ARK: SUR­VIVAL EVOLVED

Pre­his­toric sur­vival sim gives play­ers a rawr deal

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS - @An­neM_Coyle

Like a pre­his­toric Love Is­land, this game’s premise is a sim­ple one: stranded on a mys­te­ri­ous is­land, you must use your wits and cun­ning to sur­vive against all man­ner of per­ils, in­clud­ing main­tain­ing ba­sic food and heat sup­plies. Throw in di­nosaurs, and servers throng­ing with in­di­vid­u­als just as ea­ger to tear you limb from limb, and you’ve got one of the most promis­ing set­ups to ever grace videogames. Find­ing a soul mate amid the car­nage, that’s op­tional. Sport­ing naught but a piece of cloth and bear­ing a strange arte­fact on your wrist, you set to work on your key (and ba­si­cally only) ob­jec­tive – sur­vival. While re­tain­ing a pulse un­der such ex­treme cir­cum­stances is, of course, bound to be tough, the strug­gle is made far more pro­nounced thanks to the lack of any kind of tu­to­rial sys­tem. There’s ab­so­lutely no in­di­ca­tion of what any of the game’s var­i­ous, con­vo­luted sys­tems are or how to per­form any ac­tions, forc­ing you to adopt a trial-and-er­ror ap­proach to sur­vival or, more likely, fre­quently con­sult the in­ter­web.

From the off, you’re at the mercy of the game’s in­ter­nal clock, with the hours drain­ing not only day­light but your var­i­ous sur­vival me­ters. Blueprints in­di­cate the ma­te­ri­als you’ll need to craft use­ful items – ini­tially a stone pick, fash­ioned from wood gained by punch­ing trees (get used to it, you’re go­ing to be thump­ing a lot of trees) and stones found scat­tered on the ground. From there you’ll utilise your sur­round­ings, in­creas­ing your re­sources to con­struct es­sen­tial items like camp­fires, clothes, and lodg­ings. Per­form­ing ac­tions lev­els up your char­ac­ter, giv­ing you ac­cess to new blueprints for forg­ing in­creas­ingly help­ful good­ies.

NER­VOUS REX

Dy­ing is sig­nif­i­cant (as you’d ex­pect) and saps both your time and re­sources, adding to the thrill of bat­tle. Take on some­thing that’s be­yond your means and you’ll likely get a speedy ticket to the af­ter­life and have to start from scratch, wak­ing up nearly naked on the is­land and forced to punch yet more trees. Even­tu­ally, you’ll ac­quire the strength and sup­plies nec­es­sary to in­dulge in Ark’s main draw – re­cruit­ing an army of dinos to do your bid­ding. Tam­ing the pre­his­toric preda­tors re­quires over­pow­er­ing them in com­bat. Fly­ing into bat­tle on a speedy Gal­lim­imus or soar­ing through the skies on the back of a Pter­a­n­odon is thrilling, even more so when you re­cruit a few more play­ers for some tribal war­fare, is­land ex­plo­ration, or T-rex bat­tling.

Un­for­tu­nately, even af­ter a lengthy playable pre-re­lease pe­riod, Ark: Sur­vival Evolved still feels un­fin­ished. The ba­sic graph­ics and tech­ni­cal nig­gles, like stut­ter­ing frame rates and spawn­ing through ob­jects, grate. While the strug­gle for sur­vival is riv­et­ing, the bare-bones nar­ra­tive and lack of ob­jec­tives make for an ex­pe­ri­ence that ul­ti­mately feels un­ful­fill­ing.

VER­DICT

“EVEN­TU­ALLY YOU’LL AC­QUIRE THE STRENGTH TO RE­CRUIT AN ARMY OF DINOS.”

Bat­tling and tam­ing di­nosaurs is un­doubt­edly a joyous pur­suit. Un­for­tu­nately, the ex­cite­ment is marred by the game’s overly grindy na­ture and your lack of pur­pose. Anne-Marie Coyle

Your spear serves you well early on, but you’ll need hefty weapons to take on the big beasts.

INFO FOR­MAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB STU­DIO WILD­CARD DEV STU­DIO WILD­CARD

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