ARK: Survival of the Fittest
ARK: Survival of the Fittest is a 3D first-person survival arena, a spin-off of ARK: Survival Evolved. The game pits up to 72 combatants in tribe versus tribe, or free-for-all, style matches with a heavy focus on crafting. Survival of the Fittest is a free mod that comes alongside Ark: Survival Evolved (which must be bought).
|Publisher: Studio Wildcard
Type: Survival FPS
Release Date: March 16, 2016
Pros: +Great graphics. +Large map inhabited with a variety of pre-historic creatures. +Challenging “Evolution Events”.
Cons: -Poorly optimized and prone to lags and FPS drops. -Only one map. -No tutorial. -Long match times. +Steep learning curve.
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Overview
Be the last man, or tribe, standing in a battle for survival against up to 72 combatants, vicious pre-historic creatures, and an ever-changing environment in ARK: Survival of the Fittest, a Multiplayer Online Survival Arena spin-off of ARK: Survival Evolved. Choose from any of the four available game modes: 2-Player Tribe, 4-player Tribe, 6-player Tribe, and the ultimate survival mode Free-For-All. Run around, explore, and hide in a closed-off hostile biome that grows increasingly smaller as the match progresses. Use the game’s in-depth crafting system to create a variety of tools and weapons ranging from primitive stone hatchets and bows to more advanced crossbows and rifles. Tame, ride, and fight alongside over 30 different creatures including fearsome T-Rex’s, giant apes, and fire-breathing dragons. Formulate your own strategies to survive, whether its building an army of dinosaurs, hunting down players, or simply hiding until forced to fight. Will you be the fittest?
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Key Features:
- Action-Packed Survival Gameplay – survive against up to 72 other combatants in a continually-shrinking hostile environment that forces players together over time.
- In-Depth Crafting System – gather materials from the environment and craft survival necessities from stone hatchets and picks to bows, spears, and a sniper rifle.
- Diverse Wildlife – tame, ride, fight beside, or get eaten by over 30 different dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.
- Evolution Events – experience random events with drastic effects on combatants and the battlefield, from supply drops and double taming events to acid rain and swarms of giant flesh-eating insects.
- Multiple Game Modes – choose to form two or four-player tribes and work together to survive or choose to play in the free-for-all mode for the ultimate survival experience.
- Survivor League – join regularly held Survivor Leagues to earn rewards and cash prizes.
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Screenshots
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Featured Video
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Review
By, Marc Marasigan
ARK: Survival of the Fittest, or ASotF, is a free-to-play 3D Multiplayer Online Battle Arena that initially started out as a mod for the survival game ARK: Survival Evolved, before being released as a standalone game on Steam. The game is set in the pre-historic world of ARK inhabited by different species of dinosaurs and other pre-historic creatures. Players must fight to survive in Battle Royale style battles with the goal of being the last man, or tribe, standing against other players, dangerous creatures, and a treacherous ever-changing environment that continually shrinks to force players into the center.
ASotF features graphics taken directly out of the original game, which looks absolutely stunning but, unfortunately, suffers from poor optimization and is prone to lags and FPS drops even with high-end gaming rigs. Personally, the character models could look a bit more polished, unless you’re into the whole caveman look which might be the devs’ intentions all along. The soundtrack and sound effects are epic and just absolutely oozes with a Hunger Games vibe and can get your heartbeat racing at just the right moments, such as when being chased by a massive T-Rex.
Because ASotF started out as an ARK mod, newbies will be at a severe disadvantage against players who’ve clocked in at least a few hours of play time in the original game, probably more so against veterans who’ve mastered the art of crafting and dino-taming. Unfortunately, the game’s lack of a tutorial only reinforces this advantage. Being dropped clueless into the middle of a free-for-all deathmatch isn’t exactly my idea of fun. Nothing that a few matches and constant peeking at the keybindings can’t fix, but a few simple tooltips would have been a godsend. I didn’t survive long during those first few matches.
ASotF offers players a choice of three game modes. They can either team up with one other player in 2-Player Team mode, three others in 4-Person Team, or duke it out solo in Free-For-All mode. The match-length and total number of players changes for each game mode, ranging from 35-minute 25-player matches in free-for-all, to 1-hour 60-player matches for 4-Player Team mode. Each mode also requires a minimum number of players before a match starts. A newly created lobby usually takes around 5-10 minutes to reach the minimum number of players. Which, is a little too long, considering that you still have to wait for about three minutes in a holding pen miles above the center of the arena before the match actually starts.
Once the match starts players are given around three minutes to customize their characters, join a tribe (even free-for-all players need a tribe), and set their tribe flags. Not nearly enough time to do everything if you ask me especially with the number of sliders you can work with. Why 3-minutes? Well, while you’re working on your character’s look and tribal flag the match is already running in the background and other players are already waiting in the hazy heaven-like holding pen. This is probably meant to discourage players from spending an inordinate amount of time with customization while the rest of the players wait. Why the devs couldn’t just give players the option to customize their characters from the main menu, or even while waiting for a match to start is beyond me. Fortunately, there’s a save and load option in place so you can tweak your character bit by bit. Although, most players opt to just go crazy with the sliders resulting in some weird-looking characters, as you can see in the screenshot below.
Went Down Elevator Of Light… Now What?
After spending a few minutes jumping around, punching each other, and abusing voice chat in the holding pen, players are then transported to the center of the arena via elevators of light, spaced out evenly surrounding a central dais much like the arenas in The Hunger Games. Once players touch the ground, it’s every man (or tribe) for himself. How they plan on surviving is entirely up to them. Some players take their chances and sprint for the supply-filled central dais while others take the safest option, which is to turn around and head for the relative safety of the jungle. I prefer the former as it gives me initial supplies to work with, and hopefully a few weapons I can use to defend myself with.
Whichever way you choose, you’ll almost always end up running through the jungle unless you were unlucky enough to take a spear to the face during those first few critical minutes of the match. Unlike other survival games navigating ARK’s arena can be surprisingly difficult, especially for ARK virgins. ASotF HUD doesn’t have a mini-map, a compass, or anything that can be of help in navigating the arena, except for a hand-drawn map that I can’t make sense of. Like in real life, taking note of landmarks (i.e. the river) during the first few matches can help you find your way. Fortunately, all matches take place in a single map which you’ll probably be navigating like Bear Grylls within a few matches.
What you have to worry about is surviving. There’s two ways to go about it, crafting the best weapons and armor possible and eventually hunting everyone down, or taming an army of dinos and prehistoric pets to fight for you before hunting everyone down. The latter seems to be the preferred choice and one that gives a higher chance of survival, granted that that massive T-Rex you’re trying to tame doesn’t eat you first. Going the crafting route also works for some, simply because a well-placed shot to the head from even a simple bow and arrow can kill players instantly, effectively neutralizing their dino army.
Bear Grylls Meets MacGyver
Unlike Bear Grylls ASotF players need to gather materials from their environment and craft their own tools for survival. Killing other players and looting their stuff also works but at some point you’ll eventually have to gather your own. Players can craft a variety of tools and weapons, ranging from primitive stone hatchets and wooden bows requiring basic materials, to more advanced ones like metal picks and rifles that call for higher quality materials refined in a forge, which you also need to build from scratch. Recipes for crafting are automatically unlocked at certain levels. This needn’t be a problem since XP and gather rates have been dramatically increased compared to the original game to account for the limited match times. Crafting times have also been shortened for the same reason. Lacking any ARK experience I stick with spears and bow and arrows just because I have no idea how to craft a crossbow. Just remember to keep a bunch of spares handy because primitive weapons tend to break quite easily.
For The Herd!
For players who opt to go the taming route, all they have to do is knock their target unconscious and feeding them the right type of food. Sounds simple right? Now imagine trying to knock out a rampaging 30-foot crocodile, a T-Rex, or even a massive plant-eating mammoth for that matter. Doesn’t sound so easy now does it? There’s a few ways to go about it, one is beating them silly with your fists. Works for a harmless Dodo bird, not necessarily a great choice when being chased by a hungry Rex. Another way is to use blunt tools like stone hatchets to club them to sleep. Again, not very effective against massive, hungry, flesh-eating dinos. The best way is to use ranged weapons loaded with narcotics such as a bow with tranquilizer darts; or if you’re an ARK god use a sniper rifle loaded with tranquilizer darts.
Once the target is unconscious, you then drop their preferred food into their inventory, berries for herbivores and meat for carnivores. Bigger creatures also need more food and take longer to tame so make sure that they’re asleep through the entire process or risk having them wake up with a bad case of the munchies. They’ll automatically wake up when successfully tamed so OD’ing them with narcotics isn’t going to be a problem. Once tamed, players can give their new pet commands or, depending on their size, use them as mounts. They then repeat the cycle until they have an army of dinos at their command, at which point they can start hunting down remaining survivors or wait it out in the center of arena and pick off survivors coming in to escape the ever-shrinking wall of death.
The ultimate goal of ASotF is to be the last tribe, standing at the end of the match, much like The Hunger Games. Now, some players might think to run to the outer edges of the arena and stay there crafting or taming until the timer runs out. This might’ve been a good idea if it weren’t for the ever-shrinking wall of death that slowly forces players to the center of the map and eventually confront each other as the walls move towards the center of the arena. It takes the length of the match for the walls to reach the central dais at which point most of the players who started the match would have died for one reason or another, whether from the environment, evolution events, dinosaurs, in the hands of other players, or by being caught outside the wall for too long. More often than not, only two or three survivors, or tribes, remain by the three-minute mark. It then becomes a battle to the death. The player, or tribe, left standing is named the champion and receives rewards such as cosmetic items that they can be used in both games. The losers get nothing regardless of how long they lasted into the match. The game isn’t called Survival of the Fittest for nothing.
Final Verdict – Great
Intermittent lag and FPS drops aside, ARK: Survival of the Fittest is probably the most fun, addictive, and highly-intense games that I’ve played in a while. Considering that it’s free-to-play, ASotF, has all the right features that make a good Battle Royale game: adrenaline-pumping survival-based combat, an in-depth crafting system, evolution events, different biomes, not to mention dangerous prehistoric creatures, which is more than I can say for other buy-to-play games in the genre. A tutorial to help newbies get started would have made it even better though. Overall, a great game that I highly recommend to anyone up for the challenge. Oh, and the top 10 players in each of the Survivor Leagues get cash prizes at the end of the season which is reason enough for me to play.
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Videos
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Online Links
ARK: Survival of the Fittest System Requirements
Operating System: 64-Bit Windows 7 Service Pack 1, or Windows 8/10
CPU: 2 GHz Dual-Core 64-bit CPU
Video Card: GTX 500 or Above DirectX10 Compatible GPU with 2 GB or More Video RAM
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 37 GB
Operating System: Windows 8, 10 64-bit
CPU: Core i5-3470 3.2GHz
Video Card: GeForce GTX 970 4GB or Radeon R9 390
RAM: 8 GB
Hard Disk Space: 37 GB
The game is also available on Mac, SteamOS, and Linux operating systems.
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Music & Soundtrack
ARK: Survival of the Fittest Additional Information
Developer: Studio Wildcard , Instinct Games , Efecto Studios , Virtual Basement LLC
Publisher: Studio Wildcard
Mobile Release Date: December 16, 2014
Steam Release Date: May 24, 2016
Development History / Background:
ARK: Survival of the Fittest, or ASotF, initially started as a total conversion mod for Studio Wildcard's survival game, ARK: Survival Evolved. Due to popular demand, the game was released as a standalone game on March 16, 2016. ASotF, uses assets from the original game but is being handled by a different team altogether.