The Challenge of Picking a Main
I’ve spent large swathes of time the last couple of days alternating between researching Lost Ark and Monster Hunter Rise class/weapon options. Monster Hunter Rise is certainly the more pressing of the two to make a decision on, as it’s out tomorrow. Lost Ark though carries higher stakes in getting the decision ‘wrong’.
Something this process has really reinforced for me though. The more I care about a particular game:
- The more difficulty I have in actually coming to a conclusion for main class, and
- The more I enjoy the process of deciding despite the difficulty.
The second point makes intuitive sense. The first I can really only laugh at. I think I understand it though. There is surely some sort of correlation between anticipated joy from a game and wanting to play ALL THE THINGS in it, right?
For a point of comparison — with New World not only did I not feel this desire to go research the options and have a plan, I just sort of muddled through trying out different weapons and stats as I went to just see what fit. To be fair; the beta had shown me that the freedom in respeccing meant there was essentially nil commitment to anything, at least for the first little while.
I really appreciated that freedom to respec but perhaps if it wasn’t present, I would have done a little more homework first? Maybe? It’s certainly possible. Although perhaps Rise immediately counters this thought. As you can build anything you like on your character. Want to be a master of all 14 weapon types? Get the materials to build what you want and you’re free to do so.
Right now though, I just wanted to put some of my current top picks and the thinking around them into words. Who knows, maybe it’ll help!
Monster Hunter Rise
Part of the difficulty I have in picking for both Rise and Lost Ark, is the lack of the holy trinity. There are no dedicated healers or tanks. If they did — the choice would be much simpler. (I would go healer. Healer for life! … Well; except for the times I go tank instead!)
There are tankier and support-ish options to be sure. But in games where DPS is king, the locked-in appeal to these roles I have for games that do follow the holy trinity of class roles just doesn’t exist for me.
Not to say they have no appeal. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. To start from the start…
Long Sword holds a certain degree of comfort for me. I’ve already learned it- the basics at least. I completed Monster Hunter World and its expansion, Iceborne, with a trusty Longsword in hand.
Rise does add new moves and also changes how the Helmbreaker move works. Also and perhaps even more significantly, with World being my only previous Monster Hunter experience, there are also going to be a bunch of new (to me) Monsters to come to terms with.
So there is not an insignificant part of my mind saying starting with Long Sword is not just the comfortable option… It’s the sensible one.
Another part though suggests I should take the reset and go with something as different as possible, which leads me to…
Or perhaps it would be more accurate to simply title this section as ‘Ranged’, in which Bow is currently leading the pack of options. Light Bow Gun and Heavy Bow Gun are in the running too, but the hypermobility of Bow is certainly looking appealing so far. Not to mention, Bow’s Arc Shot has changed from raining a barrel’s worth of heavy balls to try KO an enemy to raining down one of a few different buffs — or a heal! — for either yourself or your team to stand under.
The other way in which Bow (and Light Bow Gun, actually) are different from Long Sword?
They’re much more focused on elemental or status effect application.
Don’t get me wrong; Long Sword did have some pretty good options in this space but if you were after ultimate efficiency and damage, you played Long Sword as ‘raw’ damage.
So that could be a fun switcheroo, too.
Of the support-ish options in Rise, this is the MOST support-ish. A large part of the playstyle revolves around playing various melodies (by way of attack chains) to buff your party and yourself.
Which buff options you have depends on the specific hunting horn you’ve equipped, but can get some very powerful options like attack or affinity (critical hit chance) buffs!
Not to mention, where Long Sword was slashing/cutting damage, seeing my normal party position on the tail (where relevant) to try cut the danged thing off — hunting Horn does blunt damage, meaning if we don’t have a full-on hammer user in the group, I can try learn more about playing around monster head zones, aiming for KOs.
Kinsect Glaive and Charge Blade also hold a high degree of interest for me. Continuing the theme of, ‘things that are different to Longsword’, these are relatively much more technical weapons. Charge Blade in particular with its phial management and weapon morphing.
Charge Blade is a pretty intimidating weapon to pick up, though. I think about how long it took me to get comfortable (not good; just comfortable) with Long Sword and shudder at the mere thought of going to something like this.
Relatively speaking, there is still plenty of time to make a decision here. Lost Ark doesn’t come out until Feb 11th, or Feb 8th if you have one of the founder packs.
If, like me, you have one of the bigger founder packs then the choice carries a bit of extra weight to it. As the first character you create (at least by the official verbiage) will be the one allocated your founder pack cosmetics, including the exclusive armour set. I still strongly suspect there will be a claim function and you will therefore be able to delay your claim until later… But this isn’t what has been said, so to play it safe — I want to be fairly confident in my first pick being my main, at least for a while.
Support — Paladin vs. Bard
Despite Lost Ark not adhering to the Holy Trinity style of class design, exactly, it does have two support classes that focus less on damage and more on greater team benefit.
Each party of 4, for end game content, tends to want to have one support class. And this scales for the 8- and 16-person raid content. So the demand is certainly there.
Neither are dedicated healers, though. In Lost Ark, everyone is expected to be personally responsible for their health. Mostly through not taking damage in the first place.
But, when the inevitable happens, and someone gets hit — or for the spots of unavoidable damage — Paladin or Bard can be there.
Paladin and Bard both offer very similar utility when it comes to buffs on offer, but Paladin tends to operate mostly at a whole-team level.
Bard can target areas (and so people) in the direst need of help with a burst of healing (or shielding). The trade-off is in longer cooldowns compared to the Paladin’s counterparts which can’t focus on a specific area.
When it comes to ultimates, the Bard must choose to either boost damage or heal. The Paladin can boost team damage and ALSO provide a HoT.
Being able to spot heal/shield leans me toward the Bard, but I like the aesthetic of the Paladin so much more that it might win out anyway if I do choose to go down the route of maining a support class.
The ‘Tank’ — Gunlancer
The Gunlancer isn’t really a tank. But they do possess a giant shield. And they can taunt. And their DPS is lower than almost everyone else… Alright, I know what I’m describing sounds like a tank… But they’re more of a… utility DPS.
The taunt is more of an interrupt than a true taunt. Knowing when the best times to use it for any given encounter is one of your main purposes in life. That, and the debuff you apply which increases damage taken from all sources (e.g., all the ‘real’ DPS you brought along with you).
The ultimate of the Gunlancer is pretty nifty too, a large AoE field that reduces damage allies take and negates some negative status effects.
So far? Gunlancer is pretty high up my preference list. I played one fairly heavily in the Korean beta (although it was called Warlord there) and after unlocking some skill points to modify the base behaviour of the characters kit, I found it to be quite an engaging playstyle that flowed well.
I didn’t really feel the same about the Bard when I tried her — but I also didn’t get her nearly as far, to be fair. Likewise for Paladin, which I had a chance to try out in the NA/EU beta in November.
The DPS — All of ’em
I mained the Sharpshooter character in the NA/EU beta and I thought it was OK. But I didn’t get to endgame and now I’m finding it might be (currently) a bit undertuned.
If I’m going to go DPS, I want to be good DPS dangit.
Artillerist with their heavy gun style could be quite interesting as something different. Berserker is also on the table and incidentally, is the first class I ever tried in the game.
Nothing is truly off the table. Not even the Sharpshooter.
I also really like the looks of essentially all the Martial Artist classes. If the Lancer (Glaivemaster, for EU/US?) was coming at launch, that might be a pretty sure bet.
The Lost Ark Reddit started a poll asking, ‘Which class are you planning to main for launch?’ and the results are interesting. Not what I expected either, with both Paladin and Bard featuring so highly on the list (2nd and 3rd, respectively). Only the Sorceress — the newest class of all — beats them out, although she does beat them by a fairly significant margin.
I guess the short of it is… I dunno!
But if I had to pick right now, Gunlancer… Probably… Maybe Paladin still though… Or something else. Hah.