ARK: Survival Evolved (PlayStation 4) Review

By Thom Compton 15.09.2017

Review for ARK: Survival Evolved on PlayStation 4

A lone player, probably not all too familiar with the game at hand, types into chat that they need help. This simple distress beacon is met with opposition, another player accusing them of being on the wrong server, and to try a different one. The poor gamer responds that they're just trying to build some basic things, but other players keep killing them. Another player responds, with a simple yet powerful response. That's the ARK experience, they say. These four words perfectly sum up ARK: Survival Evolved… for better or worse.

ARK: Survival Evolved is, if the name wasn't a giveaway, a survival title. You are dropped onto a map with nothing to your name, and must quickly gather supplies to stay alive. It's at this point that ARK chooses to take the training wheels off, if they were ever properly on to begin with. Where many products of this kind take the idea of hand holding to absurd, almost offensive lengths, ARK doesn't care to try this much at all. While this offers basic notifications like "You're hot, better find a place to cool off," to paraphrase one such notification, it doesn't bother telling you exactly how to do that.

Actually, this doesn't even bother hinting at it - instead, it just lets it sit on screen, almost judging you for being incapable of figuring out something that you shouldn't really know at this point. This a common thread throughout this odyssey that will leave a lot of players desperately pawing for salvation. ARK has no tutorial at all, and while it holds true to the standards of similar survival games, it has a lot of things going on that should be explained better than with a paltry "Survival Guide" on the main menu.

Screenshot for ARK: Survival Evolved on PlayStation 4

There are essentially two ways to play: online or alone. Now, playing online doesn't mean a tribe has to be joined, but these are often too willing to attack the player, or even lead them to their death. One could join a tribe, and try to help out the leader, only to end up fish food next to them. It's PvP at its finest, and the unbridled chaos of it all is kind of nice when you consider this is a harsh world. It doesn't stop the early hours of PvP from being irritating, but once a footing is found, ARK manages to be moderately fun to play with other people. Just remember, this is dog-eat-dog world, and feelings are best left at the door. Furthermore, PvE highlights other issues, which is that there is zero room for failure here.

Mere seconds after spawning, one might find themselves getting one-shot by some ridiculous dinosaur trained to kill on site. They spawn again, after a moderately annoying wait time, and they are picked off again by a nearby dino who decided this was his beach and no humans allowed. It's hard to even try to grasp the mechanics when most of the adventure time is spent getting killed over and over again. What's more annoying are status effects, like poison, for instance. The player will take damage, the screen vibrating until they eventually die a blurring, red death.

Screenshot for ARK: Survival Evolved on PlayStation 4

There are no instructions, even after one comb through the menus, like someone who can only speak English trying to find the cure for their ailment in an all-French document. Fear not though, because there is single player, which is arguably the most user-friendly of the lot - Bear in mind, though, user-friendly isn't a plus or negative, just a fact. The player is met with a list of modifications they can implement, including turning any sort of difficulty off and making the beasts prowling the lands act as though they are watching a tennis match. Plus, solo-play can essentially act as a tutorial…

While hardcores might scoff, those who can't grasp the mechanics would do well to spend some time here and figure out the basics of crafting, levelling, and taming. There's even something of a story tucked away here that's kind of fun, though it's really not going to change one's mind on the experience as a whole either way. Even so, single player is a great place to get ones bearing and figure out the world, and being able to gradually level a character and bring the difficulty up as you go is kind of nice.

Screenshot for ARK: Survival Evolved on PlayStation 4

From a technical standpoint, ARK: Survival Evolved has some issues here and there. A lone stegosaurus falls from the sky, making it evident how the game spawns animals into the environment; texture popping is also an occasional issue, which, while not entirely frustrating, is annoying enough to be mentionable; yet, for the most part, this handles itself very well. All in all, ARK is an enjoyable experience once one figures everything out, but it's only going to be enjoyable for those who can appreciate what it's trying to do.

Taming creatures can be extremely enjoyable, and building or joining a tribe can be exciting. The aforementioned story is there for those who want to attempt to traverse it. While the player may find themselves using spears and their fists early on, eventually they get more and more advanced weapons. Truth be told, this has a lot to offer for those who finally figure it out, though it all depends how it's played. Hours of grinding can definitely pay off, but is it fun? It depends on who's playing. There's no shame in putting it down and saying this simply isn't your cup of tea, and compared to other survival titles, this one's a tough one to recommend to a first time participant of the genre. For those looking for a truly unforgiving world though, there's something to be said about it.

Screenshot for ARK: Survival Evolved on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


To enjoy ARK: Survival Evolved you're going to have to earn it, and that's a tough sell in this day and age. For those who are willing to sweat over their controller to make even the smallest amount of headway, this is a title you should definitely give a chance. However, if the idea of suffering for a while to gain any real traction sounds horrible, steer clear. Those who survive this are going to prove they deserve to - and that's the ARK experience.


Studio Wildcard


Studio Wildcard





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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