Review | Ark Survival Evolved
Ark Survival Evolved is a fun time to be had while taming dinosaurs, exploring caves, and building a base. While it is quite funny to start off by punching a tree for resources to only notice you are the one being hunted and lack any ability to protect yourself yet. I would not have it any other way as soon you are the one hunting.
There are quite a few things that make this game quite interesting. Retail vs private servers experiences. There are so many dinosaurs and ways to use them in this game. You can also have quite a bit fun in underground caves filled with resources to farm. Along the way, you might even build a base as being a nomad while possible is rather restricting. The game also has some fun holiday events from time to time as well for collecting different colored dinosaurs and skins.
Retail Or Private Server
For me, this is an easy choice which one to choose. I recently revised Ark Survival Evolved and only played on a private server. With over 1k hours played total over the years in this game around 250 of those were spent banging my face on the hard knocks of retail rates and servers. At least over time they have increased the base rate and made it more for humans and not crazy spend half a day or more taming a single dinosaur to lose it ten minutes later.
While it is a little unfair to compare my beta experience of retail servers to my most recent experience playing in a private game. It’s an interesting story to tell why I’ll never go back to retail.
The All Mighty Alpha Tribes
Back during beta when I first started to play Ark my three friends and I joined a public retail server. This server like all the others had an Alpha Tribe. They liked to greet everyone with death, caging, and being told you were not welcome on their server.
Every other day they would explore the entire map and raided every single standing base. It did not matter to them if it was a thatch hut or a stone base (no one built up enough for metal bases expect them). The place we picked already had at the time two bases downstream that were blown to bits and left to rot. They blew up our walls and even killed the Dodo dinosaurs. This happened every other day or so. What they did not keep they would just toss onto the ground and let it rot away.
It was taken as a learning opportunity since we were new. So we changed bases locations, time was spent on thinking the base design and we started to hide our best loot elsewhere. Our biggest hold back was us being lower level and not having access to higher level crafting
So I grinned like a crazy person. I would just keep mining stone and building massive walls, building or whatever to keep grinding levels. If I spent 15 hours taming something it would be dead the next day so I avoided that.
After a while, I got to a higher level and they put me in a cage. One person's entire job was to sit in the room with all the cages and make sure no one died from hunger or thirst. He would blaze his music day in and out expect when he would yell at someone “stop doing or that I’ll get the club to knock you out again.”
I also got a great view of their base as they flew me up there captured. I thought it was this crazy metal building with a ton of guns. I later learned it was nothing special and these guys were not that great. They were just on all the time and out of fear never allowed anyone to progress far enough to challenge them. I found out later the mega alpha tribes would transfer over to that server and take them out like they were nothing. I guess playing king of the hill and tossing everyone else off a cliff did not bold well for them in the end.
After a couple of servers and dealing with Alpha Tribes like that one, it was time to find another way to enjoy the game.
There are quite a few reasons to want to play on a private server. Besides running your own you could go find some on the forums that are newer player friendly. Most of them will have a bunch of amazing mods and much higher rates for gathering, taming, and experience gained. You will also find much nicer people who have a similar story to tell of why they switch to playing on private servers.
This game has an amazing modding community. So amazing in fact a number of mods were made as part of the game. There are lots of amazing maps, items and other stuff that can almost make the game feel and look like something new.
With higher rates, you are spending a lot less of your life just grinding away to progress. Gathering resources to build that giant complex you always wanted can take a very long time. Being able to tame dinosaur for hauling and gathering cuts down that time even further and when they get killed it’s less of a big deal since you have higher tame rates. So instead of losing days or week worth of effort it sometimes is just a couple of hours if it was a bad day.
There are some downsides to private servers. The biggest downside is when that private server shuts. When there is a patch that breaks a mod that might not get fix for a while. Sometimes the server owner’s change and things go downhill. Other times you find out there a reason no one chooses to play on that server in the first place.
Overall though a much better experience and that is where I spent over 750 hours playing. Many times it was on friend’s server where we just started fresh other times I would find a place that had some cool mods running. This resulted in a number of times of us returning months later and having more fun again after a short break.
The biggest draw to this game is taming and using dinosaurs and there is a truck ton of them swimming, walking, and flying around the map. You can’t even have a day at the beach without stepping on something or running for your life. They can be used in combat, gathering, hauling, travel, and breeding,
The taming process is quite simple but applying it can be the challenge. In a forceful tame you just need to knock out a Dinosaur to get started and feed it till it becomes yours over time. In a more passive tame, you just need to keep interactive with it.
For ones that require the more forceful method, this can be done in a variety of ways from the moment you log into the game and pick up some fiber and wood to make a Club to try your hands at something smaller like a Dodo. To crafting far more resource intense methods like firing Tranquilizer darts from a longneck rifle at tyrannosaurus (rex), Direbears, and Spinosaur oh my.
Some of these things can and will kill you before you even get them down with tranquilizing methods. This often led me to get creative and spending time for preparation from the fight. Such as creating taming pens on land or boats and leading them into the trap. Among the less planned out situations of shooting from a cliff or a high rock to remain out of attack reach. Along with just trying to get them stuck on a rock or some building materials I placed down like sloped thatch Wall right piece. A Direbear, for instance, can shred your gear and kill you long before you have fired off enough Tranquilizer darts.
If you though the hard part was over once you got one down now comes the waiting, feeding, keeping them knocked out, and above all else protecting them from being lunch. I have often times went out and found what I wanted to tame and came back with a bunch of other things as well. Taming can take a while and often times it’s easier to tranquilize something then kill it when defending your tame.
Which cause you to carry a bunch of narcotics that are used in crafting the darts and keeping them sleeping. Along with carrying the types of food they eat. If you went in very prepared you might even have crafted up some kibble to speed up the process in an attempt to reduce risk and increase the taming bonus for more levels. Otherwise, you are feeding them the food they would normally eat: meat, fish, or berries to name a couple.
I have a number of times in my many years lost tames. Sometimes you just did not bring enough supplies. Other times you become overwhelmed by the number of aggressive creatures you find or were not yet prepared to face something. Depending on the server settings this can take hours. An easy way most player’s check how long it will take and other information is using a site like dododex.
Once all is done the fun part begins if they are big enough to wear a saddle and ride. I found myself out leveling them up and replacing spent resources to go another round.
Gathering And Hauling
A large majority of dinosaurs out there are extremal efficient at gathering one or more resources and that tends to be why you wanted them in the first place. Punching a tree in the face for some wood only gets you so far in life. Even when you work your way up to metal tools it’s just nothing compared to having the right dinosaur for that task.
Something like a Castoroides (beaver) can get higher yields per tree and more per action of wood than most. Since it’s very proficient in the wood farming area is also carry wood and thatch at half the carry weight. It even has a very amazing ability to be a mobile smithy once you have a saddle on it. As a result, making it one of my more favorite farming dinosaurs to use and it has great synergy with others.
I also find having a Doedicrus a must have for a large part of the game since it is efficient at the farming stone. Since at least for me I build my walls and building out of stone for a while. It can also carry stone at one fourth the normal weight. So you can really haul back an amazing amount. Matched with a Castoroides and you can craft building materials while out in the field.
These are just two examples that work really well with each other but most dinosaurs are decent at gathering something. It beats having to run around on foot all day trying to gather a couple of hundred wood, stone, metal, and other resources. This is even truer when that resource could be quite the distance from your base.
If you really want the best of the best breeding is your way of going in this game. If you happen to be on a somewhat populated server someone might even take up the role of being a breeder. I myself in past servers have had massive operations taking up islands filled to the brim with pens and incubating rooms.
Once a dinosaur is no longer wild a record in the game is kept of their ancestors so you can see breeding pairs. You end up wanting to take higher level ones with that status you want and breeding them. While they are out in the wild they randomly get points and there is nothing worse than taming a higher level and seeing most of their points are in things like food or oxygen.
The game has egg laying dinosaurs where you can pick up their eggs and for instance, put them in a preserving bin. So you can make them last longer and not need to hatch them right away. Next, you will need to set up a special room that can maintain the proper temperature for the egg to hatch. This can be a bit of a luring curve and depending on where you have settle nights could be a struggle keeping the egg warm enough without it being getting killed.
There is also a gestation type where you just need to ensure the mother does not starve as her food intake increase until she is ready to give birth. Thankfully that not difficult to deal with since there are feeding troughs you can craft.
Once the baby dinosaur is born like any baby you got to give it a lot of attention. Instead of taming you are imprinting. It’s going to want a lot of food and for you to play with it as well. You might need to take it out for a walk or even pet it. I’ve always felt this is far too time-consuming of a process. You can go out and tame an entire species of the same dinosaur it feels like before it has matured.
The benefit is selective breeding and the person who claimed the imprinting also gets a bonus when they ride that dinosaur. It is a time-consuming process and I myself did not spend the resource or put in the effort this time around. This is something I would consider if I was going be playing Ark for the next few months.
Defensive And Offense
It always nice knowing when you are out and about that the bevy of dinosaurs you are traveling with can more or less take out any challenge you run into. It’s also reassuring knowing if you or someone else is within range of your base that things are ok for a little while.
While I personally like to travel light and tend to use a Direbear that can outrun most trouble. I have seen people running around with dozens of dinosaurs. The biggest issue is they need a cleared spot or they can get stuck on rocks, trees or even each other. I find that rather frustrating and besides I tend to travel more by boat or flyer anyways.
As far as at the base there is nothing like having the Dodo alarm. If something fly’s in and starts killing or blasts a hole in my gates they more than likely killed the chicken of Ark. I get a message about its demise and they are quite easy to replace! Then depending on if I’m playing solo or on a server, my cluster of Rex’s, Pulmonscorpius, and other nasty things might attack till I can get back home with my rifle in hand.
Later in the game depending on how well off to do a tribe is they might have a base covered in turrets a shield from end game content, and other layers of defensives. Dinosaurs end up being more of needing directions from the player otherwise they can be led off cliffs, into traps and wander off chasing something. Nothing worse than losing your prized one because you left it in an aggression state and it ran off chasing something that hit it.
While you could craft a boat and take a tour of the lands it can be more fun to do it in style with dinosaurs. This can on the ground, by air, or even into the depths of the sea. There are quite a few different options to fit the player’s needs.
For things that are more local, a raptor or wolf can do just fine. I personally find they don’t have enough health or carrying capacity for my liking more so the raptor. Though if you really love wolfs or live in a cold area and have a pack of them that can be quite fun. My Personal favorite has to be the Direbear I’ll level its weigh and stamina and it will just go for quite some time. I’ll even kill Rex’s with mine!
One of the more fun things to do in this game is getting a flyer like Pteranodon or Argentavis and fly high above the tree lines to see lakes, get around mountains, and locate the new area of interest quickly. While they don’t hold a lot they do make scouting quite quick.
When it comes to the waters I’m more of a raft guy. In fact, I hate going underwater it’s a little to shark infested with giant things to murder you for my taste. When I do tend to go down there I do so with a full set of scuba gear and Ichthyosaurus. They are decent and turning and rather quick as well. If something can’t catch you it can’t kill you, right? I’m looking at you Tusoteuthis.
One of the more interesting options this game has is platform saddles. Where you can build a small mobile base and travel the lands. They tend to be quite slow but have a massive carrying capacity. You have everything from the Paracer by land, Mosasaur by sea, and Quetz by air.
These just happened to be the ones I prefer to use the most. There are lots of other dinosaurs and ways to get around than this.
This is yet another game where I could just live in a cave and never leave. In fact, depending on the server settings you might even be able to build and live down in one. You would not be the first or the last forgoing sunlight for easy access to fast amount of resources, good times, and certain death.
One of the reasons I don’t tend to base in a cave in the first place is due to higher spawn rates of dinosaurs and having buildings kill off local spawn rates of resources. They are meant to be tough places to adventure into and around. Not to mention people just want what is inside.
They are quite fun to explore but can be hard. Many of them are filled with Araneus, acid spitting Arthroplueras, and Pulmonoscorpius. In no time flat, you could be slowed down, knocked out, and have your armor destroyed. Ah, the cave life getting killed as you turn that corner by a wall of death!
On the up and up they can to be loaded with metal, crystal, obsidian, silica pearls, and have better loot in the beacons that spawn in them. There is nothing like getting a higher quality crafting blueprint to an item you use a lot. Maybe you will even get a Mastercraft and you will need to spend a fair amount of time down there to afford those higher crafting costs.
This game has a couple of biomes for living in or just setting up a base for when you are in the area. Some areas are great for starting out and making your summer beach home once you are a higher level player. While others are so out of the way and far from anything worthwhile that maybe you have finally found peace and quiet.
Like in most games similar to survivors the outer beach areas tend to be less dense in dangers and resources. The map I happened to be playing The Center has some really decent areas even if they are not too hard. Upon the cliff behind my house are metal and crystal veins. Just a couple minutes away by boat and though some ruins on land is a lake with beaver dams, Rexs, and Doedicrus among other things. There is even a cave maybe 10 minutes away or so. This is quite the lucky spot to be in and one that I’ve enjoyed before.
As you can tell it’s all about that location. The last thing you want is spending an hour just to find the materials you need and use every day. Unless your goal is being super stealth if you are playing on a pvp server where you have other things to worry about then saving some time.
You also want to keep in mind an area you can even build on and use. There are some really great views in this game but if you can only fit down a single foundation and can’t build upon that. Your base will just never meet your crafting, defense or storage needs. You could also have issues like living on a cliff where you can’t just bring up your tames with easy unless you have something like a Quetz.
I have in the past lived on the beach, in the snow, on islands, in a volcano, up to a tree (yay for tree platforms), on a boat, at a hidden lake, in a cave, along rivers, next to waterfalls and so many other places. Some times that view is just worth hauling everything to and fighting off any nasty things that spawn in that area. This is also why I tend to have several bases if I intend to play for a long time.
You also have a few choices of what to build out of. Thatch, wood, stone, metal or even end game stuff I’ve never bothered with. I personally find thatch to be a waste of time nothing like having a rex stomp down your thatch hut and murder you in the night. While wood is a step up it’s still quite a week. I prefer stone as I’ve gotten bored of living in metal bases and they are considerably less time consuming to gather resources for. Since I’m just playing solo in my instance it will provide all the protection I need.
Size is also something to consider and can be an easy downfall. It is easy to think you need and want a megastructure until you realize farming for months on end is just not worth it. I’ve also seen fresh spawns on a server do nothing for the first 15 hours expect to craft and place down foundations. When they logged out all their stuff was out in the open not a single wall! They would come back to see they lost everything and never return. You can always build a small 4 by 4 and expand on it later. I always like to think about what is needed today to meet my needs for shelter.
Really wish I had a bunch of my old screenshots saved. I’ve built so many amazing bases over my years. The one I made this time around was not very impressive. I’m more of a visitor checking in and seeing how things have changed than anything else. As such it’s just enough base and gates around it for short term enjoyment.
If you noticed some very Easter colored dinosaurs in this review that is because I revised this game during the Easter event. The game tends to celebrate many holidays throughout the year. Sometimes they will have a challenge of something to kill other times just fun little gifts.
For the most part, they are for collecting cool looking skins or different colored dinosaurs. I’ve talked in the past about them and include quite a few screenshots from the Christmas even in Holiday Event Done Right. As such I don’t see a need to go into great detail on this as I have done so in the past.
Sometimes, you just need to tame a Rex and go hunting. Other times you just want to go soaring in the sky on an Argentavis. While this game has gotten some hate over the years for bugs, toxic community, dlcs, and requiring no life to enjoy. It’s nice to see it evolve and not eat up 100% of my comptuers ram or life just to play these days. Now if only it did not consume 140 gigs on my hard drive I’d consider keeping it installed for playing a couple of times a month here or there.
Another Game Post
For those who love water world type of games Ark just does not have enough of it to really itch that scratch. It will get you by for a while but there are just no submarines and the underwater world exploring is a bit lack luster. Thankfully there is a survival game out there that does just that!