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With Lost Ark coming out on February 11th to North America, the successful South Korean MMORPG will now see if it can also attract the western audience. Despite MMORPGs being a popular genre in North America, there are key distinctions that make Lost Ark a unique experience. Some things, however, never change about MMORPG games. For instance, every single one of them requires immense time to be invested. To make sure that you’re not trying out a game that you may not be interested in, here are the top five things you must know before you try Lost Ark.

1. Lost Ark is not a Diablo clone

The immediate assumption that can be made off of the gameplay trailers for Lost Ark is that it is similar to Activision Blizzard’s famous Diablo franchise. While Lost Ark is indeed a three-quarter view game with classes that have unique abilities, that is where the big similarities between the two games end.

Diablo follows the traditional hack-and-slash formula of gathering as many mobs as possible and killing them at a fast pace. Lost Ark, does indeed have the hack-and-slash mechanic, especially in the earlier stages of the game with the Chaos Dungeons and the main story quests. But, this phase of the game quickly dissipates as higher-level enemies brutally punish the face-roll playstyle that is iconic with the hack-and-slash genre.

With intimidating enemies that can chain crowd-control you to death with one wrong misstep, the combat becomes a slower, calculative experience with emphasis on extensive research and planning. In this way, the core gameplay is much closer to traditional MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. With countless combos, super armors and invulnerability frame mechanics available to almost every class in the game, the skill ceiling for Lost Ark’s combat system is very high.

2. Lost Ark is an item-driven MMORPG with multiple routes to acquire them

Like with many other MMORPGs, Lost Ark’s core mechanic revolves around acquiring more powerful items to empower your character. Lost Ark offers three main methods of acquiring these items and their upgrade materials.

The first method is the traditional one of grinding instances and dungeons. Another method is to acquire the materials for the items through life skills. Players’ final option is to explore islands by sailing to discover hidden loot in there. The last two options are as viable as the first, which gives players the freedom to avoid endless dungeon grinding if they wish to.

3. Lost Ark discourages “pay-to-win” whales in both PvP and PvE content

With every MMORPGs, the most common fear of the player base is if the game incentivizes microtransactions by directly empowering the characters in an overblown way. Fortunately, the developers of Lost Ark made extensive systems to prevent such thing from happening. For PvP, the stats of the participants are adjusted to be the same for every mode except Guild Wars. Guild Wars, however, is the least popular mode due to its relatively poor rewards compared to the alternative options.

For PvE, it is possible to raise the “Gear Score” of the items through microtransactions. However, this only unlocks content that would be impossible to be beaten through such a method. While it may accelerate the progression of the game, microtransactions can often penalize players by putting them in limbo between mid and late-game content.

4. Not all classes are created equal

Supportive classes are very scarce in Lost Ark. In fact, Bard will be the only class that is capable of being effective support during the release. This naturally puts support characters on a pedestal since late-game content becomes impossible without effective healing and shields. With support characters out of the way, the damage classes vary in their strengths. While there are more optimal classes, enjoying the class’ mechanics is far more important. Players that choose their character type purely for its viability may quickly get discouraged in the late game when they meet the infamous difficulty spike.

5. Lost Ark has some of the most difficult late-game content

I’ve been alluding to this last point for the entire article. However, I cannot understate this point because the Lost Ark experience drastically changes in the late game where higher-level raids and dungeons become available. Enemies in these instances will annihilate your health bar with one mistake. With these monsters attacking at a fast pace, being aware of activation times for your combos become essential as well. Certain characters also possess immense intricacies such as the Gunslinger, who has three different guns that she can wield, with each gun having unique abilities. As such, Lost Ark distinguishes itself from number-pad-based MMORPGs such as Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft by demanding mechanical prowess and careful controlling that is similar to the MOBA genre.

With the game officially launching by next week, I hope the quick overview here was helpful in you deciding whether or not you will give the popular Korean MMORPG a try.

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