“Welcome to the Ark” it says after you make your character, unsure of what this world has to offer. That is until you’re immediately greeted with the hungry jaws of whatever monstrosity you have the displeasure of spawning near. Welcome to the the Ark indeed. Sweet, thanks.
I have a Love/Hate relationship with Ark. On the one hand it’s an absolutely brilliant game that works very well. On the other hand it is relentlessly brutal, sometimes broken and assumes you owe it a life debt. But before I get into that, let me give you a fair warning. This is gonna be a long one. So if “tldr” is common in your grammatical vocabulary then do yourself a favor and “gtfo”.
Ark Survival Evolved is an adventure survival/crafting game with RPG elements that has been in early access for a couple years now. But unlike other early access games this one actually gets updated frequently and is on its way to a full release. This game came out of nowhere on STEAM back in 2015 and within a month had already sold over one million copies. So what is it about this game that hooked so many people you ask? Dinosaurs you idiot. Fucking, Dinosaurs. Just watch this trailer from Gamescon 2015.
Dude… right? I get it, I’ve been there. I bet if Spielberg saw this, he’d have a Jaws boner (presumably approaching a boat from below). And a deserving one at that. I think it’s safe to say that 80% of all children have dreamed at least once of riding around on a T-Rex like some sort of murderous pony would also get the aforementioned boner when seeing that trailer. Well guess what, dreams… come…. true! But there is a catch. You gotta work for it.
Like most survival games you start off with nothing. You must hunt, gather, craft, tame and build your way to the top of the food chain. But with a huge list of items/materials needed and a large variety of dangerous animals, this isn’t the easiest ladder to climb. To make things even more complicated, you have to deal with one of the most devious, unpredictable and brutal species ever to walk the earth: Human beings. Real human beings.
This is where the game gets really interesting. Each server generally can hold 75 players, who can then create tribes that others can join. Starting out as spear wielding primitives and evolving to machine gun toting conquers. Since each tribe is populated by real players, they can either be friendly or hostile. Alliances can be formed and enemies can be made. Through war, taming and farming, the most powerful tribe of the server is dubbed alpha.
So….. onto the love.
You can poop in this game. In fact, everything poops in this game. I know that seems like a weird place to start in terms of why this game is great, but it’s the best example of how every item has purpose. If you build yourself a compost bin, you can put poop and thatch in it. Over time it will turn into fertilizer, which you need to farm vegetables. You need to farm vegetables so you can make various types of food and kibble. Kibble is used to get better tame stats on dinos and make the over all taming speed faster. But some dinos don’t just poop, they also lay eggs. Each dinosaur has a preferred type of kibble, which is made out of certain dinos eggs. So to gather eggs effectively you need to tame quite a few dinos. How does one tame you ask? Please continue to paragraph eight.
Why hello there, thanks for sticking around. Welcome to paragraph 8. To learn to tame you must first learn how to be a hunter/gatherer. Since its a video game it’s not overly difficult, just time consuming. Especially at first. You can gather berries from bushes and harvest meat from animals. Meat does spoil and at first it seems like it’s the developer’s way of punching you in the dick, but it’s actually super important that it does. Because the recipe for narcotics is Narco Berries and Spoiled Meat.
You read that right. There’s drugs in this game. Dip those arrows in some narcotics and you have yourself a way to drop a scary Dino into a nice deep slumber. You will then have to force-feed them more drugs and whatever food type they eat. But that kibble you made earlier will speed up the process and boost the dino’s stats, which you can also level up once tamed. Name it, build a saddle and use it.
Different dinos do different things. For example, a Triceratops will get more thatch, wood and berries. And an Ankylo will get stone, flint and metal. Carnivores are great at harvesting meat, herbivores are great at harvesting plants/materials. You can also breed dinos but that kind of crosses over into that love/hate territory, which I’m about to segue way into.
I could go on and on about how much depth this game has, but I get the feeling you’re gonna need to wipe soon. So like your bowel movement, I’ll try to move this along.
Breeding is awesome. You can make ridiculously powerful dinos this way. But it literally takes days and to get the most potential out of it you have to be on every few hours. Which is total bullshit. There’s a saying among Ark players that goes “Ark is life” and there’s a lot of truth to that.
It’s not enough that when your tribe is more advanced you usually log on and have like 3 hours of chores to do. Or taming can take longer than 5 hours. So..I have to be on every few hours for 2 days so I can pet a baby dino and get extra perks? These are all amazing features but the amount of preparation it requires makes you wonder if it’s worth it. They’re literally encouraging you to have super unhealthy sleeping habits. You like having friends? Well they better have Ark. Cus this game will consume you, chew on your bones and spit you out. But you’ll just crawl back for more. Why wouldn’t you? It’s amazing.
But after a while the charm fades. Cus even with all that I mentioned above, you still have to remember about all the players. And all the drama that humans are prone to cause. Don’t get me wrong, destroying a rival tribe is satisfying. But you’re literally destroying days, sometimes even weeks of someone’s time. And I’ve been on the other side of it. It’s soul crushing. You can drug players and lock their character in a cage for fucks sake. And if you’re a special kind of psychopath you can force feed them and keep them alive. Again amazing feature, but it’s just another example of how much time it takes from you should you be the one caged and tortured.
As someone who’s played since year one, it’s truly a remarkable experience. Personally, I think they should have a “side effects may include” sticker on it the damn box, but regardless it will totally be worth your money. Just make sure your will to make money is balanced with your will to lose yourself. Because Ark is life.
I have a confession, I deleted Ark off my console, and when I did it felt like flushing drugs down the toilet. I hate how much I love this game. It’s magnificent. But I haven’t played it in months. I still keep up with the updates, and they’ve added so much cool stuff since I left. But in the end I know that all that cool stuff is just more time spent sitting in a dark room doing nothing with my life.
The full launch of Ark: Survival Evolved is August 29th for XBOX One, PS4 & STEAM
Also, I’m sorry if this was too long, I have a tendency to rant about this game. But I’m writing this on my cell phone and I have another confession. “tldr” is part of my grammatical vocabulary and I don’t even know if “grammatical vocabulary” is proper grammar. So I need to get the fuck out.