Now the very first choice you will be forced to make is whether to join our PVP or PVE servers. You have already passed the first milestone by coming here! Congratulations you have avoided those pesky official servers where everything takes a year to complete and have been running so long the toxic population long ago chased the more friendly players away. So, what is the difference? The basics are generally the same on both servers. However, PVP stands for Player versus Player. Basically not only will 90% of the environment be trying to kill you but so will 90% of the player population. For those of you just starting on your ark journey I will strongly recommend you start on our PVE cluster, where at least other players are not a threat and there are more mods to help you along the way and remove some of the tedium.
Well now… At the time of writing this there are currently 7 official maps all available on our PVE cluster. 3 Of the maps are canon (part of the story) 3 are non-canon maps made by the vast modding community that studio wildcard decided they liked so much they added them to their official roster. This leave one other. This map is slightly different in that the other 6 are complete “Arks”. Space stations housing living organisms that were sent into space to safeguard their inhabitants after a global level extinction event wiped out the humans (cool right?). The 7th map aptly named Extinction is in fact a part of the original world. Decimated by the events that caused the Arks to become necessary. It is an area of the corrupted earth which also contains several “proto-arks”.
So there’s some background but the big question is, which should I join? Well, as a long-time player my recommendation is always The Island. The original and oldest map of ark. It is the best known and safest of all the arks and the best place to learn the myriad different skills you will require on your journey. But don’t worry, as part of our cluster there is free and unrestricted travel between all 7 maps so you won’t be missing out on anything once you have found your err, Ark? legs and strode off into the wild green, red brown and sometimes burning horizon.
No no, we aren’t expecting aliens to burst out of your chest or anything and you don’t have to turn into a frog. When you join one of our servers for the first time you will be prompted to create a character. Male/Female, short, tall, petite, beefcake. Whatever you want, there is a lot of customisation options.
Once past the character creation screen you will be confronted with the island map with a list of spawn locations on the right-hand side. Helpfully they have been given a rating from easy to hard. Prizes available for those that can guess where I’m about to suggest you start. The south of the island is by far one of the easiest places to get a grasp for the games core mechanics. Long sandy beaches with no one trying to sell you seashells. The southern beaches are chocked full of the natural resources you will need to get started on your journey, with the bonus of not having some of the larger more dangerous creatures in the immediate vicinity.
So here we are, naked, standing on a beach. What next? Punch a tree of course! No, I’m not joking, go punch a tree. Resources work pretty much like you would expect. Hit a tree? Get some wood and thatch. Pick a bush? Get some berries and fibres. In the southern reaches along the beach there are also loose stones laying along the shore which will help you make one of the most versatile tools in the game. A pick! I know I know where’s the machine guns and rocket launchers, but stay with me.
From top to bottom:
Hand symbol – Your unarmed! Perfect for picking berries and picking things of the ground. Not so great if something is trying to turn you into dinner.
Experience – This icon tracks your progression through your current level. When full, congratulations! You have a level up. You will also have a message appear at the top of the screen informing you that a level is available.
Weight – The Ark equivalent of eating too much at Christmas. As you collect materials on your travels you will quickly become encumbered and your movement speed will dramatically decrease until you are unable to move – unload often.
Thirst – Does what it says on the tin. When empty your thirsty. This will eventually kill you after rendering you unconscious several times. Find a water source and press ‘e’ to drink or go for a swim. Rain also refreshes your thirst whilst you are pressing ‘e’.
Hunger – You hungry! Same deal as thirst will render you unconscious if left empty too long and eventually kill you. You may also notice this symbol is currently grey. This means you need to poop! Yep poop. Hit the ‘+’ key on your numeric keypad to poop. Whilst constipated you will consume food at an increased rate so keep an eye on it.
Stamina – Fancy going for a jog? Make sure you stop and let your stamina refill. Things like running, jumping and swimming decrease your stamina. Especially dangerous if swimming as you will not be able to reach the surface to breathe. Also not a good idea to run out whilst fleeing for your life.
Health – Everything is fine as long as this is above 1. Health can be regenerated passively over time or by eating if you are hungry. There’s also several items you will come across that provide health boosts.
Status effect – This area will display all status effects currently active on you. For a full list of buffs and debuffs please visit – https://ark.gamepedia.com/Status_Effects
Across the bottom of the screen you have your action bar. Just drop an item in a slot and press the corresponding key to use the item.
So now we know what we are looking at let’s get back to punching those trees. Be warned that using your fists will cause your health to decrease. Who would have thought punching a tree would hurt? But never fear engrams are here!
Ark Survival Evolved Engrams
So, what are engrams I hear you cry. Engrams are basically items that become available for you to craft as you progress through the Ark. You start on a beach with nothing, but you and a volleyball but will soon end up living in a palace with a special throne for the aforementioned ball of volleying. As you progress through the levels you will be given a set amount of engram points to spend. The important things to aim for when starting are a pick and hatchet. Then move onto a campfire so you can cook food. Our server runs a mod called better reusables, so you can craft things like spears and instead of (like on official servers) getting one use out of it, the item lasts forever and ever and ever (until it breaks and needs repairing). So, what next? A spear of course! Battle back against the tyrant Ants and Dilophosaur.
You will also notice structures become available, starting with thatch then moving to wood, stone, metal and finally tek. One of the first challenges facing you is setting up a base of operations to store all your items and provide a safe place to rest, craft items and logout of the game. Crafting a bed or sleeping bag will allow you to re-spawn at your base if (hahaha WHEN) you die. Be aware that sleeping bags are single use so aim to create a simple bed as soon as you can. You should aim to upgrade your base as new engrams become available.
Another mod we run on our cluster is called the death recovery mod. Go to your engram page and at the top is a search book. Search for gravestone. You need to craft ‘a personal gravestone’ and place it in your base as soon as Arkily possible. This will allow you to press ‘e’ whilst looking at your gravestone and all the items you were carrying will appear back in you inventory as if by magic. We all hate losing our gear no matter how long you have been playing.
This leads us nicely onto…..
Don’t panic! We all die. It happens, its part of the game. When you die you will be presented with the ark map again. You will have the same options to re-spawn at a random location by picking an option from the right or if you have managed to start a base and place a bed, simply click the bed icon and you will re-spawn there (back at your beds location). Don’t have a gravestone placed? You have around 20 minutes to return to your corpse to recover your items.
Congratulations! You have managed to survive long enough gain a few levels. But what do we need? Well, I will tell you. Weight! Weight weight and bit more weight. Ok so not all weight but it is the stats that’s going to be the most use to you moving forward. Some recipes use a lot of resources and you are required to hold them all while you craft so if your weight isn’t high enough your not going to be able to! Another approach is to put your first few points into movement speed (then build add to weight), if you can outrun a dinosaur you will survive. Once you have points in both speed and weight you will be able to run away and carry your items….
From top to bottom you stats are as follows
Health – How much damage you can take until you see a bright light. – generally I end up with about 200 HP, allows me to survive the occasional mistake.
Stamina – how far that raptors got to chase you for its lunch – as you gain levels you will use dinos more and more, making stamina pretty useless.
Oxygen – how long you can hold your breath – fairly useless in a standard play-through. You will eventually unlock scuba gear to allow you to breath underwater.
Food – How long till your trying to decide if that unknown tin in the cupboard is worth trying – Again a fairly useless stat. Food in ARK is varied and plentiful.
Weight – There it is. This will be your most useful stat as you level. Allowing you to foray further and bring more back – I like to get around 500 before putting stats elsewhere
Melee Damage – can be useful at lower levels but does what it says – MELEE damage – useless for ranged weapons which you will be using as soon as possible.
Movement Speed – Give road runner a race – Again you will be using dinos the higher you go. Can be helpful but not necessary
Crafting Skill – This denotes how fast you craft things and if working from a blueprint can increase the quality of the item produced – best left until you reach a higher level and unlocked better items.
Fortitude – How long it takes to knock you out and how much effect the environment has on you – I usually put this up to 20. It means if something sneaks up on you and your quick you can run away before you go to lullaby land and provide a snake with a handy snack.
It’s important to note your stats are not permanent – you can craft a soup called mindwipe elixir which resets all your stats and engrams back to 0 and allows you to redistribute them. This is limited to once every 24hrs.
Its good to talk right? Well on our servers it is. Rarely have I met a more friendly and helpful bunch. Got a question? Not sure what to do? Hit enter and ask away. We have ‘cross server chat’ that allows everyone on every map to talk to each other, so even if you feel all alone and lost, help is never far away. Not to mention our friendly and active admins who have a depressing number of hours logged in game.
There’s not much they don’t know and if they don’t, they know how to find the answer.
Got a more serious problem? Hit enter and type /help (without the <>) this will send a message to our discord help channel and alert all admins that you need assistance. You can then chat with them in game or jump into discord with them for a cup of tea, a nice biscuit and a natter (I’m English does it show?). By pressing F1 in game you will pop up our welcome board that has all our server rates (how many more resources you get compared to official servers for example), it also has a link to our discord and website.
As well as pressing enter to talk globally you can also press insert to talk locally and press ‘/’ to talk privately to your tribe.
Which leads us into (I’m getting good at these links)
Now you’re in game. You have the basics down. You are a one-person surviving machine! But you feel hollow and empty. Join a tribe! Not everyone enjoys playing on their own and that’s what tribes are for. There’s lots of perks to being in a tribe including shared experience as well as quicker resource gathering (4 arms are better than 2 am I right?). And the help of potentially more experienced players.
Ask in chat if your interested in joining a tribe or bring your friends and start your own tribe as you learn together, safety in numbers.
Hopefully this has provided an insight into how to get started in ark. I will follow this up with another article covering taming and dealing with dinos.