Ark: Survival Evolved is the debut title from Studio Wildcard. If Minecraft and Turok had a baby, Ark would be its lovechild. It’s a survival base building game that was first released in June 2015 as an early access title through Steam. You can play single player using a local version of the game or multiplayer with an online server. The game itself doesn’t have any particular storyline as of yet, it may be something that is added later but for now it is purely a survival game.
It seems to ride the Minecraft wave and shares many characteristics with other games released around the same 5 year period, when base builder suvivors were the be all and end all. DayZ, The War Z (remember that trainwreck), 7 Days to Die, The Forest etc. The difference being that you can interact with and tame dinosaurs.
How does it compare to other survival base building games?
With the exception of the market leader, Minecraft, I’d have to say very well. Ark seems a lot more polished that most of the others. You certainly wouldn’t think it was a debut title. First of all it is built on the Unreal Engine so of course it looks great. There are a few issues with dinosaurs getting stuck pretty much everywhere but to be honest all it does is make the game easier. I haven’t encountered any major game breaking glitches as several other games have. The main issue I have, which shows the studios naivety is that Ark is very, very graphically demanding. I have a GTX 1060 which should run any new game with ease but if I crank the settings all the way to 11, I barely hit 20 FPS. However this can be solved by turning off motion blur, which I hate anyway. I usually get around 40-50 fps which I guess isn’t terrible considering the size of the map.
Is it fun?
Yes and no. I have spent many hours both offline and online with friends and yes it is fun. The leveling system is really well thought out and it pays to play with friends to unlock everything faster. But, and it’s a Kardashian sized but. It can be incredibly frustrating. You can spend hours finding, taming and leveling your favourite dino and even longer getting good gear, only to make one wrong turn and lose everything. Unknowingly I built my first house on a peaceful beach. I had leveled up quite a bit and had a bunch of friendly dinosaur friends. Stego, Trike, Pteranodon, weird turtle thing, spitty green thing etc. One day I thought “I need some more stone” but I had exhausted all deposits around home and it hadn’t all replenished yet. So I did what any person would do and went further afield. Less than 500 yards (ish) from my house there was a small hill so I thought “there must be some stone over there”. I started on my way, singing a song as I traveled and skipping merrily to my own tune. I was so young. So naive. I got to the crest of the small hill and to my horror, less than 50 yards in front of me was 2 T-Rex’s, 3 Raptors, 3 Carnos, 2 weird tough bird claw things and a spino all enjoying afternoon tea. Long story short they killed me atop my hill, saw my base and went and killed all of my dinos. I lost all of my things, my pets and my sanity. I tried 4 times to run in, get my stuff and run away but to no avail.. Everything was lost. Then my guy had a brief flurry of alcoholism before logging out, never to play that map again.
However, being killed by huge predators with teeth the size of cars isn’t the worst thing. The most frustrating thing is when you get poisoned, you black out (still alive) and are slowly eaten alive by tiny creatures. It takes a good 5 minutes for you to die but you can’t get up as with each bite you are being poisoned more and more.
Would I recommend it?
Yes but with a few reservations. If you like the genre and enjoy playing games the slow way to experience everything then I would say you will enjoy Ark. If you like games that you can pick up and play for 30 minutes and then leave it for a day before doing the same tomorrow, avoid it as you’ll get bored. I personally enjoy it but I do understand that it isn’t for anyone. Although as time goes on I can only see it getting better. Modders will have their fun with the game. We are already seeing a Pokemon version that has been created by fans and in the following months and years there is certain to be more and more mods to enhance the game.
Overall, when you look through the rage and the occasional derpy dinosaurs. Ark is a fun experience that anyone who enjoys the survival genre will enjoy.
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