Friday night I eagerly booted up ARK: Survival Evolved, on Steam. I love dinosaurs, and I love video games; the combination of the two is always something that I will look forward to exploring.
In it’s peak, I was a fan of last summer’s The Stomping Land, an open-world survival game that had players running around as cavemen on an island full of dinosaurs. After a few flaky months where The Stomping Land’s developer seemed to have vanished, the game’s community largely wrote off the game as a loss, and moved on.
Now, ARK: Survival Evolved is here, looking to swoop in and deliver the sort of experience that The Stomping Land ultimately failed at delivering. The ARK developers are so confident in their product, they’re even poking fun at how The Stomping Land flopped, by giving owners of The Stomping Land exclusive in-game sunglasses.
With so much confidence in their product, and an Early Access trailer (below) that is so moving it could probably convince the Easter Bunny to go to war, I was very curious to see how ARK: Survival Evolved pans out.
After playing ARK: Survival Evolved for a bit, I’ve concluded that while the game as a lot of potential, it is not currently in a state where I can enjoy the experience. Between latency issues and framerate issues, the gameplay experience was like a weird dream where items floated in the air, dinosaurs stuttered around, and I was constantly running from other players trying to punch me to death.
I ended up fleeing from the beach starter zone, and lost my pursuers in the nearby jungle. I spent some time just walking around the jungle, looking at things and pressing buttons on my keyboard to see what-does-what, before I exited the jungle and came to a cliffside where a few pterosaurs were perched, just chilling out. I don’t know what primal instinct caused me to do it, but I ran up and punched each and every one of the pterosaurs. A few simply clipped off the edge and floated away as static, non-moving models, before the game triggered their flying animations. The others just hissed at me and flew away.
It was a rather anti-climactic way to end my first gameplay experience with ARK: Survival Evolved. A final experience that echoed the whole experience, really.
The developers recognize that the game has these mechanical issues, and obviously consumers should recognize a game in Early Access mode is going to experience these sorts of issues. With that said, the game just isn’t playable by my definition. I can’t tolerate a sub-20FPS experience, nor an experience where everything lags around, it’s just not fun for me.
My sentiment, after experiencing the game, is that if you’re sitting on the fence about picking up ARK: Survival Evolved…stay seated. If the developers continue to roll out the updates, I’d imagine that the game will be a much more playable experience in a few months.
I’ll check back on ARK: Survival Evolved at that point, and let you know how things are.
A preview copy of ARK: Survival Evolved was provided to Epic Brew by the developers.