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Lost Ark’s much-requested balance update won’t arrive until January

Lost Ark developers Amazon Games and Smilegate say they know players want western balance updates sooner, but that doing so is “not easy.”

Lost Ark western balance update - A Souleater, a pale-skinned lady with long black hair.

Lost Ark updates have been a source of contention for the massively multiplayer ARPG since its western launch in February 2022. First released in South Korea in December 2019, the MMORPG’s worldwide version has long struggled to try and catch up with its Korean counterpart. That disparity comes into clearer view whenever big, popular changes arrive for Korean players – with the most recent such incident causing developers Amazon Games and Smilegate to address the matter directly.

As Lost Ark celebrated its global version’s first anniversary in February, Amazon Games told PCGamesN it was hoping to close the gap “faster than players expect,” although admitted that “catching up with the Korean build is challenging, to be realistic.” Unfortunately, it seems this issue still plagues the MMORPG; the latest set of Korean-side class balance updates, which have been largely very well received, did not arrive with the Lost Ark Soul Harvest update released on Tuesday November 14.

Naturally, this has caused much consternation among players eager to get their hands on the latest set of changes. In a new blog, Amazon Games responds to these concerns. “With the highly sought-after balance changes that were recently released in Korea, we wanted to let players know we hear their feedback and give a look into our process,” it says.

Each western update, the team explains, includes features from a wide range of patches to the Korean version of Lost Ark: “For example, the November 2023 update includes features from patches that were released in Korea between July 5 and September 13. All packaged up and prepared by Smilegate RPG and Amazon Games, these combine to make a base build,” which “contains hundreds of different updates.”

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However, some of these updates aren’t relevant to the western release, due to them applying to content or systems that haven’t arrived in that version of the game. Therefore, these have to either be removed or rearranged to fit the progression in the West. “For that reason, simultaneous releases are not easy,” it says, “and some updates in Korea may be adjusted again at a later date, so western builds have the advantage of additional testing.”

It adds, “If Amazon Games determines that we need significant improvements sooner (such as the endgame raid changes and Chaos Gate update), we will work with Smilegate RPG in advance and aim to bring it to the West as soon as possible, separate from the base build update.”

Because Korean balance updates tend to see tweaks and rebalancing after their initial launch, the Amazon Games team avoids bringing them over until it’s satisfied that they are “sufficiently optimized,” and says that work is currently underway on the next base build for January 2024, meaning that’s likely when we’ll see these balance changes arrive.

Lost Ark - Three characters dressed in outfits introduced with the November 2023 update.

That might feel like quite a long wait, however – the equivalent of seeing your neighbor across the street playing with an awesome new toy and knowing you won’t be able to get your own for several months. “We know that many players would like to see balance updates released more quickly in the West,” Amazon Games admits, and says it’s working with Smilegate “to look into how we can make this happen outside of the base build system we currently use.”

For the time being, we won’t be seeing any dramatic shifts to the Lost Ark tier list, then. If you’re in the mood for some more ARPG action while you wait for the changes to roll out here, have a browse of the best games like Diablo to play in 2023.

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