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Ark: Survival Evolved remake Survival Ascended is apparently out on PC today - but you can’t play it just yet

Studio Wildcard shows off first gameplay and details some of the tech improvements in the overhauled survival sim

A character takes aim with a bow at a dinosaur in Ark: Survival Ascended
Image credit: Studio Wildcard

Ark: Survival Ascended, the remake of dinosaur survival game Ark: Survival Evolved, has resurfaced with its first gameplay trailer, showing off its flashy Unreal Engine 5 graphics, improved physics-based destruction and overhauled user interface. The biggest reveal, though, is that the Ark remake will apparently drop on Steam later today.

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Survival Ascended is a separate game to full sequel Ark 2 - due for release late next year - in that it looks to overhaul the original immensely popular survival sim and its expansions. The remaster has generated plenty of controversy along the way by launching as a standalone $45 game (after being announced with a $60 price tag) while effectively replacing Ark: Survival Evolved, which shut down all of its official servers last month.

Economics aside, it’s hard to deny that Survival Ascended looks to be making the most of its “ground up” rebuild of Survival Evolved, described as “a top-to-bottom remake of the original game” by developers Studio Wildcard in a detailed breakdown of its new tech.

The use of Unreal Engine 5 includes better lighting via the Lumen illumination system, with dynamic lighting and reflections from the game’s water sources, plants and torches held by player characters.

A closeup of a dinosaur head in Ark: Survival Ascended
Image credit: Studio Wildcard

There’s also the new use of Nanite mesh rendering, which basically means that everything from dinosaur skin to rocks and trees looks sharper thanks to a more efficient way of streaming assets to the GPU without having to scale them down using lower-detail versions.

The more efficient mesh rendering of Nanite is joined by instanced-basing rendering for Ark’s player bases, which have been adjusting behind the scenes to reduce the impact on performance when too many structures are placed close together. In short, the new tech means that a hundred wall pieces use the same amount of processing power as a single piece, drastically bringing down the performance cost of sprawling player-made creations.

The other big tech improvement is the replacement of Survival Evolved’s physics system with new system Chaos. The upshot is that physics are now simulated in real time, meaning that environments should explode, crumble and go flying as they would in real life, rather than using janky-looking ragdolls. Creatures have better pathfinder to help navigate those nicer-looking environments too, before you blow the heck out of them with a raptor-mounted rocket launcher.

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Adding to the level of realistic interaction between players, enemies and the world are new fluid and foliage interaction systems, which allow elements such as grass and water to react to character movement, motion - such as bullets - and other factors with realistic physics such as splashes, water displacement and foam (in the case of water) and parting grass, flattened dirt and brushing leaves.

A bit more visible for players familiar with Survival Evolved will be a revamped user interface - which can be customised to a preferred level of granularity - a better third-person camera mode and a more advanced map system that now allows players to ping specific spots. Elsewhere, there are extra character customisation options, revamped audio and various other quality of life upgrades.

On top of the improvements from the original game, Survival Ascended will add in new story content, almost a dozen new creatures, brand new DLC and seasonal events on top of everything previously released for Survival Evolved.

A dinosaur smashes a gate as characters watch on in Ark: Survival Ascended
Image credit: Studio Wildcard

That’s just from Studio Wildcard themselves too, with Survival Ascended introducing cross-platform modding across PC and console via a new in-game mod browser and the game’s Ark Devkit that will allow players to share custom-made buildings, maps, modes and more. Wildcard added that they’re working with “professional game studios and developers to bring their original content and IP to Ark: Survival Ascended”, suggesting we might see some official crossovers soon enough, too.

Survival Ascended’s first full gameplay trailer also dropped the news that the remake will be out in Early Access later today, October 25th. Its Steam page is live now, but simply says it’s “Coming Soon” at the time of writing.

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