After becoming a bit of a smash hit on PC, ARK: Survival Evolved has made its way to Xbox One via the Game Preview program. It’s quite easily one of the most hotly anticipated Xbox One games ever with fans of survival titles, online match ups and indeed those who hold some love for the prehistoric era, all clamouring to get involved.
Currently in preview stage, ARK already more than delivers on the promises of huge dinosaur armies and some of the most brutal tribal fights you are ever likely to see. Many may feel that it is nothing more than a fancy looking, dinosaur encompassed Minecraft but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst I’m not going to sit here and dismiss Mojang’s blockbuster as something which has had its day, if there were ever a game that would be able to take over the crown of undisputed discovery and creation tool, the ARK would be it. It certainly has the beginnings of something a little special.
From the moment you fire up ARK, you’ll be given the chance to customise the game to your own liking. Whilst Instinct Games and Studio Wildcard have obviously set things up to allow even the most green of newcomers to be able to experience everything that the game has, the options to amend a whole ton of settings is a nice one. Whether you want mess around with your character’s health stats, drop the dinos that you encounter down to weedy little things, or just ensure that the buildings you create will last a lifetime, you can do it – and a ton more besides. With a very in depth character customisation offering included as well, you could quite easily spend an hour setting up the ARK to your own liking prior to jumping in for real.
When you do, you’ll find yourself stranded on an island, naked, with only the inhabitants of said island for company. Personally, I prefer to run as a solo affair as not only do you then get the chance to figure things out for yourself, but it’s a hell of a lot easier without the interruption and interrogation of other Xbox Live members. It’s a much more casual offering; one that leads you on a journey of self discovery and familiarisation. You’ll still die, a lot, but at least you’ll be safe in the knowledge that whatever kills you, will give you the opportunity to learn, ensuring that it doesn’t get you for a second time. Or a third. Or a tenth!
With your own bare fists, it’ll basically be up to you as to your next port of call. Smashing down trees and gathering wood or thatch is next to essential, as without these you’ll be left powerless to do much else. Scavenging through the undergrowth for fibre and berries will also be key to your success with each press of the Y button ensuring that if you can see it, you can interact with it and pick it up. Gather enough resources and it won’t be long before you find yourself creating pickaxes, clothes and eventually wooden panels for your home. Yes, you need a home – and you need it quick!
A campfire is also an essential addition to your initial learnt skills and this not only gives you the chance to keep warm, but also cook food, keeping your vital organs running nicely and your overall stats in the positive. The more you create, the more you discover and the more you explore both the world around you and find out exactly what each and every item does, the more you’ll find yourself leveling your character up, opening the way for further fine skills to be introduced. Begin to neglect any of your health, stamina, food, water or other statistics however and you’ll find yourself down on all fours scouring the beach side like Robinson Crusoe.
And that is something you can’t afford to happen as with an island full to the brim with dinosaurs, there is always something out there looking for its next meal. From the small fast raptors, the huge Brontos and Trikes that stomp across the land and the gigantic crocs or Megaladons that reside in the ocean, ARK Survival Evolved is a living breathing world that just urges you to keep on surviving for no reason other than to see what is over the next hill, hidden in the next lake, or about to spring an attack from the nearest jungle. Of course, you can take on all enemies, but unless you are prepared to grind away, leveling your character up to the nth degree, will probably find that the odd Dodo is the height of your limits. But do you eat said bird, or is it more beneficial to tame it and make it one of your own? The only person who can answer that is yourself, as each and every player who will get involved in the ARK will go on a journey that leads down a completely different path to the next. The only limit is your imagination, so if you’ve ever dreamt of riding a huge dinosaur across great lands, then Survival Evolved is for you.
If you want to team up with fellow survivors, then taking the fight online is the best way. With a number of servers that are currently rammed to the brim, it can sometimes be a little tricky to get involved, but you’ve got to remember that we’re not looking at the finished article here and any server limits or issues (or the occasional graphical oddities for that matter), will no doubt be ironed out in the coming months. When you do get online however, the choice of PvP or PvE ensures that there is something for near on everyone. Making friends is key, and if you treat fellow islanders right, then the odds are they will treat you with the same compassion and love. Of course, it wouldn’t be Xbox Live without the odd stranger who is focused on nothing more than death and destruction, but for the most part, I’ve found the ARK community to be a great one. I just wish they’d all let me have the pin numbers for their stunningly built beach shacks! It gets cold at night when you’re just wearing a skinny hat and pants, running away from a spitting raptor!
The more you play Survival Evolved, the fresher your understanding of its working and wonders will become. Don’t expect to be able to jump in and be riding bareback on a Bronto five minutes later – it just ain’t gonna happen. You’ll need to spend time learning the ropes, and then taking the odd risk, hoping and praying that it all pays off. In fact, you’ll need to throw many a man hour into the game should you ever wish to see even half of what is available.
If you’re sitting on the fence over an ARK purchase, then I urge you to check it out right now. Please be aware that your life will quickly be gripped by the survival techniques on offer with ARK refusing to let go any time soon. Also be sure you understand that the game is in no way finished and that you will find a number of issues in place. I’d fully expect the vast majority of problems to be ironed out sooner rather than later (most definitely before full release in June), so if you’re one of those who get off on the fact that dinosaurs can currently get stuck in the strangest of places, then you should be getting your cash out right now.
I’m not a big advocate of the Xbox One Game Preview, preferring to see a full game hit the market when it is actually completed and ready to be played, but if there was ever one game that the program was designed for, then ARK: Survival Evolved is it.
It’s time to hop aboard that dino and get exploring!