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ARK: Survival Evolved - Cave Redesign

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Hey guys,

Our Level Designers are currently working through bringing some of our older caves up to scratch. They wanted to hear your thoughts on the current caves we have on the Island, both above ground and underwater caves. Ideally, they're looking for the most feedback in regards to these caves:

Central Cave:


Lower South Cave:


Upper South Cave:


South East Cave:


North East Cave:


North West Cave:


If you've yet to explore the caves, you can head over to the Wiki to find pretty specific coordinates and begin your expedition!

Let them know what you like and would like to see more of, what you're not so keen on and something you think they should consider. They'll be keeping an eye on this thread, and some others to see what you guys have to say.

If you've got images/videos, hell even a paint-drawing you'd like to share, don't hesitate to.

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I usually stay away from the caves. I frequented the central cave for awhile but was discouraged in the op centipedes. One hit with the venom and there goes my flak and I'm freezing to death. Made it to the trophy after a few tries and haven't been back. I can deal with the snakes, scorpions, spiders and even bats but those centipedes are way OP.

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The North East cave is a pretty perilous decent. Surely intentional I would imagine, but sometimes you almost fall off but only cling on by what feels like a glitch - your footing is lost but you're still clinging to the terrain somehow (with your shins?), and able to jump and fidget back onto the ledge. Maybe that's beyond level design but thought I'd mention it.

All that said I do like the overall feel to the cave!

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I agree with the post above. Better loot tables would make them worth repeating. Loot drops in caves should be higher grade and should be metal or better. Even at a high level soloing caves is difficult. The amount of time and effort in preparing to explore a cove should offer a reward that is worth it. Finding journeyman stone tools is disappointing when you have put together a group of people and crafted supplies. Tldr: better cave loot would encourage repeat play.

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The caves should be used as a team fight. I'd love to see the caves give very unique items and gear. Make them very worthy and challenging. The caves should be something fun to do with your friends to relax from the basic grind of ark.

Loot crates should be able to give good gear and weapons. Not blueprints but just the item itself. The creatures inside should also give decent loot on occasions. Maybe make the eggs from some of the creatures in the cave worth something like titanboa eggs. Make small loot boxes containing ammo, food, and gear located in different parts. Centipedes and spiders should be harvestable for a rare but useful resource that can't be obtained anywhere else. 

The caves could also introduce different kinds of items like amulets that give different boosts, useful Potions that can do the same as well. Maybe different kinds of shields. No blueprints because the could ruin the system. The caves could spawn certain resources used for taming, repairing, etc that would force people into the cave or have people trade for those items.

Just my 2 cents.

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I would also suggest revisiting the arthropleura destroying all armors. I understand the balance issue, but if they only destroyed flak and above then new life would be breathed into Chitin armor which IMO currently is worthless once you can build flak.

Secondly, crystal and metal spawn in the caves, but you can't always get a mount into each cave. So using the cave as a source of resources is really reasonable because they are more easily obtained elsewhere. 

As posted above, caves should reward team play in a way that is similar to raiding, especially for smaller tribes or PVE.


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I think the caves need to have more of a reason to enter them other than for artifacts , we need to see some types of special loot or better loot tables so as to encourage entry.

In terms of re-doing the caves I believe some of the main issues that need to be addressed are the scale of them and their creature spawns. For example the central cave is generally a simple 5 minute job as it is so small and the upper south cave is massive.

I think they need to filled better with creatures as having the same creatures spawn in them all is boring so maybe add some variability to them and add some intricacies to them as having just mass amounts of creatures in them is also boring since. Another thing to consider is the terrain in the caves and some of the creature AI as many creatures bug out on or get stuck on terrain. Yet another thing is maybe add some nooks and crannies that creatures could hide in (if AI is changed slightly) and strike from these hidden areas adding a sense of fear and forcing people to be cautious within the caves.

 I believe many of the caves lack character and feel empty in terms of the caves geometry.

Lastly just make the caves more unpredictable for survivors as right now we can expect whats gonna happen, some unpredictability would make the caves more exciting.

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I play on a player dedicated server, and the cave system is a bit broke. The SW cave has next to no spawning, and the lower south cave teleports us out. The only other cave we've been in is the NW cave, and that one is great so far. Still trying to make it through without getting wrecked, but that's half the fun. Although, the anthropleura destroying armor in one shot is too OP. It would also be better to get a wolf or saber into the all the caves as well. I agree that the caves could be more esthetically pleasing.

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One - Do the creatures in the cave not have oxygen? I've seen numerous spiders, centipedes, and snakes in the bottom of the pools of the cave not drowning.

Two - Would it be possible to have higher quality on the loot crates in there more often? Getting Ascendent lvl primitive tools (Clubs, Slingshots, ect) would be nice in the lower lvl caves.

Three - On all caves, could we have a "mini" boss guarding each artifact? Something akin to "alpha", except specific to the caves. Cave Leader Spider/Snake/Centipede? Have a chance to drop high quality loot equivalent to whats inside the cave, with a respawn time of ~5 hours or so.

Four - Why is there 6x increased structure damage inside the cave? Caves are a cool place to build a base, and bases are already easy enough to destroy, considering that explosives are more or less the only way to demolish metal, and stone. The only thing 6x increased structure damage does, PvP wise, is save on materials for the attackers. PvE wise, most creatures in the cave can't even damage stone.

Five - Caves should have a uniform temperature. You do not experience large drops and increases in temperature in caves in RL, deep caves tend to stay the same temperature all the time. Unless Ark tek is responsible for the constant variance in temperature?

Notes on the Lower South and South-East caves.

As the Lower South cave is the "starter" cave, I would remove Arthroplueras from it, given that Arthros are essentially a higher-tier creature, both in terms of stats and danger.


For the South-East cave, most ground-based creatures tend to fall in lava, and having a creature capable of jumping (Beezles are really good here) makes the cave more about managing your heat and water then fighting. The only threat from creatures in the SE cave are the Onycs, as for everything else, you can leap to another ledge and the creatures will fall into the lava in a misguided attempt to eat you. I would suggest replacing ALL spawns with Onycs in this cave, and eventually returning to add the Megalania, and perhaps the Mantis, as they will have the ability to leap over the lava.


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Cave General issue: Possibly a Mac only issue, but there's a 10-20 second pause when a cave loads and occasionally when leaving cave depths for the surface. The game just freezes up when you've entered the cave's first room. This isn't a guaranteed safe zone entering or leaving where something could pounce you.

I'd like general clarity on what's expected of gaps/jumps in caves. At least in PVE you can't always just build in the cave to overcome a sequence of very narrow ledge rising up to a gap to an upwards ledge over it?

The caves I saw were still affected by surface light and surface weather. Rain might not actually fall/restore water, but it did swing the cave temperatures around.And they were easier to see and navigate during the daylight.

I would like to ask for a formal request for clarity. A time frame when each cave update will occur. I presume all building and dinosaurs in caves will need to be wiped. A shame that I can't get my Ankylosaurs out, but understandable in the context. And I'd love to know so I can make sure to strip their inventories clean before the updates occur.

Mount AI: I don't know of a good solution to this, but i've lost mounts in a cave before because they weren't on follow. I killed some beasts, hopped off the Sabertooth to harvest some cave resources, and then had my Sabertooth go bounding off a ledge because it tried to eat a dead bat that had flopped precariously on the edge or a little beyond.


NE Cave: Carno Island.

While exploring this cave on a Sabertooth I was working my way down. But hit a situation 75% down where I encountered one group of bats/spiders on a ramp and it aggroed what felt like all of the bats remaining in the cave below me. This actually resulted in a dropped connection. And for a couple minutes I wasn't able to load back in. I was able to load back in eventually, the Sabertooth had fortunately fallen down below, taking bats with her before succumbing so I had none immediately on me and was able to grappling hook back out and make my way off Carno Island on foot.


SE Cave: Lava Cave

This cave is just evil with the jumps. Many that look like you might be able to make it, but actually angled slightly upwards, so nope. Oh and we drop you into lava. And even if you don't die immediately, there are few places to try and jump back out. And with the stone surfaces being built as a ledge atop of the lava you're more likely to end up trapped under that ledge then able to hit the surface of the lava to try and jump/grappling hook out.

Further evilness on jumps, those three narrow ledges that extend out, difficult to fit even a wolf or sabertooth on them, and then two of them zig and zag in the air making it hard to turn these creatures to navigate as well. And then the one that's ... basically the one that's when you go right on the main cave loop. This narrow ramp rises up over a gap, it zigs, and then it has a gap to a higher surface.

There were several niches and corners where the cave location (listed by 'H') varied from the cave's name to Underwater. No water effect visible, but the relative cool temperatures in those spaces was different, if useful.

The way that building interfered with cave drops was awkward. I have to build over these gaps for safety, but if I want cave drops to spawn I have to tear down all my building on the way out as well? Seeing as some of the best drops I can remember from this cave was a Journeyman Slingshot Blueprint and maybe a couple Journeyman Cloth pieces, the danger vs reward was awkward. Though from living near the cave for a bit and managing to get a sabertooth within as well as a couple Ankylosaur eggs, I was using the artifact at the bottom to decorate my bases.

Cave appearance could use an overhaul. It's generic and the current textures are a texture morass that makes judging what is wall, what is ceiling, and what is gap even more awkward than they need to be. I just can't read the basic geometry of the cave easily enough at all as these important surfaces blend together.

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     If I could only change one thing about caves, above all else I would change the loot system. As you might be able to tell from my profile picture I love “looter shooter” games or any game with a loot aspect. Ignoring beacons and deep sea loot crates for now, I feel that the cave loot drops are in a pretty bad place. I’m not saying I want mastercraft and ascendant quality items 100% of time when I loot a crate, I love the grind/ the hunt for more loot, but I think it is ridiculous that someone who is well equipped enough to, for example, get to the north east cave alive and clear the cave without dying be rewarded with a piece of cloth armor from a blue crate (this has happened to me multiple times). I think there should be a sort of ‘rule’ that the loot pool for cave crates cannot contain something that would not be a viable option to use while clearing a cave, otherwise caves are not worth looting because whatever items you used to get there are better than the loot you would get.

     Also I would like to talk about cave difficulty. I like that caves are an endgame repeatable activity, but judging by the loot crates in the south side of the island (green and blue crates only) it would imply that southern caves are meant for lower level survivors than northern cave. But the southern caves are still very dangerous and I would not attempt to explore them without full flak armor and fabricator weapons in which case I would be able to do the northern caves too so why bother with southern caves? If all caves are supposed to be equally difficult and all expect the same level survivors to explore them then why does, for example, central cave only have green and blue crates while north eastern cave can have red crates? I have explored every cave currently available, but I have never regularly gone to a southern cave for loot and I will continue to avoid them unless there is a new incentive to go to them, which is unfortunate because the caves are some of the coolest locations on the island.  

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I haven't been in all of the original caves but I do think the North West cave (Skylord) should only have spiders in it since the bats glitch through the walls all the time. And the artifact should be placed in an area that's harder to get to.

The cave on Dead island is very hard with all the bats in it, and that's fine. But I think it's way too hard to exit the cave, with the ledges being too thin and the jumps are almost impossible since ledge you're jumping to is usually much higher than the one you're jumping from (when climbing up).

I also agree with one of the previous most, about the arthropleura's acid spit. I think the chitin armor should be immune to it, since it's made from insect parts.


EDIT: Before I forget, I would also like you to make the game run better while inside the caves. I currently have to use extremely low memory settings to have more than 15 fps inside the caves, and I have a really good computer.

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Hey Devs, 

I hope you will see this post since I am happy that you finally asked about the caves. 

(Sry if you are not looking for visual ideas but that is the only thing that I have in mind so I thought I would still share it since you once said that you want to polish the caves visually also)

All the caves have something in common: they lack a unique style like the swamp or snow cave. also, you did an incredible job with the desert caves because they have their own atmosphere. Try to do that with all the caves on the island. I think you can make those caves bigger like in SE and make them beautiful pieces of landscape themselfes because at the moment those 'shiny' rocks and walls don't look good. I think the game offers us many ways to create beautiful and unique styles (maybe a fantasy cave) and that should be used. Also, ancient wall painitngs could be cool! And please, give the bats finally that animation so that they can hang down from the ceilings to make them actually 'cave-dweller-look' like

Here are some of my ideas:

1. For instance, create a huge abyss with lava like the world scar in SE but WITHIN the central cave! And since it is the central cave with lava in it, make it special and bigger and create a 'second world' with that abyss full of lava that you can only look into from a huge height! And if you fall in there..well  

2. But here is an idea that I had months ago, since the dire bear is out: Those bears also live in caves, so why not create a mini-cave that has an entrance which is big enough for direbears to enter and if you enter that cave and defeat the bear living in it (they should spawn in there also) you can enter the ACTUAL cave which is connected with that mini-cave as an entrance and dwelling place for the direbears. So they are kind of a guardian   Besides that, a little mini-cave specially designed for wolfes and bears here and there anywhere on the map would be nice in general.

3. Also, a cave which is only accessable by flyers would be awesome! Like a huge 'second world' under the ground that have rare ressources and lots of cool ruins and wall paintings. 

4. For the other caves, here is an idea of a cave that exists here in austria where I live. And the lighting is interesting because you could create a new light source (like the mushrooms in the two new caves) and place it UNDER the lakes within the cave. (View first picture)

5. Furthermore, the picture that I found shows exactly what I imagine of a cave in the middle of a forest (ignore the biological stuff - view second picture). But it would be so cool to mix the landscape with a cave  The waterfall falling directly into the cave from outside and looking into a cave when you are actually standing above it would be legendary! and something like that I imagine with a cave that is only accessable by flyers like tapejara or pteranodon (quetzal would be too much since a cave is not supposed to be easy). Maybe a Redwood Forest Cave O__O 

Here is the link for the second pic if it is too small: https://s3.amazonaws.com/gs-geo-images/32abbd94-e42b-4cbd-aedf-f2a4ea1f7932.jpg


32abbd94-e42b-4cbd-aedf-f2a4ea1f7932 (1).jpg

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I like go to caves but the old ones as listed above are very easy compared to swamp and snow cave. My suggests for the old caves are:

1. Technically i would say raise the lvl cap on those caves above 120 too, but that would make some creatures untameable unless they can be found somewhere else. Edit: Maybe do place something like the tribute terminal at every cave entrance and you can chose how to do the cave (easy, medium, hard) maybe even harder. The harder you chose, the better the loot if you survive.

2. All the caves need some individual feeling. As of now, the all look boring and empty. Swamp cave for example looks detailed and very different from all others.

3. No dinos allowed at all except for shoulder dinos (dimorphs, compy, etc.). As soon as you can bring any mountable dinos in, the caves are way to easy and not challenging anymore. However if you tame anything inside it, it still can be used untill you bring it out. literally like an invisible wall for dinos.

4. Limited use of grappling hooks. The Upper south cave is very easy when you know where the artifact is. You can just grapple up there and skip like 50% of the cave. Make grapplings only work at certain parts of the cave or only work on bodies so you might be able to retrieve your gear from lava or spikes.

5. The whole loot table should be changed to tool, weapons, armor only. "journeyman pistole from yellow crate=Yeah good loot!", "Straight electric cable from red crate=What kind of sorcery is this?".

6. I asked this in the latest ark digest but will suggest this here too. Maybe add sulfur from scorched earth to some caves. the lava cave would be good for sulfur.

7. (For PvE) It happens very often that we run out of meat to feed our self but have tons of raw meat from creatures. With the ability to place campfires in it we could make us some cooked meat quickly. The campfire will autodemolish after 30min and the timer cant be reseted. But 30min is enough time to quickly cook some food and continue the adventure.

8. It would be great if every cave has its individual armor/weapon skin like the sword, pike and torch skin from scorched earth. included snow and swamp cave (8 Caves in total): Full armor gear=5 skins/caves and then 3 other weapon skins.


This are my suggests to make the caves more interesting again. Some of the ideas might sound a bit absurd but i think some of them would make caving interesting and at most challenging again, cause the old caves are all way too easy in there current state.

You also mentioned underwater caves. That would propably not work for the current caves, but make some underwater caves like the ones on the surface with creatures and stuff.

English isnt my native language so if anything seems unclear, i could maybe describe it in another way.

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