Xbox One Preview: ARK: Survival Evolved

More than just Minecraft: Jurassic Edition?

ARK Survival Evolved has been a game preview for Windows since June of 2015, Xbox players finally got the chance to join the preview in December, a few weeks before the holidays. I’ve spent that time getting to grips with my first game preview for a console and here’s how it went…
To begin with, how would you describe a game like this? It’s not a full game, but it is playable enough to warrant a cash deposit or a 1-hour trial. When it becomes a full game in June 2016, the preview will be upgraded for free. ARK is all about survival of the fittest in tough conditions, in a 48 square foot of land and water to traverse, while dinosaurs roam the area. Yup, dinosaurs. You can design your character, join a lobby and enter someone’s world or start your own server or play solo.

When playing, I found that most of the official servers were always full. I guess that the preview has plenty of players hooked, so I spent most of my time over the holidays getting to know the layout of the land and what makes ARK tick. Because, the game preview certainly doesn’t do that for you…you get no tutorial of any kind, you are really just thrown into the deep end with no clue of your objective, or even how to control your player. It’s a massive learning curve and one I hope is resolved when the full game comes out in June.
As such, I pretty much wandered into an area full of baby raptors unprepared and was torn asunder by the pack. After a while, I realised that I could actually tame these ravenous beasts with certain foods and then you gain the creature’s abilities for yourself, as well as being able to ride the larger dinosaurs. There’s a lot of crafting involved as you try and build weapons as well as bases and fires, all of which requiring resources that you must collect. It’s almost like a cross-over of Minecraft meets Jurassic Park.

If you play online, you will have to be prepared to defend or attack other human bases. Players can get dinosaurs to also defend and attack the bases, so nothing is safe without being truly prepared. I had some really tough battles when I got into a decent server, I just hope the stability is sorted out come launch. It is a preview though, so hit detection and animations are far from perfect…there are a number of bugs throughout, but it is playable…despite being very problematic at times.

I’ve been playing the preview since before the holidays and have been hooked, even in it’s unfinished state. It’ll be interesting to see just how refined they can make the experience over the coming months, as well as what it will be like when it finally launches. I for one, cannot wait to see the outcome.