First Impressions Of ARK: Survival Evolved
So with the release of Jurassic World I’ve been in a bit of a dinosaur mood this week, then I just happened to come across an early access game on Steam called ARK: Survival Evolved. I don’t normally buy early access as there are just too many of them out there and I’ll usually lose interest before they’re even finished, but this game looked good enough to convince me. It’s a survival game set on an island filled with dinosaurs. You can build shelters, and tame and ride different dinosaurs. From what I can tell this game contains a lot of different types of creatures to keep it interesting.
I had a few issues when I first started playing. Like many survival games it came with little explanation on how to play. I was just plonked on a beach with Dodos and Parasaurs. Once you get to understand the game it’s actually quite simple to play, but I didn’t find it as intuitive as other games, like Don’t Starve for instance. The again, after looking at some start up guides it didn’t take me too long to get into the flow of things either. The game also crashed on me at one point and has had some lag at times, but with it being early access I guess the odd kink is to be expected. It still seems like a very playable game.
After getting past the early teething problems I found myself really engaging with the game. Your character seems to level up just by doing stuff like gathering and crafting. Each level up grants you the opportunity to improve a stat and provides points to unlock new engrams (crafting recipes.) I like this system as it means you have to think carefully about the choices you make and what you really need to enable you to keep on surviving. The only problem is that you don’t have that progression of crafting new stuff to allow you to craft even more stuff. Instead it’s set by how quickly you can level up and there have been times where I had crafted everything I wanted to, but wasn’t close to unlocking any more. The day/night cycles also feel quite long, which is great during the day, but the night-times can drag out – or maybe I just haven’t figured out what to do at this time yet.
Something that I do like about ARK is that it has a slightly more relaxed pace to other survival games. If your character dies the world and level remain the same, so you’re still making progress as opposed to losing everything and having to start over again. It means that I’m more willing to take risks and explore, while in more punishing games I can end up feeling a bit stressed and unwilling to move. I think it really works for this game too because we’re bound to fail a lot as we learn the system, explore the terrain and learn which creatures we can take on.
ARK is a really cool concept for a game and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. At the moment there are a few things I’d like improving to make things a little easier – the map for instance – but for an early access game it’s already rather good.
What I’ve learnt about ARK so far:
- At the start hunger can be satisfied by collecting berries from the many bushes scattered around. Meat can also be cooked on the campfire by placing it inside the inventory alongside the fuel.
- To dehydrate you can just swim in the water.
- When collecting resources from a tree, a pickaxe will gather more thatch, while a hatchet will provide more wood.
- If an item breaks you can press the number for the quick item slot or access it in the inventory to repair it. If an item crafting recipe is left on the quick slot bar despite not having one, pressing the number key will craft one.
- Dinosaurs can be knocked unconscious. They can be killed at this point or you can access an inventory.
- An unconscious dinosaur can be tamed by placing berries or meat (depending on the dinosaur) in their inventory with Narco Berries/narcotics to keep them knocked out.