The ARK franchise has garnered a massive following over the years, with players navigating the perilous landscapes filled with prehistoric creatures and battling the elements. While ARK Survival Evolved has been the flagship title for quite some time, the community now has two new/upcoming games to get excited about: Ark Survival Ascended and ARK 2. These are set to chart the course for the franchise’s future, offering fresh experiences for players. But how do they compare, and what should you play?
Ark Survival Ascended: The Remake
ARK Survival Ascended has been met with skepticism by longtime fans. It’s a remake of the original game, ARK Survival Evolved, but with several improvements. This version is the developers’ attempt to address long-standing issues that have plagued the original game, including bugs, design problems, and engine limitations.
Many players had high hopes for Ascended in the build-up to its launch, particularly regarding the improvements it brings to the table:
- Enhanced Performance: Ascended utilizes Unreal Engine 5, promising better performance, smoother gameplay, and potentially fewer crashes. Players are eagerly waiting to see if the game lives up to these expectations.
- Visual Overhaul: The graphics overhaul in Ascended is expected to provide a more visually stunning and immersive experience. Screenshots and teasers have showcased impressive visuals, raising players’ expectations.
- Photo Mode: Extensive creative control for the artistic ARK players, incorporating advanced camera functions such as focal length adjustment, depth of field, and tracking capabilities. This addition enables ASA players to effortlessly craft stunning movies and screenshots.
- Bug Fixes: One of the primary reasons for the excitement around Ascended is the hope that it will finally address and fix long-standing bugs and issues from Evolved, resulting in a more polished and stable gameplay experience.
- Tracking System: Automatically tracks dinosaurs during taming, showing progress and consciousness on their waypoints. Players can now mark dinosaurs as favorites, add Points of Interest (POIs) for their locations on the map, and access detailed information about each tracked dinosaur.
- Stability: Players are hopeful that Ascended will be a more stable version of the game, which should lead to a more enjoyable and less frustrating gaming experience.
- New Dinos: There is some new content for players to look forward to, including five new dinos. You can read more about them here.
Now, whether it’s delivered on those promises is up for debate. While on the one hand, the visual upgrades so far seem really solid, there are numerous reports of server instability. For a product that the devs have been working on for so long, it seems like a major misstep to have launched it without ironing out bugs and server issues. In time, we’re sure that these will be solved, but it does leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of seasoned players who have paid for the upgrade. Update: Some of these issues are now fixed following a patch, with more updates on the way soon.
It also costs over $40, which seems steep for a remaster. The game is only currently available on Steam, with a console launch expected a month later in November.
In contrast to Ascended, ARK 2 is not a remake but a brand-new installment in the franchise. It aims to provide players with a fresh perspective on the ARK universe, departing from the classic Survival Evolved gameplay.
The game was originally slated for a 2022 launch but has since been delayed to 2024. It’s set to feature “Souls-like melee combat” and introduce innovative gameplay elements. ARK 2 will launch exclusively for Xbox Series X, with the possibility of releasing on other platforms, such as PS5, once the exclusivity period ends. The game’s story takes place on an unknown alien planet after the events of the Genesis: Part 2 DLC for ARK: Survival Evolved.
Vin Diesel is an executive producer for ARK 2 and also stars as the hero character, Santiago. The game’s development has moved to Unreal Engine 5, promising stunning visuals. While specific gameplay footage is yet to be revealed, the game is expected to offer significant changes, including Souls-like combat, primitive weapons, and various character traversal mechanics. Additionally, ARK 2 will support mods and user-generated content across PC and Xbox platforms.
Here are some of the key gameplay features that have ARK players most excited:
- Divergent Gameplay: ARK 2 is rumored to feature “souls-like” combat and a more primitive setting, offering a distinctive play style. Players are intrigued by the idea of a more action-oriented experience.
- Human NPCs: The introduction of human NPCs into the game is a unique feature, as players are accustomed to battling dinosaurs and other creatures. This new element adds a layer of complexity and unpredictability.
- Low-Tech Focus: The absence of Tek-tier technology in ARK 2 signifies a significant shift. Players are curious to explore a world with different technology levels, potentially emphasizing survival skills over advanced gadgets.
- Game Pass Inclusion: ARK 2 is rumored to be available on Game Pass, making it more accessible to a broader audience. Players may not need to purchase the game, which is an attractive proposition.
Should You Wait For ARK 2?
While both ASA and ARK 2 belong to the same franchise, they’re obviously designed to fill very different mandates. Ascended builds upon the success of Evolved by addressing its shortcomings and enhancing performance and visuals. It appeals to players who want an improved version of the classic gameplay they love. ARK 2, meanwhile, ventures into uncharted territory with a different gameplay style, human NPCs, and a lower-tech setting. It targets players seeking a fresh take on the Ark universe.
Now, as for whether you should dive in right away with Ascended or wait until the full sequel rather depends on your experience with ARK already. If you’re a complete newcomer, we’d probably recommend giving Ascended a go (read our beginner tpis & tricks). It’s the original game with a fresh set of paint, so it makes for a great starting point. For ARK veterans, though, is it really worth spending $40+ on a remaster? Probably not. There’s just not enough new content to justify the price, and you could simply wait until the full sequel next year.
Hopefully, this article has provided a decent breakdown of each game and what to expect. Stay tuned to WGD as we delve into more ARK content moving forward.