I never thought Ark: Survival Evolved would legitimately see a full, feature-complete launch on PC as Early Access dragged on for a seeming eternity, yet here we are and Ark isn’t just on consoles.. it’s now on phones!
If you’ve got a high end iOS or Android device, you can engage in dino taming, tribe building, and settlement crafting between phone calls and text messages.
As might be expected, the game has changed somewhat in the switch between platforms, however, and there are some key differences you need to know about ahead of time.
Free to Play-exclusive Resource
The iOS and Android versions of Ark are free to play, meaning you don’t buy it upfront but there are in-app purchases to make it worthwhile for the developer to put the game on mobile.
You don’t strictly have to buy anything at all (and I haven’t so far), but watching ads gives you an XP boost or a new resource called Ancient Amber to spend in the store.
This rare resource (which can also be bought with cash) lets you buy XP boosts, food and water bumps, bonuses against heat fluctuations, extra weight capacity, and a buff to taming speed. At later levels you can also use it to automatically get caches of resources for building specific engrams.
If you don’t want to buy items piecemeal or hope for Ancient Amber to drop randomly, a monthly subscription is also available for $3.99. You can see what you get from that in the image below.
Pursuits as Quest Tutorials
To lower the learning curve and prevent people from throwing their phones, there are now Pursuits in the inventory screen, which are basically quests and tutorials wrapped up into one.
These will walk new players through the basics of how to harvest different types of material, how to craft your first campfire and building, how to tame a dino, and so on, while offering a bit of XP at the end.
Major UI Overhaul In Ark Mobile
The UI and menus have been redesigned, obviously, to work on a phone, so elements you may be familiar with have been re-arranged. Most notably are the swipe left and right hotbars to access different game elements.
Swipe right with your left thumb to bring up the UI hotbar to switch to third person, access your inventory without having to press the backpack at the top-left corner, access the whistles for your creatures, or pick up small tamed animals.
Swipe left with your right thumb to bring up the equipment hotbar to switch between harvesting tools, weapons, and anything else you’ve assigned to the hotbar (like food or the water skin).
The hotbar scroll wheel is kind of clumsy, since its so easy to accidentally open while trying to turn left or look right. You need to practice your movement motions or move your finger lower or higher on the screen (the scroll bars pop up most often when your fingers are on the center in their normal resting positions).
The game remembers your last two weapons / items used, so just tap between them with the icon at the lower-right for easier harvesting. For instance, with the pick axe equipped through the hot bar, switch over to your fists on the hotbar next.
Now you can just tap the icon in the lower-right corner to switch between them without having to bring up the hotbar scroll wheel menu at all. This is very helpful if switching between berry and thatch harvesting.
Building and Dino Taming
An undo button has been implemented, as setting wall and floor pieces exactly how you want them can be a little dicey on a tiny phone screen. If you don’t like how the object was placed, just tap the circular arrow icon next to the backpack at the top-right corner to place the piece back in your inventory.
Taming, breeding, and egg hatching are all quite similar to what you know from the base game, but have been somewhat simplified to work on phones so people don’t have to reference online lists of data as often.
Heat fluctuations don’t seem to matter as much for egg incubation, and the timers have been renamed. They now show you the exact time based on what food you’ve placed in their inventory, and highlighting an animal will occasionally show you what food they need to be tamed with.
Critically, tamed creatures now have an implant in their inventory. If your creature dies, you can use it to resurrect them at an Obelisk or the new Revival Platform structure by using the Ancient Amber resource.
Are you making the switch to the mobile version of this survival smash hit, or sticking with PC / console edition? Let us know your thoughts on Ark: Survival Evolved hitting phones in the comments below!