I had a mate at university who got home pissed at 2am and decided to boil himself an egg. Great idea at the time. But he passed out on the floor, the saucepan boiled dry, and the egg began to combust. When my mate woke up, it was because his whole building was being evacuated because of the billows of rancid egg smoke from his kitchen. See that egg, in your mind’s eye? That’s ARK: Survival Evolved, that is.
I thought of ARK this week because I’ve been having a poke around the edge of Path Of Titans, the latest game promising the seemingly impossible goal of a vaguely realistic, yet still entertaining dinosaur simulator. ARK was never meant to be particularly realistic, I’ll admit. But in its early days it was certainly entertaining, and it had dinosaurs coming out of its ears. Sure, the character customisation options only let you make eerily hideous muscle lords, and the game was a proper Jankenstein’s monster, but it was overflowing with the roughest of rough charms. It was one of the few survival games where I’ve genuinely enjoyed just haplessly trying to exist along with a friend.
Developers Wildcard, plus their entourage of nine million publishers, started cranking out DLC after DLC, stuffed with ever-more fanciful creatures and environments, but with precious little in the way of improvement to the game’s core. By the advent of latest DLC Genesis (which I’m afraid I beasted), ARK was like a man swaddled in multiple, hideous fur coats.
As rude as I’m being, I’m not entirely given up on ARK. There’s still a lot of beauty in it, and there’s a reason why it was popular enough to sell all that DLC in the first place – at its heart, it’s a cracking, simple idea for a game. Just like a nice boiled egg is a cracking, simple idea for a post-pub snackeroo.