Promotional art for Ark: Survival Ascended from the official trailer.
Image via Studio Wildcard

Ark: Survival Ascended Is Worth It — Skip Evolved

Here's whether or not ARK: Survival Ascended is worth it, and if you should finally switch from Survival Evolved.

After devoting countless hours to ARK: Survival Evolved on private and public servers, I initially had reservations about switching to ARK: Survival Ascended for two primary reasons. Firstly, the game garnered negative reviews from fellow players due to performance issues that impacted their experience. Secondly, it boasted less content than Survival Evolved, raising questions about its high price tag.

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Despite my initial reservations, I made the decision to switch to ARK: Survival Ascended, and I can confidently say that it was a decision well worth it. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the game, and I’m convinced that it’s a game worth exploring for several compelling reasons, which I will discuss in detail. As I discovered the numerous unspoken quality-of-life enhancements, graphical improvements, and overall features in Survival Ascended, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction for making the switch. For those who are new to ARK, I strongly urge you to consider making the switch as ARK: Survival Ascended is worth it.

Game Engine Upgrade Unleashes Exciting New Features

The Unreal Engine 5 logo
Image via Unreal Engine

The main difference between ARK: Survival Evolved and ARK: Survival Ascended is the upgrade from Unreal Engine Version 4 to Version 5. While this may not seem an accomplishment, this upgrade offers Survival Ascended many current and future benefits. Unreal Engine 5 enables Studio Wildcard to implement better graphics, physics, and audio than Survival Evolved, which uses Version 4.

In addition, Unreal Engine 5 offers improvements in rendering large bases, improving the native physics engine, and server networking. With the new engine, devs can create much larger maps and handle additional assets better than in Survival Evolved. Even though all maps from Evolved are recreated, this upgrade allows map improvement and new content.

Graphics Overhaul Creates a Visually Stunning Experience

Art asset comparison between Ark: Survival Evolved and Survival Ascended
Image via Studio Wildcard

The second biggest improvement between the two games lies in the striking graphics overhaul that Survival Ascended has undergone. All the art assets have been upgraded, and new features, such as dynamic water and interactable foliage, have been seamlessly integrated. The game now boasts stunning visuals, breathing new life into the gameplay in which I have invested countless hours. I discovered a strong desire to revisit previous areas to see how they were improved from Survival Evolved.

However, it’s crucial to note that these gorgeous graphics demand a robust gaming setup to run smoothly. For PC players, it’s essential to have up-to-date hardware to minimize any potential frustrations. Even with modernized hardware, you may experience occasional crashes and performance issues due to suboptimal game optimization. However, these issues did not significantly diminish my overall playing experience and, to me, were not as problematic as some had claimed.

Quality of Life Changes Make Ark Fun Again

Building a house in Ark: Survival Ascended
Image via Studio Wildcard

Studio Wildcard has made significant quality-of-life changes in Survival Ascended, revitalizing the ARK gaming experience. The streamlined building system, eliminating water pipes and cables in favor of wireless connectivity, snapping fixes, foundation support, and height adjustments have all turned building into a delightful activity.

The updated mini-map, now equipped with the ability to ping, zoom, and pan, has significantly enhanced coordination with fellow players. The improved dinosaur AI has introduced an element of surprise and realism to interactions and taming, making the game more captivating than ever before.

As a seasoned ARK player, these changes will make you wish they had been implemented sooner. On the other hand, if you are a new ARK player, you will have a less frustrating experience and can enjoy the game instead of learning to avoid some of Survival Evolved‘s pitfalls.

Cross-Platform Developments Make History

Sponsored Mods page for Ark: Survival Ascended.
Image via Studio Wildcard

ARK: Survival Ascended has introduced several exciting features, including cross-platform multiplayer, modding, and anti-cheat. A groundbreaking collaboration between Studio Wildcard and Overwolf has enabled cross-modding support, allowing any mod compatible with the Steam version to work on current-gen consoles. Installing and enabling these mods is the same across both platforms, providing a seamless experience.

In addition, cross-platform multiplayer for consoles now allows players on different consoles to play together for the first time. Unlike Survival Evolved, Studio Wildcard has stated that it won’t add this feature, making Survival Ascended the automatic winner. Furthermore, the game supports cross-progression, so you can play ARK: Survival Ascended on any platform while retaining access to all your in-game progress, including your account, tamed dinosaurs, items, and character.

New Content Revitalizes an Otherwise Stagnant Gameplay Experience

Promotional artwork for Bob's Tall Tales from the Steam store page for Ark: Survival Ascended
Image via Studio Wildcard

If you, like me, have spent much time playing Survival Evolved, the gameplay has become stale. However, with the introduction of Ascended‘s new DLC, the game is rejuvenated with fresh content. It’s important to note that Survival Evolved is complete and will not receive any new content, making this DLC a unique opportunity to experience your favorite game in a new light. The paid DLC, Bob’s Tall Tales, adds new content to old maps like Scorched Earth, Extinction, and Aberration. Some of the content you can expect to see with this paid DLC includes new cosmetics, dinosaurs, vehicles, structures, and in-game loot, such as treasures.

While paying for an extra DLC may seem like a rip-off with the game’s high price tag, it adds some extra goodies that are worth it, like a new dinosaur that can revive one dead tame every 24 hours or the new train that offers a unique way to travel around the map. If you think the content in the DLC is not worth it, you won’t lose anything by not buying it. You’ll still see all the improvements to the game I discussed above.

Yes, Ark: Survival Ascended Is Worth the Hefty Price Tag

Title screen artwork for Ark: Survival Ascended.
Image via Studio Wildcard

ARK: Survival Ascended is worth it, mainly if you play on current-generation consoles or own a newer gaming PC. I deeply regret not transitioning to this version earlier due to the incredible changes and improvements it offers. My experience with Survival Ascended has made it clear that it’s not just a graphical update of Survival Evolved; it’s an entirely new experience that rekindled my love for the franchise. Additionally, it provides a fresh experience that captivates new and seasoned players.

If you’re unsure about switching from Survival Evolved to Survival Ascended or deciding which game to start with, I wholeheartedly recommend choosing ARK: Survival Ascended for the ultimate gaming experience. You won’t be disappointed!

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Matthew Kevin Mitchell
Matthew Kevin Mitchell is a freelance writer for GameSkinny and has written in the game journalism industry for over two years. In his previous roles, Matthew primarily covered Manga, like One Piece, horror movies like Scream, and asymmetrical horror games like Dead by Daylight. His favorite moment came during his first press event covering Scream 6. He hails from Denver, Colorado, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from Regis University. When he isn’t scaring himself silly or writing, he loves to play goalie in rec ice hockey, spoil his dog Nux, and drink an unhealthy amount of coffee.