The Variable Difficulty of Lost Ark Abyss Dungeons
The Abyss dungeons might just be my favourite type of content in Lost Ark so far. Er- except for when it’s island adventuring instead. I swear to God, if I’m not careful — and generally, I’m not — I can lose whole days sailing the seas, gathering materials and Island
Hearts Tokens1 not even touching either the Main Story Quest.
But for the purposes of this post — Abyss dungeons can be my favourite!
If you’re unfamiliar, if you cast your mind to the idea of a Heroic or Mythic dungeon; you’d be halfway there. The remaining half is that they are not complete reruns of the existing story content tuned upward but rather something more akin to a remix. (Except, thankfully, with far less awful EDM.) For my solo-loving friends out there, they are the first set of content that must be done as a party. First and only so far, though. Even Guardian Raids despite the name, can in fact be done solo and will scale accordingly.
To finish the thought on what Abyss dungeons are though, you take a slice of the story mode dungeon, use some of its story beats, sometimes switch out the boss encounter from what was in the story mode (but was perhaps hinted at) and give it mechanics you actually need to pay attention to. Er, well… Mostly.
It isn’t like the Guardian Raids I unlocked earlier didn’t have these considerations but they didn’t really have ‘mechanics’, they had ‘moves’ and much like the Monster Hunter series this game mode is so clearly riffing on with love (down to the fact Guardian Raids come from physical quest boards) — the skill came from learning and then recognising the monster’s tells and then positioning yourself accordingly.
Abyss dungeons are much more classical ‘gamey’ MMO things, like… The first boss of the Necromancer’s Origin Abyss dungeon2 will do an AoE that applies a stacking death mark counter to the party. You can’t avoid it — when the death mark shout goes off, everyone will get a stack.
If any one person gets to 5 stacks, the entire party wipes. Garum will fly into the air and do a party buster slam. Not even Gunlancer’s Defensive Stance can get through that one.
Between each shout though, there will be one golden orb placed. Interacting with the orb will remove all your current stacks.
The theory is simple: Right from the start of the fight, you should get the party to use the orbs as they appear in a sequence. This staggers the stack count out, rather than having everyone at the same point and in theory if the sequence continues unbroken means no-one explodes the raid.
The Lost Ark PUG etiquette for this seems to be to follow the party number you’ve been assigned. Lost Ark will helpfully mark everyone as 1 through 4. Of course… Lost Ark is new to the West and there are large numbers of players who have no idea what the mechanic does let alone some esoteric order decided on through years of play in other regions.
So what often happens here is you’ll go in, and on the 5th shout — the party will wipe. At this point, the explanation will be given of the mechanic. There will be a round of, ‘Ohhs’ and understanding.
Then — often the person who is still feeling bad for wiping the group the last time — will overcorrect. Someone will determine they will never have any stacks at all, ever again. So you’ll run up to the orb with 4 stacks, ready to cleanse and bam- this person has taken the orb from you while sitting on just one of their own, the 5th curse will come out and away goes the party again.
This is a mechanic from the second dungeon of the initial two you get access to though and is considered to be by far the more difficult of the two dungeons. There isn’t really any feasible way to ignore or outgear the mechanics.
This is part of the natural difficulty progression the game is leading you down the path of though, well before you get to Abyssal Raids (which increases player count to 8).
The first Abyssal dungeon, however — Demon Beast Canyon — your mileage may vary greatly depending on not only the skill of the players in question, but also your class and gear.
My first time through, I was on my Gunlancer. Their whole thing really is ignoring (most) mechanics by having their defensive stance shield at the ready. Smart activation and deactivation of the shield depending on what else is going on can mean you don’t often have to stop giving the bad guy a boop on the snoot in order to backward hop out of whatever it is the bad guys think they can do.
Gunlancer does however create the potential to be a little lazy on learning mechanics though. You learn which ones are still bad to be in, even with a shield up and you also learn which things are interruptable via your taunt that have the potential to get other people killed. Your taunt is a super power, I tell you. There are a lot of enemy moves that they will stop mid cast to turn their ire toward you when cast.
So as another example boss — Corrupted Vezuela, a giant slime…blob… thing… I learn the basics. e.g., Got a target over your head? Move away from other people. Incoming is a very large targeted AoE that will drop a blood puddle on the ground that will do quite substantial damage to anyone in it and will persist there for quite a while.
It only takes a few of those to block safe passage through the boss arena.
Last night, I took my Bard in. I couldn’t have taken a more opposite class in if I had tried. Where Gunlancer is made of meat and potatoes, the Bard is made of wet tissue. A stern glare might send the Bard into a critical health state. So where before I could waddle or leap my way through the red tells of imminent danger, now I had to more properly recognise them.
Not only for myself but also when to drop shielding for the team. So I learnt that after Corrupted Vezuela’s belly-flop leap, there is a secondary AoE with an incredible reach that has a safe spot up close to him. Getting hit by that secondary damage was fatal if unshielded.
Then to add to the spice of this particular run, we didn’t have an especially high DPS group. So we had to start recognising the good damage windows he presents and make the most of them to beat the enrage timer. Vezuela has two — the soft enrage of filling the arena with blood puddles without being able to stagger him as getting Vezuela into a stagger state will cause him to suck them all back in again, or the hard enrage of the timer where he will start pancaking everyone in eyesight.
The main damage window I found outside of a full on stagger was when he had put the target marker on someone else and was spewing the blood puddle out. During this window, he was stationary, not bombing people nearby, and generally made a prime target for some extra back-attack damage.
And this is just from the first two!
When next I play, my plan (ha), is to progress to Rohendel and the story there. This will ultimately unlock the next sequence of Abyss Dungeon content and I find myself filled with both trepidation and excitement by the prospect.
Thankfully, it’ll be my Gunlancer that gets to experience it first. ;)