Is It Too Late? Official Release and ARK Survival Evolved Tek Tier
The wait is finally over! The release date for the PS4, Xbox One and PC is set for August 29, 2017. The initial August 8 launch date was delayed after Wildcard (the developer) stated that the release certification process “took a little longer than expected.” No more surprises, hopefully! Also, there’s this thing called the ARK Survival Evolved Tek Tier which happened a while ago, but we’ll talk about that later.
Now, we could easily reframe the question in the title this way: “Is It Too Early for the ARK: Survival Evolved Official Release?” Depending on your point of view, both are valid questions. However, the perspective of veteran players is skewed towards the former. The reasons for such bitter outlook are plentiful.
The Troubled Past
ARK: Survival Evolved has spent more than 2 years in Early Access. During that time, the game has successfully lived through multiple iterations and major updates, including 4 DLCs. It still logs more than 50,000 active players every day. There is no looming danger of a declining playerbase.
So, where’s the problem? Well, lots of day 1 issues haven’t been resolved. The game is still riddled with bugs and glitches that are easily exploitable. Performance is still atrocious across a wide range of machines. Even players with higher end computers are forced to play the game on low settings to get an acceptable frame rate. Let’s shift gears and discuss ARK’s update.
Tek Tier Travesty
ARK has always been a slow, grinding game with an incomplete and complex background story. At first, you are stranded in the middle of nowhere with all these prehistoric dinosaurs, grinding your way out for survival.
On the other hand, you have this strange, alien looking Specimen Implant in your left arm that’s tied to your Inventory, Crafting, Leveling and Engrams. Also, the Specimen links to your obelisks, air drops, contemporary weapons, modern looking structures, air drops, character Ascension, and so on.
The “Tek Tier” update in January 2017 has received, to put it lightly, “mixed” reviews, so far. The game was no longer primarily about surviving in a harsh environment full of prehistoric dinosaurs and ill-meaning neighbours. It was about surviving the onslaught of alpha tribe maniacs in futuristic, alien space suits.
For most people, it became a ridiculously slow race towards end gear so that you can at least level the playing field. Good luck going in solo with painfully low drop rates, long tame timers, and snail-paced progression.
Simply put, “Tek Tier” has given big, alpha tribes on official servers too big of an advantage over smaller tribes. Through organized cooperation, they can swiftly gather all the Tek Tier gear and bully everybody else.
What about those few leftover, lone wolves that still build huts somewhere in the corner of the map? Well, they are running out of reasons to continue playing with tribalistic Iron Men flying all over the place and Laser Dinos tearing everything that moves in the near vicinity.
Official Server Travel
The ability to transfer from one official server to another, with all your gear and dinos, amplifies the issues described above even more. You have situations where entire tribes, all topped up with endgame gear, roam from server to server like SS regiments. These super-tribes slaughter everything in their path, wreaking havoc wherever they go and prevent any meaningful progress for the duration of their stay there. Then, when there are not enough players and dinosaurs left to kill, they leave and start over on another official server.
In the end, this leaves most of the official PVP servers in ruins – wastelands full of lone wolves and small tribes fighting over scraps, while organized tribes bully everybody into submission and retreat. Sure, there are enough PVE and private servers around to avoid all these problems. If all else fails, you still have single player mode. But let’s face it, for most of us, it’s simply not fun when there’s no human-to-human challenge. Also, it feels like you are not able to enjoy the full scope of the game. You’ve paid access to the entire content, and now you’re being denied the opportunity to do so. Feels like robbery, doesn’t it?
Let’s be honest here – ARK: Survival Evolved isn’t the first survival game to suffer from bugs, glitches, poor performance, toxic community and questionable game design decisions. DayZ, WarZ, Rust, H1Z1 and other survival sandboxes had issues similar to or worse than those in ARK.
Now, before we get into the meat of the pricing problem, let’s just remember ARK: Scorched Earth DLC. The expansion pack was released back in September 2016 for PC and Xbox One at the price of €/$19.99 ($23.45), followed by a PS4 release in December. Some eyebrows got raised in the process, but the increase in daily logins reflected it as a net-gain move in the end.
However, Wildcard (the developer) recently raised the price for the base game by 100%! An already steep price of €/$29.99 ($35.18) has now been raised to €/$59.99 ($70.38). The outcry was instant and massive. An avalanche of bad reviews was left on ARK’s official Steam Store page following the price spike. There’s a legitimate concern among players regarding Wildcard’s true intentions behind this decision. Shareholders surely played a part in this move, but to what extent? Is this a calculated move on their part to have a more controlled launch, or just the last quick cash grab before the “magical” Early Access phase is officially over?
ARK: Survival Evolved is still a good survival sandbox. With the pros and cons, it’s a jam packed grinder with enough robust and compelling content to keep you playing for a long time. However, in my opinion, the scope of issues the game faces invalidates the €/$60 ($70.39) price tag.
Ultimately, the answer to questions of timing, whether it’s too late or too early for the official release is yes. The game has been in Early Access for two years, with certain core problems still unresolved. So, in that regard, it’s still too early, especially now that the game’s cost has doubled. Wildcard should prioritize polishing the game before official launch.
On the other hand, from a different POV, though, it’s too late. If the developers haven’t managed to fix the bad stuff, what guarantee do we have they’ll do it after release? After all, the official release signifies the game is complete and ready to be shipped.
It’s obvious that Wildcard’s general direction has taken a turn. They’ve been focusing on new content, DLCs, and pricing rather than methodically and strategically addressing the critical core game issues. In the end, the official release won’t mean much, a surface level change at best. However, I believe there’s still enough time left to change important things for the better. Let’s hope it happens.
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