Opinion: Hard to Recommend Inconsistent Game that Encourages Gatekeeping

tl;dr Inconsistent gameplay and perverse incentives encouraging gatekeeping make it hard to recruit other people or continue playing.

First off, I’m not a good player. I’m a casual minnow playing suboptimal builds and am constantly gatekept and I won’t deny this as part of the reason why I am having problems with the game right now. I play games to have fun and will continue to play so long as I can have fun.

If I were to summarize my main complaint about the game in one word, it’s that it is inconsistent.

The early gameplay is mostly solo questing and some rpg elements. This is very different from mid gameplay, which still has some questing but adds lots of open world amusement park style exploration and easy guardian grinds.

This changes when you get to Argos, and you are like a little kid playing soccer running around chasing a goat and changes again to Valtan where you feel like an epic high level gamer. Finally we have the current high end content which is Kakul, which is basically a bullet hell game with unforgiving mechanics.

At some point you realize that a lot of the things you saw early game in the game are just gone from what you do in the game. And the very high end raid content, unforgiving bullet hell, is not visible in any form early in the game.

Some people argue that Kakul is optional content, but lets be honest, everyone uses party finder and for the first few months people won’t let you into their Brel group, or join the groups you form, unless you have a full set of clown upgrades.

Inconsistency can be seen in gear transitions. Early game open world enemies just drop the gear through normal quests. Mid game you can do chaos gates or buy it off the market board. These methods are super casual friendly. Late game, you must do the more challenging content “hard” abyss dungeons or Argos. To advance further in gear, you must be a high end raider… or not play the game and just buy a bus.

Inconsistency can be seen in the nomenclature. The current “Normal” (Kakul) content is significantly harder than the current “Hard” (Vykas) content which are both harder than the “Challenge” or “Abyss” content.

Inconsistency can be seen in what builds and playstyles work and don’t work. Think about how some classes are really good/bad in early game, but then die/come alive in late game.
Early game you could try a lot of different playstyles and just get away with it. Front attack characters, characters that used items a lot, dps support classes, or tanky characters with shield and defensive abilities that allowed you to survive big hits. Early on people were encouraged to play tanky characters that can face tank everything because they could survive and play the game more.

Creative item or skill usage allowed you to get away with a lot of things, like clay bombs for extra dps, scarecrows and taunting for distracting bosses, timestop for avoiding lots of mechanics, or even purify abilities to remove the any and all bad conditions.
At Kakul, and to some extent hard Vykas, playstyle creativity is lost. Incoming damage is a lot less relative to what a standard support can shield and instead you have to deal with non-depletable lust and mayhem meters. Item utility is severly diminished. Scarecrows never work, purify only purifies certain things, clay bombs do less damage, protection items are near useless, etc.

This strongly encourages every dps to behave like a glass cannon with specific builds and then gatekeeping enforces this.

The problem is the game doesn’t tell you that the strategies you learn in early gameplay, like equip an engraving and use items doesn’t matter which ones, switch to you MUST make a meta build, or you won’t be able to get a party, and even if you do, “git gud” or you may not dps fast enough before random mechanics and enrage kills you.

The game strongly incentives gatekeeping. Due to how the party finder is setup, people are encouraged to choose the best possible candidates, like a job recruiter choosing candidates. If you don’t like this, then you form your own parties and choose the best candidates yourself. This method of party finder is competitive at it’s core. Anyone applying for content must compete against others applying for it.

This has two consequences, it ensures the runs that fill go smoother because higher item level people get in. It also causes the people who are the lowest levels to not be able to play the game and do the content. This is really bad for casuals that just want to play the game and encourages them to quit trying. However, there is always a bottom, so there will always be people being sliced off for arbitrary reasons due to the competition.

In NAE most parties won’t accept you for content unless you can already show you have cleared it a bunch and have invested in the character already, or are selling you a bus. This not only means new players or casuals that are behind in content can’t just find a group and play the game like everyone else. Instead, they have to “bring some friends” or “join a guild and find people”, and in essence play a different game.

This also creates odd scenario where you will be denied trying to find a group for Argos as a 1415-1430 ilvl character on reset day because everyone wants 1445+ runs. So even though you are the same ilvl as early Argos bus drivers, now you are gatekept.

My main problem with gatekeeping is you can’t just play the game and do the required stuff for advancement. If you are new or near ilvl, you have to wait, potentially hours, and cross your fingers that you will get accepted or that enough good people will join your group.

Most games that you pick up and play start off teaching you what you need to succeed in the game, and then build off those formulas. They slowly make things harder. Most importantly, you can just play the game through algorithmic matchmaking.

Lost Ark looks like a bunch of developers worked on their own pet projects in the game and when they left those parts were just kept in as is but never expanded on. There are fundamental changes to what the game is supposed to be without any in game warning. This is worsened by the fact that Lost Ark’s systems encourage this gatekeeping.

As a result of the inconsistency if I have a friend that likes exploring islands and the horizontal content, once they get to tier 3, they’re effectively done with the game. If they really like Valtan, nothing is as good or like Valtan, so they do Valtan over and over until they are sick of him.
if they like bullet hell games, they have to suffer through several months of grinding other content and gatekeeping to get to clown, And wish them luck if they’re playing the game to get all the arks. It’s really hard to recommend this game to any of my friends and encourage them to play it.

Possible Suggestions: There really isn’t much that can be done. A lot of these problems are fundamental to the history of the game and how it was developed and evolved. Changing them would make it a different game to the people that are heavily invested in it right now.
Taking a look at some of these suggestions:

  • Add extra clear reward incentives (e.g. legendary card packs or legendary books) for using matchmaking, and improve how matchmaking is done.
  • Add bonuses reward incentives for helping someone who hasn’t cleared content before clear it.
  • Add and communicate clear build requirements for matchmaking so players without a chance to clear the content can’t join.
  • Change partyfinder so anyone can join a party they meet the requirements for.
  • Add in lower level raids (rehearsals for instance) to earlier parts of the game to prepare characters.
  • Bring consistency with the use of items and abilities across tiers
  • Add more horizontal content and add replayability of horizontal content so that ocean explorers and death island enjoyers have a reason to continue to doing it.
  • Add alternate options and paths for gear advancement besides just raids

A lot of these “fixes” would make the game more accessible but would also be far-reaching, difficult, and possibly ruin what some people like about the game.

My friends have already quit this game awhile ago, and most of my guildmates have quit as well. Based on what people in the forums previously have said to similar complaints maybe I should just quit this game and play something else.

Have any of you guys noticed any other inconsistencies in the game, or notice things that have stayed the same or improved throughout the game? Also what have you done that has been successful in getting new people to play the game?


Unfortunately from what I’ve seen and heard here on the forums even though all of these are real problems that could be fixed they won’t be simply because it’s all part of the monetization model of this game. The early game is easy and casual, causing players to spend many hours doing lateral content and thus becoming invested in completing the game. The late game increases time sinks and creates large barriers to make people feel like they would be “saving time” by paying money rather than playing normally. In the case of guilds, some people like the ability to help others and will pay lots of money so that they can carry others through the content.

Just look at one of the systems that’s totally broken and morally bankrupt, Pheons. Pheons in theory are there to stop people from buying items on the auctions house just to relist them at a higher price. In theory that makes sense but you could also solve the problem by making items bind after trading meaning that you couldn’t do that. Also if that were the true purpose then why do we need to spend Pheons to send items to your own characters? The reality is it’s just another money sink to try to make players more inclined to trade gold for blue crystals so you can get that coveted 5x3 that most people want you to have for end game raiding. Also look at the number of trash stats and engravings we have on gear. All meant to make it less likely that you’ll actually get something useful for the character you’re currently playing and that the loot you really need will be gotten by someone else and you’ll need to but it off the auction house which means you need to spend Pheons. How do you get Pheons? Sure they give some out for free now and then, but the main way to get them is by buying blue crystals, which means someone has to pay real life money then trade their royal crystals to you for gold which gets you blue crystals. It’s all about making money and not about making a good game.

It’s not poor design, it’s intentional monetization.


I’m going to assume this is your first MMO where you have the chance to reach end-game content. Sorry to break it to you, but that’s just how it works. When you get to later content, yes it’s going to be harder. Yes, you need to learn how to optimize your builds to get into the content because no one wants to let someone in their party who isn’t going to carry their weight, and yes, once you get into the later content there are going to be fewer people who want to teach other players.

You also need to remember that we are getting content much after than Korea did so yes its going to feel like there’s fast jumps in content. You can be a casual player, but you cant expect to be able to keep up with the hardcore players. Its not really something that should be too complicated to understand. If you implement some of these changes that you are talking about then it removes the whole purpose of us learning how the game works and doing the raids.


Personally I think the only reason why PF becomes ubiquitous is because of Argos and the different ilvl reqs for each phase and usefulness of supports since pots have a gold/opportunity cost.

If they gave a full stock of HP pots that can only be used for each MM pull, I’d be happy to MM with randoms and teach. Then PF can be used for speed runs and gatekeepers.

This is pretty hard, but I’d like to see pheons adjusted to allow diversity. Some ideas have been thrown around like removing pheon cost for sub-relic or scaling percentage of final sale.

Disagree here, unless reqs can be customized heavily. Let people make parties with desired synergies etc.

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Sadly, but with Brelshaza will get the things more worse: 1510 ilvl just for gate 1-4
This is a raid simulator, features of a true MMORPG doens’t exists, where everyone wants optimize your time, and the western mentality is gatekeeping the best ones on the raid, mainly in absurd ways, primarily on ilvl/roster
On FF XIV the MM match perfectly without gatekeeping
The system need a workout for sure
The game overall is a rush, sad…

Had to smile reading this.
And while I personally LOVE the Koku fight with a few exceptions (There are some combos that shouldn’t be possible in a non-inferno (masochist) run like curse+portal+laser or birds at the same time) - its actually my alltime favorite boss in an MMO so far (feel is great and difficulty just on the border to unfair), I get that it might not be everyones cup of tea.

I think that describes almost any MMO, early game is there to teach you how to control your character and get a feel for the skills.

I don’t know if you did Hildebrandt Palace pre-nerf but that one wasn’t so easy on GS (given that its in the early game…).

I actually agree on this.
I think they should make the material or gear of the previous tier tradeable (Right now that would be Oreha/Argos in December Valtan/Vykas).
That way you would still get a tangible reward for doing the Raids, but casuals who don’t want to raid (no idea why ppl play the game for anything but raids after a certain point, but I don’t need to since knowledge of their existence suffices) could get the gear even if it is with significant delay.

Well, They inserted an “Easy-Mode” though with rehearsal.
To be fair: The better set Bonus doesn’t get you anything unless you do at least Guardian Raids. And looking at the guide for the 1490 one: If you don’t want to do Vykas, you probably don’t want to do him either…

Hmmm, at least not by streamers, I remember EVERY streamer saying: “Play Grudge!!!”

And how does this differ from any other kind of party-building?
Even with Wow-lfg-chat party-building, I looked at the character before entering the Raid - and experience would tell me if they would help or hinder the raid (not knowing how well they played).

Ok, on EUC there are a lot of Vykas Learning Parties right now.
To be fair, there are a lot less of those than Succ/Inc ones, but then you only need one.

Don’t forget, the ones with Succ/Inc Title also had to learn the fight at some point, why should you just get to join one and get carried through. It might happen, but having to learn the fight with others who have to learn it is actually fair…

Thats actually fair, but Argos and Oreha are honestly just passthrough GS with the latest honing buff…

Ok, so I have a 1477.5 Shadowhunter (4x3+2+1 PS Engravings).
What I do is: I look for someone who is 1485-1490 and try joining his grp (For clown).
4/5 will decline me, but one grp is enough (since I have more than enough clear exp).

Chances are that he will recruit another 1490+ and the run will go pretty smooth.

On the other hand I will always accept one 1475ish when going with my 1497.5 Alt.

Cleared Clown this and last week that way and took me under 30 min to find a group both times.

That was the worst change WoW ever made…
It turned dungeons from fun grp-activities into an assembly-line type activity…

I’d like this

So if I don’t like someone the can force themselves on me?
This is a really bad idea, we would stop using it to lfg and just go to the LA Discord, preform grps and then directly enter just to prevent this!

There are none.
Koku has been done with 4x 1x3 recently (There is a video on YT).
That doesn’t mean that you or I could do it, but it is possible…

And ppl already write what they expect (5x3, 4x3, etc.) in the title quite often.

Already being done for Koku and Brel (as far as I know Akkan also has one, but didn’t check).

Why? T1/T2 were never important for our version, they always were just stepping stones.
So why should they use resources to change (not fix, change!) content.

And having different characters being stronger or weaker at different points in time actually helps to decrease gatekeeping a bit.
Sharpshooters for example have it much easier to join Raids across the board since Clown released.

Being in demand for something new makes people put away some old prejudices and also not not invite them into stuff like Vykas.

Even then: I know some names that I NEVER want in my party again.
People who wiped the entire raid 20 times in a row basically.

Being able to just join in would defeat the purpouse of the PF, then I can just MM…

1500 actually.

Not that much difference in KR from what I am seeing.
Due to the long time Brel has been out, req are even higher there.
Not sure that you can do anything but being bussed with less than 5x3 there…


i said 1510 becuase the gatekeeping
yes, kr have more time of these contents thats why they do this, but in west, since the release of the new content, the gatekeep is hard.
i am main bard but i see all this suffering on DPS

Its not a system design flaw its just that FFXIV and Lost Ark work extremely differently and its literally out of context to compare them.

People gatekeep because they want to finish their daily/weekly tasks fast without wasting too many resources. The only reason to do that is to find like-geared people and filter out the rest.

Its not the western mentality, its just that people have their ego hurt when they get rejected on party finder.

On FFXIV people cannot out damage content and aldo people dont have many alts to do that content on, so its obvious its going to be way more chill.

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Agree with most of what you said. It’s just poor design and this game will ultimately fail in the long run unless they decide to change the greedy monetization tactics.

Sure, there will always be some hardcore gamers that like to whale around a long time but the average casual free to play players will mostly decide this game isn’t worth the time or effort.

I think they have about until the release of Diablo 4 to make some fundamental changes to the game to improve the overall experience. I have a feeling most will quit Lost Ark when D4 comes out. Fixing the pheon problems is probably top of the list, then adding more ways to customize and upgrade your gear other then honing and doing raids, would probably be the next biggest problem they need to fix. Something like a horizontal crafting system would be great. A way for your to improve your gear other then honing that you could manually farm or grind out.

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I don’t think it’ll be that bad.
Lots of ppl have 1490 Alts by now, so there will be the 1510(probably more like 1520) grps and then there will be 1500 grps.
Honing-Materials will cost a fortune in the beginning (unlike Vykas/Valtan rls - EVERYONE including whales will need them for the 1st time since Argos) and few ppl will be able to afford to immediately hone their Alts past 1500 (which is already ~450 new LS and ~15k new Guardian Stones coming from 1490).

Yes you can trade the old ones - but that will only make the old ones also become more expensive.

Also: From what I hear, G1-G4 are doable on GS - Clown is so hard bc doing G3 with 4x1475 is really hard. (I did it once and don’t want to repeat that).
There is a reason, some grps in KR mixed their clown-raids, doing 3xhigh+1xlow taking turns.

I usually look at my char and then search for chars of roughly equal GS/eng for Kunga.
I don’t want to waste my time going as only 1497 with 3x1460 but on the other hand I also don’t expect 3x1490 to take my 1460 with.

Diablo 4 is nothing like Lost Ark what kind of comparison is this?

Also, l just because some ppl dont like how the game works, doesnt mean its going to die. Just saying.

They’re both ISO RPG’s, it’s not an MMO but majority of the people that played Diablo 3, also play Lost Ark. What planet are you living on?

Can’t believe I just read that wall of text.

I do agree they could do something to make matchmaking more attractive, though the gatekeeping is the way it is because higher geared people are not obliged to help out lower geared ppl or “off-meta” player.

I don’t care what the player do and how they gear up their character but if I don’t feel like helping out someone more than I want due to them being weak, I won’t be doing that. It is the same for me if I get denied for running 3x3 for Valtan, because the other player are not obliged to pull more weight than me.

I think the two starting suggesting with matchmaking and helping out new player is nice if it gives a minor reward, gatekeeping is the way it is. I love horizontal content and people should just enjoy the game more rather being super competitive and compare their stuff with other players.

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Just because they have the same view angle doesnt mean the majority of LA players are Diablo andys.

Yes some might wait for diablo 4, but the way your present your information is like diablo 4 will destroy lost ark as if they are the same game or something.

All in all stop being a doomer, the game is doing fine, it has its issues but you guys never see the positives u only wait till the game dies :joy:.

Remember this post I will check back mid next year when D4 releases and compare numbers of players. Heh

Just like this person is saying; all these reasons imo is what makes an MMO and why we play them. Remove all this stuff and you just get a another campaign based single player game, which I think would fit perfect for a casual that like SOME of the MMO elements.

Compare numbers of players? Lmao dude.

D4 is just chaos dungeon simulator. I don’t see any fun in the usual ARPG. If LOA had no raids it would be so boring like Diablo games

That’s the thing, players like this guy enjoy that, that’s why he wants a “horizontal way to get gear.”

He doesn’t want a game where you have to reach some level of brain usage to progress. That’s why he advocates for diablo. And honestly, if Lost Ark dies to a game like that, that’s just a humanity problem.


The two are MMORPG, YES WE CAN (Obama lul) compare them. But like you said, the problem is the system design. The mainly features of true MMORPGs is missing on Lost Ark, and the design of Raid Simulator promoves all we are seeing, fomo and toxic around.

I agree!