The Ninjabot

E3 Recap: ARK Survival Evolved

Posted on June 18, 2015 at 9:00 am by Stephen Janes

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Open world survival games generally offer a basic premise of craft, fight and survive. Being stuck in the middle of an open world with no objective can seem daunting enough, but when you throw in dinosaurs you’ll need more than Dr. Alan Grant’s tips for survival. ARK: Survival Evolved not only adds dinosaurs to the list of things that could end your game, but includes some sci-fi elements as well, providing quite the interesting and fun experience.

ARK: Survival Evolved plays a lot like Minecraft mixed in with Day-Z, except the zombies are dinosaurs. You must craft your own goods such as axes and spears while storing enough materials in order to start your own shelter. Occasional beacons will appear from the sky and drop necessary items to assist you, provided you can get to them in time. There some story element involving these beacons, but the game is designed where you are not required to obtain them. There were also obelisks that were too far to travel towards, but it sounded like they had a fairly key role in the game. The story aspect is nice for endgame purposes, but this game could easily survive without one.

The T-Rex is about as large as you'd expect, and is no pushover unless your properly equipped.

The T-Rex is about as large as you’d expect, and is no pushover unless you’re properly equipped.

As the player levels up and gains better equipment, you can start your own tribe by building groups of houses (huts, tents, and so on) and assigning them to other players. Tribes allow you to share resources and gain additional experience, which will make survival much easier. Of course, you can decide not to take part in any tribe and fight anything that moves, although you’ll find yourself having a harder time in the future.

The dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures (over 70 of them) are definitely the stars of the game. Herbivores will tend to themselves and carry about their business, while carnivores will declare you food on the run. Experience can be gained by slaying the dinosaurs but you also have the option to tame them. Taming dinosaurs provide a great way to traverse through the randomly generated worlds and can also be used as an assistant to fight other players or creatures. During my demonstration, I had a tame Spinosaurus that was capable of destroying nearly anything I came across.

Once you've tamed a dinosaur, they can be put to work and become your ally.

Once you’ve tamed a dinosaur, they can be put to work and become your ally.

ARK: Survival Evolved might seem simple in concept, but the depth was outstanding. The scale and visual effects of the dinosaurs often caused me to just stop and stare at everything around me. The visuals look great and the controls work as you expect them to. There were some noted issues such as a Tyrannosaurus Rex stuck walking in circles or creatures clipping through the ground, but this is still only a few weeks removed from its Steam Early Access debut. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time and would recommend it for fans of the survival genres or aspiring paleontologists.

ARK: Survival Evolved is currently in early access for $24.89 on Steam. The full game is scheduled for release in summer 2016 and will expand to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms. The game is being developed by Studio Wildcard, which was founded by former Technical Art Director at Microsoft Game Studios Jesse Rapczak.

Stephen Janes is also co-host of the Pixelated Podcast and occasionally writes for this fabulous site. You can follow his gaming nonsense on Twitter and YouTube.

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