ARK: Survival Evolved – A Review

Apparently you have to own a game to review it on steam, and since I’ve been playing a friend’s copy of ARK via family sharing, my opinion is meaningless. The best part is that they let you spend time writing your review and then tell you that you can’t review the game when you press “post”. So here’s my review of ARK: Survival Evolved:

Hugely impressive and ambitious, but not finished. ARK has the potential to be a really excellent game, if all the bugs are ever ironed out. At first the bugs will just be annoyances, but once you’ve put some real time into this game they’ll come to rule your experience and you’ll find yourself increasingly frustrated.

Two particularly big ones are dinosaur AI and building structures. You’ll find your tame dinosaurs getting constantly stuck while they’re trying to follow you, to the point that you’ll have to turn around every minute or so to count how many dinosaurs are following you and go back and rescue stragglers. This isn’t such a big deal when you have 3 dinos following you a small distance, but it becomes incredibly tedious when you have 15 and you’re on an epic 20km journey. As for building structures, I hope you like grinding to collect resources, because you’ll spend 20 minutes collecting stuff to craft a piece of a structure, and then the game will refuse to place it where you want it, so you have to demolish something and go out to collect the necessary resources to rebuild in the esoteric order the game wants. Or the game will place it in the wrong place, or in the wrong direction, and you’ll be left with no choice but to demolish the structure and go out and collect more resources to rebuild.

If you search around a bit, you’ll find that both of these issues have been problems for YEARS, and that no fix seems to be forthoming. It seems that the devs are busy building DLC rather than finishing the game. See also the fiasco where the scorched earth DLC was released while the game was still in early access. Apparently the solution to that was to just remove the ‘early access’ tag, to hell with the bugs.

I’d really like to recommend ARK, there really is a fantastic game buried under all those bugs, and perhaps one day these issues will be addressed and I’ll re-visit this review, but as it stands this game is regrettably not worth the AAA price tag attached to it. If you can get it for less than $20 with all the DLC then I’d say it’s probably worth it.

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