The arid breeze offered little warmth from the blazing sun and so I hugged the coastline as I made my way toward the tower looming on the horizon. The crystal waters lapped gently at my ankles, murmuring that relief from the heat was only a few short steps away, but I knew beneath the surface is where monsters lurked. Not that the land was much safer, I thought and gripped my primitive hatchet a little tighter. I vaguely recalled being on the Ark, but compared to the terrifying world I found myself in now, that seemed almost a lifetime ago.
Word amongst the tribes on this planet was that a great warrior who proved themselves would be able to ascend and reclaim their place on the Ark. Though my common sense told me this was nothing but a campfire tale, my heart desperately wanted to be free of this nightmare. Leaves rustled loudly to my right, too irregularly to be just the wind. With my back to the ocean, I gulped as my eyes locked with a young raptor. She seemed to almost grin before letting out a terrible shriek and lunging forward. Now was my time to survive.
ARK: Survival Evolved is an open world sandbox game with dinosaurs where the player can craft, research, build, tame, eat, explore, and evolve while facing off against not only the planet’s inhabitants, but also the environment itself. Days are too hot and nights are too cold; nowhere is safe until you gather some resources, create a shelter, and protect yourself from the perils that await you.
Even then, surviving is no sure thing. Studio Wildcard have taken all the best parts of open world games and combined them into an offering that while currently lives in Early Access, certainly feels like one of the best games on 2015. Single player or multiplayer options are available as well as a wide array of settings to customize how the game operates, allowing players with all manner of computers to experience the game. Although the game’s best settings require a powerful video card, ARK: Survival Evolved still looks great on the lower resolutions.
Armed only with a strange stone embedded in their arm, players are sent from the Ark to the surface of this prehistoric world with nothing to aid them. Your first move will likely be to forage for berries and fibers, punch trees for thatch and wood, or collect stones from the beach. With these simple ingredients, you can begin to explore the game’s robust crafting system.
Simple recipes are unlocked at low levels and more are accessible as your character levels up. Complex items require a lot of experience to learn and so you’ll soon come up with creative ways to increase your level. But before the lanterns, guns, and machinery, you’ll need a simple thatch house, some storage, and more than a few weapons. Because as soon as night falls, you’re going to be in trouble.
It’s a game you can quickly get lost in; immersed in the day-to-day life of your character as he or she tries to simply survive. The developers made sure to provide many options as well; you can tame friendly dinosaurs, focus on building a small base of operations, or head out on the hunt and stop your enemies before they even get to you. While the game still needs some optimization work, the core gameplay experience is certainly apparent. This is a world where anything could happen.
Two of the game’s “passive” dinosaurs… just don’t attack them first
Some of the animations tend to be a little glitchy; fallen trees and broken stones tend to wind up inside of other things before they fade away. I sent more than one dinosaur inside a boulder, never to be seen again. But for an Early Access game, ARK delivers in spades.
So long as the developers make good on their intentions to fix the problems that arise during the Early Access phase, this game has potential to be an amazing new IP that people have been waiting for. If this sounds like something for you, purchase the game now and contribute to its final development! Or, stay tuned to the forums and watch the patch notes to see if Studio Wildcard delivers on its final product. Either way, this is a game to keep an eye on!