Ark: Survival Evolved‘s official servers will switch off later today, at midnight UTC on September 30th (1am BST October 1st). The closure is part of paving the way for the piecemeal remake Ark: Survival Ascended, which will release in Steam Early Access in October.
At midnight UTC, a snapshot of all player saves uploaded to official servers will be taken, and then made available for players to download on Thursday, October 5th. This will allow players to host the save offline or on a private dedicated server if they wish to continue playing.
“Your items, dinos, and characters that have been uploaded to the ARK cloud will not be included in the save,” says Studio Wildcard’s explainer. “So, please make sure to download anything that you wish to keep from the cloud prior to the save on 9/30.”
Ark: Survival Ascended ports the dino-breeding survival game to Unreal Engine 5, cleans up the codebase, and will eventually feature additional functionality such as crossplay with the console releases. Its main purpose is to help fund the creation of Ark 2, however.
“Developing a next-generation sequel while no longer releasing paid expansion packs has proven difficult for our Studio’s long-term survival, so we need to continue generating revenue while we develop ARK 2,” says a Q&A posted to Steam today. “And finally, the ultimate reason: whereas ARK2 is being designed as a Souls-like adventure, we want to provide the community with an evergreen classic-ARK experience.”
Survival Ascended will include new creatures and structures, a gently revamped island layout, and graphical upgrades to take advantage of Unreal Engine 5’s watery, physicsy wizardry. Much of Survival Evolved’s expansion content will be absent at launch, however, as will touted new features such as crossplay. Wildcard more or less plainly state the latter is because Survival Ascended will be buggy at launch.
“Crossplay will not work for Steam PC at launch. Why? Frankly, when we launch the game, we’ll have to patch a lot because you’re going to find things we missed or break the game in ways we never identified, and we’d prefer to be able to patch the Steam platform very quickly to resolve these issues,” says today’s Q&A. “Once the game has passed the launch hurdles and has entered a more stable state, certifying builds on other platforms will be much quicker, and so, at that point, we’ll look into enabling full crossplay.”
There’s also no gameplay footage of Survival Ascended available yet, although Studio Wildcard say players “will 100% be able to see the game via a trailer/screenshots before you purchase the game in October.”
Early posts from developers had suggested Survival Ascended would be a free upgrade for Survival Evolved. Then, Studio Wildcard announced in April that Ark 2 had been delayed until the end of 2024, and to bridge the gap they would sell Ark: Survival Ascended in a bundle with an Ark 2 pre-order which would cost $50. Expansion remakes would be sold separately. A swift backlash followed and Studio Wildcard altered the deal, removing the Ark 2 pre-order from the bundle, and instead adding a pre-order of the expansion remasters for a new, higher price of $60.
A further delay of the project in July brought news that one of the expansions, initially due to be available at launch, had slipped until December, and so Ark: Survival Ascended will now cost $45, or $40 with a launch discount.
I only played a little of Ark: Survival Evolved and so all of this just seems slightly bemusing to me. Real “bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for ’em” territory. Survival Evolved seemingly sold over 30 million copies, however, with many more playing via Game Pass, so how about you: are you excited to pay $40 or $45 to help the developers find bugs in a partial, Early Access remake of a now-scuppered game you already bought in order to fund the creation of a Souls-like sequel its own developers admit won’t appeal to many fans of the previous game?