Ark Survival Evolved. An amazing concept drawn into reality by Wildcard Studios in a somewhat perfect manor. But there are a few things we cannot exclude from this review. Especially when the guy writing it has 1500+ hours on the game.

Development started in October 2014, early access opened up at the beginning of 2015 and the official launch (after about 4 delays spanning over months) was 29 August 2017. A rough three years later. Most games would have cashed out as we have seen before, but after 7 million buys during the early access period alone, Wildcard saw the theoretical gold mine they stumbled upon and decided to expand rather than collapse.

The Centre, is the first map to launch grew into an amazing piece of land, one which we thought was huge and would take months to explore. Then they graced us with the island and later on a paid DLC of Scorched earth. While many complained about DLC prices during an early access game, it didn’t stop people from buying it, or ARK winning an award in its respective category.

Fast forward to current times and we now have stand alone games like survival of the fittest, and even Moon survival taking you into space to tame Xenomorphs and various other creatures. A massive map called Ragnarok (no Thor is busy elsewhere!) was launched as 50% complete then 75% and now completely open to survivors, changed the game. This is 4 times the size of the Center map and allows (just like the other maps) amazing war bases and defense points for clutch situations where one bullet or one dinosaur can mean the difference between winning and losing the raid.

Although ark encompasses many amazing attributes that you cannot find anywhere else, there are some underlying flaws in the games development or at least a foresight into seeing what could work for the gamers/users rather than racking up hours on their server/game. Mining metal, which is used for pretty much ANYTHING past level 40 is tedious and never ending. On official servers you get one or two pieces of metal per hit with a pick and roughly 5 to 10 pieces of metal if you hit the metal node with an Anklyosaurus or Mantis. The next process to complete is a refining forge or an industrial forge (after level 80) which then melts the metal into ingots, usable to complete a wide range of constructions or tasks, i.e. a longneck rifle costs 95 Metal ingots and a metal foundation costs 50 Ingots. This means a gun costs 190 metal, close to 80 clicks on a metal node, where a foundation would take you 50 hits with a pick just to make one. This is a basic explanation of how much time you need to spend on mind numbing mining to get anywhere slowly. And that is only ONE mineral amongst 50+ different ones…

Modded servers helped people who cannot find the hours and hours of time required to play this game or progress, by allowing 10x rates for example. This greatly speeds up how much you can mine and accomplish. Rates don’t stop at harvesting. Because there is breeding involved in the game to increase the strength or numbers of your dinos, breeding rates can be raised too. This goes for breeding, mining and taming. You would think that after 4 years of development the creators would find a way to curb lag on modded or “unofficial” servers but alas that is not the case.

General problems range from lag spikes to lagging out, fatal errors almost daily and updates that quite literally come every week and are gigs and gigs at a time. The game right now stands at over 100+ gigs and this affects people heavily. Due to the games high requirements, most people install this on a solid state. The average joe buys a 240 gig or a 500 gig SSD for gaming and 1TB to 2TB for storage and movies. I have experienced first hand a friend explaining how he can’t join or play ARK anymore as he can’t afford to fill up his main drive for one game. Especially when half of the enjoyment is supposed to be hacking at a rock or a tree.

Besides all of the lag and errors, glitches and delays, this game has one of the best ideas behind any gaming platform I’ve seen, open world. And an amazingly involved one at that. The entire ocean is available to you! (Once you get scuba gear) Over 30 different water animals, both mountable and have their own unique functions, over 50 different land animals used for tons of purposes such as Casteroids being used for wood harvesting and Megatherium’s being used to collect Chitin from Bugs and other animals. There is no other game like it, and that is why I believe it is still so busy. The hassle alone should have scared people away years ago, but it’s still packed.

Facebook groups shooting up daily regarding ARK, prizes and in house competitions and awards for completion being offered out by the game creators. Reddit reviews and comments. Even Wiki knows every in and out regarding which food to feed your dino for the best taming effectiveness (yes it’s that in depth). The Phoenix was released late last year and its special ability besides being almost impossible to tame is that if you put metal into the dino, it will automatically melt and convert it into ingots. Tek tier is the highest one can achieve; it’s the point where you pass turrets and rockets and move towards Element and the technological advancements that brings with it. If we can shoot lazers from a lazer gun and jump off Volcano’s without any damage due to Tek boots then why could we not invent a metal producing device that would allow for us to play the game a bit more while our resources build up, rather than mining for 4 hours a night to build 7 minutes worth of stuff.

I get that the game wants people sitting there playing it. But its borderline getting home from work and going to work again. That’s what it feels like to me at least. I have played over 10 servers, developed my own server, been alpha tribe on the map and fought against admins in epic weekend long raids. I must admit, I’ve never had so much fun in my life. But the mining aspect of the game has diminished my spark and willingness to continue for months and months as servers eventually get wiped by admins if it gets to full or if there is too much lag due to clutter.

Official rating: ★★★☆☆ 6.5/10

Get it on Steam for R 589.00

Steam Recent Review: Mixed (2 853)
Steam Overall Review: Mixed (143 595)

Summary: An amazing game with potential to be better through small changes, balances and a bit of community input.

Written by Chris “Scanky” Maritz