Ark: Survival Evolved
|Ark: Survival Evolved|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 4|
Linux, Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
August 29, 2017
June 14, 2018
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, and is scheduled to release in June 2018 for Android and iOS; a Nintendo Switch version is planned. 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. The development team conducted research into the physical appearance of the animals, but took creative license for gameplay purposes. A companion app for computers and mobile devices titled Dododex received an early release in 2015 and was officially released on August 16, 2017. One of the game modes, Survival of the Fittest, was released as a free standalone game in March 2016 and was officially released on August 26, 2017. 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. A spin-off virtual reality game developed and published by Snail Games titled ARK Park was released on March 22, 2018. Another spin-off game developed and published by Snail Games USA titled PixARK was released on March 27, 2018.
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. The game's world, known as the "Ark", is approximately 48 km2 (19 sq mi) in size: there is approximately 36 km2 (14 sq mi) of land with 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi) of ocean.
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. 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. In addition, players can craft and attach accessories to their weapons, such as a scope or flashlight for a pistol or machine gun. 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.
There are twenty-nine species of dinosaurs in the game, and over 40 creatures. 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.  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. 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. The game also features various other animals, such as the dodo, saber-toothed cat, woolly mammoth, Meganeura, Titanomyrma, and Doedicurus. Every creature in the game has living ecosystems and predator hierarchies.
Preliminary work on Ark: Survival Evolved began in October 2014. Studio Wildcard, the Seattle-based team behind the game, co-opted Egypt-based developer Instinct Games to facilitate development. 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. 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. Many of the development team members were inspired by dinosaur films such as Jurassic Park and The Land Before Time.
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. 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.
The game, powered by Unreal Engine 4, contains "tens of thousands" of artificial intelligence entities, according to Rapczak. 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.
The game was initially released through Steam Early Access for Microsoft Windows on June 2, 2015, 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. The game subsequently received an Early Access release for Linux and OS X on July 1, 2015, and through the Xbox Game Preview Program for Xbox One on December 16, 2015; a PlayStation 4 version was released on December 6, 2016. The final game launched in August 2017; it was originally intended for release in June 2016, but was delayed in April. The game launched with support for Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, and the Xbox One version was released via the ID@Xbox program. Android and iOS versions are scheduled to release on June 14, 2018, and a Nintendo Switch version is due in late 2018.
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, 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. There will be various eSports tournaments of the game mode, with a prize pool of US $50,000. 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.
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.
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. A new expansion, Aberration, was announced in September 2017, adding an underground setting, as well as new enemies and items.
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."
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."
Within a month of its early access release on Steam, ARK had sold over one million digital copies. 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. It sold 20,941 digital copies in Japan between September 25 and October 29, 2017.
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