ARK: Survival Evolved is a semi-open world survival game. The player starts with nothing and has to quickly learn both how to create tools and adapt to the environment. Each pre-rendered map has a unique climate, set of creatures, landscape, and survival tactics necessary. You start off only being able to make stone tools and by the end of your adventure you’ll be creating robots and other space age gadgets. So let’s get to the actual review:
The visuals in this game are amazing. Each species of plant and creature are uniquely designed and distinguishable. The color selections are vibrant and diverse. The landscapes are realistic and amazing. The only negative thing I can say about the game aesthetically is the way things render in (at a far distance) could be improved. And what I mean by this is that sometimes at the maximum view distance, before something loads in the player can see the skybox. It is quite possible that it is simply my PC not being able to keep up, or it is equally possible that the game is having trouble keeping up with my PC. Either way, this is a very minor issue.
If you’re someone like me who plays most games with a keyboard and mouse, you’ll love how the controls are in this game. All the keys are diversely mapped out and easy to get a hang of. The only key mapping issue I’ve had is that by default the ‘Tab’ key opens the console, while other games have it set to open inventories or show player lists. This isn’t really an issue, and it’s as simple as reassigning keys. The gameplay mechanics work well and are well designed, by this I mean the User Interface is nearly flawless, the survival aspects in terms of weather conditions are well defined, leveling up is a clear sign of progression and is satisfying to reach. The only issues mechanically with this game lie with the other creatures, and before I say this let me just say these issues were far worse in the past. The developers have taken great steps towards fixing these issues, and I feel as though they will be worked out very soon. To summarize the issues I’m about to name are not game breaking they are simply a minor inconvenience or visually confusing. The issues are that the AI seems to be a bit wonky/unpredictable meaning that sometimes the creatures will get stuck on rocks and trees and not know how to get around or over them and hostile creatures will change the attacking target randomly for no reason. The creatures sometimes will no-clip (no collide) through solid objects, for example many times the Titanoboas will slip inside of boulder or the Brachs’ heads will stick through mountain sides. And sometimes the hit boxes seem to be a little messed up, by this I mean a spear will clearly go into a creature but not cause any damage. This may be because of the same reason the creatures sometimes go through solid objects. It’s not a major issue, as it doesn’t happen often, but can be frustrating sometimes.
A major thing I look for in games is its ability to be replayed and enjoyed. Now this doesn’t always make a game good, and it’s not always necessary to be in a good game. For example I love Resident Evil 7, but in my opinion the general story mode isn’t the best for being replayed without a specific goal in mind. But I’m getting a bit off topic here. As far as I’m concerned ARK is designed with the sole purpose of being replayed. It has various maps with unique climates and landscapes for different adventures, the maps are pre-rendered so you can start the game planned on where you’ll settle, and there are various scattered spawn locations to choose from. Granted the worlds aren’t randomly generated, but I feel this adds to the experience; it’s kind of like playing a game like Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, the world is the same but you can change your play style every time you start the game. The creatures in the game are randomly spawned, so you most likely won’t find the same creature in the same exact spot every time. And the creatures are somewhat unpredictable, you don’t know where they’re going to walk, what they’re going to attack, etc. It’s a bit like the real world in the sense that you can wake up and go to the same place every single day, but you never really know what’ll happen because something always happens differently.
Is it fun?
This may come off a stupid question, most people would probably say just because everything else is good it makes a game fun, but that’s not always true. And likewise, if everything about a game is bad that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. For instance, by modern standards, Turok Dinosaur Hunter should be considered a bad game, as the graphics don’t meet modern par, there is little to know story or mechanics, and it has almost no replay factor, yet I thoroughly enjoyed it; I think it is a fun game. So getting back to the task at hand, ARK: Survival Evolved is extremely fun; the character creation menu allows you to make your survivor a complete abomination, this should be a clear indicator of what’s to come. It is designed in a way that the game can be enjoyed both in single player and in the multiplayer way too, there are tribe functions that allow you to have a team or simply be a lone wolf. The creatures in the game provide challenge and sometimes even get the upper-hand. And between the multiplayer and the unpredictable AI there is a randomness factor to the game.
So by averaging the scores out we get out overall review score.
OVERALL RATING 9.5/10 A+
It’s a great game, worth the price. I’ve enjoyed almost every second of playing it.
As always, I'd love to hear what any of you think about either this game or my review of it. Feel free to send a message or post to the KeyBound Facebook or Twitter.