Ark: Survival Evolved – a new breed of survival game – with dinosaurs. Not just rampaging bloodthirsty beasts that you simply beat to death (or get eaten by). Sure, you can kill – or at least try to kill – every dinosaur that crosses your path – but that’s not what makes this game stand out. You can tame the dinosaurs – and, depending on their size, you can fit them with a saddle and ride them.
At the moment, Ark: Survival Evolved is still in early access – so there’s still a few issues – but the devs are awesome and seem to work on issues as soon as they are reported. These guys are also adding stacks of new features on a regular basis, so the game is still evolving.
To help you out, we’ve come up with a list of top tips to help you succeed, based on many, many hours of gameplay, trial and error (lots of errors), and our overall experience with the game as it stands so far!
1. Use Local Mode
Leaping onto the main game servers is all well and good – but it’s fraught with danger, and can be a frustrating experience if you’re new to the game. There’s no beginner protection, and if you really don’t have a good idea of what you’re doing, you’ll die repeatedly, respawn in a random location, and have to start from scratch each time, because when you respawn, you lose everything in your inventory and anything you had equipped, including your clothes. If you happen to respawn in another player’s or tribe’s territory, there’s a good chance they’ll hack you to pieces and you’ll die again. So, until you find your feet, we recommend starting in local mode. You can even host your own game and invite friends.
Playing local allows you to manipulate the game settings, including boosting the number of dinosaurs, altering the length of day time/night time, and the amount of damage you deliver. We prefer to set the number of dinos high, so we can always find plenty of dinos, although this creates its own issues, particularly if you’re still at a low level. In local mode, there’s just you and the dinos, so it gives you the chance to really get stuck in and get a feel for the game and what strategies and techniques work best for you.
If you want to play with your friends, you can locally host a map, too. This gives you more of the social experience while avoiding savage strangers. Although, you can still go all savage on your friends and compete in tribes for dominion over the map.
2. Harvest. A Lot
Harvesting is crucial. You need to harvest as many resources as possible to excel in Ark. There’s plenty of different resources available, and eventually, you’ll need them all. They are the building blocks for your craftables, or engrams. When you spawn (or respawn), you’ll have nothing apart from your bare hands, so you need to gather some stone, thatch, and fiber asap to build yourself a pick. Beware – pummeling trees to get wood and thatch does have a certain barbaric appeal – and is necessary to begin with – but it lowers your health, and you can actually kill yourself hitting trees if you’re too enthusiastic. So, as soon as you can, build your pick, then use that to hit stuff with. Harvest, harvest, harvest!
3. Pick Up Poop!
Yep, that’s right! In Ark, you poop! So do the dinos. Yes, it’s amusing to throw it at your friends, at enemies, at dinos – but its real value is as fertilizer for crops later in the game, so make sure you gather at least some of the poop you come across!
4. Build a Campfire and a Torch
You start the game with a few engrams (crafting plans), including a campfire and a torch. Build these as soon as you can. You need to stay warm at night, so a campfire is perfect. It also obviously provides light. Find a suitable place, a little tucked away to avoid carnivorous dinosaurs, and place your fire. Fill it with fuel, light it, and bingo! You’ve got heat and light. A torch allows you to move around in the dark easily and provides a little warmth. To make the most of your nighttime, light the equip your torch and run around collecting berries, stone, and fiber.
5. Choose Your Base Carefully
Choosing your base location carefully is essential to success. If you’re playing on local mode, you only have to worry about the dinosaurs, but if you’re playing against friends in host mode or on the open servers, you have to worry about all the other players, too. Regardless of which mode you’re playing, the principles are the same – try to choose a defensible position – like up against a cliff face, or tucked into a recess. Also, use your common sense, if the area is swamped with predators, move somewhere else to build your base. On the open servers, many tribes don’t appreciate strangers setting up camp within their territory, so make sure there’s not a tribe base near you. Or, if you really, really want to build a base, ask a member of the tribe, or even as the tribe if they’ll accept you as a member.
6. Craft Some Clothes
You start pretty much naked, but somehow your underwear survives. However, it doesn’t offer any protection, other than for your modesty, so you should gather fiber and craft cloth shirt, pants, boots, hat, and gloves as soon as possible. While these items don’t really give you any protection against marauding dinosaurs, they’ll stop you overheating or getting hypothermia as quickly, so they’re definitely worthwhile.
7. Pick Your Engrams With Care
Each time you level up, you receive engram points. Engrams are your crafting blueprints, and encompass everything from cooking items and clothing to weapons and structures. Choose which ones to unlock with care. Consider what is most useful to you, rather than just choosing “cool” items right off the bat. Painted signs and standing torches look great, but they’re not as vital as building foundations. Likewise, there’s not much point in crafting a t-rex saddle if you’re nowhere near ready to tame a bloodthirsty t-rex!
8. Build a Bed ASAP
Once you’ve got at least a building foundation, build yourself a bed! If you have placed a bed when you die, you can choose to respawn right back at the bed, so it’s a smart move, as randomly respawning all over the map is frustrating, to say the least.
9. Craft a Spear
Crafting a spear is a sure fire way to have fun killing dinosaurs. It’s more resilient and more accurate than either the hatchet or the pick. If you can, make several, as they do break, and you don’t want to be doing battle with a dino without a decent weapon! Spears are for killing rather than knocking out, but they are the best weapons at your disposal early in the game. You can then kill dinos and harvest hide to make yourself a slingshot, to knock out the dinos and tame them. Hide is also a necessity for better clothing, better weapons, and a range of other engrams. So build a spear and get killing!
10. Pick Dinosaurs Suited to Your Weapons and Skill Level
This should be obvious – but we’ve seen an awful lot of low-level players – levels 1 to 5, for examples, trying to tackle level 50+ dinosaurs with nothing more than a hatchet. That’s really not the smartest move, and is one of the fastest ways to die! So, make sure you check the level of the beast before you attack it, and only go in for the kill if it’s of a similar level to yourself.
11. Craft a Slingshot
Early in the game, the slingshot is the best chance you have of knocking out a creature, rather than killing it. It does require some hide, though, so you’ll have to kill a few dinosaurs before you can use it. Don’t forget to stock up on plenty of rocks to use with it, too, otherwise the dino you’re trying to tame will run away or come and kill you while you’re gathering extra stone.
12. Tame When Possible
Killing dinos in Ark: Survival Evolved is great fun for lots of players, and a necessity for all, but, when possible, tame them. If you don’t need the hide or the meat and the dinosaurs are happily minding their own business, knock them out and tame them, rather than hacking them to death. Why? Because you can USE them! Plus, you can give them awesome names. Who doesn’t want a whole clan of dinos named after their favorite Harry Potter characters?!? Or an army of bloodthirsty saber-tooth tigers (or dodos) named after the direwolves from Game of Thrones?!?
13. Make Use of Your Dinosaurs
There’s no doubt about it, tame dinos are incredibly useful. You can ride them and make use of their inventory to store stuff. You can use them as an army – even the more docile ones. Take your dino army and kill other dinos, or attack other tribes and players with your dinosaur horde. Who doesn’t want to ride a dino into battle at the head of a screaming, battle-crazed horde of other dinosaurs?!?
14. Use Storage Boxes
Having to stop and drop stuff while harvesting is plain annoying. Largely because you know that, although you need other items right now, in 15 minutes, you’ll need the stuff you’re having to drop. So, build storage boxes in strategic locations – like at your base – and empty as much stuff into it as you can, so that you’re free to load back up while harvesting and, when you die, you won’t lose everything you’ve built. It’ll be right there waiting for you.
15. Grow Your Own
Certain dinos like certain berries. Some berries are more nutritious than others. Some berries provide more health and others are better for dying armor. So, use the seed plots and grow whichever berries you find yourself most frequently in need of. If you grow a bunch of them at your base location, you’ll significantly cut down foraging time.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with techniques, strategies, recipes, engrams, taming new dinosaur species, etc. It’s part of the fun that is Ark: Survival Evolved. If you don’t experiment and try new things, the game will quickly become repetitive, and you’ll make very little progress. So go on, live dangerously!
Explore the map. Once you’ve gained a few levels, increase the distance you travel from your base. You’ll discover new things to harvest and new dinos. If you want to travel long distances, build multiple bases, complete with beds, so you’re never too far from safety. Once you’re ready to tackle something more substantial than dinos, dodos, and parasaurs, be sure to head inland to the grassy plains, as this is where you’ll find more of the bigger species and large carnivorous dinosaurs that are just spoiling for a good fight! Jungle biomes are teaming with life. It’s here you’ll find the smallest, fastest creatures on Ark. The beaches are home to a nice mix of critters of varying size, including the slower, more ponderous beasts, many of which are herbivores, so won’t bother you unless you attack them – or steal their eggs. Beware though, there’s still plenty of predators at the beach, including the pesky dinos that temporarily blind you when they attack. And, if you’re brave enough to venture into the water, there’s a fair chance you’ll get ripped to pieces by a megalodon, a pack of piranhas, or something equally as nasty!