If you plan to make a go of it on ARK: Survival Evolved’s island, and hope to stay alive for more than a few minutes at a time, you’ll need to get your hands dirty. Specifically, you’ll want to delve into ARK’s crafting and cooking systems, gathering resources and combining them to assemble essential tools, weapons, clothing, shelter and, of course, delicious, nourishing food. There’s a lot to take on board when it comes to cooking and crafting, however, so here are the basics to get you moving in the right direction.
Virtually everything in ARK that isn’t a raw material will need to be crafted before you can use it – whether that be a Water Jar, a wooden foundation to support your base, a fence to keep the undesirables out, a campfire to keep you warm and turn raw meat into delicious cooked meat, or even a saddle for your favourite angry carnivore.
Thankfully then, crafting in ARK is easy, and you’ll usually only require three basic components to craft a specific item: a suitable Engram, the relevant raw materials and, often, a special device to do the crafting in, such as the Cooking Pot or Fabricator.
Engrams (essentially item recipes) can be learned by spending the Engram Points that you accrue each time your character levels up. It’s not quite that simple, however; you’ll also need to have met the Engram’s listed level requirement, and in some cases, will need to have learned other Engrams first. A basic Campfire, for instance, can be unlocked using 3 Engram Points, but only once you’ve reached level 2. The Cooking Pot and Industrial Grill engrams, meanwhile, both require you to have learned the Campfire first.
Beacons And Blueprints
Blueprints are similar to Engrams, but don’t need to be learned before use. Instead, you’ll find them at Beacons scattered across the island – then, once a Blueprint is in your inventory, it can be used as often as you like.
Beacons, incidentally, are long, vertical beams of light that mark an incoming cargo crate as it descends from the skies. Alongside Blueprints, cargo crates also contain other useful supplies – but you’ll need to have reached a specific level before you can open them. White beacons can only be opened if you’re Level 3 or above, green beacons require you to be level 15 and up, then it’s level 25 for blue beacons, 35 for purple beacons, 35 for yellow beacons and level 60 for red.
Higher level crates usually contain better goodies and Blueprints, with some Blueprints even letting you craft more advanced versions of standard Engram items. There are six item tiers in total – Primitive, Ramshackle, Apprentice, Journeyman, Mastercraft and Ascendant – so it pays to keep an eye out for higher-quality Blueprints. Unsurprisingly, the better an item’s class, the higher its resource cost is compared to the standard model.
Once you’ve unlocked an Engram, you can craft that item as often as you like, provided that you have the required resources on your person – or, depending on the item, in the specified crafting receptacle. Luckily, resources are plentiful on the island and will continue to spawn in exactly the same place (unless a foundation has been laid nearby).
In the early-to-mid stages of the game, the raw materials you’ll be relying on most often are: Wood, Thatch, Stone, Flint, Fibre, Metal, Oil, Crystal, Silica Pearls, Hide, Pelt, Chitin, Keratin and Feces. However, as you progress further, you’ll require more exotic resources (such as pearls) and compound resources.
The latter materials are a combination of two or more resources – sometimes raw resources, sometimes other compound resources – that will likely require a specific crafting tool to make. For instance, Sparkpowder (which can be used as a fuel source and to power the Preserving Bin) is made by combining Flint and Stone in a Mortar and Pestle.
Resource Gathering And Tools
Mastering the art of resource gathering is key to your continued survival in ARK’s hostile world. Almost everything that you’ll do on the island – from building and eating to fighting and taming – requires that you first gather the necessary materials. As such, you’ll find the going much easier if you know exactly where to find the resources you need – hence the importance of familiarising yourself with the island as soon as possible.
Before you begin gathering resources, however, you’ll need to ensure that you’re suitably equipped for the task at hand. There are all sorts of tools (and creatures) that you can use to maximise your gathering efficiency, but the essential items are a pick and hatchet – not least because they make for excellent, impromptu weapons early in the game too.
The Stone Pick is the first tool you’ll be able to make, and is crafted using 1 Stone, 1 Wood and 10 Thatch. A basic Stone Hatchet, meanwhile, requires 1 Flint, 1 Wood and 10 Thatch. You’ll need to use your bare hands to gather your initial batch of resources, of course (you can pick stones off the ground, and punch trees for wood and thatch), but once you’ve got a basic set of tools, crafting becomes a whole lot easier.
Advanced Resource Gathering
Resource gathering can be made more efficient by using specific tools to improve the yield of different materials. For instance, wood (which, unsurprisingly, is most common in forests, but can also be found as driftwood on beaches or riverbanks) is best farmed using a hatchet – hitting a tree with a pick instead tends to produce thatch. Similarly, striking a rock with a pick will usually produce flint, while a hatchet favours stone. To maximise the amount of resources you collect each time you swing a tool, however, you’ll need to improve their quality – for instance, by using a Metal Pick instead of a Stone Pick.
Most Useful Dinosaurs
For the absolute best results when resource gathering, you’ll want to employ the services of a tamed creature. Almost every dinosaur on the island has its own gathering speciality, meaning that you should strive to tame creatures that collect the resources you use most frequently. Mammoths, for instance, are unsurpassable when it comes to amassing wood, while the Doedicurus is the king of stone gatherers.
As a side note, all resources have a weight cost, meaning that you can only carry as much as your current Weight stat allows. Even if you don’t have a specialised resource-gathering creature to hand, it’s often worth taking a tamed beast (such as a Phiomia) on your foraging expeditions to use as a pack mule. This way, you’ll be able to collect and carry more resources before you’re forced to return to base and stash them away.
On page two, a quick glance guide to where to find resources and how quickest to harvest them, plus top cooking tips.