Although it is still in its preview phase on the Xbox One, Ark: Survival Evolved is a pretty solid survival game that sets itself apart from other games like H1N1 and Rust. Sure it needs a bit of work, mostly visually, but its gameplay is solid and its concept is strong.
From the get go Ark: Survival Evolved knocks every game that has ever had any sort of prehistoric theme out of the park. There has never been anything as related as this before, and it makes for a fun trip back in time especially for those of us who grew up around the Jurassic Park series.
Setting up your game is up to you. You can join an online lobby or play alone, which I recommend for beginners as it’s a tough world out there. You can adjust your settings to your liking, how much food you will need on certain time intervals, how fast your hunger grows, how much resources you obtain from farming, and the rate in which your cooked food rots. At first this was extremely intimidating as I had no idea what all this meant, but after three or four times dying due to starvation, you will understand the idea behind all these settings.
You wake up on a beach, at a different time of the day depending on when you start the game. You have nothing, nothing at all. You have to now try to make sense of the world around you by finding your way around. It is not easy, you start of by punching trees picking up stones to make a pick axe, a basic weapon for farming and low damage to Dodo birds. The thing is, you lose health by punching tress to harm wood, so the pick axe will be your best friend as you try to survive the world. It does break easily so you will always find yourself making new ones.
The game does not ease you into the world at all. At times I spawned and I was safe from the dangers of the outside, and at times I would spawn right next to a Raptor, which just kept killing me. The game needs a bit of work in this regard, especially when it comes to draw distance on the Xbox One. Often you will see a moving blur in the distance, and thanks to the low-res that the game runs at, you will soon realize that the blur is actually a raptor running towards you.
Everything you gather while playing the game is kept on your character when you die. So if you remember where you died, then just run over to it and gather all your resources again. Just remember what killed you as it will still be nearby.
My adventures on the game included killing a ton of Dodo birds, dragging them to my fireplace which I made with flint, wood, and stone, and trying to cook it. It took me about 10 minutes to get the fire burning as I had no clue what to do to get it lit, and once it was lit I had no idea how to cook the bird. Instead I ate the bird raw, so there goes that idea of a home cooked meal.
I levelled up a few times which unlocked new stat boosts and engrams which you can purchase with skill points. These engrams are basically new crafting abilities that allow you to craft new weapons, clothes, and housing pieces. I recommend leaving these engrams until you actually need one of them, rather than purchasing a few of them just for the sake of it. They will come in handy later on.
I have to admit, I did not get far, rather I spent my time exploring the game’s mechanics and learning all the ins and outs of the game. I am loving it though, and it could possibly be the best survival game on the market. Playing online is not for the faint hearted as you never know who is friend or foe. But again, it is how the game works, and I love it for that.
I cannot wait to get back into the world and explore a bit more. I am even tempted to get hold of the PC version and see how it weighs up against the Xbox One version. Surely its resolution will be better, and right now that is my only issue with the game in general. This is just the start of my adventures in Ark: Survival Evolved, and we will continue to provide coverage on the game in the coming weeks.