After being delayed until early 2022, Amazon and Smilegate have announced a closed beta for Lost Ark in the west, which starts November 4th. In a series of blog posts, the team detailed what players can expect to see, as well as how monetization will work for the free-to-play MMOARPG.
In a rather legnthy blog post, the team talks about the upcoming Closed Beta for the much anticipated MMOARPG, detailing what players can expect when they dive into Lost Ark next month. The team does mention that at the outset of the beta, they will be doing a "load test" which could result in queue times to log into the game - which is intentional.
"At the start of the Closed Beta test, we will be conducting a load test for a few hours. For those first few hours, every player within a region will be sent to a single world. We want players to understand that there may be queue times depending on the number of players logging in during the initial load test. This is an intentional part of the testing, and we will be expanding worlds as more players come online after the first few hours of load testing is complete to ensure all Closed Beta participants are able to hop into Arkesia quickly. Thank you for your support and participation!"
As far as the actual content, Lost Ark testers will be able to play to an increased level cap of 55, as well as take part in a new streamlined prologue instead of the legnthy ones for each class. Players will start at level 10 and progress from there, playing content such as the newly unlocked main story quests, Rohendel's chaos dungeons and more. New Guardian raids will be available to test, and much more.
Moving on to monetization, the team talked about getting the model right in order to enable NA and EU players to fully enjoy what Smilegate RPG has created.
"Today we’ll share more information on the business model, along with some of the changes and adjustments we’ve made. We want Lost Ark to be fun and fair, so getting the business model right for our players is crucial. Smilegate RPG has made an amazing game, and we aim to honor their original design while increasing the accessibility of the game for our new audiences."
Amazon details how monetization will work, talking about how Lost Ark will be a "completely free-to-play game with optional purchases, Founder's Packs, and other bundles released alongside new content." Amazon does mention that in addition to the standard cosmetics found in nearly every game now, convenience items will also be present, such as auto-looting pets and storage access.
Amazon lays out how they've worked with Smilegate to ensure that the monetization fits the Western audience. One way they state this is done is by allowing all items that could be purchased to be obtainable in-game as well. One way is by ensuring that most items are available via Crystal, which is obtainable on the player-run market. If an item doesn't have a crystal price, it's able to be traded itself. Amazon states this means most of the items found on New World's store will be obtainable in the world, barring Founder's Pack and name-change items.
Additionally, Amazon has tweaked how pets work in Lost Ark, making them permanent instead of rentable for a monthly fee as was the case before. Additionally, Lost Ark players can get a pet rather early on in the main story for free. The team also talks about ensuring that their premium benefits, Crystalline Aura, are "fair and fully optional," aiming to avoid pay-to-win mechanics with the service.
"We reconstructed the premium service, Crystalline Aura, to provide fair and fully optional benefits and avoid potential pay to win mechanical advantages. Examples of these changes include removing increased movement speed and increased combat XP from the Crystalline Aura benefits, and adding in some of the PC Cafe benefits, like half-priced ship tickets and free Triport trips."
Lost Ark will also feature multiple in-game currencies which all are used for different things. Specifically, Crystals and Royal Crystals can be used to buy in-game items, though the latter is only available through real-money transactions.
You can check out the full post on the Lost Ark website. Monetization will also be testable in the upcoming closed beta, so players can provide some feedback on how it's implemented thus far. Lost Ark's upcoming beta is scheduled for November 4th through the 11th, and while you can access the beta through a Founder's Pack purchase, you can also sign up for a chance to be added on their website.