It seems like Ark has been around for ages thanks to the ‘Game Preview’ phase it has been through on the Xbox. I gave it a go several months ago but thanks to its early build issues didn’t give it much of a fair go.
Now with the release candidate version up and running it is time to see what being dropped on a beach in your undies is actually like. Just make sure you have plenty of time to sink into Ark.
It is huge and needs considerable time invested to really enjoy, and remember until you have got some footwear watch out for dinosaur poop.
So at its heart Ark is a open world survival game with dinosaurs. It is pretty brutal starting out especially if there is a large carnivorous dinosaur in the area that you spawn in. Ideally you need a nice clear area to work your way up a few levels and gain some abilities to build tools, weapons, and shelter.
Along with these improvements will come the ability to tame the animals of the Ark, initially you may have a few Dodo’s running around but once you manage to get a decent carnivore on your side things will definitely take a turn for the better. But even a large herbivore is extremely useful to carry all that extra wood and stone you harvest.
Now there is no doubt that Ark is a huge and impressive undertaking but unfortunately with that comes a large array of bugs, and not the prehistoric type either. These bugs range from the graphical like dinosaurs getting caught up in the scenery, a myriad of clipping issues like dinosaurs heads passing through walls, to gameplay bugs, like being told you are overheating even though you are neck deep in the ocean, to an almost game breaking control glitch that had me shut down the entire game and start again.
Thankfully this hasn’t happened again. Most of these can be overlooked due to the massive scope of the game and will hopefully be addressed with on going patches. But they do detract from the immersion a fair bit.
Visually Ark is pretty impressive. Although there is a fair amount of pop up scenery when exploring. Ark is down on the list of enhanced games for the Xbox One X, which I plan to get, so will be interested in seeing what improvements happen with this. Controls are fairly standard but when it comes to inventory control and crafting it feels pretty clunky, there is a fair bit to this side of the game and potentially without mouse and keyboard it is bordering on too much.
Perseverance pays off though and once you have your head around it it is serviceable. My biggest complaint though is that if you die you lose all your folder structure in your inventory so once you make your way back to your corpse and gather up your gear you then spend ages reorganising all your stuff. A real pain.
My son, age 11, has been loving Ark so I got him to write up his view on it.
‘Ark is a very difficult game especially in the first minutes (or hours) you play. This is because Ark isn’t like other sandbox games, you always have an angry Spino after you or your hunger bar is low and you have no food. But after you level up and build a house it becomes both easier and harder, harder because you are exploring further but easier because you start to get better stuff.’ – Laughlan
Now in some ways Ark does have a Minecraft feel to it and whether in is just the ability of young gamers to adapt or that I don’t have the patience, it seems that Laughlan is dong far better than me. He has a hugely fortified camp with many tamed dinosaurs while I have a stone shack and a couple of dinosaurs. I do have a Baryonyx, called Barry, though and he has saved my arse more than once. On ya Baz!
For all its flaws, I have to say, I am really enjoying Ark. The shear scope and size of the game is almost overwhelming and the time that will be spent in game will be massive. I am yet to leave the south coast as things tend to ramp up the further north you go. It is so enticing, I have ventured out of my depth a couple of times only to be destroyed by some great beast.
It makes you want to go back to see it but also to stay away in the safety of your known area. And all this in single player and local co-op. There is the obvious online side to Ark where you can join fellow survivors in, well, surviving. I currently feel like a liability so will stick to going alone for a bit.