ARK: Survival Evolved has come to the PS4 as the ARK: Survivor’s Pack, which also includes the Scorched Earth expansion. Here are our first impressions.
Why first impressions? That has a lot to do with the fact that ARK: Survival Evolved was previously released on Steam and is still on early access there. In other words, the game is not yet content complete and won’t be for another few months. This is true for all versions of the game, which now includes a PS4 version as well. While perfectly playable, it’s an experience that will grow over the next few months. In other words: early access on the PS4, but with the overall quality of a finished game that will receive more content.
Aside from the PC content, the PS4 version also includes exclusive items in the form of a Bionic Giganotosaurus skin and a Manticore armor set, but that’s not why you’ll want to play ARK. As an online survival game that combines cooperative and competitive multiplayer with survival elements like crafting and building, the real stars of ARK are its dinosaurs – and there as many of them.
More Turok than the recent Robinson: The Journey, the action in ARK is often frantic and the dinosaurs play a much more integral role in the gameplay than the ‘oooooh’ factor they provide in Robinson. After waking up stranded on a planet inhabited by dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, you’ll have to tame and use them if you are to survive. In that sense, ARK is nothing like Jurassic Park and a lot like the cult classic animation series Dino-Riders.
It’s not just about dinosaurs and doing battle with them though – survival is the central theme and aside from crafting and building the means to get stronger and be less vulnerable, you’ll also be able to team up with others in tribes – which adds team-based MMO aspects to the game. When you play the Scorched Earth expansion, you’ll encounter that the elements become one of your worst enemies as well. As the title suggests, you’ll be dealing with harsh conditions where water is a scarce commodity – think Mad Max meets Jurassic Park.
Playing ARK on a Playstation 4 is somewhat of an odd experience. Most console titles, especially first person titles, are quite directed in their approach – but ARK doesn’t have much in terms of a campaign or cinematic cutscenes. This is refreshing, and makes ARK a very different choice for PS4 owners.
It will be interesting to see how well the game does in these next few months, considering the fact that players are not getting the “1.0” launch version until spring. Will people wait, or are they eager to discover what ARK can offer them. This has been our biggest question, since the early access concept has been accepted in the PC community for a long time but is relatively new to console owners. However, if you decide to take the plunge, then there’s something new and exciting waiting for you here as long as you can deal with the PC origins of the game. Aside from the ‘early access’ launch, ARK’s user interface is also a bit intricate than what most console users are familiar with – unless you’re already a fan of RPG/survival games.