Ark Survival Evolved Running Review & Commentary

//Update//

See the continuation of the Dairy of Steve here :

 THE FACTS

With the relatively recent early-access release of Ark : Survival Evolved we thought we would jump in and see what all the fuss was about. What follows below is to serve as not only a running review ( as the game currently receives updates at a pace of 1-2 a week ) but also as a recount of our tales inside Ark.

 

Day one with Ark was a day filled with admin, headaches and not much gameplay. The first couple of hours was spent trying to optimize the game graphically and how it runs. Being in Alpha Ark is still very rough, and as such not optimized very well. Be warned, if you’re used to running games on the lower end of the settings spectrum, Ark is probably not for you. Even on high end rigs your chances of running the settings on high and achieving a framerate of anything over 30-35 are slim. For reference sake here is what we used :

Lenovo Y5070

Intel i7 4720HQ

16Gb Ram

GeForce 980m 4Gb dedicated GPU

With a few settings on Epic, a few on high and some inhabiting the lower end along with the forced -sm4 extension to force the Shader Model to Shader Model 4 we were getting around 50-60fps. Next was dedicated server set up.

 

Having a rather large group of friends to play with can be great. With Ark, it can be an issue as well. With official servers becoming increasingly unbalanced for new players and unofficial servers not guaranteeing you a spot every time you want to play (which would mean starting over on a new server) setting up our own dedicated server seemed the best choice. Some rather advanced settings/editing and lots of port forwarding later and we we’re off. Our very own server. (Running on the same Lenovo mentioned above while we played)

 

tl;dr – The game is in alpha and is still rough, some things are hard to get to work. It is to be expected.

 

The Diary of Steve

 

Day 1, Nippon Server, West Beach 2 :

I awoke alone, naked and apparently very warm. Amongst the usual bars of basic human needs such as health and hydration Ark also has a few modifiers, such as being cold, warm or poisoned. These contribute directly to how quickly some of your bars will drop. If you are warm for instance, you will dehydrate quicker, if you get to warm you may start to sustain damage to your health purely based on how warm you are. As I start walking down the beach I find myself doing what any naked stranger waking up on a beach with a strange rock imbedded in their arm would do… I punch tress until I can craft myself a pickaxe of course. A few tools, a cloth shirt and a few levels later and I’m ready to start filling the metaphorical social bar by finding my friends.

The levelling and crafting systems in Ark go hand in hand. Similar to Bethesda heavyweight Skyrim, almost anything you do in Ark will earn you some Xp. Unlike Skyrim, you do not earn individual levels in certain categories, every bit of Xp gained goes towards your next level, one stat point and a hand full of Engram points used to unlock new craftables.

Day 2, Nippon Server, West Beach 2 :

05:00AM :

I spent the night standing right next to my campfire staring at the stars waiting for morning. It was too cold to move far away from my fire. A giant Turtle and a dodo would occasionally pass close by the fire. We became friends rather quickly. I name them truffles and Croptop, you decide which one was which.

07:00AM :

I was on the brink of starvation…I had no choice you see. What evils men can achieve in the name of survival… Truffles was delicious… With my hunger bar half full and Croptop in the middle of a heated battle with 3 Dilosaurusses I decide to take my leave.

08:00AM :

Time to hop on TeamSpeak and see where the rest of the guys were. I had been playing for nearly an hour now and had not ran into a single soul.

09:00AM :

It has quickly become apparent that the map in Ark is more of an advanced feature for veteran users than we thought. It has certainly not been easy to find each other.

19:00PM :

After much deliberation and searching we have finally found where we believe to be our ideal base camp. Atop 3 waterfalls between to large trees we start to construct and eventually turn in for the night inside our thatch house which is inexplicably extremely resistant to the fire we make inside it to stay warm.

Day 5, Nippon Server, Base Location for Tribe of Steve :

Tribe of Steve has been formed. A relatively small tribe for the time being consisting of members : Steve, Emma, Gorilla Joe and the man known only as Betty.

I, Steve, set out, finally, I believe, ready to tame my first dinosaur. I was not ready… 5-6 attempts and deaths later and I finally knock out a Parasaur. 30 minutes later and Timmy is part of the Tribe. Thirty minutes after that a giant turtle has slain Timmy. I must get revenge for the death of a dear friend. Ten or so deaths follow and I finally give up on my revenge for Timmy, I have failed him. I am sorry Timmy. I procure another Parasaur and name him, once more, Timmy.

Timmy was a good boy.
Timmy was a good boy.

Day 45, Nippon Server, Base location for Tribe of Steve :

My life on The Island is blurry, days and nights meld into one. I have come to the conclusion that time is but an illusion here. Over the past days I have gained many levels and gained and lost even more friends, in Dino and Human form. The Tribe of Steve now have wooden walls, large gates and even a small farm consisting of an irrigation system and small to medium crop plots cultivating mostly Longgrass and Narco Berry. Our Dino arsenal has grown extensively with Raptors, Triceratops, Carnos and even a few Pterradon roaming inside the gates. With the growing need for metal around camp I decide to venture outwards in search of mountainous areas with higher metal yield. I grab Timmy V5.0 and my two Raptors, Clever Boy V2.0 and Clever Girl V4.0. The Version model of naming my Dino’s has come in handy after starting to run out of names every time I lose one and tame a new one.

The group of them aren't great at selfies.
The group of them aren’t great at selfies.

Day 60, Nippon Server, Mountainous Region Directly Beneath Red Obelisk :

I finally made it, after roughly 10 straight in game days of walking, sneaking past T-Rex’s, nearly dying at the hands  mouths of hungry packs of Raptors and multiple instances of barely beating starvation and dehydration, I have finally arrived at my destination. Finally, roughly mid way up the mountain I find what I’ve been looking for all this time, rich metal deposits.

Untitled7

I spot a Mammoth over the edge of my makeshift mine. It matters not to me, Mammoths are herbivores, and this one should cause me no trouble. The Mammoth really should cause me no trouble, that is…unless it attracts a pack of 3 very angry Sabretooth Tigers. In one swift motion, just as I finish the first vein of metal I find, long sharp teeth sink deep into my flesh… the world goes dark. The last thing I hear before I die is the wailing of poor Timmy V5.0 as he dies, followed swiftly by the screams of my Raptors fighting for their lives.

 

Day 65, Nippon Server, Long Trek from Base to Mountains :

Once again naked and scared, reborn I stand. I start making my way back to my corpse quickly. Ducking in and out of the shrubbery along the beach, sometimes taking quick dips in the water for hydration and cooling. I finally make it back. What I saw could not have surprised me more. Clever Girl and Boy (V4.0 and V2.0 respectively) standing proud among the corpses of two Sabretooth Tigers. They had survived, they had lived. We quickly took care of the last one together.

I could not have been more impressed with Clever Boy & Girl
I could not have been more impressed with Clever Boy & Girl

I grab the raptors, head towards the beach and inform the Tribe of my intentions to set up an outpost at the base of the mountain. With vastly different wildlife, rich metal deposits and bearing in mind the distance from our original base this would make a fine first official outpost for Tribe of Steve.

Day 66, Nippon Server, Red Obelisk Mountain Outpost (Prospective) :

I’m cold, even standing nearly in my makeshift fire, still so cold. The night air around the mountain is roughly 15 degrees Celsius colder than back home at the Tribe of Steve Base. I wait out the night, leaving the fireplace only to pick a few berries occasionally in order to stave off starvation and dehydration.

Untitled4

04:30am :

I venture away from my fire for the first time, the morning air is a chilly 13 degrees. As I emerge from the forest I had cowered in for the night, just in time to see the silhouette of a Brontosaur on the horizon. As I turn, a large Mammoth emerges from the forest beside me and continues to forage for the spoils of the morning. It was a beautiful sight.

Wooly Bastard.
Wooly Bastard.

I decide that this would make a fine spot for the new outpost. But what trouble lay and wait? What would my first day in the yet to be established outpost entail? For now, only time will tell.

 

Next Update : 15/16 August 2015

Steve’s Video Dairy – Coming Soon

 

 

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