ARK: Survival Evolved is a massively multiplayer online action adventure survival RPG that's been out since last year, but just arrived on the Nintendo Switch this past week. It dumps players on a remote island that's inhabited with dinosaurs, and the only goal is to survive as long as you can among deadly predators and even other players (if you're on a PvP server).
We've got a beginner's guide for those just starting out, but today we're going a bit further with some more tips and tricks to ensure your survival.
- Don't overuse your fists, make tools ASAP
- Dodos are invaluable
- Stock up on basic mats
- Get essential Engrams early on
- Build shelter ASAP
- Track down your corpse before it decomposes
- Make sleeping bags
- Look for beacons but be wary
- Tame some dinosaurs
- Watch your weight
- Always level up your stats
- Know where to go for advanced resources
Don't overuse your fists, make tools ASAP
When you first wake up on the island, you have nothing, except your fists. You need some resources to do anything, so pick up some stones, and punch some trees for Thatch and Wood. But don't overdo the punching! It hurts to punch trees, so you'll end up damaging your character if you do it too much.
Instead, as soon as you gather up some Stone, Thatch, and Wood and have the Pickaxe Engram when you level up (it's easy to level honestly), make the Pickaxe. This tool can be used on larger stones for Flint, and it doubles as a weapon.
Dodos are invaluable
ARK: Survival Evolved takes place when the Dodo bid still exists, and they're probably the friendliest, non-hostile life form on the island. Since the goal is to survive, you should take advantage of the peaceful nature of the Dodo, which is prevalent all over the island.
The Dodo will provide you with meat, hide, and a good chunk of experience points. This means you won't be hungry, you'll stay warm, and you level up faster. Another good early-game resource is coels (fish). If you're around a water source, keep an eye out for these.
Stock up on basic mats
The five most used materials you'll want to always have on hand are as follows: Thatch, Wood, Stone, Flint, and Fiber. Thatch and Wood are obviously from trees, stones can be picked up, Flint needs to be mined from stones with a pickaxe, and Fiber comes from harvested plants.
These materials are commonly used for crafting Engrams and Blueprints, or at least making the crafted materials you need for advanced recipes. Make sure to stock up on these five resources whenever you can, because you'll be using them a lot.
Get essential Engrams early on
When you level up, you'll earn Engram Points. These are points that you can spend by purchasing Engrams, which are essentially crafting recipes. There are hundreds of Engrams in total, but some are much more essential than others. You get eight per level up to level nine, and then that number increases with each level.
Early on, you will need the Pickaxe and Torch tools for mining, seeing in the dark, and also as weapons. Other important early Engrams are the Thatch Foundation, Doorframe, Roof, Door, and Wall (shelter purposes), Campfire (cook meat), Spear (faster fish catching), and Stone Hatchet (faster mining).
Once you have these Engrams, survival should be less tedious.
Build shelter ASAP
As with any survival game, you need shelter to stay safe from harsh weather elements and predatory creatures. To do this, you'll need to quickly gain some experience and levels to craft the basic Thatch shelter with the Engrams mentioned above. It'll keep you warm, safe from roaming dinosaurs, and act as your home base.
You should also consider the location of your shelter before building. It's best to find a spot that's a little elevated from predators and near the river or woods for resources.
Track down your corpse before it decomposes
Death is going to happen a lot in ARK: Survival Evolved, so you'd better get used to it. Upon your death, you have two options: start with a new character, or keep going with your current one with a random re-spawn location.
If you choose the latter, you'll re-spawn randomly on the map with no items, but you can recover your possessions. You'll have to track down your body to get those items back, but time is of the essence! Your old corpse decomposes after about 20 minutes, so be quick.
It also helps to have made some shelter before you die, since you can respawn there. And if you do, make sure to have some resources stored away safely at your base, just in case you can't get back to your body in time.
Make sleeping bags
Even though you can have a base on the island, that doesn't mean that all of your adventures are going to happen within that vicinity. That's why you should make some Sleeping Bags (level 3 Engram) to take with you on longer expeditions.
These Hide Sleeping Bags keep you warm through the night, and they also serve as a brief spawn point if needed. However, each one can only be slept in once, so make a few of them when you know you'll be gone a while.
Look for beacons but be wary
You will notice some colored light beams going from the sky to the ground in the first few hours of the game. These beacons of light hold valuable supply drops, but often times, they appear farther away than you think they are. If you're going to venture out towards them, make sure to pack some essentials, like Sleeping Bags and tools, before you head out.
Also, the color of light indicates the level that players must be in order to access the resources inside each beacon. Level 3 for white, 15 for green, 25 for blue, 35 for purple, 45 for yellow, and 60 for red.
The journey to these beacons will be tough, but if you can make it, the rewards of the supply drops are rather satisfying. Blueprints can only be obtained from Beacons, and they're incredibly valuable. Blueprints can contain recipes for items and structures that would normally be inaccessible to players of lower or mid-tier levels. So if you manage to snag one up, you'll be able to access that item earlier on than normal, as long as you have the materials to craft it.
Tame some dinosaurs
If you're on an island that's full of deadly dinosaurs, you might as well put some of them to work for your own advantage. Taming dinosaurs is a big part of the game, though some may take longer to tame than others, respectfully.
To tame dinos, you'll need to make sure you have their favorite food on hand first. Herbivores want berries and carnivores want meat, of course. Get the dinosaur unconscious by tranquilizing it, knocking it out with rocks from a slingshot, scorpion sting, or even a punch to the face. Then drag its favorite food into its inventory to feed, and over time, it'll trust you and become yours.
There are a lot of reasons to tame dinosaurs. Some dinosaurs are great for carrying a lot of resources easily, while others can gather more meat for you from your kills. On PvP servers, having some large dinosaur friends may help deter annoying players who keep killing you for no reason. Plus, you can use them as transportation to get around the island faster than walking and running.
Your tamed dinosaurs also level up, which means that they can get higher stats and even additional skills.
Watch your weight
ARK: Survival Evolved is a game where your weight matters. No no, not in terms of being fat or chubby, but in terms of carrying weight. Every item in the game has a weight value assigned to it, and you'll only be able to carry so much before your character is encumbered and weighed down.
When this happens, your movement speed is reduced, leaving you vulnerable when a predator or hostile player attacks you. A good piece of advice is to only gather what you need and avoid picking up everything. You don't want to be a buffet for those hungry dinosaurs, do you?
Always level up your stats
You level up pretty easily in ARK: Survival Evolved since doing pretty much anything gets you some experience points. Once you level up, the game is pretty good about notifying you and will urge you to spend your upgrade points and Engrams.
If you aren't satisfied with your character, later on, you can also craft a Mindwipe Tonic with eight Cooked Prime Meat, 20 Mejoberries, 18 Narcotics, and 18 Stimulants. Drinking this tonic (make sure to have a holding receptacle of some sort for the liquid) lets you reassign all stat points and Engrams up to your current level. It does not reset your experience points.
Know where to go for advanced resources
Earlier, we talked about the five basic materials that you should always have on hand. But later in the game, you'll need other resources, which may be a little harder to find.
Metal is important, and it comes from rocks or metal nodes. To get the most metal, you'll want to find those metal and ore nodes, which are usually plentiful in mountainous areas or low hills.
Oil is available in underwater caves or out in the ocean, but getting to those spots can be a pain and require advanced equipment. It's easier to go north and look for weird, black boulders next to water sources—they're frozen oil chunks, and you can harvest with a pickaxe.
Pelts are what you need to craft fur armor to keep warm in the harsh cold. The weird thing about this though, is that pelts come from specific animals that live in the colder areas up north. So you will need to endure the freezing cold weather up north before you can find animals that give you the materials needed to create armor that protects you from said cold.
Obsidian is end-game material, and it's essentially a type of metal. You'll need to go a little further than the normal metal nodes on mountains, though, as Obsidian is a little higher up. These are large, flat black rocks that are hard to miss.
Survive and evolve
ARK: Survival Evolved is a game that has a fairly slow start and it's definitely tough if you don't know what you're doing. But with some guidance (obviously absent from the game) and perhaps even others who are willing to help you out, the game can be pretty enjoyable, even on other platforms.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.