Ark: Survival Evolved Review

I have been playing this game on and off for the past like four weeks now and I still don’t really get it. When it was first released on Steam people went bonkers over the game. Everyone was playing it, big Twitch streamers, big Youtubers like FrankieonPC, JackFrags and many countless others. I wanted to play the game since the possibilities seemed to be pretty much endless. I was completely sold on its premise, ideas, gameplay, everything. A year and a half later everything changed.

December 2016 and the game was out on PS4 finally I could play the amazing game I had been fantasizing for more than a year. I was going to buy it, but I managed to get a promo code, so my excitement was through the roof. What a disappointment it was. The game is really bad, like atrociously bad from the presentation, UI, gameplay and execution, everything is utter rubbish. But I didn’t want to say all this immediately, that’s why I waited this long to put out a review. I painfully waited for the updates, one after another.

The 1.0 version sucked, the server connection sucked, the lag atrocious. 1.1 kinda fixed it, 1.2 ruined it again, 1.3 kinda fixed… see where I am going with this? It’s 1.5 now and the game, connection wise, seems good. However everything else still sucks and I am having a hard time know where to begin.

Lore? I don’t know and simply don’t care. Your character just wakes up, moves his/her head around, checks the strange rhomboid rock thing embedded in his/her forearm and that’s it, you have to survive. There are no tutorials whatsoever, no hints, absolutely nothing. Now since I have played other and much much better survival games, the first thing I did was punch a couple of fucking trees and I… died. What? Waited for the respawn, punched some trees, collected some rocks and berries while frenetically pushing every button on the controller and then it revealed itself, the atrocious and most non-user-friendly interface in a console game I had ever seen.

Nothing made sense and everything was super counter intuitive using a controller. Item management sucks, item description is small and unreadable from 1-2 meters and equipping stuff like armor or weapons is a total chore. The same can be said about the HUD elements which were hard to see and understand. Large ugly colored text spams all over the screen notifying you for random stuff like getting wood, berries, stones and whatnot, but it also notified you that you are cold or hot or tired or poisoned or whatever. Everything felt rushed and extremely unpolished and you kinda get this idea that the game is still in very early development and not a 50$+ game.

The lack of polish continues to the rest of the presentation as the frame rate was and still is extremely bad as it constantly dips, many times at one digit, texture pop-in still happens at all times and weird, annoying and awful graphical glitches appear everywhere.

Only problems and I have still to talk about gameplay, but I guess you know where this one is going too. Now survival games are supposed to be hard since well, you have to survive. When this whole array of mechanics is done right, you get excellent games like Minecraft or DayZ etc. So I naturally expected to find a steep difficulty curve in Ark, but instead of a curve, I found it to be more like a straight up vertical line.

Everything is out to get you, no matter where you spawn. Are you hot? Dead. Are you cold? Dead. Hungry? Dead. Thirsty? Dead. Broke a bone for some reason? Super dead. Find another solo player? 99% dead. Find a group of players? Over 9000% dead. Collecting rocks or whatever? A terror bird, a sabercat, a raptor, a big ass scorpion, a T-Rex, a giant rock golem, pretty much anything that looks even remotely menacing will kill you.

To make things even more difficult there’s the lag that makes hitting anything or anyone extremely hard. And once you are dead, you have a limited time to find you body and collect your stuff, good luck with that. You have a map, but that’s pretty useless and navigating by landmarks is hard due to the shitty render distances and pop-ins/outs.

Doing stuff earns you experience and after you level up, you get to allocate points to improve your stats. You also unlock more engrams or stuff you are able to craft, but if something happens and the server crashes or kicks you out, that’s it for that character. I haven’t been able to play as any of the characters I created. Having to start from scratch on the same server sucks big time.

Now time for some real talk. I have not seen all Ark: Survival Evolved has to offer, in fact, I really haven’t seen anything of the cool stuff of Ark. While I rode a T-Rex and a spiked turtle and bashed on some war drums, I have not used a gun, flew around on a pterodactyl, made a fortified base, set up an irrigation system pipes and all, got a supply drop, successfully tamed a beast, skydived, be part of a large tribe, and I haven’t experienced being a fucking power ranger look alike. I haven’t really seen the top of the iceberg let alone all of it in its entirety.

I’d like to do that, see and do all of the cool stuff without the myriad of annoying bullshit the game normally throws at you. And it is that annoying bullshit that keeps me from launching and playing the game. At it current state, the game is unplayable for me and I feel bad for everyone that paid full price to get it. Ark: Survival Evolved is extremely far from an acceptable console experience let alone an enjoyable one. I cannot recommend this game to anyone. Thanks for reading!

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