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Review of ARK: SotF (The Hunger Games with Dinosaurs)

 
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Pseudo Stupidity
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:50 pm    Post subject: Review of ARK: SotF (The Hunger Games with Dinosaurs) Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Let's do some fucking formal review up in this bitch because my job is basically down for maintenance right now.

Pseudo's Review of ARK: Survival of the Fittest

Why Play?
Ever wanted to play a Hunger Games/Battle Royale style death arena? Of course you did, and that's why so many games have released total garbage mods to let you do it. Seriously, there are a billion of these things and they all fucking suck. Every single one of them pales in comparison to this game, because this game has everything.

Deadly environment? Check.

Crafting that isn't boring? Check.

Crafting that is both incredibly fiddly and fairly simple for the necessities? Check.

Goddamn dinosaurs? Check.

Random events, which include supply drops, dangerous swarms, and extreme weather conditions? Check.

Multiple game modes so you can die horribly with your friends? Check.

Ability to host your own server to dick around? Check.

Free? Check.


A Brief Background of the Game

First, the game is free and available on Steam. So you can totally get it for free and try it.

ARK: Survival of the Fittest is a game that was based off a mod based off ARK: Survival Evolved. I never played the original ARK, so I can't speak to it. I hear it was slow and boring but super fiddly, but maybe the people who say that are wrong.

ARK: SotF was picked up by the developers who made the original game. They hold tournaments for it and have been really trying to cultivate a community around it. It has a medium-to-small player base and actively fosters a competitive community (they host tournaments with big cash prizes).


The Actual Game
The game is pretty simple on the face of it. You and a bunch of other people (24 others for FFA, 39 others for 2-person teams, 59 other people for 4-person teams) are dropped into an arena. Your goal is to be the last person alive. You are all dropped in a circle around a raised platform, and in the center of the platform are a bunch of handy items. Around the central platform is a jungle, complete with a nearby volcano and other geographic features

The fauna of the ARK (the name of the map) is goddamn dinosaurs. T-Rexes, raptors, triceratops, you name it and it roams the ARK. There are also sabertooth tigers and other region-specific creatures (like giant prehistoric birds) that roam about, interacting with each other and the players. Walk into a bunch of dilophosauruses and you'll get spit on and eaten alive if you aren't careful.

The environment itself can also be dangerous. The mountains can get cold and some more tropical areas can get hot. There are also events like "megaheat" that can cause problems across the map. The environment usually won't kill you on its own, but after a fight you might find yourself struggling to not freeze to death on a mountainside.

Also, surrounding the environment is the "Ring of Death", which will slowly close in as the game progresses (until everyone is back on the central platform). The ring moves at different speeds based on the game type, with FFA only being 35 minutes before the ring has fully closed around the platform while 4-player teams have 55 minutes before the ring has forced everyone into the center.

While you are dropped into the map with absolutely nothing but underpants, you can craft all sorts of armor, weapons, clothing, buildings, and other shit. The crafting seriously ranges from a campfire to keep yourself warm to a goddamn shotgun that can kill a triceratops in one blast to the face. In fact, let's talk about crafting!


The Crafting System
Central to ARK: Survival of the Fittest is the crafting system, which lets you build anything from a thatch hut to a stone fortress for buildings, and everyone from a wooden spear to a fucking fragmentation grenade for weapons.

The crafting system is pretty simple after dicking around for about 10 minutes. You gather resources using your hands or tools, then you open a crafting menu and build items. The items can then be placed/used, hurray crafting! The whole system is very freeform and building bases can be enjoyable.

One of the current popular paths to win is to hide in the forest, find a few pieces of rock that are high in metal, and build guns. Crafting is both exciting and viable, as all the sprinting and smelting combined with the dinosaurs who roam the ARK tends to create some fun scenarios. That isn't even including players finding your base (thanks to the fires you'll have running to process your metal it isn't too hard to find unless you've concealed yourself well) and attacking it to steal your shit.

The Taming System
This game lets you tame and ride dinosaurs. Yeah, you can ride a T rex as your triceratops army charges the enemy. It is exactly as awesome as it sounds to do this.

Taming dinosaurs involves knocking them out with tranquilizers and then feeding them. Obviously this is unrealistic, but shut the fuck up it's a game and I want to ride around on a pet raptor.

Taming speeds vary based on how huge the dinosaur is, and dinosaurs have favorite foods that make them your best friend more quickly (for carnivores their favorite food is Prime Meat, found by killing large dinosaurs and cutting them up with a spear. For herbivores they tend to like a specific purple berry, but I honestly don't know if that's always their favorite). Taming a T-Rex can take around 10 minutes, whereas small dinosaurs like the dilophosaurus tame in seconds.

Knocking the dinosaur out is generally difficult too. Carnivores are obviously dangerous, whereas herbivores of the same species will defend each other as pack animals.


General Survival
You do need to eat food and drink water (or eat juicy berries) to survive. You also need to keep yourself warm/cool. Survival honestly isn't a big part of the game, and it's better for it. As long as you shove a couple berries into your mouth every once in a while you'll be fine. Some foods are better than others (for example, cooked meat restores a decent amount of health), but I've never starved or died or dehydration. Berries are plentiful and getting meat is straightforward.

The game is much more focusing on surviving the more obvious threats, like dinosaurs and the other players.

Flaws
The main flaw in this game is probably the lobby timers. There is no reason for an FFA game to spend 4 minutes with everyone standing around when you can't even form a team. I understand the lobby for 2-person and 4-person teams (so that you can play them even as a single player), but not FFA. What the fuck is the point of that?

The game also has a fairly steep learning curve. My first game ended very quickly when I ran into a bunch of dilophosauruses and hadn't built a spear yet, so I got spat on, swarmed, and eaten alive. My second game saw me reaching a river and getting eaten by dino-fish. My third game saw me getting brained by a spear thrown by another player.


The End of the Review
ARK is one of those rare games where it's fun even as you face certain doom. When a pack of sabertooth tigers jumped me at the base of the volcano after I had already been severely injured by raptors it was exciting to throw spears at them while trying to escape. When I first got picked up by a giant bird and dropped from 300 feet in the air it was genuinely surprising and fun (and I learned why parachutes are a thing you can craft). I still get surprised by various things after around 100 games played, and it's that sort of thing that brings me back.

Everything about the game is just...enjoyable. Sure, the odd early kill while you were trying to craft can be a bit lame, but it just teaches me to check my surroundings before trying to build things.


Try this game, it's fun.
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Last edited by Pseudo Stupidity on Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Don't know if they've fixed it yet but it was severely unoptimized and could lag like hell on some AMD hardware.

Also we found it had synching issues and memory leaks would drive us out of game fairly regularly.

And playing a private game with a friend has some weird limitations like "must be within X of host because of strange ideas about how to do this..."

It was also pretty needlessly annoying on a lot of Grind (ugh, the narcotics berry grind).

And then when you inevitably lagged out/desynched and got eaten by giant poisonous constrictor snakes it could potentially be wildly needlessly punishing on just how much grind you were set back on (pretty close to all of it).

The XP cost to buy recipes and the minimum level requirements on recipes also leads to a number of bottle necks where you basically can't do anything other than grind for raw XP.

It's pretty much an MMO crafting system + Dinosaurs + fuck you school of game death balance + buuuuugggs. If we had played online it would probably also have got to add in "+troooolllololololols" since everything about the game design and balance makes it a gigantic griefer honey trap.
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Pseudo Stupidity
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think you might be talking about the other game, because I have never heard of a snake in SOTF. Or memory leaks. Or anything you mentioned, really.
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Are you seriously trying to differentiate between Survival of the Fittest and Survival Evolved?

Seriously?

Because Survival of the fittest is NOT a different fucking game, it's a game mode for Survival Evolved.
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Aryxbez
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sure, but if it delivers a different enough experience, or least just fixes the problems you're talking about, then it earns a place in being different enough.
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Pseudo Stupidity
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

PhoneLobster wrote:
Are you seriously trying to differentiate between Survival of the Fittest and Survival Evolved?

Seriously?

Because Survival of the fittest is NOT a different fucking game, it's a game mode for Survival Evolved.


Seeing as I've never played or downloaded Survival Evolved and have only played and downloaded Survival of the Fittest, they are two separate games. They aren't just mods, they spun SotF off the other game. Kind of like how Don't Starve and Don't Starve Together are actually different games even though the content is basically the same.

The games are different, and the memory leak problems don't seem to exist in SotF (maybe they did on release?). I've heard some people have framerate issues, but that's it for technical problems (and I've only experienced minor drops at times, but my rig is pretty good).
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

They are the same game, downloading a limited game mode separately doesn't make it a different game. It is not unusual for games to release demos, or promotional multiplayer modes in an attempt to lure in customers or beat up a bit of media coverage, or in this case a bit of both and maybe a competitive scene.

It's still very much the same game, back when I used to play Survival Evolved, Survival of the fittest updates used to be covered IN THE PATCH NOTES for Survival Evolved.
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Pseudo Stupidity
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

PhoneLobster wrote:
They are the same game, downloading a limited game mode separately doesn't make it a different game. It is not unusual for games to release demos, or promotional multiplayer modes in an attempt to lure in customers or beat up a bit of media coverage, or in this case a bit of both and maybe a competitive scene.

It's still very much the same game, back when I used to play Survival Evolved, Survival of the fittest updates used to be covered IN THE PATCH NOTES for Survival Evolved.


Isn't that because SotF used to actually just be a supported game mode? I imagine the networking and such for SotF is different due to its focus on pvp, but since I know nothing about Survival Evolved I can't be sure.


Anyways, the issues you have are, again, not actual issues the game has at this point in time. You complained about grind when the loot and XP gain rates in SotF are really high, you are never really limited by XP and getting the berries for 50+ tranq arrows happens as you just walk through the jungle trying to find a good tame. There are no snakes in SotF. There is no "being set back" by dying either, the game ends for you when you die. There are no trolls either, because how the fuck would you troll a pvp survival game?

The one complaint that's valid is FPS slowdowns, and that's solved by turning the fucking graphics down.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Pseudo Stupidity wrote:

Isn't that because SotF used to actually just be a supported game mode? I imagine the networking and such for SotF is different due to its focus on pvp, but since I know nothing about Survival Evolved I can't be sure.


Survival Evolved is pretty much pure pvp. There are no missions, no quests. You're dropped naked on an island of dinosaurs and can do whatever the fuck you want. This generally involves forming tribes and then doing your best to recreate Lord of the Flies as petty interpersonal conflict and tribal conflicts tear burgeoning civilization apart into multiple competing factions leading to all out war.

Really. Massively Multiplayer Lord of the Flies simulator with tamable dinosaurs is the best description.


Last edited by hyzmarca on Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:55 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Pseudo Stupidity
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:
Pseudo Stupidity wrote:

Isn't that because SotF used to actually just be a supported game mode? I imagine the networking and such for SotF is different due to its focus on pvp, but since I know nothing about Survival Evolved I can't be sure.


Survival Evolved is pretty much pure pvp. There are no missions, no quests. You're dropped naked on an island of dinosaurs and can do whatever the fuck you want. This generally involves forming tribes and then doing your best to recreate Lord of the Flies as petty interpersonal conflict and tribal conflicts tear burgeoning civilization apart into multiple competing factions leading to all out war.

Really. Massively Multiplayer Lord of the Flies simulator with tamable dinosaurs is the best description.


I believe SE has pvp as a primary focus up to a point, but I'm also sure it has friendly interactions. You can team up and build a base and try to rule the whole area or whatever, there's no timer and no wall forcing you to either fight everyone or die.

SotF encourages kill on sight for all players not in your tribe (and literally all players in FFA), and death is game over. You could choose to team up with somebody and it would be a good decision in SE, but in SotF any teaming up would have to be done with the knowledge that you need to kill your allies at the end. It doesn't help that killing players in SotF is very rewarding. Player kills are worth a lot of XP and you get all of that player's dinosaurs and items.

I've never had anyone even offer to team up in the game in FFA, and I've never had anyone offer to team up after the start of the game in teams either. The game is a deathmatch, and SE isn't really a deathmatch, is it?


However, Lord of the Flies with dinosaurs does sound fun, but still not as fun as The Hunger Games with dinosaurs (and not as free). Most things can be improved by adding dinosaurs.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Pseudo Stupidity wrote:
hyzmarca wrote:
Pseudo Stupidity wrote:

Isn't that because SotF used to actually just be a supported game mode? I imagine the networking and such for SotF is different due to its focus on pvp, but since I know nothing about Survival Evolved I can't be sure.


Survival Evolved is pretty much pure pvp. There are no missions, no quests. You're dropped naked on an island of dinosaurs and can do whatever the fuck you want. This generally involves forming tribes and then doing your best to recreate Lord of the Flies as petty interpersonal conflict and tribal conflicts tear burgeoning civilization apart into multiple competing factions leading to all out war.

Really. Massively Multiplayer Lord of the Flies simulator with tamable dinosaurs is the best description.


I believe SE has pvp as a primary focus up to a point, but I'm also sure it has friendly interactions. You can team up and build a base and try to rule the whole area or whatever, there's no timer and no wall forcing you to either fight everyone or die.

SotF encourages kill on sight for all players not in your tribe (and literally all players in FFA), and death is game over. You could choose to team up with somebody and it would be a good decision in SE, but in SotF any teaming up would have to be done with the knowledge that you need to kill your allies at the end. It doesn't help that killing players in SotF is very rewarding. Player kills are worth a lot of XP and you get all of that player's dinosaurs and items.

I've never had anyone even offer to team up in the game in FFA, and I've never had anyone offer to team up after the start of the game in teams either. The game is a deathmatch, and SE isn't really a deathmatch, is it?


However, Lord of the Flies with dinosaurs does sound fun, but still not as fun as The Hunger Games with dinosaurs (and not as free). Most things can be improved by adding dinosaurs.


Indeed. SotF is a deathmatch game when the game rules say you're supposed to kill everyone else.

In SE, you have to manufacture your own petty tribe-destroying interpersonal conflicts, which is surprisingly easy to do since the sort of guys who appoint themselves to leadership roles do tend to have big egos that do tend to clash with each other.
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