Welcome to the Ark. If your computer can run it and you can handle set backs, it's some of the best gaming to be had right now.
Welcome to the Ark. If your computer can run it and you can handle set backs, it's some of the best gaming to be had right now.

Ark: You get to punch dinosaurs in the face

IMAGINE if, in the original Jurassic Park, the first thing Sam Neill's character did upon seeing a dinosaur was to punch it unconscious.

Welcome to Ark.

This isn't far from what you can expect from the game. While building our foothold on the game's enormous, dinosaur-filled island on launch day, my tribe and I found ourselves cornering a parasaurolophus while holding nothing but slingshots.

The idea was that we would knock it out and then force feed it berries until it loved us (this is how one tames the savage beast). Unfortunately, our quarry knocked one of us down and fled. Somehow I was able to chase it, overtake it, and use my bare fists to punch the 2.5-tonne blighter's lights out.

These dilophosauruses are coming to kill us.
These dilophosauruses are coming to kill us.

Why? Ark is a survival game set on a 36sq km island where you wake up naked and alone and are forced to scrounge, craft, and fight until you can meet up with friends or fellow survivors and build a safe place using your wits, the resources around you, and the slave labour of dinosaurs you've pounded into submission.

You'll want to have friends with you when playing Ark. Get a bunch of you together and log into the same server. When you create your character, you'll be asked where you want to spawn - make sure you choose the same place as your friends. We used Skype, but Steam's voice chat works as well.

This is where the first challenge hits. Finding your friends is a nightmare, even if you've all woken up in roughly the same area. The map is enormous and you've got none of the immersion-breaking gadgetry like mini-maps to tell you where you are. Talk to your friends, communicate in terms of landmarks and stay close to the shoreline.

Eventually, you'll find each other, and then you will die.

How's the serenity?
How's the serenity?

This is annoying, true, but you'll respawn in some random location near where you started. Like with any survival game, starving, falling, fighting and being eaten are real possibilities. You'll lose everything you were carrying and face the fun prospect of returning to the scene in the hopes of finding your body and everything it carried.

The only way to make sure you will always be near your friends is to craft a bed. You'll always respawn there assuming another group of survivors hasn't ransacked and razed your home.

Where Ark beats the competition is in the dinosaurs. People of my generation need to be reminded humans never actually walked next to the terrible lizards.

Being early access, Ark is clearly broken graphically. We've had at least two funerals for cherished dino-pets who fell through the ground.

After a week of playing, this game has astounded us with how quickly it has improved and just how much deep content there is. 

Just make sure you're playing as a team.


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