As the title suggests, ARK is a survival game with dinosaurs. One can easily draw the similarities with Rust and Minecraft which as it is, has been the inspiration for all of this kind of games. The way I have described it to my friends is Rust with dinosaurs, but it is so much more than that and although it is only out as early access on steam, the game has quite an epic scope and only some of it has been realized as of yet.
Everyone who has played survival games would know that frustration and anger are bound to take over after you die and lose all of the goods in your inventory or a few of the dinosaurs you tamed are killed by some carnivorous creature or worse by some other people (cannibals really) that want a piece of the pie. However that only enhances the joy you get when your dino-pet manages to stay alive for more than a couple of hours and you start piling up the stats (more likely health so that it can withstand the killer-jaw of raptors and the mighty Rex).
Taming is a simple yet painful task, firstly you need to drop the dinosaur unconscious by throwing punches, rocks with a slingshot or more efficiently tranquilizer arrows with a bow. After that it takes from 5 minutes (a dino-duck called dodo) up to more than 3 hours for a T-Rex or a Brontosaurus and all the other huge and intimidating creatures of feeding it meat or berries (depending on its diet) and narcoberries (type of berries) which keep the creature unconscious until it’s fully tamed. Furthermore they require your complete attention during that time, because if you leave them alone, as I learned the hard way (taming a Stegosaurus for 1h 30min) raptors or any other carnivorous dinosaur might jump at the opportunity to eat an easy meal of an unconscious animal.
We all know what is better than one dinosaur pet, 2. Nevertheless like most games, it is most fun when some friend/s join you in your efforts to survive the weather, animals, cannibals (PVP) and of course try not forgetting to eat or drink. Your pets will help you survive but you need to use your wits because whatever you say about the game and its features, the AI of your tamed friends is not really what you would call state of the art yet (let’s not forget this is still early access), and the same holds for commanding them and going berserk and aggroing every dinosaur in the neighborhood when you just want them to sit still.
On the negative side of things, there are still a lot of problems with the game as it is early access. The worst of them is the GPU optimization, they have already tackled the issue but it’s still far off from what it should be, since the game is still causing problems and stressing graphic cards all over. Some people are even struggling to get consistent 30+ FPS with great GPUs. Moreover as I already pointed out, the AI needs to be improved, the UI hasn’t been finalized yet and it shows. However those are not deal breakers, they are expected at this early phase, and the game still has a lot to offer beside that, making it more than enjoyable to play.
They might be riding the Jurassic World hype train, but I am not sure there is anyone out there who wouldn’t want to ride a few dinosaurs themselves and the 400k early access sales on steam less than 10 days after release (as of 11/06/2015) tell the story by themselves. One can only gaze at the possibilities and potential of the game and with the fact that it is planned for a full release in June 2016 and with the blood already pumping and the adrenaline high we can only be hopeful that it will fulfill that potential and we will have the game we longed for since we watched Jurassic Park for the first time.