to face an ever growing number of enemies. As each wave was defeated, it seemed apparent that some form of reward was given to each character upon completion. This definitely leads us to believe that Cube Mode just may be one of many end game possibilities within Lost Ark.
Unlike many MMORPGs, Lost Ark is a top-down view. Players seem to rely more on the mouse to direct movements and instead use the WASD keys to cast abilities, giving a very MOBA-type feel or better yet, reminiscent of Diablo inspired games. ARPG and MOBA players will be more than familiar with the feel of the game; fast paced, low cooldown, skillshots, and heavy character micro-management, along with interacting with the environment and picking up objects using the mouse.
Visual effects and animations
According to the feedback from the FGT testers, many seem to treat Lost Ark as an interactive movie. The main factor that keeps people interested seems to be the fact that players have choices to be made during cutscenes, as opposed to simply watching a video cutscene. From the footage given, Lost Ark does not seem to incorporate many individual cutscenes, but instead features real-time decision making, which in turn, creates a unique gaming experience that feels more alive. For example, during the Battlemaster footage, the tester’s character had the choice of kicking down the man hanging from the ledge, or to leave him be. As soon as the decision was made, the tester’s character performed the action, and the game was uninterrupted.
Lost Ark immerses the player into the game by integrating cutscenes directly into the gameplay. Players should feel part of the environment interact with their character on a much closer and deeper level. The graphics are beautifully rendered, although it’s possible that lower end computers may have difficulty running the game. Even though Lost Ark is still in development, the FGT footage shows that progress has been made beyond the coding and programming of the game. While no beta-test date has been released, the game has shown results. Expect more videos to be released in the near future.
For those who are interested in further videos and information, below are some of the resources to keep an eye on.