ARK: Survival Evolved – Review
Follow Genre: Action Survival
Developer: Studio Wildcard
Publisher: Studio Wildcard
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mac OSX, Linux
Tested On: PC

ARK: Survival Evolved – Review

Site Score
9.1
Good: Endless replayability
Bad: Needs a decent system to run
User Score
6.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)

ARK: Survival Evolved was released on the 29th of August. Well, it’s been available before that, because on June 2, 2015 ARK has also released on early access. Since those days it has proved that Survival games are still going strong, by selling more than a million copies within the first month of its June 2015 release. The game is not without controversy though, as its paid DLC Scorched Earth also released before it was even out of alpha. This has obviously not fallen well with critics and players alike, feeling like the developer is only out for your money and not interested in making the best game they can make.

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Story

ARK’s story, whatever there is of it, is mostly hidden from the player. You can discover bits and pieces of story on notes buried in caves and the beacon care packages, and in notes you get after killing the reptiles. There is an explanation for how the world came to be as you are exploring it. However this is only really revealed after killing the final boss and has always been announced as open ended. Instead, players usually opt to roleplay and give the server its own background and story. That is also the reason ARK has become such a cult-phenomenon in streaming circles. Allowing you to make interesting, or just plain hilariously dumb characters that viewers can relate to, or laugh along with.

Graphics

Graphically, ARK is a really heavy game. As how Minecraft used to be heavy on your GPU, playing ARK is just as hard on it. This is not because ARK is specifically beautiful to look at but because the game has to render loads of things dynamically, having a big impact on performance. Pseudo-realism has always been a core value in developing ARK and that is reflected in its graphics as well. You’ll find beautifully detailed dinosaurs wandering the world, thick lush forests and impressive volcanoes, long, tranquil beaches and flowing rivers to explore.

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One of the massive gameplay elements of ARK is building bases and taming the wildlife. All of the roaming creatures are wonderfully detailed, and you cannot see any of the seams in the walls of buildings. With a battery of different building materials there is a big selection of housing parts in all shapes and sizes to make your shack into a castle. And with a wide variety of different building parts your castle will be a hell of a building.

Sound

Being survival-driven and not based on a story it would be quite difficult to plan music befitting the gameplay situations. Instead, the game has a rich ambiance in the form of dinosaur cries, rustling of leaves and the crashing of waves on the beach. Due to the gameplay there is also no isolated battle music, as all encounters are random and thus cannot be planned for to be accompanied by music. Voice chat is another part of ARK, next to the normal text driven chat you can also use the proximity-driven voice chat. Or, if the option is selected when creating the server, a global voice chat.

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Gameplay

As you’d expect from a survival game, most of the activities in ARK are geared towards staying alive and even thriving under the current bleak circumstances. The challenge in ARK comes from balancing your hunger and thirst, minding survival elements such as your body temperature and exhaustion, and defending yourself against the wandering attacker. You do that by building a house to live in and by taming other reptiles to fight the attacking ones. Most of these things are accomplished through leveling up and picking blueprints for equipment to be used in fighting dinosaurs, as well as building plans for walls, floors, and ceilings.

Blueprints can be obtained from the beacons that occasionally drop on the map, or through spending engram points that you earn from leveling up. Engram points are scarce though and you need to decide what kinds of developments you want to take and what kind of player you’re going to be. This will mean you sometimes have to forego creating armor because you want to be able to make saddles to ride your creatures with. Crafting is a tiered system through the use of exclusive crafting tables that you will need to build certain higher level blueprints or recipes. While resources are abundant in the world, crafting end-game gear and saddles can sometimes take a couple of thousand of each resource. This means that you’re going to have to tame and level up your dinosaurs because that will greatly increase your resource gathering rates.

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Each wandering being can be, and needs to be trained in order to progress through the game, and they all have their own skillsets. If you want to use an animal you usually have to knock them out and give them food until they’re friendly to you, though some only need to be shown rare flowers or can be just given food and they will follow you home. When tamed, you can saddle and ride most them, which gives you access to their abilities. Some dinosaurs for example make for good mounts, whereas others excel at gathering resources like metal or berries. Even others are made for attacking enemies or defending your base. When you’re riding around on your mounts they will gain XP, which will give you the opportunity to increase their stats such as movement speed, stamina, health or others.

When you die, your items get dropped along with your corpse and you have the ability to pick them up, provided you can get there before your items despawn. Should your dinos survive your death, they will stay near your corpse, but if they get killed their inventory will drop too. So far, ARK has no direct end. There are final bosses you can kill and there is a level cap, but those are arbitrary goals. The final boss will respawn you on the island and you can always level up or breed a new dinosaur. The game really revolves around how you want to play it and how you want to end it. Because there is no story, there is also no defined end. The only real end ARK has is when you reset the server and start from scratch.

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Conclusion

ARK is a phenomenal game and all its attention is certainly well deserved. It is really cool to run with the dinosaurs, to ride them and the social element of roleplaying with friends and strangers on servers is great. Its open-ended story also means you can set your own goals to work towards, giving it virtually infinite content. The only real problem is the amount of bugs, but that can be expected with a game of this scope. This is of course something a lot of players can overlook and the devs make up for it by continuously working to improve on their product. So if you’re a fan of games like Minecraft but want something graphically more appealing, ARK is definitely your game. Gather those berries, saddle up your Pteradon and go and explore!

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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
ARK: Survival Evolved - Review, 6.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Brustenhoven
Brustenhoven


Bryan, Dutch, gamer, metalhead. 24, and been playing games for as long as I can remember. Pokemon gold for life!

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