ARK: Scorched Earth Preview

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Last week, Studio Wildcard surprised us all with an expansion to ARK: Survival Evolved. ARK: Scorched Earth is a fantasy (like the original Ark isn’t fantasy?) version of the original survival experience. Mixed with some of the original dinosaurs are some weird and wonderful creatures that could only exist in the fevered minds of the games creators, and many from myth and legend; Rock elementals, dragons, huge beetles, small vultures, and lots more.

Just because we’re tough as nails, and have practically lived inside ARK since it joined the Game Preview programme, we explored Scorched Earth in single player mode and cranked the settings up to the hardest difficulty. Then we died a lot, and toned it down a bit. Higher difficulties don’t just change the creatures’ levels and damage output, they change the weather, too. As it’s a hot environment we found ourselves overheating and dying of heat stroke before we even managed to make a shelter or find water. We were also caught in many sand storms. In case you are wondering, that is bad. Very, very bad.

ARK: Scorched Earth

So if you can get over the constant overheating, and avoid being eaten by the voracious and plentiful cats, wolves, thorny dragons, raptors, snakes, terror birds and scorpions, you might actually make somewhere safe to live. Great. And then you’ll remember that survival is tough. Collect cactus sap to quench thirst and hunger slightly (never actually noticed any thirst quenching happening). Collect salt from rocks to preserve your food. Fabricate a tent which you can pick up and take with you when travelling to protect you from the heat, cold and hostile creatures. Repair your tent – which you damage every time you use it, with the new crafting material, Silk. There are more engrams to learn, too; create Adobe buildings from clay, fabricate whips to control your herd of morellatops, drill oil wells, excavate water wells, build windmills, and much more to help you survive in the harsh environment.

This is ARK but with more mythical creatures alongside the dinosaurs with which we have become familiar. There are still parasaurs, raptors, gallimimuses, argies, etc that we all know and love. Watch out for the creatures that hide underground, like the Rock elementals that just look like gold rocks until you get too close – then bang, they jump out at you and slam you into the ground or throw rocks at you. They are very powerful and hard to damage, Run away. Survive to run away another day.

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Studio Wildcard have certainly made the game more challenging. Want your very own wyvern (and who doesn’t?) Go to the mountains where they live, steal an egg and make sure you can outrun the very angry adults. When the egg hatches you can’t feed the baby with raw meat like any other stolen baby animal; you have to use Wyvern milk, which can only be obtained from a wild female adult. Knock out the adult and take her milk from her inventory (where all animals keep their milk, obviously).

As the name suggests, Scorched Earth’s setting is desert – a rock landscape with very little shelter, trees or water. You WILL die A LOT before you can get the hang of living longer. Tricks we learned included hiding in the cracks in the earth, staying in the shade of the tent or sit in the middle of a water pool to cool down.

This is ARK but with more mythical creatures alongside the dinosaurs with which we have become familiar. There are still parasaurs, raptors, gallimimuses, argies, etc that we all know and love. Watch out for the creatures that hide underground, like the Rock elementals that just look like gold rocks until you get too close – then bang, they jump out at you and slam you into the ground or throw rocks at you. They are very powerful and hard to damage, Run away. Survive to run away another day.

If you loved ARK but didn’t feel that starvation, falling, drowning, being gored, being bashed, being set on fire or just dying through your own stupidity happened often enough, then you’ll love Scorched Earth. It’s an even harder survival experience, with more deadly animals who all hate you and want you dead.

As unexpected as this expansion is, it was even more unexpected that it commands a £15.99 price tag. Just as with the main game, you have to constantly remind yourself that this is a Game Preview game, that has lots of things that don’t work as you would expect, or at all. The same collection of crashes, freezes and progress losses are present. If you can put up with the bugs, the price and the constant peril, Scorched Earth will appeal to the ARK fan with a masochistic streak.

ARK: Scorched Earth is available from the Store, priced £15.99.

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About: JulieGilbert

Competitive turned casual gamer on xbox one. Graphics designer using CS6. I help run a small gaming community.

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