A Return to ARK: Survival Evolved

Posted on September 26, 2022 by Aywren

ARK is a game that we picked up many years ago, and while I enjoyed it, the last time we played it was sometime in October 2015 (based on blog posts). The game was still in heavy development back then, we’d even seen an update that took what had been a safe forest/beach biome and turned it into a swamp – leaving our previous base a tree house.

That wasn’t the reason we set the game aside, I don’t think. And last month, Syn had a hankering for a survival sandbox. So we did something I didn’t expect to do – we restarted a world in ARK all these years later.

I had no idea how engrossed we’d become with the game. If it tells you anything, I had about 49 hours in ARK when we started playing again back in August. I now have 161.7 hours into the game.

We’ve now been through the stages of development with this game (as I’d like to say). We started out with only modified vanilla server stats, re-learning the game and exploring what we could see and understand within the game.

We then moved to the second stage of development – searching the wiki for answers to questions we started to have as we began to broaden our horizons. How do we get more metal? How do we tame this kind of dinosaur? How do we breed dinosaurs and what are dino mutations?

Left Twix and Right Twix – our first ever twins!

Oh yes. That’s right. ARK has quickly become my newest breedable pets game – totally unexpected. I’m not sure if breeding dinos was in the game back when we were playing in 2015, but now that it’s feature complete, I’m having a ton of fun capturing breeding pairs, learning about stats and mutations and building a dino (and horse) farm of my dreams.

The newest stage of development is modding the game. We’d stayed away from mods because we don’t like to add things that cheat the game too much. However, ARK can be extremely unforgiving – I recall an incident of rage with jellyfish that left Syn dying at least 10 times just to get her stuff back from her body.

After that point, we began looking at ways to enhance the things about the game that would make it more fun. That included editing out certain creatures in the world (jellyfish and stupid birds that steal your stuff) within the ini file. And then, we moved into discovering mods for the PVE environment.

I might write a post about the mods we’ve chosen later, but let me just say, it has been much more fun to mod the game in ways that just let me play what I enjoy.  This includes mods such as a dino hatchery for gathering and safekeeping fertilized eggs. Also, a dino storage mod that allows you to pokeball excess dinos and store them away until you want them again.

Those two mods alone have completely changed the game and knocked down the frustration level. Not only can I now just focus on breeding and understanding stats and mutations, but we also have a way to humanely store the extra dinos that come from that breeding project.

There’s only so many dinos a base can hold,  and we’ve expanded to new bases several times just to accommodate the growing number of dinos I’ve bred. We do want to keep some extras on hand in case something fatal should happen while we’re out and about. But there’s only so many parasaurs we need.

For a while, I was taking the extras out away from the base and releasing them. But this puts them on something like a 7 hour timer where they’re not quite tame and not quite wild and you can reclaim them again. That just increased the wandering dino population near our base to a silly level.

So storage has been the best turn of events – it also makes taming and getting those tames safely back to a base so much less frustrating. Not to mention transporting dinos.

And, of course, what my Twitter pals have been hearing most about have been the horses. There’s a fantastic horse mod for ARK that has changed the entire game for me. I could be completely content just catching horses, breeding horses, building stables and riding the horses… if I did nothing else for another 100 hours in this game.

I really want to detail some of our adventures in ARK soon. This post has become long enough already, so I’ll leave the recounting of how we built several bases, stumbled our way through the world, and have finally found a save haven on Island Sanctuary (oops, wrong game!) – I mean Herbivore Island.