About Ark: Survival Evolved
Welcome…. To The Ark
Ark: Survival Evolved is an open world survival game, developed by Studio Wildcard, Instinct Games, and Efecto, and published by Studio Wildcard. Stranded on a strange and hostile island full of dinosaurs and other terrifying gigantic beasts, Ark starts you off with nothing more than a few scraps of clothing and your two fists to gather resources and stay alive. It’s available on Linux, Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and Stadia. It first released in 2017, and offers both single-player and multiplayer modes.
Live Your Wildest Dreams
Ark’s concept is a great one: an open world survival game, but you’re stuck in Jurassic Park. Can’t get much better than that. In this world, you’re not limited to cowering at the sight of any large beastie that looks your way, oh no. Ark allows you to tame just about any creature you want. Starting you out with Stone Age technologies of stone axes, Ark lets you progress up a tech tree that goes as advanced as rocket launchers and scuba gear. In this way, Ark does a great job of letting you set your own goals, and follow whatever’s most fun for you. Lastly, Ark lets you live out your wildest fantasies of riding dinosaurs into battle, hunting down gigantic beasts while wielding a machine gun. Doesn't get much better than that.
Concept Rating: 5/5
The Whole Spectrum
Your mileage will vary when it comes to Ark’s visuals. Playing on ports like the Nintendo Switch will result in horrible graphics and gameplay. Depending on your PC specs, the dinosaurs and creatures can look fantastic, with great landscapes to scour. However, whether you play in single-player or on a server will also make a difference. Even on PC, single-player will often see a delay in textures loading, with some dinosaurs appearing right in front of you. Playing online will naturally depend on the server. Still, good servers can get big lag spikes, making combat disjointed and frustrating.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 3/5
Nose to the Grindstone
When it comes to gameplay, Ark is, well… a grind. Though it won’t take you long to get a hold of the basic mechanics and game loops that make up most of the gameplay, the amount of grinding necessary to reach the endgame is tedious, to put it mildly. Frequent levelling helps to grant you some incentive as you progress, but moving up the tech tree involves an exponential amount of menial grinding. Playing vanilla, the game’s resources are sparse, and because of all of this, Ark is best played with others online. The phrase “more hands makes lighter work” was never more true.
When you die, you respawn with none of your items, though if you make it back to your corpse in time (and can survive whatever beast likely ripped the life from your body is still hanging around), you’ll be able to pick up all your lost gear. What this results in is a community of players that have grinded for hours to get to where they are, and are merciless when it comes to looting and raiding. If you don’t have others online who will be able to watch your stuff while you’re afk, you’re guaranteed to be looted overnight.
The potential for great gameplay comes with personalized servers. Where vanilla servers and single-player will offer sparse resources, you can make your own server where resources are plentiful, and even restrict players to certain technologies. Even better, you can make taming instant.
You see, while one of the most exciting draws of Ark is riding dinosaurs into combat and befriending them, the time it takes to tame them is yet another grind. To tame a creature, you first have to knock it out, then feed its sleeping body until it trusts you. Smaller creatures take less time, but the bigger they are, the longer they take to tame. Some can take literal days -- as in over 100 in-game hours.
Gameplay Rating: 3/5
In They Eye Of The Brontosaurus
Ark: Survival Evolved is a game that you’ll either love despite its flaws, or find too frustrating to play. When Ark is good, it’s great, but unless you don’t mind grinding, or you have a solid group of friends to play online with, 90% of your time will be spent grinding for resources. While the game offers tons of freedom and great landscapes to explore, the basic game loops are unbalanced.
Replayability Rating: 2/5
Ark: Survival Evolved is a survival game that lets you explore what it would be like to be stuck on an island full of dinosaurs and other dangerous beasts. While multiplayer will offer the best experience, that’ll only be true so long as you’re playing with friends.