And finally a review on the game that has eaten my brainmeats lately, ARK Survival Evolved.
Lets get the basics out of the way first. I do play on an unofficial server which is owned by my good friends, Reikonyx and Relax. You can find out more information on it via the Steam Group, my Steam Profile, the About Me section on this website, and on the Ark Servers Website. I am an admin/moderator on the server and am happy to help out any new member to the server.
Now that’s done, moving on to the game itself.
To describe the game: It is as if Minecraft, Jurassic Park, Fallout, and DayZ, all got together and had a baby. Take the best elements of each thing and bam you have ARK.
In its simplest form it is a survival game.
Description on the Steam Store page describes it thus: “As a man or woman stranded naked, freezing & starving on a mysterious island, you must hunt, harvest, craft items, grow crops, & build shelters to survive. Use skill and cunning to kill or tame & ride the Dinosaurs & primeval creatures roaming the land, & team up with hundreds of players or play locally!”
But I like my description better.
I cannot describe in simple words the sheer beauty of the game. All pictures in this post are from my actual gameplay. I run the game on medium settings and every week they increase the optimization of the game so my screenshots have progressively gotten prettier as time has gone by.
The game is still in its alpha infancy so there are many bugs, however for the first time in the history of the time I have been reviewing games, I am seeing developers that listen to their players. Each week they produce an ARK Digest, describing features in the most recent of their frequent updates, to upcoming bug fixes and dino’s they intend to include in future updates. At least once a week we get something new and cool, a new dino or tool, and performance/graphics gains.
You have the ability to play on the official servers or to find an unofficial server or host one of your own. One of the downsides to the game is that on PVP servers griefing can happen if the moderator is not active or if good rules are not in place. This is particularly frequent on the Official PVP servers.
Hosting a server is not recommended on your own machine though it is possible. The sheer amount of bandwith and processing it takes lends itself to being best served by a external host. This will cost extra if you decide to go that route. On a good note, even if there is a wipe on the main servers your admin may choose to wipe the server or not, so you are less likely to lose everything.
I think one of the biggest issues that people have with this game is they forget a few basic things. The game is in Alpha. It is a survival game. It is a building simulator. You will die, there will be bugs, and yes it takes a long time to gather materials to build that awesome building you want to create.
As it sits you wake up on the beach naked with this implant in your arm and immediately you need food, water, clothing, and shelter and you have no idea why you are there or what has happened to you. They don’t play around. There have been times I have spawned 2 or three times and been killed 5 seconds into the game by a random raptor or dilo. However once you get your feet under you a bit, find a spot, build a thatch hut, and tame your first dinos, the game becomes slightly easier.
The tribal system in the game is vital to your survival. While you can play solo even on a server with others, the game becomes infinitely better with friends. Tasks that seemed daunting before are capable of being achieved. Need 1000 chitin? Sure I’ll take out the Sabertooth and grab some for you, while you gather stone to make cementing paste. Don’t have an engram for that saddle you need to ride your new Sarco, someone in your tribe does. And if you are smart you wont all take the same engrams.
On the subject of engrams. Engrams are how you learn to make things. As you level up and you can level up just by surviving alone, not to mention from crafting, killing, gathering, and your nearby tribe mates doing any of the above in your general vicinity, you learn engrams. At this point you cannot learn every engram on your own, so you are forced to either pray the ones you need come in a supply drop (more on this later), or work with others on your server to get the materials / items you need.
One of the quickest way to gather materials to make your newly learned engrams (from walls to weapons) is to tame a dino to help you gather. Each dino has a purpose in the game, even if that purpose is not immediately evident, it is there. For instance, the Anklyo, is a flint gathering machine, the Mammoth gathers wood like you wouldn’t believe, and the Trike loves to help you gather thatch. Dinos can gather more than one thing but they seem to be best at one thing. Sometimes that is simply having amazing stamina for long runs, or speed, or poison to help you tame other dinos.
Taming in and of itself is a process that takes a time investment on the end of the player. I am going to explain the process to the best of my ability in a concise manner.
1. Knock dino unconscious. You can do this a number of ways, including punching it in the face. But the best methods are tranq arrows with a bow/crossbow, or utilizing a scorpion who has a tranq attack.
2. Add Narcotics / Narcoberries and preferred food to its inventory. (Carnivores like meat, Herbivores like berries, and they even have preferences as to which ones they like more ie: Prime Meat, Kibble, and preferred berry type, be sure to look up its preference to increase tame speed)
3. Watch its torpor, and remote use narcotics in the inventory as needed. Higher torpor means less loss of efficiency, more efficiency = higher level dino and skills when done.
4. It will eat at certain intervals increasing its amount tamed. When the bar is full, you will be able to name your new dino!
There are many different guides and speculations on taming strategies. From feeding it an item it doesn’t like in order to make it eat faster, to starving it before giving it food. I think it is based on personal preference and I have found that regardless of my method the taming time for a dino depends more on having food it likes in its inventory and staying nearby as it tames to keep its torpor at max.
This game is hard at times and you will want to scream at the screen, and at others you will die laughing, and ultimately you will return to it time and again because it is fun. I can’t wait to see the final release version because even in its infancy it is far better than most at this stage.
As an added benefit the game has controller support as well as VR capabilities. I personally am excited to try this game with an Oculus as it was built with VR in mind.
Be sure to check out our server and let me know in game that you found us here and I will be sure to stop by and give you a welcome gift in game!