This morning I woke up and it was all gone. Our two-storey base made from wood and stone was nowhere to be found, the 50ft perimeter wall that had taken three days to build was mostly erased. The collection of rare blueprints, weapons and crafting materials had all been stolen. Worse still, Jeffery, our triceratops, hadn’t even been killed, he’d been re-tamed by people down the beach. I went to demand answers and all they could say was ‘you started us, you killed us earlier, we were scared you’d get more advanced and destroy us so we hit you first’. They had a point, we had killed them, we probably would have destroyed them eventually. So we rebuild.
Ark has been around on the PC for a while now but in its foray into the Xbox Game Preview program console gamers can finally get a look in at this exciting world of multiplayer survival. If you die you lose everything, building anything takes hours, it doesn’t sound too appealing at first. Once you do establish yourself though, when you survive an attack, that’s when the game gets its hook into you. In Ark you start off with literally nothing, you can scrape together a mining pick and axe Minecraft-style by punching a tree with your fists. You’ll spend your first hour scrounging an existence off berries, running away from basically anything. Within five hours you’ll be hunting smaller dinosaurs, crafting thatch buildings and hoarding everything you can find. Eventually you get rocket launchers, can ride pterodactyls, and can build refrigerators. This is an unusual world, but a dramatic one.
Literally every time we’ve played Ark so far there’s been a story to tell. From being chased by giant ants through a forest to watching in awe as a glowing red raptor managed to destroy itself on our base’s spikes, there’s always something amazing happening. Admittedly the game is still in fairly early days and there are some features that are beyond janky. The server browser is entirely broken and as you store all your progress on a single server, the fact you can’t get back to it if it’s full (there’s no queue system) is more than a little annoying. Playing at peak times I’ve spent upwards of half an hour refreshing the browsing screen to get back into the same. Thankfully that should be fixed this coming week with a new patch. Within the game there’s lots of little oddities like physics not working how you’d expect but it’s definitely playable and often the glitches just add to the fun. The team behind Ark have a good track record of supporting the game on PC so hopefully Microsoft’s certification process won’t get in the way too much and the game will evolve over time alongside the PC version.
Right now, Ark is a huge amount of fun if you can get over the waiting times for servers. Get a group together, it’s not fun alone, set up a tribe and go build something. Just please don’t steal Jeffery.