The Best ARK: Survival Evolved PS4 Dedicated Servers and How to Find the One for You
If you've spent the time jumping around servers in your new, PS4 copy of ARK: Survival Evolved, then you're doubtlessly clued into the massive impact different servers have on your gameplay experience. Whether or not you find the right one could ultimately make or break the game for you.
There is Host & Play, which is a neat way to play with your friends -- on paper -- but is in no way an enjoyable experience. All guests are tethered to the host on a 200m leash, and if guests find themselves outside of this radius for whatever reason, they are teleported back to the host, foregoing any tamed creatures that may have been accompanying them. Oh and good luck connecting at all if you don't have a solid internet connection.
That is no way to play ARK. So to get the full experience, at this time, there's only two real options: Official Servers and Player Dedicated Servers.
ARK: Survival Evolved PS4 Player Dedicated Servers
PS4 Player Dedicated Servers are far more customizable experiences than Studio Wildcard's Official Servers. You may not be able to make Cross Ark Clusters with them, but you can adjust everything from taming speeds to the rate of experience, the materials gathered from harvesting, and how quickly the day goes by. With so many customization options available, who wouldn't want their own unofficial, private, Player Dedicated Server?
There's just one catch and it's expensive: you must host the server on a second PS4 console. Additionally, anyone who wants to easily find and play on your server must add you on PSN. Due to the steep start-up cost, there aren't a lot of PS4 Player Dedicated Servers quite yet, though they're slowly cropping up. There are a few good ones around:
- Ever feel like getting immersed in the land of dinosaurs and Roleplaying with other tribes? PSN user Mod-Teti is running a new PvP server called Ark RP where you can do just that on ARK's original Island map. It's run on a solid connection and currently supports up to 50 players.
- More into hardcore PvP than roleplaying? Not to worry, there are servers for that too. PSN user BLACKROZERXX is hosting a server on called PvpWarZone, using the Center map. It's hosted on a decent connection and supports up to 100 players.
- Prefer to just chill out and play some casual PvE? Yes, there are private servers for that too. PSN user coolkiller809 is hosting a server called AverageSever, playing on the Island map. It's run on a solid connection and supports up to 50 players.
As amazing as Player Dedicated Servers are, they have a slew of problems of their own. To top them off, you can expect connection issues if you or the host has a less-than-stellar internet connection. (Ideally, you'll want more than 50 Mbits up and down exclusively for your secondary PS4 if you plan on hosting a Player Dedicated Server.)
ARK: Survival Evolved PS4 Official Servers
Official Servers are run internally by Studio WIldcard and are typically very vanilla. Even so, they come in many shapes and sizes. There are a few things you'll want to pay attention to when picking an Official Server.
- Region - Ideally you should be looking for servers within your region. Playing on servers near where you live helps keep lag at a minimum. You don't want to be trying to communicate with a server halfway around the globe. Regions are displayed as a two-letter abbreviation within the Server Name.
- NA - Based in North America. Connect to these servers if you live in North or South America.
- EU - Based in Europe. Connect to these servers if you live in Europe, the UK, Africa, or Western Asia.
- OC - Based in Oceania. Connect to these servers if you live in Australia, New Zeland, or South East Asia.
- Game Mode - PvP and PvE are two very different game modes that ARK: Survival Evolved supports. The experience and gameplay each game mode offers drastically differs from its counterpart. Make sure to choose a game mode that suits you when picking a server. The game mode is displayed as an icon to the right of the Server Name.
- PvP - Traditional player versus player. Of course, you still have to worry about extreme temperatures, crippling hunger, contagious diseases and prehistoric monsters looking for a snack. In PvP, however, players are just another threat you must contend with. Some players found here are genuinely sweet, but heed my advice: don't trust anyone.
- PvE - Player versus environment. In this mode, players cannot hurt others or destroy their bases. If you don't want to worry about other players bulldozing your base and killing all your tamed creatures, then you definitely want to search for a PvE server. Be wary, however, that there are still ways for players to grief you and your tribe in PvE servers -- they're just forced to get crafty.
- Map - It's also a good idea to be aware of the map that the server is running. Official Servers currently run three maps: The Island, The Center, and Scorched Earth. There are also Procedurally Generated Arks, but those are currently reserved for Player Dedicated Servers. You can check and organize it all through the Map column on the server list.
- The Island - ARK's original map. It's comprised of a large landmass approximately 30 square kilometers in size surrounded by around 12 square kilometers of explorable ocean. You'll find the Beach, Jungle, Swamp, Tundra, and Redwood biomes scattered about the map.
- The Center - This is a custom-map-turned-official, based off of the original Island map. Like the Island, you'll find the Beach, Jungle, Swamp, Tundra, and Redwood biomes scattered about. Overall, the Center is about 50% larger than the Island. However, in comparison, there is a lot more ocean and not as much land to stake your claim on.
- Scorched Earth - This is ARK: Survival Evolved's first paid DLC map. Chances are you already have it if you bought the PS4 version on the American PlayStation Store. This entire map is a desert challenge. I don't recommend starting on a Scorched Earth server if you're new to the game. The weather here is drastic and you need to know how to prepare yourself for the worst.
With your preferred Region, Game Mode, and Map in mind, you're already well on your way to picking out an Official Server that's perfect for you. With that in mind, however, there are additional server variants out there that further augment the experience.
Primitive servers cut off learnable Survivor Engrams at a point that lends to the game's more tribalized setting. If you're not keen on seeing Guns, Power Generators, or Advanced Explosives in your dinosaur game, then choose a Primitive server. Alternatively, with the Tek Tier slotted for release in patch 253, Studio Wildcard should start introducing Modern servers for those of you who want to play with Guns and such but aren't keen on science fiction elements in a dinosaur game.
Cross Ark Clusters are a series of three servers that all interact with each other -- one for each map. On these servers, you can transfer everything -- tribes, survivors, items, and tamed creatures -- between the maps of the same cluster number. You cannot transfer in or out of the cluster itself, however. These clusters are great options if you want to explore the various maps and content ARK has on offer but don't want to hop servers or create multiple characters to do so.
Extinction servers are unique for Official Server standards in that they fully wipe and reset once a month. This is not a server to snuggle into for the long-haul (unless you happen to enjoy starting from scratch every month). Rather, it's a lovely opportunity to hop onto a fresh server, before alpha tribes ever have the time to establish themselves as the supreme rulers.
Speaking of alpha tribes, most Official Servers have them. The alpha tribe easily defines the experience everyone else has on the server. Some of them are cool and defend the well-meaning players of the server from griefers, though those are few and far between.
You're more likely to find out that the alpha tribe likes playing with their toys -- that is to say, they like wrecking havoc on average players who draw too much attention to themselves. This attitude is enough to turn you off from Official Servers completely, which is where Player Dedicated Servers come in.
Thankfully, according to a recent tweet from Studio Wildcard's Jeremy Stieglitz, we won't be stuck with Player Dedicated Servers' limitations forever.
For the record, if ARK PS4 does well, I'm hoping to support PC-hosted player servers for PS4, & cross-play between PS4 & Steam! Gonna be fun— Jeremy Stieglitz (@arkjeremy) December 6, 2016
If they implement this into ARK: Survival Evolved, not only will we be able to host PS4 servers through professional hosting services, we could theoretically log into established PC servers through our PS4. That means we could play with any of our friends who own the game through Steam.
How crazy would that be? Most online games released today can't boast cross-play capabilities. ARK leading the charge could certainly inspire many games to follow.
What ARK: Survival Evolved PS4 server are you playing on? What do you think of Studio Wildcard's PS4 and Steam cross-play plans? Leave your notes in the comments below!