A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ark: Survival Evolved is a downloadable survival game. Players arrive on an island called Ark with nothing and must learn to survive but also discover that the landmass is full of dinosaurs and other primeval creatures. It can be played solo or on multiplayer servers, as player-vs.-environment and player-vs.-player. Gameplay is slow and requires patience, dedication, and planning, but working with other players will speed up progress, allowing for development of larger compounds and earlier levels. Though communication is useful for working together, parents should be aware that multiplayer is unmoderated, exposing players to potential inappropriate language. The world is dangerous and violence is necessary to survive, so players will need to kill animals before they kill you with fists, stone weapons, or firearms. There's minor blood splatter when fighting, and bodies that are slain remain until they're harvested.
What's it about?
ARK: SURVIVAL EVOLVED is a game of survival in a harsh world. As a man or woman waking up on a strange island with nothing, players must use their fists to gather resources until they can build basic tools. At that point, they use those tool to gather additional resources to build shelter and clothing. Eventually, players will explore the tropical island, trying to avoid the roaming indigenous population of dinosaurs. Characters will start hunting small dinos for meat and hides and eventually will learn how to tame the beasts. Over time, players will build more complex structures and equipment and form tribes, all in the name of survival in this wild land.
Is it any good?
Set in a lush world of dinosaurs, this action-packed title pushes the limits of a survival game. Though playing Ark: Survival Evolved can be difficult and time-consuming, especially when you're taming dinosaurs, it's extremely engaging and addictive. The ability to play alone on your own server is a nice feature, giving you time to get familiar with the basic features. Of course, if you really want to make your time in Ark more immersive, you need to join a server with others. If you choose a PvE (player-vs.-enemy) server, you get the benefits of working with other players to help you progress through levels and building a thriving society of cooperation and completion. If you're looking for more of a challenge, jump onto a PvP (player-vs.-player) server and see if you can stake a claim on the island while defending yourself from rival communities.
Surprisingly, even though this isn't designed to be an educational game, Ark provides a very detailed dossier on the creatures you encounter. Designed to help with gameplay, this information also teaches about the dinosaurs in a manner that's very entertaining and memorable. In fact, these lessons take you beyond the violence of the game and get you to appreciate the world and the creatures that live in it. The one significant downside is that you have to constantly keep an eye out for safe, secure locations when you're ready to stop playing. See, when you're logged out, your avatar remains in the last location you left it in the game world, meaning it can be killed by roaming animals or enemy players. If you're killed, you'll lose all the items on your person unless you return to your body within a certain amount of time. That hard-core gameplay element can annoy or even frustrate some players. Ark: Survival Evolved may not be for everyone, but for those looking for a challenge, its engaging action and society-building mechanics will keep you entertained for a long time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about teamwork and communication. How does proper communication foster teamwork? Do you like playing with someone who’s polite or rude?
Talk about the impact of media violence in games such as Ark: Survival Evolved. Do you think the violence in this game is justified because it's against dinosaurs, which clearly don't exist any longer? Is the violence against dinosaurs and other human players too much?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Subjects: Science: animals
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, investigation, part-whole relationships
Creativity: combining knowledge, imagination, making new creations
Self-Direction: achieving goals, effort, goal-setting, personal growth, time management, work to achieve goals
Emotional Development: persevering, perspective taking
Communication: friendship building
Collaboration: cooperation, group projects, meeting challenges together, respecting other viewpoints, teamwork
Responsibility & Ethics: honoring the community, integrity, learning from consequences, making wise decisions, respect for others
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Studio Wildcard
- Release date: June 2, 2015
- Genre: Massively Multi-player Online Game (MMOG)
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Ocean creatures, Science and nature, Wild animals
- ESRB rating: NR
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.