I find it kind of remarkable that Minecraft was officially released only five years ago. It’s had such an amazing impact on the industry that you’d think it’s been around forever. Such is its impact that many developers have tried to capitalize on the thrill of mining resources and their crafting thereof.
I wasn’t totally sure what to expect with Ark: Survival Evolved. I had never heard of it until I was given the opportunity to do this preview, and at a glance it looked like an open-world RPG of sorts with dinosaurs involved. While it does have an open-world, and dinosaurs are certainly involved, at its core Ark: Survival Evolved is yet another game about punching trees to get wood, to make things to get more wood, and so on and so forth.
Ark: Survival Evolved is very much like Rust except with less naked men and the aforementioned dinosaurs. Much like Rust, Ark: Survival Evolved has an MMO format and players are dropped into randomly generated worlds where they’ll have to fight to survive from both the feathered beasts (yes, dinosaurs had feathers, look it up) and each other. Like most games that take this style, survival doesn’t simply mean watching out for predators; players have the standard status bars they’ll need to manage like food, heat, and cold. Players will also craft items and tools to help them better survive in the wild.
As players gather resources and craft items, they’ll gain experience towards leveling up. Upon gaining a level, players can increase the stats that determine hunger, heat resistance, cold resistance etc. but they can also learn a new crafting item, with more advanced options opening up at higher levels.
That’s basically all there is to Ark Survival. I think there was a story involved since there were these massive energy pillars looming about, and there’s a diamond-shaped...thing embedded in the character's hand which the game makes a point of showing when you spawn for the first time, but I could never make it far enough to figure out what any of it was.
Personally, I just didn’t have a very good time playing it. I tried both the standard gameplay mode that drops you in a typical jungle-style world and the “Scorched Earth” mode which is essentially the same, except the whole world is a massive desert, so gathering resources is a bit more tedious, and neither one was anything to write home about. It just doesn’t have the fun and freedom of creativity of a game like Minecraft, nor does it have the depth and complexity of a game like Far Cry: Primal, a game of fairly similar concept.
I can see where this game may be appealing to a younger audience who enjoy the “random” nature of games like this, but frankly I just didn’t have the patience for it. It’s bad enough when you die from in-game enemies and lose all your stuff, but it’s worse when you’re also getting clobbered by other players over and over. It’s like the worst parts of GTA: Online, with none of the wacky gameplay to compliment it. At one point, I was getting killed by other players so repeatedly that I got locked out of the game for 5 minutes, because the game increases the time it takes to respawn after repeated deaths. Deaths I had nothing to do with since I was minding my own business, but frankly were probably my fault since I should’ve been on the lookout for dickheads.
At the very least, I’ll say Ark: Survival Evolved is objectively a good game, but I personally don’t see how a mature gamer could have fun with it.