Redefining the Survival Genre with ARK 2 and an Update from our Studio Founders
- By StudioWildcard
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We have so much on the horizon for the ARK universe and we don’t want to keep our community waiting any longer so let’s skip the preamble and jump right in!
We are currently working on our expansive sequel with all our might! But we have postponed the release date to 2023 in order to create an adventure that will be unforgettable for everyone, respectful of our team’s health, realize the potential of upgrading to Unreal 5, and to introduce revolutionary full mod support for console players! ARK 2 will launch in 2023, simultaneously on Steam Early Access and as a console launch exclusive for Xbox Series X|S and with Xbox and PC Game Pass on Game Preview.
We believe that ARK 2 will be the ultimate primal survival experience and want to devote the resources needed to bring that to fruition. When you finally take your first steps onto the beautiful and dangerous new world of Arat in 2023, we intend that it’ll have been worth the time to get there.
You can now wishlist ARK 2 on Steam here!
Suddenly awakened on a strange primal world filled with dinosaurs and humans struggling for dominance; you must piece together the history of how you arrived there, team-up with legendary heroes, and confront powerful dark forces seeking to control the fate of all life. Saddle up, and join the definitive next-generation survival experience with ARK 2!
Every aspect of the ARK series has been rethought and redesigned in this sequel. Here's a sampling of the new features that ARK 2 will contain upon its initial Early Access and Game Preview release:
Starring Vin Diesel ("Fast Franchise") as legendary ARK hero Santiago, experience an epoch-spanning adventure as he seeks to protect his daughter Meeka -- voiced by Auli'i Cravalho ("Moana") -- from the ghosts of the ancient past and visions of a new future.
Fully stackable, user-created Mods for new creatures, items, gameplay features, and maps are now distributed across all platforms -- including onto Xbox -- and support for modded servers enabled through official mod support by mod.io!
Here’s a little bit more information about this new technology partnership:
"mod.io is a cross-platform UGC solution, supporting 11 game systems and stores. By partnering with mod.io, we are connecting ARK 2 with a complete ecosystem in which mods can exist, be presented, and accessed in-game. We’re excited to see our vision for Mods powered by proven tech, and deliver the best possible experience for players, everywhere they can play ARK 2."
Advanced character traversal mechanics like mantling, free-climbing, parkour, sliding, and swinging!
Target-lock, blocks, dodges, combos, staggers, special attacks, emphasizing player-skill-based action.
Explore a mysterious, chaotic world where native flora and fauna are being overrun by invasive primeval creatures from an extinct Earth!
Construct your weapons and tools from a range of distinct modules to customize their look and functionality -- millions of possible combinations enable you to craft your own unique gear! The specific materials you choose will further affect the appearance of your items, with multiple options of resources found in unique regions of the world.
Natural and unnatural occurrences are always happening across the game world, independent of your presence! Your choices in deciding whether to interact with these events will yield rewards or challenges.
Hostile 'Aratai' hunt & attack you riding their own tamed creatures, as they seek to drive human interlopers from their world.
Instanced rendering and network-streaming enable much higher client and server performance for large, player-built structures, and a longer draw distance! Survivors can set up and save their own preferred building templates, share them, and place prospective template layouts in the world to then build them out as a team.
No omnipresent radar -- animals now track and hunt by sight, sound, and smell! Hide from predators with visual camouflage and environmental obstructions, and learn to mask your scent! Dynamic pathfinding enables creatures to intelligently maneuver around obstacles and player-built structures.
Gain both experience points from gameplay, and knowledge points by accomplishing key objectives and overcoming unique challenges, to progress along a massive skill tree filled with new active abilities, perks, and passive benefits.
See foliage react convincingly to passing wildlife, water flow downstream around obstacles, volumetric stormclouds, localized weather systems, smoke and particles affected by physical forces, and much more! Fundamental advancement of lighting systems enables a more photorealistic day-night cycle, generating real-time ambient lighting & shadows within both natural and player-constructed environments!
As we journey into the next evolution of ARK, Jesse and Jeremy reflected on the time they’ve spent creating ARK and wanted to include a personal message about ARK 2 to the community.
The future of survival games begins with ARK 2
When we first released ARK: Survival Evolved in 2015, we had no idea how big it would eventually become. It was beyond our wildest expectations that 7 years later we’d be developing an eons-spanning narrative across multiple games, a TV series, and starring none other than Vin Diesel as key ARK hero Santiago. And yet here we are, together with our wonderful players who have stuck with the ARK universe through thick (RAGNAROK!!) and thin (FLYER NERF??), now having a canvas far bigger than ever before.
That’s what ARK 2 is – the biggest canvas ever for primal survival experiences, a next-generation framework to play out your own survival stories.
ARK 2’s main narrative tells the story of a father and a daughter (“Meeka” played by Auli'i Cravalho!), of betrayal & broken promises, and the strength of the family bond – and of course, it’s a story of badass giant dinosaurs. But even more importantly, this is about players’ own stories – like any good persistent-world online survival game, ‘Survivors’ in ARK 2 each have their own unique path through the game, as they form their own tribe, make their own friends, and attempt to build their own creature-aided civilization.
With ARK 2, we’re seeking not only to enhance the game’s narrative and world-building, but also retouch and improve on all aspects of what constitutes an ARK game.
Foremost among these redesigns are the core player mechanics. In the sequel, which is third-person-only, controls and movement for both players and creatures have been completely redesigned. Taking inspiration from game systems like Assassin’s Creed’s automatic parkour and Breath of the Wild’s climbing, player characters can now clamber over the environment in a more realistic and freeform manner. With a focus on primitive-era combat (Santiago and Tek have a ‘complicated’ relationship…), ARK 2 draws heavily from Souls-like action for its human-scale combat: an emphasis on dodges, blocks, light and heavy attacks, combos, and player-reflex skill – a rarity for the PvP survival genre. For creature-scale combat, suffice it to say for now that when you attack something with your T-Rex in ARK 2, the results are visceral: the animation of the attack actually hard-impacts on the target (not “passing through” it), the victim’s flesh is torn, and the target physically reacts at that location to the hit – all to convey the feeling of the raw power of such a ferocious creature!
Another area that we’re particularly excited about is the World Event system. Rather than simply having a more-or-less static environment with easily predictable or repetitive occurrences ala ARK 1, the new World Event system is designed to ensure that unique things are always happening around the world, whether you are there or not. Events include procedurally-dynamic scenarios like watering hole gatherings, wounded creatures, tracking the signs of advanced prey, stampedes, herds, defending endangered creatures to earn their trust, finding dens of parent creatures and their young, and more. Whether you choose to engage with these events is up to you, and each can yield unique rewards and challenges.
There are too many other areas of fundamental changes in ARK 2, whether it’s the new opposing-force ‘Aratai’ who have their own tames, the new Creature Management & proper World Map systems, the advanced component-based item crafting that enables players to choose exactly what their gear looks and functions like from millions of potential combinations, or the revamped build system which provides innumerable more building options and enables saving & sharing of build templates – or, or…well, there’s just too much to go over here! You’ll get your first preview of the ARK 2 gameplay down the road, and we think you’ll like what you see.
Finally, saving perhaps the best for last, ARK 2 adds a revolutionary new feature for console players: fully stackable, user-created mods, including on unofficial servers, for the Xbox version of the game enabled through official mod support by mod.io! This means that players who create mods using the PC version will be able to upload them to the cloud and make them available for all console players to enjoy as well. With this, as we’ve seen with ARK 1 on PC, everything in the game can effectively be changed, improved, and redesigned: new creatures, new game types, new maps, new weapons & items, and mechanics (yes modders can re-add First Person mode 😉 ).
With the power of Unreal Engine 5, the only limit will be the imagination of the content creators themselves. We’re super stoked to witness the mind-blowing additions that players will no doubt create in their mods and maps – and we believe that having all such user generated content playable on console in ARK 2, with complete cross-platform server integration, is going to change the nature of the genre forever.
Put simply: with ARK 2, our goal is to make the game that we all wanted ARK 1 to be – now that we’ve had the time, resources, and knowledge to do it right. So in 2023 on Xbox & PC Game Pass, we’ll look forward to seeing you all in this new world of primeval creatures and legendary heroes. Just keep an eye out for Vin – he likes to play on his Series X more than you might expect, and his skill at wrangling a Giga is unequaled…
Jeremy Stieglitz, Jesse Rapczak and the Wildcard team.
ARK’s development has always benefited from external teams providing their expertise for ARK’s myriad of content and game systems. Whether it be Instinct Games, Efecto Studios, or another developer that’s partnered with us during the creation of ARK: Survival Evolved, we’ve always leveraged the amazing talent from external studios to create the best version of ARK for our fans.
In that spirit, we’re partnering with Grove Street Games to co-develop ARK 2 and rewrite the ARK Nintendo Switch code with a full revamp of gameplay functionality, graphics, and optimization. Thomas Williamson, the Director of Grove Street, will be Development Director and Technical Director of ARK 2 with parts of the Grove Street Games team also joining ARK 2’s production in a development partnership.
Jeremy and Jesse will balance their time between games and the expansion of the ARK franchise across multiple platforms and formats, with Jeremy focusing his creative efforts on the TV series and other initiatives, whilst continuing to serve as Executive Producer of ARK 2. Jesse will continue as Creative Director of ARK 2 and co-creator of the TV series.
We are beyond-thrilled that Thomas and the incredibly talented team at Grove Street Games have opted to go all-in on partnering up to build the next iterations of the ARK franchise. By combining Grove Street's amazing capabilities with Studio Wildcard, we’re confident ARK 2 is going to be a mind-blowing experience!
We know many of you have also been waiting expectantly for news on the Animated Series, and we’re so looking forward to being able to share more with everyone about it.
The Series now has fourteen 30-minute episodes in post-production! To celebrate this milestone, we have released the first poster images of key characters from the show, available here.
ARK: The Animated Series chronicles the story of a mysterious primeval land populated by dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, where people from throughout human history have been resurrected. When 21st century Australian paleontologist Helena Walker awakes on the ARK after tragedy, she must learn to survive and find new allies, or die again at the hands of ruthless warlords -- all while trying to uncover the true nature of their strange new world.
Jay Oliva (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox) has taken on the role of Executive Producer, Director, and Co-Showrunner, alongside ARK franchise creators Jeremy Stieglitz and Jesse Rapczak, with the series being produced at Glendale-based Lex+Otis animation studio. Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded) and Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Bad Batch) have also joined the series’ talented cast.
The show features an extraordinary voice cast, including Gerard Butler (300), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Madeleine Madden (The Wheel of Time), Devery Jacobs (American Gods), Deborah Mailman (Total Control), Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), Elliot Page (The Umbrella Academy), Ragga Ragnars (Vikings), David Tennant (Good Omens), Alan Tudyk (Rogue One), Karl Urban (The Boys), Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), Ron Yuan (Mulan), with Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Vin Diesel reprising his role as franchise hero, Santiago.
We look forward to sharing more news soon!
In April we announced that Nintendo Switch would be receiving a completely rehauled version of ARK that will include enhancements and upgrades to bring it into line, visually and functionally, with the experience on Xbox One and PS4.
Today, we’re happy to share an update on the progress and more information on ARK: Ultimate Survivor Edition!
ARK: Ultimate Survivor Edition will introduce new story cutscenes to conclude each ARK map, featuring actors Maddy Madden (The Wheel of Time) and David Tennant (Doctor Who) reprising their respective roles as Helena Walker and Sir Edmund Rockwell. All of Helena’s and Rockwell’s Dossiers and Explorer Notes will also be voiced by the actors, as will survivors’ epic confrontation versus Rockwell on ARK Aberration. Madden will also voice the cheery robot-AI guide HLN-A in the "Young Explorer's Mode" that will lead players through ARK in a low-pressure, kid-friendly, dino-fact-filled adventure.
We’re happy to show you what to expect in September, so Tune in at 1:30pm Pacific Monday, June 13, to /twitchgaming livestream to see the first gameplay of ARK: Ultimate Survivor Edition on Switch.
Be sure to check out our previous post for more details on the upcoming update.
Fjordur, the newest official ARK community map, released today on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Stadia! Free to download for all ARK players, this Nordic-style, cold-weather map features four new creatures to tame and over 140 sq kilometers of new biomes, new challenges, and rewarding discoveries!
If you’ve ever wanted an easy selling point to convince your friends to join you on your quest for ultimate survival, there might never be a better opportunity!
Head to Steam where ARK: Survival Evolved is free-to-permanently-own for anyone who claims the game before June 19 at 10AM PDT! This is a limited-time offer, so call your aspiring survivalists, tribe up, and join in on the adventure!
It’s been an amazing ride as we begin to close out ARK 1 with the release of Fjordur and the upcoming inclusion of the Carcharodontosaurus. We’re so proud of what this game has become over these past 7 years with the passionate support and inspiration from our wonderful ARK community.
With ARK 2 now on the horizon, we’re energized to ascend into a new generation of gaming. Unreal Engine 5 is empowering us to make the game everything it can be. Any Homo Deus would be proud to see it in action, and we look forward to having all of you come join us in the next evolution of the ARK franchise!
The Studio Wildcard Team
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