Martin Carr previews ARK – Survival Evolved…
This is not a review. I just wanted to make that clear from the outset. ARK is still in the development stage and so must be treated accordingly.
Having been on PC since June of this year and constantly evolving over that time, ARK represents something completely new to me. I will be the first to say that computer games take up little of my time. For me to write about anything requires an interest beyond the norm. ARK proudly fits that criteria without breaking sweat.
Played in first person you are spawned naked into a world of hostility. With minimal instruction you must make fire, build shelter, make clothes and tame animals as well as survive. What quickly becomes apparent is how difficult the simplest things really are. Stay in the sun too long and you dehydrate. Eat the wrong berry and poison has you reeling before imminent death looms large.
For the novice ARK begins in frustration and requires hours of work. A warning to the unwary I do mean hours. Simply surviving the night may at first seem impossible but work offers its own reward. Soon it becomes apparent which weapons are most effective and cause you to use the least energy. Large stretches of water and forest pepper the landscape, housing vicious piranha and dinosaurs respectively. While each death wipes the slate clean, leaving only campfire or makeshift shelters as testament to your existence.
In conversation with friends I compared it to a first person Minecraft which seemed fairly accurate. Granted in Minecraft the first person element is non-existent but rudimentary similarities can be identified. However what ARK brings to the table is that sense of open world play, which is somehow amplified by no clearly defined objective. The simple fact that you are literally evolving in an environment represents ARKs greatest triumph. That light bulb moment where the lines between a game and something else disappear. I feel sure there are countless examples which others can quote verbatim, but this is a first for me.
That sense of an entity which is constantly changing makes this unique. It ceases to be a finished product or game because that would enforce boundaries. If ARK is anything it would be an experience. There are no end of level bosses because there are no levels. Creatures exist alongside you in an environment to be manipulated rather than conquered. They develop and behave in line with your own growth. Meaning that as you learn so do they. Which is both uniquely subtle but totally absorbing. To give anything else away would mean spoiling things. As for whether it is worth buying in preview mode or otherwise, I would say this is a ‘no brainer’. Only great things seem this simple at first glance.