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Indie Spotlight - Ark Survival Evolved

Our weekly Indie Spotlight articles highlight one indie game that we feel is worth your attention. Every game listed has a planned console release for the Xbox One and/or PS4.

Ark: Survival Evolved

A game of survival, open-world exploration, and of course dinosaurs! Developed and published by Studio Wildcard, Ark: Survival Evolved boasts a truly unique experience. With crafting mechanics reminiscent of Minecraft, survival elements similar to Day Z, and the looming presence of dinosaurs that can be tamed and ridden, Ark: Survival Evolved is one for the ages.
As a man or woman stranded naked, freezing and starving on the shores of a mysterious island called ARK, you must hunt, harvest resources, craft items, grow crops, research technologies, and build shelters to withstand the elements. Use your cunning and resources to kill or tame the leviathan dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the land, and team up with or prey on hundreds of other players to survive, dominate... and escape!

Tame, Train, and Ride Dinosaurs, in a living ecosystem

There are over 70 dinosaurs and creatures that can be tamed throughout the world of Ark. The process involves weakening the creature until it is knocked out, then healing it back to life with the proper food. Once tamed, creatures become your pet which allows you to give commands to it. Pets also continue to level-up and can help by carrying extra Inventory and Equipment.
Fly a Pterodactyl over the snow-capped mountains, lift allies over enemy walls, race through the jungle with a pack of Raptors, tromp through an enemy base along a gigantic brontosaurus, or chase down prey on the back of a raging T-Rex! Take part in a dynamic ecosystem life-cycle with its own predator & prey hierarchies, where you are just one creature among many species struggling for dominance and survival.

Food, Water, Temperature and Weather

Ark is a survival game at heart, and the dinosaurs aren't your only problem. To survive you'll have maintain a steady supply of food and water. Different plants and meat found throughout the island will have differing nutrient properties. In dire situations, human meat is also an option.

All of your physical actions will drain your food and water levels. From chopping down trees to harvesting minerals, all of your actions will exert more energy, and nature is not on your side. Ark features a complete day/night cycle which includes randomized weather patterns. Extreme heat results in faster dehydration while extreme cold can cause higher food consumption. Rain and fog are present as well.

Harvest, Build structures, Paint Items

Eating and drinking are the bare minimums. To thrive in Ark, you'll need to craft and build.
By chopping down forests full of trees and mining metal and other precious resources, you can craft the parts to build massive multi-leveled structures composed of complex snap-linked parts, including ramps, beams, pillars, windows, doors, gates, remote gates, trapdoors, water pipes, faucets, generators, wires and all manner of electrical devices, and ladders among many other types. 
Shelters offer protection from dinosaurs, weather, and other players. But every shelter can also be destroyed. So you'll need to reinforce and protect your most valued assets if you want to keep surviving. You can also customize the look of your base with signs, billboards, and other decorative objects, as well as painting everything!

Plant, Farm and Grow

Once your base is setup, you'll need to establish some sort of system to maintain a stable food supply. Pick seeds from the wild vegetation around you, plant them in plots that you lay down, water them and nurture them with fertilizer. Yes, fertilizer as in poop. Everything that consumes food poops, and it can then be used a fertilizer.
Tend to your crops and they will grow to produce delicious and rare fruits, which can also be used to cook a plethora of logical recipes and make useful tonics! Explore to find the rarest of plant seeds that have the most powerful properties! Vegetarians & vegans can flourish, and it will be possible to master and conquer the ARK in a non-violent manner!

RPG, Hardcore mechanics, Exploration

Every item in Ark is crafted from Blueprints which require various resources. You'll need to level up your character to traverse the harshest of locales to discover the rarest resources. Your character can also be customized by changing the hair, eyes, skin tone, and various body proportion modifiers.

Every item you craft, will eventually wear out if it isn't repaired. But durability is the least of your problems. All of your items can be looted or stolen, even while you are away from the game. To avoid this, you'll need to form Tribes, build proper base defenses, and have pets that will guard you. And as expected with a hardcore survival game, death is permanent.
The mysterious ARK is a formidable and imposing environment, composed of many natural and unnatural structures, above-ground, below-ground, and underwater. By fully exploring its secrets, you’ll find the most exotic procedurally randomized creatures and rare blueprints. Also to be found are Explorer Notes that are dynamically updated into the game, written by previous human denizens of the ARK from across the millennia, creatively detailing the creatures and backstory of the ARK and its creatures. Fully develop your in-game ARK-map through exploration, write custom points of interest onto it, and craft a Compass or GPS coordinates to aid exploring with other players, whom you can communicate with via proximity text & voice chat, or long-distance radio. Construct & draw in-game signs for other players to help them or lead them astray... And yet.. how do you ultimately challenge the Creators and Conquer the ARK? A definitive end-game is planned.
Game Modes

Currently there are four different ways to play Ark: PvP, PvE, Hardcore, and Survival of the Fittest. PvP (Player versus Player) is turned on by default and allows for killing between human players. In PvE (Player versus Environment) player damage is disabled and the only threat is the environment itself. The Hardcore mode features permanent death. When your character dies, you must start a new one from scratch.

The final mode is Survival of the Fittest. A "Hunger Games" inspired mode where 32 players split into two-man teams and battle to the death. All the players are spawned on an island with base characters (no gear, level 1, etc.). Everyone will be in a rush to establish a base; level up their character; find weapons and armor; and ultimately fight to survive. Each death is displayed on a large dome surrounding the island, and the dome itself closes in as time goes by. The longer the match lasts, the closer survivors will get pushed towards each other. It's the ultimate PvP survival experience Ark has to offer. You can watch the full archived Twitch reveal of Survival of the Fittest.

Indie developed, AAA quality

Ark: Survival Evolved is being developed using a highly-customized version of the Unreal Engine 4. The engine includes "fully dynamic lighting & global illumination, weather systems (rain, fog, snow, etc) & true-to-life volumetric cloud simulation, and the latest in advanced DirectX11 and DirectX12 rendering techniques". The music is by award-winning composer Gareth Coker of "Ori and the Blind Forest".

Ark: Survival Evolved is currently available for Early Access on Steam. A full release for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 is currently planned for 2016. For Xbox One, the game will be available early as part of the Game Preview program. For PS4, Ark will support Project Morpheus. For more information visit the official Ark: Survival Evolved Wiki, Steam page, and the official website. For updates on the game and release, follow @survivetheark on Twitter.

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