Huge 'ARK: Survival Evolved' Patch 242 Celebrates 1st Birthday With Dragon Boss, Major Changes [Update]

ARK: Survival Evolved is turning one year old this week, and Studio Wildcard has celebrated the event with one of its biggest patches to the PC version of the game yet. This update not only includes new content such as a Dragon Boss and a dinosaur bus, it also includes some huge changes with new features and gameplay-changing alterations to existing features.

Patch 242 was still going through QA testing at the time this article was posted, but it's expected to be released late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. Update: The update is now live with official test servers 640 - 643 for the new "no offline raiding" option.

Update: Players have discovered their Quetzals are starving. Their food consumption has increased and they are tearing through any meat in their inventory quickly. The amount of food drain should be 0.1 food every 3 or 4 seconds, per a Reddit post from Community Manager Jat. Studio Wildcard is looking into getting this fixed.

As part of its one year celebration, ARK: Survival Evolved PC players can enjoy a special one week "ARK Birthday Event" complete with birthday candles in supply crates that can be used to craft a birthday cake. Blowing out the candles on the cake presents a special message to the player, along with exclusive items like party hats for both players and dinosaurs, pixelized "Birthday Suits," and a giant ARK Anniversary Birthday Cake that can be consumed for a big experience point buff.

Unfortunately, Xbox One owners will not get to take part in the event, as has been the case with previous events. Lead Designer Jeremy Stieglitz did share via Twitter that console owners will have a special event to mark ARK: Survival Evolved's one-year anniversary on the platform, however. He also admitted Studio Wildcard needs to do something about getting "our timing down better for how much to execute a time-limited holiday event for console."

ARK: Survival Evolved (PC, Xbox One)
[Image via Studio Wildcard]As for the new content, the headliner is the Dragon Boss and Dragon Arena. Similar to the Brood Mother and Megapithicus boss fights, players will need to collect artifacts and gather at the Red Obelisk to perform a ritual. Once the ritual is complete, every Survivor involved and their tamed animals will be transported to a custom built arena to battle the flying, fire-breathing dragon.

The Dragon is joined by a new, transport-focused dinosaur, the Diplodocus. This massive ancestor to the Brontosaurus can be equipped with a saddle that holds up to 10 other Survivors and be used to transport them around The Island or The Center (guide). It's pretty much an overly-friendly dinosaur bus.

Meanwhile, swamps get even creepier with the addition of giant Leeches, a.k.a. Haementeria. These creatures will attach to players and drain them of hunger and stamina. They also can give players a disease known as "Swamp Fever," which is a permanent affliction, even after respawning, unless cured. The good news is the creatures can be harvested to make antidotes, as well as anti-venom.

Diseases are one of the new features added to ARK: Survival Evolved with patch 242. The new mechanic even allows players to deliberately infect Dodos with a disease and launch them into enemy bases to infect the players there.

Breeding Mechanics Phase 2 has finally been introduced with this patch, as well, following many delays. Players now have additional options to raise their dinosaur babies with the added bonus of "extra benefits and greater affinity" for those who raised them.

ARK: Survival Evolved (PC, Xbox One)
[Image via Studio Wildcard]Studio Wildcard has also introduced some potentially controversial changes to ARK: Survival Evolved with this update. Players will no longer be allowed to build Auto-Turrets, or Plant X turrets, on platform saddles for the Quetzal, Brontosaurus, Mosasaur, Plesiosaur, or Paracer. Manned turrets can still be placed on platform saddles for these animals, but the decision has been made to limit the amount of overloaded flying, walking, and floating turret platforms in-game. Rafts and bases will still support Auto-Turrets and Plant X turrets.

Additionally, Plant X turrets now consume fertilizer with each shot to further reduce their effectiveness. The exact amount of fertilizer consumed per shot is 50 fertilizer per shot. Each bag of fertilizer holds 54,000 fertilizer, so that is 1,080 shots per bag minus whatever is used to keep plant going.

Another controversial change involves the experience gained from killed Alpha creatures in ARK: Survival Evolved. The amount of XP has been reduced by 45 percent, which is apparently meant to stop players from power-leveling through the game. On the flip side, the ocean has received its first Alpha variant with the Alpha Mosasaurus.

Several new options have also been added to those that run their own ARK: Survival Evolved dedicated server. This includes disabling building in resource heavy areas in PVE, limiting the number of members in a Tribe, and displaying an in-world damage indicator like RPGs.

ARK: Survival Evolved (PC, Xbox One)
[Image via Studio Wildcard]The complete changelog for ARK: Survival Evolved patch 242 can be found below. As a reminder, the release of the Redwood Biome has been delayed to a July target release.
  • Dragon Arena & Dragon Boss Fight
  • Breeding Mechanics Phase 2: Interactive Baby Raising (cuddle with your Dino babies, pet, walk, and hand-feed them for extra benefits and greater affinity for whoever raised them once they grow up!)
  • Optional RPG Stat Mode: Displays floating in-world damage numbers for all Player-Related Damage Events.
  • Added 'Follow Range' (Low/Medium/Far) Setting Per Tamed Dino
  • Added option for PvE Servers to disable building around critical resource node regions
  • Added server option to override per-Item Crafting costs
  • Added server option to override the loot tables for each kind of supply crate
  • Added server option to limit number of members in Tribes. Default: no limit.
  • Multi-Seat Saddles (Galli, Diplodocus, etc). Dinos now have an option to enable public seating. Dino Taxi service, ahoy!
  • Servers can now optionally enable an "offline raiding prevention" mode which will make Dinos/Structures invincible if no owner is logged-in (indicated via the head whether the owner player/tribe is logged-in or not). Recommend that server owners utilize this with care, as it may have undesired side effects in a competitive environment
  • Tribe Groups Phase 2: Support for Limited Non-Admin Invites and promotions/demotions per group! Also "Prevent Dino Unclaiming" checkbox, and other new per-rank options
  • Added Alpha Mosasaurus (contains lots of Black Pearls)
  • Alpha creatures XP reduced by 45%
  • Auto-Turrets can no longer be built on Quetz/Sauro/Mosa/Plesi/Paracer platforms (Plant turrets can't be grown on them). Any existing turrets on such platforms will no longer fire. Otherwise they're now only allowed on Rafts and non-moving Bases.
  • Plant Turrets now consume Fertilizer per shot, and also will not shoot if no water is in the crop
[Image via Studio Wildcard]

[Edit: Added updates about release of patch, Plant X fertilizer consumption, and Quetzal food use.]