ARK: Survival Evolved has engrossed players on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. However, many have one question about the Early Access game: “When the heck is this thing going to get an official release?” Let’s take a look at what Studio Wildcard has left to do to get the open-world survival title ready for release with a bit of a confirmation from the developer.
What’s Left to Do
Perhaps the single best measurement to gauge ARK: Survival Evolved‘s development progress is the creatures in the game. The planned roster of prehistoric beasts has swelled to 144, with 132 of them delivered so far. That leaves just 12 left to add to the game.
Studio Wildcard has taken to releasing creatures in packs of four with content updates. That leaves three major content updates for ARK: Survival Evolved. The next major update, PC patch 256, is currently planned for Thursday, May 4 with the Giant Bee, Daeodon, Lioplerodon, and Kentrosaurus. That leaves two more updates to get the remaining eight in.
Additionally, the Tek Tier group of craftable items is also an ideal metric to determine how much there is left to do content-wise. PC patch 257 will add the Tek Cloning Chamber, Turret, Grenade, and Megalodon Saddle. This leaves Tek Binoculars, Plasma Swords, and the Giganotosaurus Saddle along with other possibilities mentioned by Studio Wildcard like Laser Trip Wires.
There are also major new end-game features to be added to ARK. This includes the “Ascension” game progression feature for patch 257 plus “Boss Wars” for an upcoming release. “Ascension” is directly tied to the changes being made to the The Island’s Volcano with the update and discovering the reasons behind the ARK, per this ARK Digest Q&A response.
“It involves beating all the bosses, going into the volcano, completing an uber-hard dungeon and travelling through a stargate, beating a final fourth boss and discovering the true nature of the ARK, sacrificing your character and resurrecting as a new character containing a soul cube with a progressively level cap (and if done again, taking on bosses that are scaled even more difficult and have some changes each time).”
At the same time, players can see Studio Wildcard adding content and features that signal the official release is closing in. The next update will add 15 new music tracks that will be heard based on the biome or situation your characters is in. Meanwhile, full gamepad support for PC is being introduced, along with more user interface (UI) overhauls.
And This Puts the Release When?
Based on the rate of the content drops and the amount of content left, Studio Wildcard should be wrapping up content for ARK: Survival Evolved with its July 2017 patch release. However, that’s not all the developer has left on its plate. It will likely spend a couple of months focusing solely on bug fixes, optimization, and polishing the game.
That puts ARK: Survival Evolved finally exiting Steam Early Access in September, October at worst, and then jumping out of the Xbox Game Preview in the weeks following. The PlayStation 4 version is not necessarily part of an early access program but will reach version 1.0 at the same time as the Xbox One.
So how close to the mark is this estimation? We reached out to Studio Wildcard to comment on this educated guess and received the following in reply:
“That’s about right ;). However the fun doesn’t stop there, we’ll be continuing to optimise, fix bugs, and add content far past the ‘1.0’ release version. Console users can expect a Day 1 patch, and so forth which will add yet more things to the ARK!”
For Xbox One owners, this leaves the major question about when the Windows 10 version of the game with Play Anywhere support will be released. The ability to play on the Xbox One and Windows 10 plus host servers for both on PC has been a much-anticipated feature. Studio Wildcard responded to our query by announcing Play Anywhere will be included as part of the 1.0 official release.
Now, here’s the caveat. Game development is not an exact science and Studio Wildcard has missed release dates for ARK: Survival Evolved patches before for all sorts of legitimate reasons. Anything can happen, but a September/October release for PC and console is how things currently line up today.
ARK: Survival Evolved originally launched to Steam Early Access in July 2015 with the Xbox One version hitting the Game Preview program that December. Studio Wildcard originally targeted June 2016 for release, but the scope of the game increased greatly from the original plans due to both the game’s popularity and an explosion of feature ideas. Not all ideas or decisions panned out and had to be set aside, like Survival of the Fittest and Primal Survival. Other decisions like the Scorched Earth expansion created rancor in the ARK community, but have added to the overall game.
Still, Studio Wildcard greatly expanded on the original idea that was ARK: Survival Evolved with official mods like The Center and Primitive Plus along with an expanded roster of dinosaurs, Evolution servers, procedurally-generated maps, events, and much more. Forming a new studio from scratch and releasing such a large open-world survival title with 2-4 years of development is no small feat, especially considering many other Early Access titles in the same genre are still far from release while others completely folded.
[Featured Image by Studio Wildcard]