Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ark: Survival Evolved (PS4 Impresions)

Before I say anything I need to say this ... 'Ark: Survival Evolved' is still very much a work in progress. It will not be finished until Spring 2017, and even after that I imagine the developer will continue supporting the game with patches, and updates. To date, the game has received many such updates including new crafting items, new environments/servers, and new beasts of burden (or prehistoric creatures). As far as the state of the game goes I've played both the Xbox One launch release of the game, and this newer PS4 port of the same release. In both instances I was met with initial confusion, a lack of control functionality comprehension, and a lack of mechanics comprehension. I did, however understand it was a first-person survival game at heart, and that it had "Minecraftian" elements embedded in the game's UI (User Interface), but with no tutorial or reference guide I was unable to grasp what it is I needed to do in order to not die or even to bring up the menus. I also realized in my aggravation that the game harbored RPG, and online competitive features that worked together in a server only presentation. Since it had been so long from the time of my former Xbox One playthrough though I met up with the same frustrating factors, and unfortunately that frustration ran off about 18 viewers from my Twitch stream. Nobody likes seeing some virtual caveman named "BeezleBob" wandering aimlessly around in a dark island jungle for 30 minutes straight with nothing to visibly see. Nor do they like hearing me rant and rave about a lack of explanation as I failed continuously to see the controller diagram available right in front of my eyes within the "OPTIONS" menu. Seriously Brad? ...

To sum it all up I'll say what I said on Twitch. Ark desperately needs a reference guide, or tutorial of some sort for beginners, especially those who do not notice the controller diagram like I failed to do. Even if it is only to tell the gamer that a controller diagram is available in the "OPTIONS" menu ... Despite my initial misunderstanding I was eventually able to feel out the controls, and make sense of things without taking a proper look at the controller diagram. Once I figured things out the game kind of felt more inviting, and I was able to stay alive longer as a result. The fact that learned crafting skills, and improved stats stay available even after a death also helped in my characters strengthening ability to survive against his insurmountable odds. If you don't count my immediate deaths by the several high level beasties, that is. For those of you who are unaware the key goal in Ark is to stay alive long enough to craft the things you need to sustain life for a long term scenario. This includes the hunting and gathering of food, the preparing of said food, the gathering of crafting materials, the domesticating of animals, and the establishing of a home base for returning to when you join back into a server. There's also a clan element for further capitalizing on environmental offerings. Surviving long enough to establish such a sustainable life though requires that you play on a server of the appropriate difficulty, and that you don't get spawned into a lobby where competing gamers are out for blood, or where deadly dinos don't have it in for you from the start.

In my stream, which lasted a little over a minute shy of being two hours I was blinded by rage, and outright frustrated to the point that the game felt like it was not fun. In my initial impressions I saw flaws, and even stated to my viewers that the game wasn't worth the $50 price just yet. I even went so far as to say the game seemed to me like it would be better suited as a free-to-play experience. Getting closer to the end of the stream, and being calmed down by viewer interaction though I began to warm up to the game despite what I had repeated so often throughout the stream. When all was said, and done my character, "BeezleBob" was doing alright for himself. I was able to get him to level 7 with some clothes, plenty of berries, and tools to help him brave the easy difficulty world that he had awoken to. Looking back on my struggles, and my eventual understanding I think I still stand with a few things I said regardless of the roller coaster ride of emotions, and impressions. I think a tutorial, or reference guide would be good, and I still feel that the game is not quite ready for the $50+ price tag it currently has. The game definitely needs some work even if it is only slightly so, and in regards to functionality explanation. The fact that it is still a work in progress with months of fine tuning ahead makes me feel that it warrants a lower adoption price as well. The game, for what it's worth is not bad (graphics are good, environmental effects cool, AI lifelike ...), and if you fancy a truer survival style game with "Minecraftian" elements you might actually like what "Ark: Survival Evolved" turns out to be when Spring 2017 rolls around. Until then I'll close in saying 'Ark: Survival Evolved' on the PS4 is a decent, but not totally polished experience that has potential. Adopt it early at your own discretion.

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