Ark: Survival Ascended – 15 Things to Know About the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 Versions
From a free upgrade to the base game to a paid early access release, Studio Wildcard’s Ark: Survival Ascended has gone through its share of controversies over the months. It’s available now on PC for $44.99 and is planned for Xbox Series X/S later this week after suffering a last-minute delay. The PS5 version is slated for November end, but the real question is: What can console players expect with this release? Let’s break everything you should know.
Early Access Content
While it seems like a meme to have Ark: Survival Evolved start from early access, leave early access and then go back into early access with its remake, there’s a plausible reason. Along with utilizing Unreal Engine 5.2 and dealing with its quirks, Survival Ascended will have a separate content roadmap, including new story content that ties into future DLC, more quality-of-life features, seasonal events and additional creatures. It’s planned to leave early access by the end of 2024, though that could change as time goes on.
After suffering its first delay, Studio Wildcard confirmed that Ark: Survival Ascended would launch with only one map – The Island – available. Survival of the Fittest, the 60-player battle royale mode, is fully integrated into the main game, though it’s listed as “coming soon.” Scorched Earth is coming in December, while Ragnarok and Aberration arrive in Q1 2024 followed by Extinction at a later date, all remade in Unreal Engine. Whether these releases have been affected by recent delays is unknown, but for now, things are on track.
Unreal Engine 5.2 Features
One of the major selling points of the remake is its improved visuals and utilizing technologies like Lumen for dynamic global illumination and Nanite for highly detailed textures for environments, creatures, structures and much more. While Unreal Engine 5.2 is touted as improving performance, the results have been fairly mixed on PC. Of course, we’ll need to wait and see how the console versions pan out.
New Physics Systems
Other additions include Chaos Physics, which offers large-scale real-time destruction. It also removes ragdolls and ensures all creatures have realistic death and knocked-out animations. Fluid and foliage have also been overhauled. Water realistically flows and changes based on the creatures moving through it, and vegetation deforms naturally when stepped on. Foliage also realistically moves aside as you walk through bushes and weeds.
The General Gameplay Loop
So the question arises: What do you do in the game? If you’ve played a survival crafting experience, much of this will look familiar, as you gather resources, build tools, mine ores, chop down wood, construct a base and fashion some better gear and weapons. As you level up, new Engrams (crafting blueprints) become available, expanding your choices further.
What makes Ark so unique is the mix of prehistoric and futuristic technology, with bows and arrows and firearms, and being able to tame and ride dinosaurs. Of course, you also tussle with dinosaurs more often than not and die in the process. Though it’s more fun in multiplayer, there are options for playing solo.
Movement Changes and New Camera Perspective
Some new quality-of-life changes have proven pretty useful, like directional sprinting and walking. Movement speed as an attribute has been removed, but in the World settings under Game Rules, it’s possible to enable leveling for the same if you miss the feeling of zooming around on foot or in the air while flying. There’s also a new third-person camera available, which is further back and thus shows more of the environment around your character. However, you can opt-out if you prefer the old perspective.
The user interface has also seen some significant changes and feels sleeker compared to the original. It also compresses information in unique ways – gathering materials now displays them as icons instead of sentences on the lower left of your screen. The Cosmetics tab is also new and collects skins in one place without having to sort through your regular inventory for them.
New Items and Structures
Among the new items are Cianberries, Verdberries and Magenberries, which can be eaten to sate hunger or used to mix cyan, green and magenta dyes. They also have seeds for growing them in your base. There’s also the Medium Tek Teleporter and Small Tek Teleporter for transporting players and creatures.
Wild Babies and Upcoming Creatures
There are plans to add a new creature for each of the upcoming DLC maps, like the Fasolasuchus on Scorched Earth, the Gigantoraptor on Ragnarok, Yi Ling on Aberration, Shastasaurus on The Center and more. For now, players can discover Wild Babies – baby creature spawns who resemble their parents but can also potentially have a mutation.
New Map and Tracking Systems
The map system has also seen some major overhauls. It now appears as a proper screen with coordinates and zoom options. A ping system is also available for indicating different commands to your allies. You can also track tamed creatures, a welcome change that makes it much easier to find mounts.
The building has seen significant improvements, from improvements to snapping logic to adjusting the height of foundations and more foundation support. When constructing walls and wanting to select options for doors and windows, you can now craft a wall and cycle through those instead of having to make door frames and window frames separately. It’s all smooth and works pretty well.
Of course, there’s also Photo Mode, which pauses your game and allows you to adjust the camera to capture images. There are numerous presets with settings for focal length, depth of field, focus distance, focal plane length, camera effects, motion control, time of day, weather, slow motion and much more. Those who have craved a way to take detailed shots in-game will find a lot to like.
Crossplay and Cross-Platform Modding
When the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions launch, they will support cross-platform play with each other and the Steam version. However, cross-platform modding is a bigger deal, with console players able to access mods that only PC players have had access to. Mod support is available in early access, and there’s also the in-game CurseForge browser for discovering and filtering through them.
Console Servers With Increased Rates
Since console players are joining the game later, there will be new official servers for PvP, PvE and Small Tribes that provide boosted rates, allowing them to catch up with those on PC. The rates on all platforms are planned to synchronize by mid-December, which should be enough time to catch up.
Ark: Survival Evolved Official Servers are Dead
If you’ve seen and heard about everything that Survival Ascended offers and decided to stick with Survival Evolved, that’s fine. Unfortunately, official servers for the original game are no longer available for multiplayer. You can still play on unofficial servers, which carry their own rules and limitations, but if you want official multiplayer, then Survival Ascended is the way to go.