Ark: Survival Evolved, the name of the game sounds like some type of high-tech time machine to the wilderness set in a strange place where all of the lost species of Earth are. Well, it’s not wrong. Waking up the first time in the game is the same action sequence that one will get used to. Look around and see where you are, scratch the weird technology diamond-shaped thing in your arm, and look around some more as you stand up to try and figure out where in the world you are…if indeed it is our world. Welcome to the Ark – A “lifeboat” with a huge ecosystem of land, water, and air animals.

The first thing you are able to do is collect stones, wood, and thatch. This is highly advisable as your hunger and thirst runs out as you move or do things that lower your health. After getting your first gathering done you no longer have to hurt yourself on trees to gain materials until your next death(which will come pretty fast). Next task can be a large number of things depending on what you are trying to do in the game. I always play with friends because it is impossible to finish the engrams(blueprints) in the game without at least one other player. Therefore, by this time I would advise trying to find a tribe either in chat or just with some random other new player on the beach. Unlike almost every other survival scenario game, people are a tad nicer in this game because of the need to form a tribe to finish the game. However, after a player is in said tribe, it is exactly like every other survival game. There are the raiders, the pirates, the bandits, the survivalists, the pacifists, as well as the isolationists. It is your job and primary goal to figure out who is who on a server as fast as possible in order to maximize your strategy on who to be living near as well as who to trust and ally your tribe with. Another extremely important thing is to never ever…ever use a torch unless it is absolutely necessary. The first thing that I or any other player looks for in the night is lighted areas. If the prey is just a walking ball of fire it makes it so easy to kill you and take your gear. Yes, even though you cannot see, do not use a torch. The best thing to do is wait out the night when you can’t see, or do like I do and memorize your surroundings and quickly. Nighttime activity is still a great time to do stuff.

Back on the feature of Tribes, each tribe generally will consist of the four main tech trees as specialties with some tribe members able to pick up other items as well as fillers. The builder tech tree is by far the largest tech tree in the game and will not be able to pick up many alternate engrams in the tree until level 50. The weapon smith will have a small tech treeto start, with a vastly expanded tree after getting the first smithy and fabricator. The pipe worker/gardener will have a selection of engrams from beginning to late game, while the armor smith will pretty much have the smallest tech tree, and will be able to get the greatest variety of engrams from random places not in their tree. Early game, try to find at least one additional tribe member for minimum survival. If you can find two, then you will be having a much easier time and four makes it almost a cake walk.

Getting Tribes out of the way, it is highly advisable for everyone to focus on the main objectives: getting a house and a bed(in that order). Getting a house is always good because it allows for a safe place to hide from the dinosaurs that cannot break thatch(though players can) and store your stuff. As a house has no insulation it will not shield you from the elements except for rainfall. Getting a bed allows for a single point on the map where you are guaranteed for your whole tribe to re-spawn. It is advisable to get more than one bed in your house as when you die and respawn the bed goes on cool down for five minutes. Placing them near each other is fine as a drop down menu will show up asking you which bed you want to use. The most recently built bed will be the lowest on the list with the top being the oldest. Tribes of four should be fine with two beds while larger tribes should build more. The general rule should be one bed for every four people after four.

It is also wise while getting supplies for all this home development, to hunt for food from nearby rivers and beaches. The dodos, coel, and even yes, mega-piranhas are easily killable by one person to obtain large quantities of meat. Once a spear is constructed, killing or taming a dilophasaur becomes much more feasible. Once a few dilophasaurs (dilos*) are trained go for the more elusive prey, phiomias. These walking pigs with fat and juicy brisket hanging from their sides are the best early sources of meat and hide. When hitting one, they run like little children from a guy offering candy on the side of the street – this is where the dilos come in. Using the “equals” key, turn your dinos into aggressive beasts at your command and attack any target.These trained dogs will run after and keep on your target prey until it is dead so much as to even harvest some of the meat for you, if that option is also enabled. As a side note, it is recommended to carry at least three to five spears on a trip for hunting, as they will break and will do so at the worst possible moment. When hitting with spears, do not just spam the attack button as right after you kill your prey the spear will start to harvest said dead carcass with the worst efficiency possible, hurting the overall yield from said animal.

By the time the hunter has enough food to feed the tribe several times over, the house and probably the first bed should be built. I would go so far as to advise not building a roof on the first house and adding a second wall on top of the first wall. Having no ceiling opens you up to air attacks from people with air dinos, but it also decreases the chances of someone raiding you.If they find you don’t actually have a lot of items after they look in your house and see four naked bodies on the ground, chances are it is not worth their time. The flip side of that is that you might die anyways with some high level player coming in and evicting all of the “noob” houses with a level 158 Sarcosuchus named plop. (-.-) I harbor no ill feelings as this is a survival PvP game. Dying is a part of the game as much as it is in Dark Souls. If you don’t die at least five times in your first two real days of game play, you are not taking enough risks for this game. Dying helps you to explore the map by re-spawning in a new area each time within your region. Each region contains 12 re-spawn points on the map, excluding beds.

Speaking of the re-spawn points, these are very important to picking where you want to live and where to settle. These are two different places and long term survivalist players will understand the distinction. Where to live includes where your house is and the small area that you claim as yours. Where you settle is the general side of the island that you claim before you have to kick someone out because they are too close and/or too large. My general favorite place to spawn is North Zone 1 as I have a small and hidden alcove I place my base in that is generally close to anything one would need. However, this is risky as the level of dinosaurs in that area always seems to be much too high to actually find a reliable food source in early levels. This is why I would advise starting in “noob” island, West Zone 1 or 2. These two places will have enough materials to get one going for a long time, until around level 20-30 when it might be wise to move to a more mountainous terrain in the center of the map. Starting with a thatch 2×2 house will allow for almost everything,including a bed, to be able survive for early levels. When preparing to move away, tame a dodo for the small amount of extra space that they can carry with them. If you tame a male and a female you’ll have a small, albeit unreliable, source of dodo eggs. At level five, your builder will be able to build the wooden walls and foundations of your house and at level 10 unlocks the rest of the items for wood. This will be the time to consider moving to a more stable base location still near the water as the pipes will not be very advanced by this time.

Unfortunately, this is also the time that I start looking for a dinosaur of a sufficient level and strength to hold all of my items after the weapon smith gets starts building slingshots for the team. I say unfortunately, because the largest glitch in this game is the fact of dinosaur targeting and agro. With a sufficiently well placed rock between you and the dinosaur,having a large amount of stones and ability to repair a slingshot several times over, a level 110 triceratops will take around 400 stones to knock unconscious. After this, having one person continually making narcotics and the other three farming for berries in the grass, you’ll be taming that trike within three hours of hard farming. Once the triceratops is obtained, at level 20 you will want to unlock the saddle and use it to harvest berries to tame anything else herbivore related. In my opinion, this is a broken aspect of the game enabling characters to have late game dinosaurs almost immediately. This will work with meat eating dinosaurs as well, the only difference is that the rock must be taller as most of the meat eating dinosaurs can climb or jump a little bit.

Working through this guide, with many hours leading into days of dedicated service, you’ll be well on your way to bigger and better adventures in Ark. Dungeons await you on this mysterious island, and the adventures coming to Ark through 2015 and 2016 will tell us more about why we are all stuck here. Buckle up for the ride of your life, because things are about to get a whole lot more interesting.