If you have been on the internet within the past couple of years, you know what Ark: Survival Evolved is. If not, well then let me explain to you just what this is. Ark: Survival Evolved is yet another early access born, survival/crafting style game. Now, before you exit stage left, I will have you know that this game has fully exited Early Access and has a full release now. That is an impressive feat for any early access title. Ark takes the conventional formula for these survival games and kind of turns it on its head. You can find, fight and tame different prehistoric creatures, from dinosaurs to the damn abominable Snowman.
You start out by creating your character to get thrown into the Ark, which is the area that you’re exploring on. You have tons of freedom with the character creator, being able to control the size of different body parts and creating odd looking characters. You are then thrown into a random area of the Ark. You can choose to play either single player or online, with the choice to make the game PVP or PVE oriented. Within my short time on someone’s PVP server, I was beaten and captured by the local players, prompting me to immediately ditch that server, forever. I was able to play an online game with my immediate Xbox One friends. Given, our area of play was limited to the location of my character, but we still had a lot of fun with it.
One of the first things I noticed about the game were the graphics. Ark: Survival Evolved was made with Unreal Engine 4 and this is well evident. The graphics are really nice to look at, given the light from the game doesn’t blind you first. There were times where the sun reflection were too bright, this is just off the base settings, a few menu clicks and sliders later and I was in a comfortable state. Now, this being on console, I had no choice for my graphical settings, there were the occasional graphic tears and frame drops whilst playing. This didn’t take away from the main game too much. Each creature is highly detailed as close to historic account as possible. They did a great job nailing the looks of the creatures, from the menacing Tyrannosaurus Rex to the idiotic Dodo bird.
Ark starts off just like any survival game, with punching trees. You are equipped with nothing when you start the game so you need to immediately hit the ground running. Finding plant fibers and thatch early on I was able to level up and create some clothes for myself. Depending on the server your playing on, or your own game, you an adjust the server settings. This includes things like XP gain multipliers and resource harvesting multipliers. There are tons of these things that you can change, letting you decide how you want to progress through the game. I did adjust the sliders a tad bit as to accelerate some of the aspects about the game. Your character depends heavily on different things to keep them alive. Climate control to make sure you’re not too hot or cold, hunger, thirst, among other things, are all aspects you have to monitor. As you gain experience and level up, you are able to spend points in different stats, these will directly affect your character in different ways. For example, if you invest points into the weight limit, you can increase the amount of objects you can carry.
Along with gaining stat points, you also gain Engram points. Engrams are how you learn different crafting recipes. So long as you have the amount of points needed, you can purchase the Engram. Certain Engrams require that you know previous ones before purchasing others. A quality of life improvement I’d like to point out is the redesign of the Engram menu on console, it is way more UI friendly. Each of these recipes will have different requirements that you find or craft to be able to craft into different items. Naturally you’ll have to find these throughout the world or even craft them. There are plenty of weapons, tools, structures and other items to craft in the game to keep you buys. Building bases is pretty simple in Ark. There are different tiers of walls and structures you can build, depending on the material. The stronger the material, the harder it is to destroy.
Now, lets move on to the focal point of the game, what drew me in to this game in the first place, the dinosaurs. From the moment I saw the first trailer for this game, I was hooked. You are giving someone who grew up playing with dinosaurs the ability to tame and fight them, yeah, you bet your ass I’m all over it. There are so many different species in this game and they are constantly being added with each new patch. You can tame the different creatures as well and each has a different use. For example, one of the first dinosaurs you run into, the Dilophosaurus, can be tamed and will fight by your side and carry extra things for you. You can level up the stats of your tamed dinosaurs as well, making them stronger or increasing their carry weight. Some excel at harvesting things for you as well as acting as a giant backpack to hold resources. You can even tame giant Brontosaurus and create moving bases on their backs. The possibilities are nearly limitless with these creatures.
The open world is huge, something like 19 square miles in size. Navigation the entire world sometimes feels daunting. There is a lot of explorable areas in Ark. On the Ark, there are different spots where you can summon boss creatures to fight, and even tame if you get lucky enough. Lets touch on that for a moment, if you don’t adjust the sliders for tame time, you will be waiting a very long time. You have to knockout the dinosaur and feed it whatever food it likes until the taming bar is filled completely. For certain dinosaurs, on the original timer, this could take hours. Thankfully this could be altered in the server settings. Needless to say, there is plenty to do to keep you busy in Ark: Survival Evolved. Not only does Studio Wildcard continue to add great free content to the game, they released an expansion called Scorched Earth which adds a plethora of end game content for you to experience.
Ark: Survival Evolved is the survival/crafting game that we all deserved. Any kid that grew up on the Jurassic Park movies is probably in awe over this title. The game is tons of fun, even though it has its downfalls, it’s positives outweigh it enough to be an enjoyable title. Oh yeah, did I mention that everything in this game poops? Your character and the creatures all do it at random intervals, unless of course you press the poop button. Yes, there is a poop button and guess what, it’s useful. You could use it for manure for a garden plot, or, hear me out, you can throw it at things. I’ll let you be the one who decides what to do with it, but you should play Ark and prepare to lose a lot of time in this one guys.
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Review statement: The copy of this game was provided by the developer on Xbox One for the sake of this review.