I wouldn't blame you if you've never heard of Lost Ark before. It's a free-to-play MMO that was only available in South Korea, Russia, and Japan, but today Amazon announced that it's partnering with developer Smilegate RPG to launch it in North America and Europe this fall. I'm very excited.
Lost Ark is basically "What if Diablo 3 was an MMO?" You slaughter hordes of demons, fairies, and everything in between with flashy skills to gain experience and loot, and the 15 different character classes are all wild and fun. (It's set in a weird universe where anything goes, so you can be everything from a warrior with a big-ass sword to a cartwheeling Devil Hunter who dual-wields pistols.) Combat is fast-paced and fluid, and involves a lot of careful timing and maneuvering to dodge enemy attacks. There are a ton of ways to mix and match skills and create combos.
It's really fun to see the action of Diablo 3 slotted into a traditional MMO, where you're running dungeons and raids with friends. There are also a lot of fascinating features outside of combat, including a kind of relationship system with NPCs where you can woo them for special rewards, the ability to build and sail boats across an uncharted ocean. You can even settle on your own island and turn it into a little getaway.
Amazon has said Lost Ark's English version will be releasing this fall, but you can register here for a beta that will take place later this summer.
I first heard of Lost Ark years ago when it was still very new. Back then, the only way to play was to pay very sketchy websites a lot of money in exchange for a Korean phone number which is required to register for the game (since phone numbers are tied to your real-life identity in Korea). Despite having to navigate a game client that was entirely in Korean, I ended up losing a few weeks of my life to Lost Ark. It's also interesting to see Amazon get into publishing and localization. It makes sense that it would leverage its internet infrastructure to run a live service game, and maybe it'll have more luck as a publisher than it has developing games in-house so far.
Lost Ark will be available this year, and you can sign up for the beta here.