Getting Started in ARK: Survival Evolved [Beginner's Guide]
If you logged into ARK: Survival Evolved since it launched into Early Access, you've probably felt the hot sting of dinosaur teeth ripping into you more than a few times.
The first several hours of gameplay was a mess of trying to figure out how to survive in a dino-eat-dino world, where the beasts that roam are as fearsome as they've ever been.
After losing everything to the freshest corpse time and time again, the hard lesson of aggressive survival settles in. You need to be smart with your life to survive, and hold onto it like it's the last cookie you'll ever set eyes on.
ARK: Survival Evolved will break you down if you do not know how to prepare for your survival. The idea of a persistent world means anything could happen when you log out. Because of this, you need loads of time on your hands, an active tribe, or to play near-exclusively in singleplayer to fully enjoy your experience in the ARK.
How to Survive the ARK
This guide contains everything you need to know to get set up in the ARK. This beginner's guide extensively covers only the first few chunks of the game, until you reach about level 10. Check out our attributes guide if you need help figuring out what the stats do when you level up.
Set Your Spawn Point
When you create a new survivor or respawn without a bed, you get to choose which Zone you will respawn in. Not only could this help you when you're relocating your body, but it's important to keep in mind simply because of the sheer size of the map.
One redditor took on the quest of trying to map each Spawn Point!
There's not exactly an ideal spawn point, though it's advised to stay clear of spawning up north if you're new to the game. The north side of the ARK houses dangerous creatures such as giant, carnivorous birds and hungry sabertooth cats.
Get Gathering Right Away
Get a head start by picking up everything you can. Pressing the 'E' key will allow you to pick items from the ground, such as berries, fiber and rock. Run up to a few trees and punch them for materials, but don't go overboard — punching anything diminishes your health. As soon as you have the wood and thatch that you need, start crafting your tools.
There are two main tools in ARK: Survival Evolved, the Pickaxe and the Axe. You can use each tool to focus mining specific materials when gathering. Some early game examples you'll see include:
- Pickaxe - Flint from Rocks, Thatch from Trees, Raw Meat from Bodies
- Axe - Stone from Rocks, Wood from Trees, Hide from Bodies
Keep this in mind while you're seeking out certain materials for crafting.
Get Some Armor on ASAP!
Whether you're playing alone or with friends, you're going to need armor to survive in the ARK. It's best to acquire a full set and not just the shirt and pants. It could very well be the difference between a Dilo's next meal and walking away with some extra hide/meat.
This man knew to wear armor while taming raptors.
Dinosaurs do a lot of damage, and many will not hesitate to kill you if you provoke them or simply get in their line of sight. Be safe and do the smart thing: get armor!
Divvy Up Your Engram Points
If you're waiting to join a Tribe, save your Engram Points for maximum versatility!
When you level up and increase your stats, you unlock a certain amount of You use Engram Points to learn new crafting recipes. There are currently not enough Engram Points in the game to learn everything there is to make, so it's encouraged to divvy up the burden with your tribe members.
If you don't have tribe members or are simply flying solo, save your points until you know what you definitely need. If you need help figuring out where to spend your Engram Points, then look out for our Engram Build Guide.
Create a Base for Inactivity
ARK: Survival Evolved features a persistent world that continues even when you're offline. Your body will stay in the server, as if it were asleep, until you log back on again or something comes along and kills you.
In the ARK, it's very likely that something or someone will come along and kill you while you're down and out. In order to keep yourself safe, you and your tribe mates need to form a base to live in — preferably one that's not made of thatch (due to the low damage resistance).
Make a Simple Bed for Your Base
It takes a lot of hide and requires the crafter to know how to make sleeping bags first, but a bed is simply invaluable. Not only do you have the ability to respawn at your bed whenever you die, but you can fast travel between any bed that you and your tribe has placed.
Try to keep your beds around the most protected area of the base, to ensure your spawn point never gets destroyed. You wouldn't want to spawn on the beach only to figure out you can't find your house from where you're at.
Sufficiently Prepare Before Taming Anything
Dinosaurs are a pain in the butt to train, as they should be, so make sure you're sufficiently prepared before trying to tame something. The least you should have is a slingshot to knock out the animal and a few narcoberries to keep him down.
Taming a Dinosaur is a long and tedious process that proves to be a challenge of its own. For more information on domesticating dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, please check our guide on how to tame your dinosaur!
Keep Crafting for Faster Leveling
ARK: Survival Evolved has a unique leveling system where you always gain experience whenever you're online. Your activities within the ARK determine the rate at which you earn experience points.
Currently crafting is the quickest way to earn extra experience when you want to level up. Take to building torches, or if you've got a mortar and pestle and know how to craft sparkpowder, make a bunch of that — it's infinitely more useful.
How do you like ARK: Survival Evolved so far?
I've been playing ARK: Survival Evolved for the past few days now, and it took me over 12 hours of gameplay before I really felt like I was getting anywhere. Along the way, I couldn't help but admire the attention to detail found in the ARK that I feel lacks in many other games — not just survival games.
The developers are an ambitious bunch, but they haven't let the sudden populararity spike get to their heads. Patches have been flying out multiple times a day, fixing bugs and sometimes adding new features or dinosaurs. Just today they released patch notes on a governance system for extra tribe management options.
What are your opinions on ARK: Survival Evolved? Have you had the chance to play it yet? How far have you gotten? Let us know in the comments below!
abdullah_2322July 30, 2016, 6:02 pmhow do you play
Finch_8524April 29, 2016, 5:32 pm412 hours in 3 weeks. Enough said
Cami_8242August 7, 2015, 1:44 pmAbout saving. How EXACTLY does Ark save and how do you log out?
I have the game but it doesn't save automatically like it says everywhere. I create a file (been trying out single AND multiplayer), play for say... an hour, then hit esc and go back to the main menu. What am I doing wrong? And how do I get back to where I was?
I am... REALLY confused...
Autumn FishAugust 7, 2015, 3:01 pmFeatured CorrespondentSo saving is actually on a per-server basis. Your character's do not transfer between separate servers unless you go to one of the ARK's 3 Giant Floating Obelisks. Even then, many servers disallow character transfers.
All of your Singleplayer progress should be saved. Finding your survivors on Multiplayer servers can be daunting since you need to find the server you last played on. Thankfully there's an easy way to recover a list of these servers. Click the drop-down box at the bottom of the Server List page and select 'My Survivors'. Let me know if you still need help!
Cami_8242August 8, 2015, 5:07 pmI actually got it to save in single player this time (for some reason, I have had to make a new character about 6 times)
But I have another question if you don't mind? =)
The movement camera is so shaky. I use the mouse to navigate where I am looking because the arrows turn so slow, however I can't navigate well like this. More then often I run right through a bush, or can't defend myself against a dinosaur because I can't aim and get all out of focus. Is there a way to steady-make the camera to not be all over the place? =)
Autumn FishAugust 8, 2015, 6:40 pmFeatured CorrespondentLuckily there is a way to turn this off! If you navigate to Options either from the Main Menu or In-Game (by pressing ESC), you can find a huge number of different options to tweak the client for the best possible game experience.
Simply Untick the 'Camera View Bob' Box in the Second Column and you should be good to go!
PS - As a follow up to your save issue, I recently figured out that the developers launched an update with a major bug that made it so new characters could not save. They updated the game and fixed the problem soon after, but that was probably what you were experiencing. ARK is in Early Access and problems are expected to arise at times. Hope this helps! =)
Cami_8242August 9, 2015, 4:27 amYou're amazing =) Thank you so much!
I know it's an alpha game so things that bugs don't bother me that much because they will be fixed ^^ it's fun to see the development.
Ark Survival is literally the first game I ever play (not counting GameBoy and DS games) and even though gathering and building is going slow, I am having really fun! I love the game, and I love dinosaurs!
So far I have been killed by a Dilo, failed at taming a Parasaur, fell off a cliff and died, tried taming again but I ran RIGHT into a dilo when collecting berries and it killed my tame-in-progress parasaur instead of me XD I am just waiting for a Carno to show up and ruin my day (though I have not seen any around my base yet, East Zone 1, a bit to the south in a mini valley where a blue loot drop previously was.
StarCrash_1407June 26, 2015, 8:55 amSo far there's lots of griefers and PKERs, it's not just survival from dinosaurs but survival from people who may or may not have the best intentions for you in mind.
Also everytime a Trex chases me, i just run to a bronto or a steggarsaurus and then it distracts them. it's nice to be able to play a predator to their own weakness for prey.
I didn't know there is no way not to get all of the skills! Going to have to rethink it now because right now my character is a plumber hahaha. Whatever I got my water tap and I'm damn proud of it. Now just to figure out how to get it connected with crops.
Autumn FishJuly 5, 2015, 10:42 amFeatured CorrespondentWe now have an Engram outline if you need help with your Skill planning! Sorry to hear you've been hit with the PKers too! I've run into a few of the KoS metality people myself, that's always a scary fight. Might be doing a guide on how to build your house to KEEP it on an Official PvP server, if people are struggling enough with it. Wish you luck in your endeavors!
Daniel_5558June 16, 2015, 1:24 pmI've just started playing Ark and I'm loving it. The raptors are loving me too.
Autumn FishJune 16, 2015, 5:34 pmFeatured CorrespondentI've been having a blast with ARK! It's heavily time consuming and the progress is slow going but the rewards feel so worth it at this point. Currently level 18 with 5 mounts and 1 active tribesmate! I've seen some insane things!