Try-It Tuesdays is a (semi) regular weekly feature in which I take a break from my current roster of games to play something new (to me) for an evening. You can check out past Try-It Tuesday adventures here or submit a suggestion for a future title in the comments!
“I’m being attacked by a dinosaur… and I just pooped myself.”
So sayeth the Chronicles of Syp: ARK Newbie. For this week’s exploration into a new game, I went with a title that I had been eyeing for a while and which was gifted to me by a friend over Christmas. ARK: Survival Evolved is this stupid-popular dino sandbox that everyone seems to be playing, so why not me?
I’ve never been one for survival games, for various small and petty reasons. Oh, I get them and I do objectively approve of the format. But there’s something about the actual gameplay that takes a good long while to click. Maybe it’s the personal server format, as I’d much prefer an official MMO shard than a huge list of a bazillion options.
Anyway, let’s get going in ARK!
I had a remarkably tough time getting the game up and running properly. Lots of latency and lag, so I spent a half-hour updating drivers, tweaking settings, and trying to figure out how best to take pictures. Fraps caused no end of crashes, so in the end I went with a windowed mode.
I went totally blind into ARK to see how intuitively I could pick it up. It wasn’t too tough, once I figured out that punching would get me tree stuff, E would get me ground stuff, and dodos were a vastly higher level than myself.
I logged onto MJ’s MOP server, although I think I was alone at the time. She has this huge fortress set up as a sort of dino pen, with dozens of different types of dinos just waiting patiently in rows to be ridden. Naturally and inexplicably, there was a T-Rex with glasses. I think I’m going to need an explanation on this one.
Another of the pesky things that I don’t like about survival games is how quickly you start going downhill at the start, since you’re naked and defenseless and all. The game was barking at me that I was too cold… then too hot… then really thirsty… then I kept fainting for no reason that I could understand. I started scarfing down all the berries I could find, since those are good two-for-one food/water options, but it didn’t seem to do much good.
By this time, my kids had awoken from their naps and crowded around the computer, providing both an audience and color commentary for my adventures. I truly wish I had recorded some of their quotes, because their exasperation and observations were occasionally flat-out hilarious. Pretty much, they wanted me to punch everything to see what would happen (spoiler: I would end up getting eaten).
We made it a priority to figure out how to craft clothes, which required fiber — that had to be itchy. After a while, we made a shirt and pants, which had us standing up and bellowing, “WE MADE PANTS! PAAAAAANTS!” while my wife took video for future blackmail. I don’t care, woman. I made PANTS.
As I said, I didn’t encounter anyone playing, but I did find this lady who was apparently part of the foundation of a small fort. Briefly, I contemplated cannibalism — its necessity in a harsh survival situation, the morality of consuming flesh of another — and then saw my kids were there and that I probably couldn’t eat her anyway.
Up a hill, we found this decked-out dino who, according to the descriptive text, belonged to another player. I stole it (thanks E button!) because if I get a chance to dinojack, I’m going to dinojack.
Unfortunately, this was the slowest stinking dinosaur ever born, because all it would do was plod slowly through the bushes. I couldn’t stand it after a while and abandoned it, and with it, my dreams as a dino wrangler.
Then we transitioned into the part of our session that would later be called “The 101 deaths of Daddy.” Daddy was bitten, chomped, squeezed, and poisoned by more hostile wildlife than he could recall. One of the more bizarre moments was when we were wading through waist-high water and then a trio of 75-foot-tall dinos suddenly lurched out of the water and one-shotted me. It happened so fast and so unexpectedly that there was no time for a screenshot. Instead, here’s a picture of a megapiranha, a fish that is surprisingly meek when being punched in its face by a mostly naked stranger.
We wanted to go to what I was calling the “giant green nightlight” that dominated the skyline, but between the beach and the inner island was a valley full of all sorts of nasty critters, including titanboas. Titanboas have a diet that is Syp-based.
We made a few runs for it but couldn’t quite make it before being dino chow. I guess you’re supposed to stay on the beach until you’re a road warrior.
See, this is what happens when I play sandboxes like this. I know you’re supposed to buckle down and forage, craft, and survive. Me? I just view it as a box of amusements and little tales. I should buckle down and learn it properly, and maybe one day I will. Until then, we’ll always have that time that I was being chased and attacked by a dinosaur while pooping in fear.