Why you should try Ark: Survival Evolved on an Extinction server
Good old Ark: Survival Evolved is a game that will reliably have a massive update to download every single time you turn on Steam (which is both cool and annoying, as they really need to get out of Early Access already).
Of all the different server types available, one seems to inspire more division and debate than any other, and that's the Extinction Event servers added in earlier this year (not to confused with the separate Extinction mod now available).
While opinion tends to land towards the negative, with many deriding the very existence of these counter-productive servers that force you to work against the clock, I've found them to be a very fun introduction to the game.
Joining Extinction Servers
Unlike PVE / PVP servers or base Ark / Scorched Earth DLC options there isn't a button to toggle for Extinction mode. Instead, you have to actually search for "extinction" servers in the name filter.
Notice how those numbers are pretty low? It's not just because it's holiday time and everyone's off with family. It's time to turn that trend around, because this mode of the game is awesome when a server is properly populated.
A Faster Game
I actually played the much faster Survival Of The Fittest standalone game before going into the original Ark: Survival Evolved, so my first few hours learning the ropes felt like trudging through molasses while wizards spammed me with slow spells.
Checking out an Extinction server negates that problem for anyone who wants a faster experience and doesn't want to spend months building up equipment, structures, and tamed dinos.
Because Extinction Event servers are automatically wiped at the end of each month -- nixing your character level and everything you've built -- by necessity all elements of the game have their speed increased. Harvesting, taming, building, it all moves at an upgraded pace so there's time to actually get a civilization going before that giant meteor in the sky wipes it all out.
While there are ways to achieve the same goal -- a holiday evolution event running through January 2nd for instance offers 1.5x speed on taming and harvesting - these are less reliable and aren't always around.
Baffled by the alpha tribes who have gigantic, impenetrable structures filled with hundreds of dinos, or annoyed that someone else came along and annihilated you without warning when you've had no time to craft or building anything? Extinction servers are for you.
Extinction Events entirely negate the consistent issue in Ark of there being a single, unassailable alpha tribe that dominates a server but never does anything since it has no rivals. Those servers get boring quickly, as there's no challenge, whereas with Extinction you will always have a new, fresh experience just on the horizon.
Obviously, Extinction Events aren't meant for those who want to build up a huge civilization with your tribe that persists indefinitely. Instead, these are meant as a fun diversion for those who are either just getting started, or for anyone who wants the game to go faster to reach the fun stuff quicker, even if it doesn't stick around as long.
While its fun to play around solo for the increased speed, as with most of Ark, an Extinction Event server is still better with a team. Because of that increased speed in gathering/taming/etc. you can get a whole lot done very quickly if you've got a handful of dedicated players cooperating together.
If you get a well populated server, those final days and hours can get utterly nuts as everyone is going hog wild with imminent extinction at the hands of a meteor looming overhead.
Despite the advantages, Extinction Events aren't perfect, and obviously could use some tweaking. It would be nice if there was a better animation at the end so you can witness everything that's been built get destroyed, and some sort of varying “win condition” could lure more people in rather than just a simple server disconnect as everyone starts over.
We hope to see you on an Extinction server soon! Deciding to stick with the base Ark: Survival Evolved experience instead and need some help getting started? Check out our guides to staying alive: