'ARK: Survival Evolved' Guide: How To Choose A Server

Scott Grill

ARK: Survival Evolved can be daunting to jump into for new players in both the PC and Xbox One versions of the game. There's an array of different server types available with varying pros and cons for each. This guide will help you choose the ARK server that is right for you.


There are currently two different maps offered by ARK: Survival Evolved- The Island and The Center. The latter is brand new and offers around twice the real estate of the latter, but it is also more difficult. The max dinosaur level is increased from 120 to 150 and the caves are much more challenging. You can check out the full guide here.

Official Servers

These are servers run by Studio Wildcard and largely feature well-established Tribes. This is good for players who want to get a jumpstart in the game by joining an already advanced group of players. Those looking for a fresh experience are likely out of luck on official servers unless you can jump on to a brand new server as soon as it goes live. On the flip side, you can look for low-populated servers to find abandoned areas left by people seeking greener pastures.

Expect to have to hunt to cut out your niche in the ARK game world as a new Survivor unless you join a tribe.

These are servers created and run by players themselves. Pay attention to the description of the servers as server owners often use modifiers to increase experience gains, resource gathering, taming speed, and other settings. These changes can make the ARK: Survival Evolved experience more enjoyable if handled correctly or remove all challenge.

From personal experience, the challenge of surviving in ARK starts to go away once the experience gains, resource gathering, taming speed, etc., are bumped up five-times, and more. Those are servers that are mostly focused on the crafting/building or end-game play side of ARK over surviving.

Of course, there are server admins that will decrease the modifiers to be lower than vanilla to provide an even greater survival challenge. These are much fewer though.

Another benefit to Dedicated Servers is the owners will have certain rules, such as raids and wars only being conducted on weekends, no offline raiding allowed, or no building around important resource locations such as the volcano.

The PC version of ARK also allows mods to be run, which allows for even more variation in gameplay. If you are looking for role-playing servers, this is also where you want to begin your server search.

The downside to Dedicated Servers is that these are run and owned by individuals. That means your experience is dependent upon their hardware, their internet connection, their ability as admins, and how long they wish to keep things running.

The Xbox One currently requires a console to be used as a Dedicated Server, and comes with additional limitations as a result. The official max player count is 50, but it performs best at around 35 players or less. Studio Wildcard is investigating how to allow third-party hosting services to be used instead.

PC players looking for certain type of ARK: Survival Evolved servers should visit the ARK Servers website. Meanwhile, Xbox One owners will want to visit the Xbox One Reddit group for now. There is a thread solely for that purpose.

Non-Dedicated Servers

These are temporary servers running from the host's machine. This means the server is available as long as the host machine is running the game. This is currently limited to eight players. Additionally, there is a limit of how far other players can venture from the host. This is adjustable on the PC, but is set to 266 meters for console with the chance to expand further in future updates.

As the name suggests, ARK players on PVE cannot kill one another. At least, not directly. PVE servers tend to be a rush to block out the best territory on the map as players compete for resources over trying to kill one another.

You'll likely see the map covered in pillars and foundations as a result as tribes attempt to compete with others from building near bases or resource nodes. In an absolute worst-case scenario, nearly the entire island will be covered in pillars and foundations, preventing any new players from starting unless they join a tribe.

Despite these drawbacks, ARK PVE can be a rewarding experience once a server is found that has the kind of community you are looking for. This is especially true on lawless official servers where players may prefer to focus on surviving, building, and trading without the hassle of being raided and everything destroyed while offline.


The real meat of ARK is on the PVP servers where players can directly compete and kill one another. It's a sometimes vicious world with no rules enforced by developer Studio Wildcard outside of anti-cheat measures on official servers. As a result, official servers are generally ruled over by the "Alpha" tribe or tribes that have come into power. Those looking for some semblance of order will need to visit player-run dedicated servers, as mentioned above.

There's still room for solo players and newer tribes looking to make their mark. The challenge of facing down an alpha tribe either by growing your own tribe or allying with other tribes keeps ARK dynamic and from getting stale. There are also alternative play methods to consider, such as using guerilla tactics to "fight the man" or building up a niche in the in-game economy to make you and your tribe to0 valuable to attack.


This is the server for you if you are up for the challenge of surviving ARK without the use of modern weapons, gear, and structures. Primitive ARK servers essentially stop engram unlocks at the stone tier, though bugs sometime let in the occasional metal tier item through.

Make no mistake. This is a more challenging experience. Not having access to metal tools and weapons makes harvesting materials more difficult along with killing or taming higher level dinosaurs. These are also where you are more likely to find more openings on a server as a result.

This is available on both PVP and PVE flavors.


Do you like to keep things fresh? Extinction servers might be for you. These servers are wiped once a month to give Survivors a brand new start. That means all dinosaurs, structures, and progress are reset back to fresh beginnings and nothing is carried over.

Extinction servers offer both PVP and PVE.


This is for true Survivors only. Hardcore servers give players just one life and no chance to respawn. If your character dies, then you must create a new character and start over from the beginning.

Hardcore is available in both PVP and PVE.

Do you have any tips you'd like to share for finding and choosing an ARK: Survival Evolved server? Sound off in the comments below.

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