Wild Card’s “Ark: Survival Evolved” has been around for a while now, originally available in Early access on Steam in 2015, since then it has made its way to console and as of August 29th 2017 Ark has finally been officially released. Ark has not been without its criticisms or controversies, which include the increase of price and paid DLC on top of that. However, this is my first time with Ark, and I have to say, it’s been an interesting experience to say the least.
If you have never played Ark before then you might be wondering what all the fuss about, well Ark is a survival game with Dinosaurs. Furthermore, you start off almost naked, alone, with nothing, not until you pick up some rocks and punch trees to get wood, you can then craft a primitive pick axe. It’s not long after you’ve leveled up a few times and have more crafting options, you can build a house, a bed and a storage unit; this all might sound familiar if you’ve played “Minecraft”.
This is the core part of Ark, leveling up, acquiring Engrams (which are blueprints so you can create stuff) you build a house, craft weaponry, eventually you will be out of rags and a shanty hut into a stone building with some bad-ass armour and conventional weaponry. The sense of progression is great, each time I leveled up, I was constantly checking to see what I unlocked next, the quest for resources becomes even more imperative. After that it all comes down to slaying mighty beasts or fighting with other players.
If you’ve ever wanted to walk (or run) with dinosaurs, then this is probably the game for you because there are a lot of them, from the little Compsognathus to the mighty T-Rex with everything in-between and then some! The world is teaming with life, and death lurks around every corner! Giant snakes will ambush you in the long grass, and Raptors will attack lightning fast. However, there are some friendly dinosaurs too, there’s a variety of herbivores such as huge Sauropods and Triceratops, which can be tamed and ridden.
In fact, if you’re skilful enough you can tame any dinosaur in Ark. However, that can be a long and difficult process because you have to knock out the dinosaur and then feed it while keeping it unconscious with certain berries. It can be quite thrilling when you come across a Dinosaur you’ve not seen before, or daunting when you’ve finished building a house, and a Spinosaurus turns up just to tear down your house!
Furthermore, it’s not just dinosaurs and other players that you need to worry about. You see, the elements are against you as well. Because you can freeze to death, get too hot, dehydrate, starve to death and that can happen all at once. You need to constantly forage for food, hunt and manage your inventory. You can build a fire then cook meat making for a tasty snack, or use a mortar and pestle and grind down some berries for use with other items. Each time you level up you gain access to more tools to improve your quality of life.
Ark is quite flexible in how it can be played. As you can play alone, with other players in PVP or PVE, and you can even customize the experience to your liking. For example, activating God mode and being able to tame dinosaurs instantly and not take any damage, which takes me back to the classic days of cheat codes when you just want to mess around and have fun. If you have a bunch of friends to play with then Ark gets even better, you can dominate a server and go on raids to ruin other players lives, if you’re in a PVE server, then you can form huge clans and take on the massive bosses who inhabit the world. There are plenty of people playing too, there are countless joinable lobbies on PS4 so the community is thriving even after all these years, which is quite a feat.
As good as that sounds though, the visuals and sound are a mixed bag. The environment around you can be quite pretty with a variety of areas such as lush forests, huge lakes and active volcanoes, visually the graphical quality is comparable to the likes of Dead Island. The Dinosaurs and creatures are very well detailed too. They’re easily identifiable and there are even collectible documents telling you all about them. The sound effects are okay but things can get repetitive, the sound of chopping wood can grate on your ears. The sound design is competent, just not outstanding.
Unfortunately, Ark is not without its downsides. I personally found the user Interface very cluttered even after hours of playing (especially after unlocking more engrams) it’s also not one of the most visually pleasing interfaces I’ve played with. The leap from Early access to a full priced release with the addition of paid DLC on top of that might leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. The game has doubled in price but the content doesn’t really reflect that, especially along with a season pass. There have been some graphical enhancements for PlayStation Pro but the game still suffers from stuttering and pop-ins, which isn’t quite acceptable as there are other huge open world games arguably run better and look a lot nicer (and they haven’t had two years to “evolve”).
The level of enjoyment you’ll get out of Ark all depends on how you play it. Dying can be frustrating as you’ll lose all of your current equipment and respawn naked meaning you only have a limited time to retrieve your lost loot. If you have a group of friends you game with, then there is plenty of enjoyment on offer here. As a general experience, the fun to grind ratio can get tedious. So you find yourself becoming over encumbered quick, there are usually constant ailments that hound you and an unfortunate death can be quite frustrating.
However, you can customize the game to your liking but in turn defeats the object of a challenge, but after several hours in I asked myself “am I really having fun here?” and sadly I couldn’t give myself a straight answer. I love Dinosaurs and there’s just not enough Dino games about. So Ark should be an all-time favorite for the most, but the game just doesn’t hit the spot. You see, from a consumer standpoint, I simply can’t see how a £50 game that just a few months ago was half that price delivers any more value than what was already on offer and then charging for DLC on top of that!
That’s also why I would recommend that people wait until the price drops for “Ark: Survival Evolved”, as I feel like the game just isn’t worth £50 in its current state.
+ Huge Variety of dinosaurs
+ Great sense of progression
+ Fun with friends
– Technical issues
– Ugly user interface
– Despite £50 price, it’s not the full package
Replay value: 4/5
Ark: Survival Evolved is not without its issues, and despite the full release, the bar between that and early access is pretty thin. It’s certainly fun with friends and there’s plenty of cool dinosaurs to be found in the game. However, chopping down trees for hours and mining for metal just so that some random person can take it all from you in matter of seconds, just isn’t all that much fun.
Title: Ark: survival evolved
Developer: Wild Card
Genre: FPS MMO
Release date: 2017-09-29
Difficulty: Medium to hard
Spent time: 12 hours
Average grade internationally: NA% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 16
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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