ARK: Survival Evolved is yet another in a stream of Dinosaur full island survival games, with a heavy focus on taming and tribe building. This Action-Adventure survival game is developed by Studio Wildcard and is currently available as an Early Access game on Steam where countless people have already downloaded and started playing it. I’ve played a few of these island survival games, and survival games in general, but does ARK meet their standards?
Every player, whether it is local or online, wakes up somewhere on the map with only a Diamond shaped object on their wrist, head full of questions you look around to see a huge island full of forests, rivers and Dinosaurs. If you play online you will see settlements made by other players and bases for their tribes, but besides this the only other hint of a story or plot are the obelisks in the sky and pillars of light.
You can gather that you are on ARK, an island where several men and women are dropped to gather information on how people progress and evolve. As you survive, build and tame the beasts of the island you will level up and learn Engrams from your Diamond in your wrist, progressing further along in technology, from wooden structures to automatic weaponry.
Once you load up the game you have a choice between local, just you, or online play, both seem to operate in the same way just with the difference in player limit. Once you choose a server you log in and create a character, though the customisations does feel a bit limited right now, from there you choose a portion of the map and are dropped randomly in that area. From there you must gather food, find water and start to level your character up.
Levelling up in ARK is quite simple, you get XP for surviving, collecting items, chopping trees and crafting items, once you have the capability you can also hunt dinos for much more experience. Once you get enough XP you will level up, allowing you to increase one of your stats, from health and stamina to melee damage or resistance to weather. After choosing a stat you can spend Engram points to learn new recipes, from crafting food and powders to walls and weapons. This is how you progress in the game, level up, gain knowledge, and obtain a higher position in the food chain.
The game is pretty easy to pick up, controls are the norm if you have ever played a PC game, WASD is for movement, E picks items up and interacts and the mouse is for looking and attacking. There are plenty of items to put into your inventory and hot bar, accessed with I and number buttons accordingly. Besides the normal controls you also have the ability to whilst with several buttons, T for follow and U to stay, to name the most commonly used ones, mostly for controlling your tamed dinos.
Once you get high enough level you can create Saddles, and with those you can ride Dinosaurs after you tame them. To tame a dino you must knock it out then feed it food, taking from half an hour to 3 hours real time, once that is done you have an amazing new weapon in your arsenal. The more dinos you have the safer you will be and the faster you can gather resources, carnivores gathering meat and hide from dinos they kill and herbivores being used for berry and wood gathering.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
The music in ARK hasn’t been used to its fullest extent I believe, with music being reserved for battles and certain points in the game, from changes in day cycle to entering a new area. The soundtrack itself is amazingly put together and really fits the scenery and atmosphere of the game, with a few bugs here and there with them being played smoothly.
ARK suffers a lot from poor optimisation, from fps and their pc requirements to the glitches and bugs that fill its world as well as its inhabitants. I barely get 30fps on medium settings and my computer can handle games a lot prettier and intensive then this one so it doesn’t make too much sense. Dinos can spawn on the side of cliffs, fly down cliffs, get stuck inside of objects and when fights break out it is a case of teleporting dinos around as they try and hit one another.
The fun in ARK comes from its multiplayer, playing with a group of friends or making a Tribe together really brings people together to survive in this world and it’s a great feeling. Whilst in a tribe all XP is shared within an area, so working together really does make the game as a whole better and much more fun.
Overall Ark: Evolution Evolved is a great game, even in Early Access it shows amazing signs that it can be a worthwhile purchase. With updates, seemingly every week, the game is continually getting improved and fixed along the way, unlike other games in the genre that seem to get dropped after sometime after their release. I suggest ARK to any fan of Minecraft or similar building game, as well to people to enjoy survival games like DayZ and the like.
Grab the game from here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/346110/