After two years in early access, the dinosaur-riding sandbox survive-o-craft 'em up Ark: Survival Evolved [official site] will leave early access and launch on August 8th. It's not clear how much this will actually change the game, as creators Studio Wildcard say they still plan to keep adding things after launch, but perhaps they'll finally sort out Ark's performance problems. And if wishes were raptors, beggars would ride, eh?
Before then, Wildcard are still busy. Today they launched Ragnarok, a free fantasy-ish makeover mod and new island. It's the first mod from the Ark Sponsored Mods Program, which pays modders to mod, to get be officially added to Ark.
"The past two years have been one heck of a journey!" Wildcard say in today's announcement. They originally planned to be in early access for only one year but have been busy these past two, with a content update or two coming every month. Additions have increasingly focused on late-game content for organised groups of serious players, who are often reviled as murderous dominating gits - though Ark does support private servers and offline play too. Anyway! Wildcard continue:
"With your help, we're now about to reach the completion of core content for ARK: Survival Evolved and release the full game to the world!
"That was just the beginning; now we'll be entering the next phase of our journey. Players who have been with us throughout this early access program and were excited with the launch of each update, have even more reason to be excited! ARK is going to become even more fun with surprise new content at launch and beyond, as we continue to have a massive amount of additional gameplay, creatures, and story elements in the works."
As for Ragnarok, that is out now as a free expansion on Steam. It adds a huge new map which looks a bit like it should be in one of those TV shows with beardy men, and boshes in new creatures and a boss too. And yup, if you get a Griffin here you can take it back to the regular island. Here, have a look:
I do like the idea of Ark's Sponsored Mods Program, which pays selected modders $4,000 per month to work on their mods. It's a nice recognition that mods can be a huge boon - and selling point - for a game and that they take time and effort to make. Ark has been high in the Steam sales charts since it's came out, and it's good to see them put some of that money directly towards mods.
While I'm sorta on the subject, did you see Bethesda are relaunching paid mods for Fallout and Skyrim? They'll sell a curated selection of purpose-made mods, essentially turning modders into DLC developers. I prefer Ark's idea, obvs, but this new plan beats Skyrim's first crack at paid mods.