Who hasn’t watched the Jurassic Park movies and dreamed of visiting that incredible island full of beasts? Well now you can see (and pet) dinosaurs to your heart’s content in the new Ark Park from Snail Games. The new game was announced on the Playstation Blog yesterday and has already sparked some controversy.
Working in partnership with the studio behind the original, Ark: Survival Evolved, Snail Games has ‘borrowed’ the wild beasts you can find roaming the Ark island to populate their newly built park. If you’re unfamiliar with Ark: Survival Evolved then here’s the lowdown: Ark is an action-adventure game that pits you against others and the elements on a dinosaur-infested island. You start out with nothing (not even clothes on your back) and have to build and adapt to survive. The developer, Wildcard Studios, released the game for early access in June 2015. The game is still in early access, but due to popularity, has gained quite the following.
Ark Park, however, is not the survival VR game people were expecting. It has an entirely different theme to it – while still making use of the Ark elements we love. Instead of having to fight to stay alive, you’re just a visitor to a Jurassic Park-like compound where you can, safely, take jaunts into the wild to take a gander at the prehistoric animals residing there. These jaunts are called Excursions and you can visit different biomes within the game – at certain times you will either be on foot, in a vehicle or sometimes riding a dinosaur. The biomes found in the compound are similar to those that can be found in the original game and include, swamps, snowy mountains, tropical rainforests and expansive plains. With Ark Park VR you can view your favorite dinos up close in their natural habitat.
Player Response To The Announcement Of Ark Park
A lot of Ark fans were upset with the announcement, asking how it was possible for Studio Wildcard to release a new game when the original is still in early access. This move isn’t a new one for the studio either – having released a paid DLC for the game earlier this year. Which, understandably, also upset the players. The whole idea behind early access is to finish a game before releasing paid DLC content, right? Well, that’s how it’s generally done.
Pair with this players’ feelings that the developers have stopped caring about their input means the game has gotten very mixed reviews on Steam. As someone who has put many hours into the game myself, I can understand why people are upset as (in my experience at least) the game is extremely addictive but is prone to bugginess and cheating. Also, if you’re playing on a server with a mega-tribe then forget about coming back to a whole base (excuse the rant).
But Jeremy Stieglitz, co-creative director of Ark: Survival Evolved and co-founder of Wildcard Studio took to Twitter in response to the incensed players. His reply, however, did not do anything to placate them. Instead of an explanation, he simply mentioned that Ark Park was a separate project and then went on to talk about the Xbox update.
What Can You Do In Ark Park VR?
Ark Park is different to the original in many ways. The game does have a multiplayer function but is rather a solitary experience. Also, from what I can see, dying doesn’t really seem to be an option in the game. In fact, the Ark dino’s have turned rather friendly during their stay in the Ark Park. An added feature to the game is something called Gene Cubes. These cubes are scattered all over the compound and you can collect them for your dino library. However, according to the Playstation blog, “ collecting all of the Ark creatures can be challenging due to the reclusive habits of particular dinosaurs. Determined visitors will need to use a combination of puzzle-solving logic, action skills, exploration and careful resource management to bag the most prized animals.”
If you capture a Gene Cube, you can upload it to Ark Park’s Hub area where you can learn more about the life form. This includes factoids, vital stats and learning how an Ark species has diverged from its real world variant. “Gene Cubes may also be uploaded to the Hub’s Petting Zoo where visitors can get up close and personal with the creatures. If you have beloved creatures in ARK: Survival Evolved or ARK: Scorched Earth, you can upload your very own creatures from those games into the ARK Park’s Petting Zoo,” the Playstation blog went on to say.
And lastly, should you want to capture your time at the park, there’s a “Snap mode where you can photograph these wondrous creatures for extra points!” Or you can do so with your handy selfie stick which will also reward you bonus points, according to the blog. Yet, so far there’s been no news on a point system or what these points will earn you.
There is no official release date for Ark Park yet, but the game is set to release sometime next year and will be available for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR.
Update – 28/02/17
The creators of Ark Park just released a new gameplay trailer and some more info on the game. Apparently, it’s nearing it’s release date, though they haven’t revealed an ETA yet. But they did say that they have had a great time implementing lots of features into the game to make it more immersive.
Players can fully interact with the environment, like picking up rocks, brushing away foliage and feeding the animals. Plus everything you do has a potential effect. “Imagine this: when you are in desperate search of a new creature, you casually pull down a vine hanging next to you; a couple fruit falls down which then attracts hungry Phiomias and a group of raging Apatosaurus. Their thrashing tail and ear-splitting roars are like thunder booming right next to your ear drums. And all of a sudden, there charges out the most frightening creature of all – the T-Rex… all because you pulled down on a single vine,” the developers said in a recent press release.
Here’s the new trailer: