As a man or woman stranded naked, freezing and starving on the shores of a mysterious island called ARK, you must hunt, harvest resources, craft items, grow crops, research technologies, and build shelters to withstand the elements. Use your cunning and resources to kill or tame & breed the leviathan dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the land, and team up with or prey on hundreds of other players to survive, dominate… and escape!
The following features are in the game on its Day-1 Early Access release. We have many more aspects and refinements planned for the long-term development roadmap, and here’s what you get to experience right now in ARK:
Ok. I’ve put off writing a review for as long as possible in the vain hope that things would improve with this game. However, it is abundantly clear that the developers are if anything making a bigger and bigger mess of what started out as a great idea, that in spite of their lack of professional standards, customer support and communication skills, Wildcards business unit (if they have one) have failed to force the «creative» side of Wildcard to take their fingers off the trigger and listen to some common sense and that above all else Wildcard really doesn’t listen to their customers, despite some virtue signalling from the companys appointed bubble-headed, blue haired moron to create an illusion to the contrary.»Early access» be damned: these are people taking not insignificant amounts of money in PAYMENT for a product (AND for additional content!) that should by definition of «early access» be IMPROVING as time goes by, but it simply is not. The company has exposed its developers for the shoddy simpletons they really are. The only possible conclusion is that Wildcard are a somewhat fly by night group of amateurs, determined to «take the money and run», with little or no intention of sticking it out for the long haul.As an I.T. professional of 20+ years (most of which spent as a lead architect) and a small unofficial server owner with ~20-25 active players, I can honestly say that it is rare for me to experience first hand, a group of individuals profiting so much for such sub-par work. In any other industry, they would be fired; it is that simple. Opinions are like a-holes: everyone has one, very few are worth listening to ;)However the facts are incontrovertible:1) Complete and I mean, complete lack of presence, support and interaction by wildcard devs, admins or even support workers on their OWN OFFICIAL SERVERS. Having played both official and unofficial (and now running my own) I can honestly say that Wildcards approach is a bad joke. Myself and my admins give a lot of support (usually in terms of workarounds for Wildcards stupidity, I might add) and we all work full time. Wildcard doesn’t even try. Take a look at their bug reporting mechanisms FFS. During my career, I’ve encountered small (less than 30 people) organisations that do far better with far fewer resources and much higher numbers of customers. As an organisation, Wildcard is appalling2) Updates are Frequent, but almost always cause more issues than they solve, with most updates being aesthetic, superfluous nonsense. Updates ALWAYS result in the developers breaking more things usually critical game mechanics than they fix, resulting in server code that looks like the product of an incestuous relationship between Frankensteins monster and an evil goat to any professional worth a damn. The patch notes published by wildcards answer to Q A in the guise of a blue haired buffoon, are also a joke with garbled or more frequently no explanations for the entries, spelling errors on items as important as server config commands important items left out completely (presumably to facilitate them sneaking in unpopular changes, prefering their paying customers to find out changes for themselves…) 3) Game Mechanics are universally awful. This is I am now convinced the result of a severe lack of problem solving talent within Wildcard. Every time they encounter something some way that the players are CHOOSING to play the game that Wildcard perceives as problematic, rather than taking stock and looking at various SENSIBLE solutions, they almost always pick the simplest, most frustrating and game-breaking approach without considering the long term ramifications. This fact has been demonstrated over and over and has been a constant source of facepalming amongst those of us with any common sense; it really is like letting a monkey loose in the plantation.4) The game is supposed to be and was marketed as a sandbox type, persistent world yet the developers are more and more steering the players towards a narrower and narrower gaming experience where building elaborate boats, playing solo and generally doing their own thing is being eroded. It was never their place to tell people how to spend their time and that they think otherwise suggests that someone in Wildcard has gotten a little big for their boots. When you fail to understand that ALL you have to do is provide a vehicle for people to have fun and instead start thinking that it is your place to persuade, cajole or hand hold players into playing a certain way, you’ve lost the plot.5) Ark is so poorly optimised, even those of us with high end systems see quite abysmal performance, relatively speaking. To put this into context, to say that the hardware on which I run our unofficial server is overkill would be an understatement. However, the server still locks up freezes on a frequent basis in the same way that official servers do. I see a fraction of the FPS that I see on other, more demanding AAA games. My workstation and server hardware configuration have been analysed over and over. But in the end, examination of the server code reveals and by wildcards own admission that the game needs a lot of work.However….a year on, we’re still seeing the same «A bit further out…» message in relation to optimisation. If you’re in any doubt whatsoever that it will ever happen, you’re right to think that way. After all, an organisation that puts the cart before the horse and thinks that making something look pretty should be a higher priority than making it POSSIBLE for people to play it properly in the first place may have dipped too far into the special educational needs inclusive recruitment barrel. Scraping even.6) Abject failure by Wildcard to understand or even identify its player base, prefering instead to rely on some very misleading statistics. For example: quite a high percentage of players actually build elaborate boats (ships even) based off of the standard raft. Yet Wildcard saw that there was a high number of abandoned rafts on coastlines and elected to handle that by a) introducing a raft killer specifically to automatically handle the destruction of said rafts b) repeatedly «accidentally» crippling boat building by disabling players being able to extend rafts. This in a game where head mounted laser cannons (and even cannons) are touted as «progress» while in the real world we as a species had multihull boats for a millenia before the iron age! And yes, I know this is not supposed to be the real world, but it smacks of monumentally thick people at the helm when you feel raft building is an issue, fail to offer anything other than a wooden raft or a motorboat despite sea being more than 30% of the game map and mastery of it being essential for progression…Another example is the absolute failure by Wildcard to realise just how many of their players PREFER to play solo. Crippling those players through their engrams is it has to be said rather foolish.7) I always felt bad for the poor Barstewards that play on console. Wildcard really doesn’t show them much love. It’s almost as if they are an afterthought, with patches occurring infrequently, late or not at all and with a number of features missing completely from their experience. I don’t play console myself but wildcards treatment of our console brothers is pretty appalling.If you are considering buying this game, my advice to you would be: don’t. It may be the case that Wildcard eventually pulls its collective head out of the horses behind, but in reality that is unlikely to happen. Whatever good idea this game was, has been swallowed up by repeated failures to listen to the customer, failures to establish even rudimentary support and infrastructure and a complete unwillingness to backtrack on its mistakes, fix them properly and learn from the experience. Such an organisation has no future, long term.