ARK: Survival Evolved and Studio Wildcard is taking the same step Daybreak Studios recently took with H1Z1. The studio announced Tuesday the dinosaur survival game is splitting off its popular Battle Royale mod, Survival of the Fittest, into its own separate game. And it’s completely free.
Survival of the Fittest launched on Steam today as a free-to-play standalone game based on ARK: Survival Evolved. Studio Wildcard decided to split development for the popular mod off on its own with a dedicated development team to ensure it is not dependent on the continued development of the main title.
There are some additional benefits to making Survival of the Fittest a stand-alone title. This has allowed Studio Wildcard to strip everything out of ARK: Survival Evolved that is not needed to support the Battle Royale game. This has improved performance of the game by only focusing on those assets needed to support SotF.
— ARK (@survivetheark) March 16, 2016
For those that aren’t familiar, ARK: Survival of the Fittest started as a total conversion mod for the Survival Evolved that pits up to 72 players into a Hunger Games-like match. The twist is, players are competing on an island full of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures that can be tamed or kill you. Players are dropped around a circular platform in the center of the map where they can make the decision to rush to the middle for supplies, weapons, and an early fight, or take off into the relative safety of the surrounding woods.
From there, it is a race to craft weapons and armor plus tame animals without being killed by other players, animals, or your own poor planning. A force field surrounds the arena that slowly shrinks to force players back to the platform where they began. Along the way, events will happen in the world such as carnivores suddenly spawning in to wreak havoc or acid rain to fall and cause damage to armor and players. Player profiles are projected into the sky as they die until only one is left standing and can be declared winner.
“Following the success of the game mode, tournaments, and feedback from the community, SotF has been refactored into its own competitive game including four new modes, a robust ranking system, massively boosted performance, cosmetic-tiered rewards, lobbies/parties/on-demand-matchmaking, and constant iteration,” Studio Wildcard explained in its announcement. “That’s not all though! On top of releasing as a free to play game, SotF will also be awarding cash prizes for the top players in each ‘Survivor League’, so ARK survivors can start playing their favorite game at a professional competitive level!”
The Survivor League will provide the dedicated eSport ranking, matchmaking, and rewards for ARK: Survival of the Fittest. Studio Wildcard plans to reward the top-10 ranked players in each of the four game modes over $50,000.
Interestingly, ARK: Survival of the Fittest is being launched as a completely free game. Not only is it free to download, but Studio Wildcard is also not adding any monetization to the title, yet. The game is being released as a Steam Early Access title with the official release currently scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2016. By comparison, ARK: Survival Evolved is targeting a summer 2016 full release to the PC, Xbox One, and PC.
It’s also worth mentioning Studio Wildcard has not made any announcement concerning ARK: Survival of the Fittest and the Xbox One yet. Survival Evolved has enjoyed a good bit of popularity in the Xbox Game Preview program, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see SotF come to console as well down the line. There’s likely other details that must be worked out first before the developer can announce it.
Here’s the breakdown of the game’s key features shared by the developer.
- Free, Action-Packed Core Survival Gameplay
- Fully functional spectator system, including First Person Spectator!
- 75+ Creatures to Tame and Ride at full launch
- Multiple Official Game Modes (FFA, 2 Player Tribes, 4 Player Tribes, and 6 Player Tribes)
- Game-Changing Tameable Super Creatures (Dragon, Giant Ape, Brood Mother)
- Mysterious “Evolution Events”
- Arsenal of Weapons, Traps, Armor, Structures and other Items from Primitive to Modern Tech Tiers
- Official Ranked and Unofficial customized player-hosted servers
- Upcoming Mod Support
- Robust Ranking and Tournament System
- Exclusive SotF Cosmetic Items that can also be used in ARK: Survival Evolved
- One-to-Six Player Tribes
- Custom-Painted “War Banners” enable Tribes to show off their team spirit on Flags across their army of Dinosaurs, and are also broadcast on the gigantic billboards during game events. Just don’t draw anything offensive!
- Top-ranked players are listed dynamically on SurviveTheArk.com as the “Survivor League”, and provided with over $50,000 in monthly cash prizes!
- A custom soundtrack written by award-winning composer of “Ori and the Blind Forest”, Gareth Coker!
What do you think of Survival of the Fittest splitting off from ARK: Survival Evolved into a free stand-alone game? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Studio Wildcard]