Lost Ark's artillerist is a walking explosion and my favorite class

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(Image credit: Amazon Games)

I've been a gunslinger whose rifle shot plows a furrow in the ground leading directly to Hell, a paladin who wields a sword that Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 would call "a bit much," and a deathblade who carries more knives than a knife convention. Still, my favorite of all the advanced classes in Lost Ark is the artillerist, who simply has a big gun.

I'm not sure why artillerists aren't a more popular choice, but we seem heavily outnumbered by paladins, berserkers, and bards. They're missing out. Being an artillerist is like being a cross between the Heavy Weapons Guy from Team Fortress 2 and a naval broadside.

In the Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson quite illegally carries a service revolver from his Army days because he feels a sentimental attachment to being able to shoot people. The artillerist is similar, except instead of the Army you seem to have been a member of some kind of steampunk Air Navy, and instead of a revolver you've elected to carry a ship's cannon with you into civilian life.

I can see why. It's more than just a cannon. At the press of a hotkey your weapon can transform into a gatling gun, a howitzer, a flamethrower, a rocket launcher, or a rocket launcher that shoots a missile made of ice. My favorite attack plants a laser target on the ground with a circle around it that slowly fills until a straight-up nuclear bomb hits, complete with miniature mushroom cloud and a field of radiated ground that causes continual damage to anyone left alive in the vicinity. Few people ever are. I sure hope Lost Ark's wizards have a cure for cancer.

Though it's an MMO, Lost Ark doesn't much bother with the boring trinity of tank/healer/DPS roles. The only 'support' classes in the current version are the paladin and bard, and both of them can easily be specced for damage-dealing. As an artillerist I'm the hardiest and least-mobile of the various advanced classes in the gunner category, basically a tank who is also a ranged DPS specialist. Which, when you think about it, is what actual tanks are in the real world.

In a raid it's my job to plunk down a turret with a handy defense-stripping debuff (you're welcome), then throw up Energy Shield to protect myself (the shield also explodes, because when you've got a theme you ought to stick to it). The shield's there because several of my attack animations are slow as balls and I'm probably taking hits while I set them up. 

(Image credit: Amazon Games)

First comes Homing Barrage, which is the aforementioned nuke, and the second is Air Raid, which is a similar area-of-effect blast. After that I might throw down Napalm Shot, though since Napalm's my only ability that can counter I might also save it for when the boss glows blue—that's when you can prevent them from attacking by using a counter ability, one of way too many mechanics Lost Ark is half-hearted about explaining. Like stagger, which I do a lot of.

Multiple Rocket makes a good follow-up because it does exactly what it says on the tin, and also the rockets set people on fire. Flamethrower does bonus damage if I can get behind enemies, and conveniently lights up a whole line of them. (I currently have Flamethrower specced to do water damage, which it somehow does by shooting blue fire.) Finally there's Enhanced Shell, which just shoots a single rocket. It's basic, but it has a low cooldown and gets the job done.

Pretty much all of these abilities involve things going boom or burning. The artillerist is like an explosion at the explosion factory. (That's the place where they manufacture explosions.)

(Image credit: Amazon Games)

Every advanced class in Lost Ark has an identity skill, something a bit special, but the thing about being an artillerist is that your basic abilities are so good you don't need it. Which is important, because that identity skill is the one weak option in an otherwise lovely set of murderbuttons.

It's called Barrage Mode and it turns you into a stationary artillery piece, able to lay down impressive amounts of damage, but unable to move. Given the number of ways I already have to blow up jerks, getting a couple extra in return for being even more of a target than I already am isn't often worth it—except when you're fighting a boss with knockback attacks who tries to push you off ledges, in which case being able to plant your feet and laugh off any attempt to move you actually isn't bad.

Of course, Lost Ark is a vanity MMO where looking cool is as important as throwing out unseemly amounts of damage. Like every class, the way gear changes as you level up to 50 has made my artillerist seem like a teenager going through many phases in quick succession. At various points my look has been: Horatio Hornblower; literally a cowboy; guitarist in a Guns N' Roses cover band; steampunk but make it sexy; Horatio Hornblower but make it fancy; literally a cowboy (slight return); and goth who knows a little bit too much about World War 2, if you know what I mean.

I should note that though a couple of those looks showed a fair bit of skin, even during my brief sexy pirate phase I'd stand next to almost any woman in Lost Ark and be like, "What are you wearing? Is that a bra made of bicycle chain?" 

(Image credit: Amazon Games)

Lost Ark's skimpy outfits for women, combined with the high heels and hipsway, is the reason I picked one of the male classes to be my main. I have a sorceress alt as well, and she seems to get less and less clothed the higher level she gets. At level 60 I can only imagine they'll run out of things to remove and take her flesh away, leaving her looking like an anatomy lesson.

Smilegate has said that it's planning to add more outfits that aren't so revealing, and though I look forward to that I hope the beachwear skins from the Korean version make it in as well, because the options for male gunners include a casual pink robe-and-budgie-smugglers combo that I would enjoy wearing while I make literally everything explode.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.