If you’ve ever dreamed of riding a dinosaur, while firing off an automatic machine gun, you’d quite easily fall into the hype surrounding Ark: Survival Evolved. Sold as a sandbox game set in a style somewhere between Minecraft and Turok, Ark is a massive survival game that is both incredibly thrilling and relentlessly unforgiving. Throughout the game, players must fight to survive a dangerous landscape, or ark, by gathering resources, building shelter, and battling against other players. When operating at its best, the game is an experience unlike any other.
From the start, you are dropped into a dinosaur infested world as a caveman with nothing but the loincloth around your waist. But over time you can gather resources and eventually craft everything from automatic machine guns to futuristic motorboats. There is nothing quite so satisfying as being able to tame a stegosaurus and Although, getting from caveman to fully equipped dino-rider is a difficult process. Players are expected to sink hours into the game gathering resources and crafting the basic materials needed for equipment,; all while trying to fight off prehistoric beasts and other players in the world.
Ark: Survival Evolved is certainly not for the faint of heart. During the 100 player PvP matches, you’ll have to fend off against other players who are likely more experienced and better equipped than you are. What makes things worse is that once you die, you start over at square one as a caveman in a loincloth. While you can go back to your body and reclaim your stuff, you’ll more than likely find your gear looted. Fortunately, you can build bases to protect your stash, but if you’re not careful, players can still steal your things when you’re away. Over time you’ll likely start building your base with other players in mind rather than the dinos roaming the landscape.
If playing Ark online is too much stress for you don’t worry, you can play in offline PvE matches by yourself, and explore the world unhindered by overpowered competitors. There is also a hidden story to Ark: Survival Evolved, that can be found later in the game by collecting artifacts and battling against powerful bosses.
While Ark: Survival Evolved may appear to be the next best MMO Survival hybrid since World of Warcraft and Minecraft, there are some things that may turn potential buyers away.
Ark: Survival Evolved was initially released to Steam as early access, meaning people could play the game while the game was being developed. The developers, Studio Wildcard promised a lot from the start but found it difficult to meet customer expectations. During the early access release, tensions rose between developers and players, as players called for a fix to troublesome and even game breaking bugs, while the studio released more and more content without addressing some of the games major technical issues.
Eventually, the game was released, and while most of the major issues were fixed, the remains of the games buggy period are still present. Things like graphics glitches, poor dinosaur A.I, drops in framerate, and some jarring object clipping is prevalent throughout the game. There have also been some issues with server connections, leaving many unable to play the PvP mode of the game.
That being said, the official release is acting more like a paid open beta, as the developer is still implementing patch fixes and updates that have started resolving these issues. There is no telling how long it will take them to fix these issues, but it’s nice to know that Studio Wildcard didn’t completely abandon their project after release.
When everything is working smoothly, Ark: Survival Evolved is a incredibly fun game that stands apart from other games in its genre. Unfortunately, the experience is hindered at times by some glaring issues left over from the times when the game was still in early access. Forgiving these minor glitches, the game can be brutal at times. You can catch yourself spending hours gathering resources and crafting the materials needed for a machine gun, only to lose everything in a matter of moments. For many casual gamers, this ‘true survival’ mode of gameplay is perfect. In many survival sandbox games, players complain of being coddled throughout the game, Ark throws you to the dinosaurs, so to speak, and doesn’t care how long you’ve spent collecting and crafting your gear. But, when the game works, it really works. There is nothing quite like gunning down other players on the back of a pterodactyl, or building a mountain fortress filled with your most valuable loot. Not many games allow you the freedom and immersive gameplay like Ark: Survival Evolved. Unfortunately, the incredible moments of this game come at a price, and for many casual gamers, that price may not be worth the effort. That being said, if you’re willing to look past its flaws, Ark: Survival Evolved, is a solid pick.