Prepare to say goodbye to the official servers of ARK: Survival Evolved. The servers will be shutting down today, September 30th, at midnight UTC (1am BST on October 1st). This move comes as Studio Wildcard paves the way for the release of the piecemeal remake, Ark: Survival Ascended, which will soon be available on Steam Early Access.
Before the servers shut down, a snapshot of all player saves uploaded to official servers will be taken. These saved files will then be made available for players to download on Thursday, October 5th. This allows players to either host the save offline or on a private dedicated server if they wish to continue their ARK adventure. It’s important to note that items, dinos, and characters uploaded to the ARK cloud will not be included in the save. Prior to the save on September 30th, players are advised to download anything they wish to keep from the cloud.
Ark: Survival Ascended takes the dino-breeding survival game and brings it to the next level by using Unreal Engine 5. This not only cleans up the codebase but also opens up opportunities for additional functionality, including crossplay with console releases. However, the primary purpose of this remake is to fund the development of Ark 2. Studio Wildcard explained in a recent Q&A on Steam that “developing a next-generation sequel while no longer releasing paid expansion packs has proven difficult for our studio’s long-term survival, so we need to continue generating revenue while we develop ARK 2.” They also stated that they wanted to provide the community with a classic ARK experience through Survival Ascended.
Survival Ascended will introduce new creatures and structures, a revamped island layout, and graphical upgrades that take advantage of Unreal Engine 5’s impressive water and physics effects. However, many of the expansion content from Survival Evolved will be absent at launch, including the highly anticipated crossplay feature. Studio Wildcard acknowledges that there will be bugs and issues with the game at launch and that they would prefer to focus on quickly patching the Steam platform. Once the game stabilizes, they will explore enabling full crossplay.
There is currently no gameplay footage available for Survival Ascended, but Studio Wildcard assures players that a trailer and screenshots will be released before the game’s October launch. Initially, developers indicated that Survival Ascended would be a free upgrade for Survival Evolved players. However, due to the delay of Ark 2 and the need for continued revenue, Studio Wildcard adjusted their plan. They decided to sell Ark: Survival Ascended as part of a bundle with an Ark 2 pre-order, which would cost $50. This announcement sparked a backlash, leading to further changes. The pre-order of the expansion remasters was separated from the Ark 2 bundle and priced at $60. Subsequently, the project faced another delay, pushing one of the expansions released until December. As a result, the final price for Ark: Survival Ascended is set at $45 or $40 with a launch discount.
As someone who only played a small portion of Ark: Survival Evolved, the pricing and release strategy for Survival Ascended leaves me slightly bemused. The game has achieved significant success, with over 30 million copies sold and a large player base through Game Pass. Asking players to pay for a partial Early Access remake of a game they already own, solely to support the development of a Souls-like sequel that may not appeal to many fans, seems like a bold strategy. However, for die-hard ARK enthusiasts, the prospect of exploring the revamped island and experiencing the graphical upgrades with Unreal Engine 5 may outweigh any concerns about the pricing model. Ultimately, the decision to invest in Survival Ascended rests with the players and their enthusiasm for the future of the ARK franchise.