Ark: Survival Evolved

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Ark: Survival Evolved
Developer(s) Studio Wildcard
Publisher(s) Studio Wildcard
  • Jesse Rapczak
  • Jeremy Stieglitz
  • Navin Supphapholsiri
  • Dave Loyd
Designer(s) Kayd Hendricks
Composer(s) Gareth Coker
Engine Unreal Engine 4
  • Linux, PC, macOS, PS4, XBO
  • August 29, 2017
  • Android, iOS
  • June 14, 2018
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Late 2018
Genre(s) Action-adventure, survival
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Ark: Survival Evolved (stylized as ΛRK) is an action-adventure survival video game developed by Studio Wildcard, in collaboration with Instinct Games, Efecto Studios, and Virtual Basement. It was released in August 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux, with versions for Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch in 2018. In the game, players must survive being stranded on an island filled with roaming dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, natural hazards, and potentially hostile human players.

The game is played from either a third-person or first-person perspective and its open world is navigated on foot or by riding a prehistoric animal. Players can use firearms and improvised weapons to defend against hostile humans and creatures, with the ability to build bases as defense. The game has both single-player and multiplayer options.

Development began in October 2014, where it was first released as an early access title in mid-2015. The development team conducted research into the physical appearance of the animals, but took creative license for gameplay purposes. A companion app, titled Dododex, was released for mobile devices in August 2017. One of the game modes, Survival of the Fittest, was also released as a standalone game the same month. Egypt-based developer Instinct Games was hired to facilitate the game's development. Several expansions to the game have also been released as downloadable content: The Center, Primitive Plus, Scorched Earth, Ragnarok, and Aberration. Two spin-off games developed by Snail Games were released in March 2018: Ark Park, a virtual reality game, and PixARK, a sandbox survival game.


Ark: Survival Evolved is an action-adventure survival game set in an open world environment and played either from a third-person or first-person perspective. To survive, players must establish a base, with a fire and weapons; additional activities, such as taming and feeding dinosaurs, require more resources.[1] The game's world, known as the "Ark", is approximately 48 km2 (19 sq mi) in size:[2] there is approximately 36 km2 (14 sq mi) of land with 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi) of ocean.[3]

To build a base, players must gain structure components—such as floors, doors and windows built with the resources littered throughout the world—which are earned as they progress and gain levels. These components can be crafted and placed in the world. Players can create any structure, as long as they have the logistics and resources; the structural integrity of the building is compromised when the pillars and foundations are destroyed.[1] Creating structures out of tek makes them the most durable; only high-end explosives can damage tek structures. Players can also craft items in the game, such as weapons, by collecting the resources and technology required for crafting.[4] In addition, players can craft and attach accessories to their weapons, such as a scope or flashlight for a pistol or machine gun.[5] Should players take damage, their health meter will gradually regenerate if they have consumed the necessary food, or if they craft items that regenerate the health meter at a faster pace. Otherwise, a player's health meter will gradually regenerate over time.[6]

There are twenty-nine species of dinosaurs in the game, and over 40 creatures.[7] Dinosaurs in the game can be tamed by feeding them food after they have been rendered unconscious, or by using kibble designed especially for each species. A dinosaur / creature can also be tamed passively. Once a dinosaur is tamed, players can utilize the dinosaur's abilities, such as flight or fast underwater movement, as well as its statistics, such as speed, health and damage. [1] When riding atop certain creatures, players can use their weapons. With the larger dinosaurs, other players can ride on the side with full control of their own weapons, this requires a platform saddle.[8] They can also be used to carry items, and players can issue offensive and defensive commands to them; for example, a pack of Utahraptors can be assigned to defend the base, or a group of Triceratops can be ordered to attack an enemy's base.[1] The game also features various other animals, such as the dodo, saber-toothed cat, woolly mammoth, Meganeura, Titanomyrma, and Doedicurus.[3] Every creature in the game has living ecosystems and predator hierarchies.[9]


Preliminary work on Ark: Survival Evolved began in October 2014.[10] Studio Wildcard, the Seattle-based team behind the game, co-opted Egypt-based developer Instinct Games to facilitate development.[11] When researching for information about the game's prehistoric species, the development team read "general audience books" and online articles, and sought assistance from friends who studied in the fields in biological sciences.[3] When creating the species and world, the team took creative license for gameplay purposes, although there is an in-game reason that the species have diverged from their historical counterparts.[3] Many of the development team members were inspired by dinosaur films such as Jurassic Park and The Land Before Time.[12]

The team added features to the game that would appeal to all players, as opposed to specifically players of the survival genre, such as the ability to simply explore the island and compete against large bosses, as a reward for uncovering secrets of the island.[13] They also added an end-game for players to strive towards, as they felt that most survival games lack a final goal. They wanted to "provide a depth and scope that allows for the world to not just be a means to an end [...] but also a place to explore", said creative director Jesse Rapczak.[1]

The game, powered by Unreal Engine 4, contains "tens of thousands" of artificial intelligence entities, according to Rapczak.[9] It also features support for virtual reality (VR) gameplay; Rapczak, who has almost three years of experience with head-mounted displays, described the game as being designed with VR in mind from the beginning.[9]

The game was initially released through Steam Early Access for Microsoft Windows on June 2, 2015,[7] shortly before the theatrical release of Jurassic World later that month. Rapczak said that the game's release was scheduled to take advantage of the "dino fever" that was present with the film's imminent release.[14] The game subsequently received an Early Access release for Linux and OS X on July 1, 2015,[11] and through the Xbox Game Preview Program for Xbox One on December 16, 2015;[15] a PlayStation 4 version was released on December 6, 2016.[16] The final game launched in August 2017;[16] it was originally intended for release in June 2016,[11] but was delayed in April.[17] The game launched with support for Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR,[7] and the Xbox One version was released via the ID@Xbox program.[11] Android and iOS versions were released on June 14, 2018,[18] and a Nintendo Switch version is due in late 2018.[19]

On March 16, 2016, the Survival of the Fittest game mode was released in early access as a free standalone game with no microtransactions; it was scheduled to fully launch in mid 2016,[17] but was eventually merged back to the main game as the development team did not wish to monetize on its release, and wanted to ensure that modders can apply the development kit of Survival Evolved to create mods for Survival of the Fittest.[20] There will be various eSports tournaments of the game mode, with a prize pool of US $50,000.[21] Players who played Survival of the Fittest before it was merged back into the main game can continue to play the game without paying an extra cost, while new players must pay before getting access to it. It will be available for every player who purchases the main game.[20][22]

On September 1, 2016, Studio Wildcard released the paid downloadable content (DLC) Scorched Earth. The expansion includes a new, desert map as well as several desert-themed resources and items. It also features ten new creatures, some of which are fictional, like the Wyvern. The release of paid DLC for a game still in early access caused negative reaction among players of the game, resulting in lots of negative reviews on Steam right after the expansion launch.[23]

The game left early access on August 29, 2017, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The standard version was released alongside an "Explorer's Edition", which included a season pass with three expansions, and the "Collector's Edition", which included a season pass as well, a necklace, a map, a notebook, a development team poster, a wooden chest packaging, and the game's official soundtrack.[24] A new expansion, Aberration, was announced in September 2017, adding an underground setting, as well as new enemies and items.[25]


Aggregate score
Metacritic(PC) 70/100[26]
(PS4) 69/100[27]
(XONE) 69/100[28]
Review scores
PC Gamer (US)72/100[32]

Ark: Survival Evolved received "mixed or average" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[26][27][28]

GameSpot gave the game a 6/10, saying: "This outstanding sense of place and mood is offset by the sheer difficulty of everything that you have to do, the spectacular amounts of time necessary to experience even a tenth of what the game has to offer, and the randomness of death constantly destroying everything that you have built."[30]

TJ Hafer's 7.7/10 review on IGN stated that "When I'm having a good time in Ark, I'm having a really good time. The problem is that those moments are usually one part to every nine parts menial grinding and crafting - especially at the later tech tiers. Having to repeat so much work after failing an attempt at a boss feels far too punishing, and some really dumb dinosaurs can take a lot of the challenge and sense of danger out of the many primal locations. Even with all of those quirks, however, I'm still hungry to play more after the 60 hours I've spent so far. There aren't a lot of survival games that have legitimately held my attention that long."[31]

Ian Birnbaum of PC Gamer gave the game a score of 72/100, stating it to be "a bloated, grindy mess, but so packed with options that a better game is hidden inside it."[32]


Within a month of its early access release on Steam, Ark had sold over one million copies.[33] By August 2016, the game had over 5.5 million sales across both Windows and Xbox One, with about 1.5 million from the Xbox One platform.[34]



  1. ^ a b c d e "Fight for Life in Studio Wildcard's ARK: Survival Evolved". Xbox Wire. Xbox. Microsoft. May 15, 2015. Archived from the original on May 17, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2015. 
  2. ^ Rapczak 2015, 20:20
  3. ^ a b c d Karunakaran, Jathiesh (May 12, 2015). "Frequently Asked Questions". Steam. Valve Corporation. Archived from the original on June 3, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  4. ^ Rapczak 2015, 31:31
  5. ^ Rapczak 2015, 31:51
  6. ^ Rapczak 2015, 41:02
  7. ^ a b c "Ark: Survival Evolved – A New Breed of Open-World Dinosaur Adventure is Coming" (Press release). Seattle, Washington: Studio Wildcard. May 11, 2015. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. 
  8. ^ Rapczak 2015, 36:27
  9. ^ a b c Rapczak, Jesse (May 11, 2015). "Ride dinosaurs in ARK: Survival Evolved, coming soon to PS4". PlayStation Blog. Sony Computer Entertainment. Archived from the original on June 3, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  10. ^ Rapczak 2015, 7:38
  11. ^ a b c d "Ark: Survival Evolved Available Now for Mac and Linux on Steam Early Access" (Press release). Seattle, Washington: Studio Wildcard. July 1, 2015. Archived from the original on July 2, 2015. Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  12. ^ Makuch, Eddie (May 11, 2015). "Xbox One, PS4, PC Getting Open-World Dinosaur Survival Game: Jurassic Park meets DayZ". GameSpot. Retrieved April 20, 2018. 
  13. ^ Rapczak 2015, 38:59
  14. ^ Makuch, Eddie (June 10, 2015). "Awesome-Looking Dino Game, Which Isn't Even Done, Has Already Generated $10 Million". GameSpot. Retrieved April 20, 2018. 
  15. ^ McCaffrey, Ryan (December 9, 2015). "Ark: Survival Evolved Xbox One Footage and Early Access Details". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on December 9, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Yin-Poole, Wesley (November 30, 2016). "Ark: Survival Evolved finally has a PS4 release date". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Makuch, Eddie (April 22, 2016). "Dino Game Ark Passes New Sales Milestone on Xbox One and PC, Full Release Delayed". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2016. 
  18. ^ Oxford, Nadia (June 7, 2018). "Ark: Survival Evolved Comes to Mobile Next Week as a F2P Game". USgamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on June 8, 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2018. 
  19. ^ McWhertor, Michael (March 21, 2018). "Ark: Survival Evolved coming to Nintendo Switch". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  20. ^ a b O'Conner, Alice (August 2, 2016). "Mod Me Up! Ark: Survival Of The Fittest No Longer F2P". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  21. ^ Morrison, Angus (March 16, 2016). "Ark: Survival of the Fittest becomes free standalone with cash prizes". PC Gamer. Future plc. Archived from the original on March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016. 
  22. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (August 3, 2016). "Ark dev folds Survival of the Fittest back into Survival Evolved". Eurogamer. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  23. ^ "ARK: Survival Evolved Pounded With Negative Reviews After Releasing Paid Early Access DLC". Game Revolution. September 2, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Community Crunch 98: Gold Master Edition". Retrieved July 30, 2017. 
  25. ^ Davidson, Matt (September 5, 2017). "Ark: Survival Evolved Dev Reveals New Expansion, "Aberration"". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved October 25, 2017. 
  26. ^ a b "ARK: Survival Evolved for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  27. ^ a b "ARK: Survival Evolved for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  28. ^ a b "ARK: Survival Evolved for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  29. ^ Peterson, Joel (September 15, 2017). "Review: ARK: Survival Evolved". Destructoid. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  30. ^ a b Todd, Brett (September 13, 2017). "ARK: Survival Evolved Review". GameSpot. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  31. ^ a b Hafer, TJ (September 1, 2017). "ARK: Survival Evolved Review". IGN. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  32. ^ a b Birnbaum, Ian (November 1, 2017). "Ark: Survival Evolved review". PC Gamer. Retrieved November 8, 2017. 
  33. ^ Minotti, Mike (February 10, 2017). "Conan Exiles hits 320,000 sold after one week on Steam Early Access". Venture Beat. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 
  34. ^ Calvin, Alex (August 4, 2016). "Ark: Survival Evolved hits 5.5m on PC and Xbox One". The Market for Computer & Video Games. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 

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