If you have been paying attention to the community feedback for Lost Ark, you probably have heard about the huge difference in the honing experience between the new North American and European servers and the older Russian and Korean servers. The controversy has many factors and some valid counterarguments to why this difference exists.
What is Honing?
Honing is a vital feature in Lost Ark that one must use to level up their gear. By successfully leveling up the gear, the character’s gear score increases. Almost all content in the game is unlockable via reaching the required gear score. As a result, the honing mechanic is the central game system in Lost Ark. Many rewards players acquire from other contents implicitly or explicitly assist the player in the honing process.
Many players’ complaints originate from the fact that this essential mechanic is completely reliant on luck. After a certain point, upgrading your gear to the next level is not guaranteed. The chance of success increasingly decreases the higher the item level becomes until it scrapes down to below 15% at later stages of tier three. The worst part is that the player does not get back the materials they put into that honing attempt upon failure. Consecutive failures will increasingly deplete honing materials and other resources like gold and silver at an exponential rate.
This source of frustration becomes aggravated further with the daily and weekly limitations put on major contents used to collect honing materials such as Chaos Dungeons, Guardian Raids, and Abyss Dungeons. This stagnation has gotten so bad after gear score 1340 that the community has nicknamed the phase between 1340 to 1370 the “content wasteland.”
How is it different in Korea and Russia?
There are three major differences in the older servers that make honing far more bearable.
For one, honing in older servers is objectively easier than in the newer servers. In the older servers, tier one and tier two items have a success rate of 100%. Furthermore, each success raises the gear level twice. While this difference does not directly affect the tier three honing process, the guaranteed success rate allows players to save all of their gold and crystals for tier three. With Mari’s Shop always saving players stuck in honing hell, imagine what you could do with hundreds of crystals you likely used to upgrade your gear that the older server players did not have to even worry about. To make matters worse, the probability of success is 20% higher during the 1302 to 1370 gear score range on the older servers as well.
The second problem is the drastic lack of content in the new servers that make honing material acquisition far more strenuous. With Abyss Dungeons and Raids having lower gear score requirements in the older servers, players there do not suffer from the “content wasteland” that countless western players are currently trapped in.
By using power passes given by Smilegate, players are encouraged to create secondary characters to aid in collecting honing materials for the main character. However, this is easier said than done. With honing in tier one and two not being guaranteed successes, these characters also have to slog through the process of getting to tier three.
The current honing system in the western version of Lost Ark is not only unenjoyable, but forces players to spend far more time than their counterparts in other regions. At a certain point, players will begin to quit the game. Smilegate and Amazon need to understand that players are running out of patience, and it is only a matter of time for them to repeat the disaster that was New World.