E3 2015 – ARK: Survival Evolved Hands-On Preview: Surviving the Wild

How well do you think you could do in the wild, armed with just your bare hands? ARK: Survival Evolved asks us just this very question in an MMO-style sandbox first-person adventure game. If that sounds like a lot of adjectives, that’s because ARK is a multi-experience game that can be approached in countless ways. We went hands-on with the game while at E3, and have our preview for you below.

Let’s consider this a “day in the life” kind of story. I will run you through my first day in this wild world. Spoiler alert: I don’t survive even a single day.

I started the game with nothing. Much like in Minecraft, my first task was to punch a tree until I gathered all the thatch, wood and other materials that it had to offer. However, unlike Minecraft, the simple act of punching a tree was much more visceral: I could see my arms slamming into the tree, the screen shook, my character grunted in effort, and in the end the tree didn’t simply disappear but toppled over and landed on the ground with a thud, finally fading into non-existence.

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Picking Whom to Poke

As I walked around and started gathering berries and fiber from neighboring bushes, I suddenly heard a strange noise. It sounded mostly animal-like, but had something else in it. This was certainly a call I had never heard before. I turned around and there it was — my first dinosaur encounter. A level 7 triceratops, to be precise. As it grazed around the area, the ground quaked with every single step that the beast took. It never seemed to notice me, and why should it? It’s several times my size, and could easily take me out with a whip of its tail. I was advised by the publisher to not attack the dinosaur. I obliged, and simply watched it saunter past. There were some Dodo birds around the area. I knew my character would be hungry later, so I make quick work of the poor, dumb creatures and collected their meat.

Night was creeping its way in, so I began to gather needed supplies to build a makeshift cabin. I started by chopping down larger trees for their wood, and mined some boulders for stone using a pickaxe I had crafted earlier. Once I gathered enough, I crafted three walls and a wall with a doorframe cut into it. But I couldn’t place anything down. Turns out, I needed to first craft a foundation to lay these pieces onto. Makes sense. By this time, it’s almost pitch-black, and I was sure I didn’t want to meet whatever was hissing in the distance, so I crafted a torch and set about gathering some last-minute supplies to build the foundation.

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Finally, materials gathered, I crafted a foundation. I picked a spot just outside of the forest, a few yards before the beach, and laid it down. I placed my three regular walls and doorframe wall, and had built myself a very small, roofless shack. It would do for the night, I figured. I had nothing to sleep in, but saw that I could make myself a sleeping bag. I needed a few more supplies, so I gathered up my courage and ventured into the pitch-black forest. Everything was going pretty smoothly, until I shined my torchlight onto a curious-looking being. It turned around and shrieked at me while exposing its hood. A few moments later, it spit in my direction, nailing me with some unknown poison. I was not well-versed in combat to this point, so I decided to make like a ninja and disappear.

I sprinted between two large boulders, and ran for a couple of seconds. Just as I thought I was in the clear, I got hit by another gob of venomous spit, and succumb to my wounds. I’m ultimately killed by the Dilo, and I imagine turned into its next meal.

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Surviving Civilization 

Life in ARK is challenging and mysterious. You’re tasked with figuring out why you’ve been placed in this world while doing your best to not get killed. You can tame dinosaurs and eventually ride them, and you can also farm animals to increase your chances of survival. Tribes can be formed between other players, and each world supports up to 70 simultaneous players. I can imagine that with that many people working together, massive cities can be constructed. It’s hard to believe that the game in its current state is still a year out from release, but gamers have a lot of fun to look forward to when ARK: Survival Evolved launches in June 2016.