First things first – ARK: Survival Evolved is not a complete game. It is still in development by Studio Wildcard, simply released as an early access title for PS4 in December 2016. The full game is expected to be released sometime in 2017. Its’ current price, at the time of writing, is £29.99 in the PlayStation Store. And honestly? It is very much worth the price.
Developer: Studio Wildcard, Instinct Games, Virtual Basement, Efecto Studios
Publisher: Studio Wildcard
Avg Game Length: As long as you can survive for as many times as you like!
Upon first booting up the game, players will instantly receive vibes of a similar nature to those of Minecraft, and we all know how well that title turned out. The player awakens stranded and naked upon a mysterious island, with three gargantuan obelisks at separate ends of the island. The aforementioned MineCraftian vibes will come from the first few actions the player takes at the start of the game. They go as follows – admire how beautiful the world is, punch trees, craft, and attempt to survive the horror show that is ARK.
Certainly, the most challenging part of survival is the harsh climate of ARK’s environment. The player starts naked and most likely are already freezing or overheating to death. Upon successfully constructing a small home, the player will have a hub that allows them to expand their gameplay an endless amount of ways, whilst still having somewhere to cool off/warm up.
The Title “ARK: Survival Evolved” Is Justified In Its Steep Learning Curve
Unfortunately, in ARK, every step forward the player makes presents its’ own set of challenges. By building a house near the beach, the player has essentially created a large, cube-shaped blotch on the landscape, screaming “Here I am! Come loot all my hard-earned wood, stone and food!”. Of course, the most obvious remedy to this is to build the house more inland, away from the beach. The simplest, safest option, right? Nope. Moving inland has many problems afoot too – stronger, more dangerous enemies and dehydration to name a couple. Make no mistakes, survival by itself in ARK is no mean feat. For new players, it is brutal.
While on the subject of brutality, the best way to play ARK is on the main servers, with PvP enabled. This is the true experience intended for players. Tribes of players cooperating are a giant hindrance, but if the player joins one, they provide a security blanket of sorts. Tribes tend to live slightly further inland from the beach, more towards the jungles and mountains. This is why moving further inland is, again, more treacherous for the solo player.
You’ll Soon Learn There Is Safety In Numbers
Life will gradually improve as the player invests more time and effort into the game. The levelling system in ARK is very well thought out, even if it is a tad laborious at times. Every time the player levels up, they can invest one point into their attributes – Health, Stamina, Oxygen, Food, Water, Weight, Melee Damage, Movement Speed, Fortitude, Crafting Speed and Torpor. Additionally to this, the player also gains a set number of Engram Points, which are used to craft newer tools, weapons and structures. There is a level cap in place on ARK: Survival Evolved, and therefore not every Engram will be available to the player should they level up to the maximum capacity. The simplest way to circumvent this dilemma is to team up with other players in a tribe, but survival solo is achievable given time and effort.
ARK’s Lost World Setting Is Vibrant And Colourful… And Sometimes Blinding
Visually, the game is stunning. There are very few games in recent memory that have the ability to make players stop and pan the camera around and just gaze at the beauty on show. ARK is certainly one of those games. Take the screenshot below as an example, and please bear in mind that the screenshot has been reduced and compressed, so the graphics are even better than shown below. The detail put into each organism living on this godawful island is breathtaking. It makes playing the game that much more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of faults with ARK its current state. As brilliant as the game is, there are moments when it is unplayable. There have been numerous occasions when, walking along the beaches at night, there are bright, piercing blue beams of light streaking the whole screen, rendering the player blind. Imagine a lens flare on a camera. Then much much brighter, larger and more intense. This is not the only problem with the game.
Will You Be Flailing Wildly, Hoping For The Best?
During combat, regardless of whether it is with a player, a Raptor, a Megapiranha, or a Titanoboa (a massive, terrifying snake that will haunt your dreams at night), the hitboxes are not aligned correctly. When hitting an opponent, sometimes the sound that accompanies a successful hit will not play, and as such the player will be unaware that their strike had landed.
However, the most heartbreaking fault with the game in its current state is, due to the game’s ongoing development, the developers sometimes carry out server resets, wiping all players’ progress. This includes levels, characters, buildings, items, everything. The game always seems to be better after these updates, however finding a way to fix this issue should be the developers’ top priority.
So Grab A Spear And Get Out There To See For Yourself
In conclusion, for a game still in development, ARK is fantastic. With the removal of a few game-breaking bugs the game would be ready to ship instantly. It is a fun, challenging game set in a captivating, hauntingly beautiful world with a wide variety of obstacles and challenges to overcome. The PvP element is very good, but combat could do with a little bit of tweaking. I strongly recommend everyone to invest in this experience. It is worth the money.