Ark: Survival Evolved – Scorched Earth DLC Review – Brutal but Fun

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Ark: Survival Evolved – Scorched Earth DLC
Studio Wildcard

I know, I know…it seems like every time you turn around, someone else is coming out with yet another survival game. Whether it be post-apocalyptic zombie survival (H1Z1, Day Z, 7 Days to Die), purely post-apocalyptic (Rust), science fiction survival (Osiris – New Dawn, Empyrion – Galactic Survival), or survival horror (Outlast, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard), survival games are more popular than ever and see no signs of slowing down.

But what if you wanted a survival game that evoked the style and sensibilities of Jurassic Park, where you had to struggle against all sorts of cool dinosaurs roaming the lands? Well, the fine folks at Studio Wildcard have an answer for you in a game called Ark: Survival Evolved.

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A gaming friend and I actually picked Ark: Survival Evolved up a few months ago. However, we’ve been playing other survival games such as Rust, 7 Days to Die, and Miscreated, as of late, and haven’t had the time to really try anything else out. Ark has just recently released a few pretty hefty updates, and so I became more interested in playing it. Since I’d read that Ark’s DLC, titled Ark: Survival Evolved – Scorched Earth DLC, was a much more PvE experience compared to the vanilla game, which is more PvP, I convinced my friend to also pick it up during a recent sale.

What I conveniently didn’t tell him was that unlike vanilla Ark, which takes place on a tropical island, Scorched Earth’s setting is based within highly inhospitable desert. Call me a masochist, but I secretly wanted to test our ample survival mettle, honed and forged by many hours of Rust play, against the harshest Ark experience that could be offered up. Well, this is what happened…

First of all, Ark, like many other survival games out there, is a game where you start off with nothing (in this case merely your underwear), and have to scavenge for your basic needs (health/food/thirst), build a base, craft weapons, equipment, and clothing, and survive against the denizens of the land. My friend and I soon found out that in Scorched Earth, the environmental weather factors are also a dangerous threat. Not only that, but hydration is much more of an issue in Scorched Earth than it is in vanilla Ark.

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No sooner had we both spawned in and began looking for food and water than we noticed that the game’s primeval creatures are everywhere. Literally anywhere I looked, I saw something large, lumbering, and terrifying—a giant multi-horned beastie here; a large flapping bee-like monstrosity there; a cute, cuddling-looking big eared creature, semi-concealed in some nearby bushes. Wait…a soft, innocent looking cute thing hiding out within close proximity to me? I promptly leapt at the cute creature and bashed it brains out with my bare fists. That would be our dinner for the evening.

Scorched Earth really brings out the “S” in survival, because you really feel as though you are just a small cog somewhere in an vast ecosystem, and that just about everything around you is higher up on the food chain than you are.

The very next thing that we noticed was that our thirst meters were practically empty within a few minutes of spawning in. Luckily, we’d begun our little adventures in an “Easy” spawnpoint, which was within a canyon area containing a few little water ponds scattered about. I couldn’t imagine spawning in one of the medium or hard areas, which contained mainly arid deserts.

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But navigating down to the water sources wouldn’t be that simple. In our first few attempts at getting to them, we became food for some of the more cantankerous dinosaurs. After finally making it down to the shallow pools of glorious water, we dove right in and splashed about like little over-excited girl scouts. Then my buddy yelled out something to the effect of: “Oh…no…please…no!” I glanced over, and swooping right above us was an absolutely gigantic dragon.

If my character could have turned pale blue with fright, he would have. All we could do was marvel at the apex predator, one of the new creatures featured in Scorched Earth (there are 11 new ones added to the base game in total). I did hear my friend’s character defecate…or had that been mine? That’s all we could really do—attempting to flee such a gargantuan beast would have been pure folly.

“Hey there, guys,” someone suddenly said. Strangely, the voice (Scorched Earth featured local voice controls) seemed to have been emanating from the dragon. A talking dragon—I wondered? Then we spied another player’s head and shoulder atop the hulking beast’s form. That’s right, many creatures in Ark are tamable and can be ridden as well—I suddenly remembered. I’d also read somewhere that because Scorched Earth is so inhospitable that it’s much more of a PvE affair.

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We meekly greeted our new acquaintance, as two other lads riding giant eagles landed nearby. They asked us if we needed anything, and before we could answer, began dropping weapons and supplies in front of us. Apparently, we were such a non-threat that they felt sorry for us. We inquired as to a few survival matters, and they answered us courteously enough. And then we were off to begin building our very first base. Long reared in Rust’s kill-on-sight atmosphere, Scorched Earth was indeed a breath of fresh, friendly-player air.

After erecting our first wooden base, we learnt more about Scorched Earth’s decently varied crafting and building system. We also figured out how the experience system works—each time you level up, you can increase your stats, as well as gain access to new crafting and building recipes. All pretty standard survival game stuff. Ark players certainly will be at home here.

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In all, my experiment of skipping the vanilla Ark: Survival Evolved base game, and trying the much harsher DLC out first, has paid off. It’s extremely challenging, but with the right bit of ingenuity (and hopefully some teamwork and cooperation), you can eke out a living within Scorched Earth’s environs. Now that I’ve played it, I’m curious about trying out the base Ark game, and I’d imagine that I’ll have a natural advantage now that I’ve played its much harder expansion.

SCORE: 83%

Ark: Survival Evolved – Scorched Earth DLC comes complete with some excellent visuals that suit its dinosaur-tastic theme. However, you have to have a fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

 

Visit CyberpowerPC’s website to check out all of the other great deals as well!

 

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