After being in early access for quite some time, Ark: Survival Evolved has finally hit retail stores around the globe – and is available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Mac. Essentially an action-adventure survival game, Ark: Survival Evolved does not put the player in the shoes of one specific protagonist; however, instead, allows the player to create and craft their own character.
Once the player has created their own character, Ark: Survival Evolved then begins with said character waking up stranded, alone, and starving on the beach of a mysterious island. If playing solo your character will indeed be alone; however, if you opt to join a server and take your game online you will also have up to 100 player controlled characters populating the world around you.
Also populating the world of Ark: Survival Evolved is a plethora of Dinosaurs. As this title is survival orientated, most of the Dinosaurs on the island will ultimately kill the player on sight… while a handful will just let the player carry on with his daily routine. To add to this, other players within the world can either start a tribe with you or choose to attack you and rob you of your belongings.
While there are many threats in Ark: Survival Evolved, the game begins rather slowly. Once you step foot into the world you will need to collect resources – much like in Minecraft – such as wood, stone, metal, fibre, hide, and other resources in order to craft weapons, houses, clothing, saddles and a plethora of other items. The houses and shelters that you will build in this title will protect the player from scorching hot days, freezing cold nights, and volatile weather patterns. In addition to this, they will also provide the player with protection against dangerous enemies as well as wildlife.
Taking a closer look at crafting and building, as the player levels up they will unlock higher tier items. During the early stages of Ark: Survival Evolved you will gather resources in order to build a straw hut; however, the further you progress the more advanced your housing structures will become. I kicked off the game with a straw hut; however, with enough playtime, I was able to build a small stone house. Much like Minecraft, Ark: Survival Evolved allows the player to get creative. Instead of just building basic structures you can let your imagination loose and build cabins by the lake, fortresses and anything else you see fit. Granted, it will take you some time to get to this point; however, it is all worth it in the end.
While crafting your own house, and eventually a village, will be a key priority, you will also need to craft weapons and tools. While the tools and weapons start out primitive, they slowly evolve – as you level up – into high-tech gear. Armour starts off as primitive clothing; however, the further you progress the more advanced your armour crafting skills become. This is the same with weapons… in the early stages you will be using spears and hatchets, but will soon begin to craft guns and ammunition. This is what makes Ark: Survival Evolved a great title as you will keep having to work harder to obtain better structures, weapons, and equipment.
While crafting and building can take time, players will also need to take care of their character. Characters will need to be fed as well as hydrated. Injuries and other status effects will also need to be tended to otherwise the character will eventually die from said injuries. This adds a fair a mount of realism to this title, which I personally felt was a fantastic addition to this title.
Moving away from crafting as well as looking after your character, you can also tame the wild Dinosaurs featured within the game. Creatures on the island can be tamed and used for multiple reasons such as; transportation, hunting, harvesting, storage, defence, and companionship. There are two main methods of taming a creature, Torpor Taming and Passive Taming.
Torpor Taming is the process of knocking a Dinosaur unconscious and then feeding it to raise its taming affinity. Once they have reached maximum taming affinity, they’ll be successfully tamed. Passive Taming is accomplished without raising the creatures torpor. The key to this is feeding it until it’s Taming Affinity has maxed out. If the creature takes damage or becomes hostile during this period, you’ll lose affinity and may be forced to start again. Once tamed, you can ride your newly acquired Dinosaur into the sunset… or send it rampaging through the world to destroy your enemies.
There is quite honestly a plethora of things to do in Ark: Survival Evolved, which ultimately makes it a great title to play. To add to this, the world featured in Ark: Survival Evolved is one that is absolutely beautiful. The lush forests and snow-capped mountains look gorgeous and the sandy beaches are equally as attractive. To add to the visual appeal, the Dinosaurs look like they came straight out of Jurassic Park. This showcases that the developers put in a fair amount of work in order to make this title look as authentic as possible.
While I have praised Ark: Survival Evolved up to this point… I did find a few glaring technical issues throughout my playthrough. At times, my tamed Dinosaurs would get stuck between trees and bushes. There were even times when the larger Dinosaurs would get stuck in walls, which ultimately lead to me having to kill them off in order to obtain key items that they may have been carrying. There were also times where I would take shelter from the rain in my hut only to have it rain inside the hut. It does not stop there… there were even times where vicious Dinosaurs would magically make their way into my stronghold by clipping through the wall. Granted, for a game this large, this can be expected; however, these issues must be brought to light.
During the first few hours of playing Ark: Survival Evolved, I honestly found the game frustratingly difficult as it offers little to no tutorial; however, the more I pushed through the more I felt rewarded. This is how many players will feel during the early stages of the game, but by pushing through you will find that this title is quite honestly one of the best survival titles on the market. Granted, it does have some glaring technical issues, but for a game this size and this detailed, this is something to be expected.
Overall, Ark: Survival Evolved is a challenging yet rewarding action-adventure survival game that should not be missed.