Ark 2 is delayed, so they're turning off Survival Evolved's official servers and charging $50 for a remaster
It's the "ultimate-value bundle"
ARK 2 has been delayed until the end of 2024. The dinosaur survival sequel currently best known for having Vin Diesel in it, for some reason, was originally aiming for a 2023 release, but developers Studio Wildcard say they need more time.
To compensate, they're going to instead release Ark: Survival Ascended in August, a remaster of the original Ark: Survival Evolved that moves it over to Unreal Engine 5. That's the good news. The bad news is you can only buy it in a $50 bundle with the sequel (which won't be finished for at least a year), and that the original Survival Evolved servers will be switched off when Ascended launches.
"After careful consideration, we have decided to delay the sequel's launch to the end of 2024, when it will still launch exclusively on Xbox, Game Pass, and Windows distribution platforms (Steam/PC)," says the announcement. "We’ve put much thought into delaying ARK 2 for the betterment of the final product and the team's well-being."
They pin the delay on several factors, including the development team being new to Unreal Engine 5. They also say that producing Survival Ascended will help them to further their "mastery of the new engine and ultimately battle-test some of our riskier technical advancements."
Ark 2 is also apparently shaping up to be substantially different from Survival Evolved, with "Souls-like combat, primitive-only weaponry, and strict third-person mechanics – and an overall 'very serious' tone." That's a surprise set of ideas for a sequel to the original Ark, which was janky, both third- and first-person, and had terrible grind redeemed only by the daft joy of eventually being able to build a mobile artillery platform on the back of an amphibious dinosaur.
The substantial departure in Ark 2 is why Studio Wildcard "feel it is essential to provide players with a fully next-gen version of the original experience to ensure that fans can continue to enjoy the ARK they know for years to come."
Ark: Survival Ascended will launch "by the end of August 2023". The full announcement has details of what it contains, including the original game's main island, battle royale mode Survival Of The Fittest, and support for cross-platform multiplayer and modding.
It also explains that "PC players will only be able to get [Ark: Survival Ascended] via an ultimate-value bundle known as the ARK Respawned Bundle." The bundle contains Ark: Survival Ascended and Ark 2 and will cost $50. Ark 2 won't be out for at least a year, but players will get a month of closed beta access sometime in 2024. Official servers for Ark: Survival Evolved will be switched off when Survival Ascended launched, although singleplayers and unofficial servers will remain available.
If I was turning off the service my customers already paid for and charging them $50 for an engine upgrade and an IOU, I'm not sure I would have called it the "ultimate-value bundle." Particularly if I had indicated as recently as January that the "upgrade/remaster" would be "free".