Just announced for XBOX ONE, ARK: Survival Evolved (www.playark.com) builds on the survival genre with a rich and storied world. Playing host to action-packed survival mechanics, heightened adventure and non-stop discovery, players can evolve their style of play and forge new paths through a beautiful and vast open-world, where there is always something new to find and reasons to come back into the game.
Also, there are lots and LOTS of DINOSAURS.
The team at Studio Wildcard took what they love about survival games: the sandbox game worlds, the unpredictable nature of online play, the relationship between players and the environment… and added the coolest dinosaurs and exotic creatures they could think of. Simply surviving isn’t enough; players literally can’t make it through the game alone without taming, riding and making effective use of the dinosaurs and other wildlife in ARK.
But what’s this game really about? We had a chance to dive deeper with Wildcard’s Co-Founder and Co-Creative Director, Jesse Rapczak.
How many dinosaurs do you actually have in this game?
At launch… 60. Most of them are dinosaurs, but we have quite a variety of other creatures, too! It’s very important to us that the island feels alive. Many large world games can feel very desolate, restricting your dynamic interactions to other players or specific antagonists. You’re often very isolated, and while that’s part of a certain aesthetic, it wasn’t the aesthetic we wanted. In ARK: Survival Evolved, players will feel like they’re not just here to survive, but to become a part of the world as they master it. This necessitates having a large cast of living creatures to create an active, evolving world.
So why Xbox One?
ARK was always destined for XBOX ONE. As a former Microsoft HoloLens team member I have a lot of passion for the XBOX community and I know what gaming on XBOX is truly about. ARK will bring a new type of persistent gameplay experience rarely seen on consoles, delivered in a way that takes advantage of what the XBOX ONE has to offer. Previous consoles were still severely limited in the amount of creative freedom you had with them– admittedly, developers did a lot of fantastic work on it, but to bring the kind of fidelity and the vast scale of gameplay in ARK to a console, it required we have the current generation of consoles. When you want to cram dozens and dozens of players into a persistent world that’s covered in literally thousands of dinosaurs, with an almost completely destructible environment, you need a lot of horsepower. Compound that with all of the different locations and objectives we want to entice players to go after, It simply would not have worked on the previous gen.
There have been a lot of PC-based survival games lately and even a few dinosaur games. What makes ARK different?
We asked ourselves, “What’s the point of having a survival dinosaur party if there is nothing to do?” We created a truly unique twist on the survival genre to consoles by adding in persistent worlds, deep character advancement, an RPG-style stat system, team-based gameplay, and a mysterious backstory that can be unraveled over weeks and months of gameplay. ARK will always be evolving as a live game with fresh new content, creatures and stories to explore.
When and where does ARK take place?
This is an interesting aspect of what we have lain out for the players to discover. On the surface, ARK is already a strange and somewhat unexpected place; as you explore deeper into the island and learn what’s hidden there, the purpose of ARK and the player’s presence on it becomes clear. We wanted that discovery and that exploration to happen naturally though, and feel like it’s a part of the game world, not just some written narrative that requires a lot of text and exposition to explain. It’ll happen TO the player, rather than expecting the player to play along, you know?
What is going to surprise players the most when they first pick up the game?
Dinosaurs. I know that sounds obvious, but for people who have played games like Rust, The Stomping Land, and other similar titles, we are on a whole new level of scale and interaction with the denizens of our world. Rather than just kill or be killed when you do run into the “wildlife”, we wanted our world to feel alive, full, and active. Beings exist and have a natural ecosystem in place whether you are there or not. If you don’t see at least a handful of dinosaurs when you first spawn into the game, we haven’t done our jobs right. Interacting with the dinosaurs in this world is extremely important, so we needed them to be one of the first things you see, and for them to be very present in the player’s minds. With 60 different creatures planned, and a desire for even more, these guys are going to be a huge part of the game.
Before we leave, you’ve talked about dinosaurs, a huge world, an underlying narrative…what is it that gets you the most excited about the game?
The cliche answer here is the players, but it’s also the right answer in this case. Once players come into the game that’s when the fun begins! We’re creating a lot of systems and a lot of interactions that don’t just promote people working together, but also betraying and undermining that same trust. A group of players who unite under a single tribe are going to progress in the game much more quickly, and are going to be better suited to handling specific tasks, this is a natural expectation. But a single player, whose interests are controlling any number of aspects of the game, from territory, to resources, even the dinosaurs themselves, is going to be able to contribute to the larger goals of the groups, or in a lot of really key ways, take advantage of the larger groups to forward their own goals.
There’s a lot to say about player interactions, but I can’t wait to see how people interact with our robust framework of different goals and objectives. It’s going to surprise us far more than any other element of the game that we make, can. ARK is about the player, in the end. It’s not about what we want to happen, it’s what the players make of the game and the world we’ve built around it. Those are the experiences that count for, and mean the most.