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Ark: Survival Evolved - Extinction - Review In Progress Part 1

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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It’s that waking moment that reminds me where I am. Alien sounds seep into my consciousness as sunlight streaks into my eyes. My forearm itches like fury due to some implanted foreign tech, but it’s the only possession I have. The island jungle may have been traded for an urban one, but this is still Ark: Survival Evolved. Only this time, we’re heading to Extinction.

It’s been a few years since I last checked into Studio Wildcard’s survival sandbox, but the familiarity beacons like a lighthouse. As the third and final instalment in Ark’s Season Pass trilogy, Extinction is seen as a swan song where answers are finally found to all those burning questions. Why dinosaurs? Why the mysterious Tek? What is finally behind it all?

Unfortunately, if there were any answers to be had, it would seem like there’s no one here to give them. The towering spires of Sanctuary lie empty and quiet. Centuries of decay have toothed through the pillars and pathways, leaving nature to reclaim the gradual ruins. Although the neon lights of civilisation still flicker, they feel like post-death spasms.

It’s going to take a while to chew through Ark: Extinction, which is why we’ll be doing this review in multiple parts. First impressions found, but we’re going to make sure there’s lasting fun to be had exploring beyond the concrete wilderness. For now, though, I need to find a tree, a rock, and a dodo.

State of Decay

It feels strange building a thatch shack in the ruins of an advanced city, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing. Despite my previous adventure from beach hut to cliff top fortress, it was time to start over on a new world. Only this time, that world is Earth.

Food, water and shelter are necessary to survive in Ark, so my first task was to find a location that could provide all three. Sanctuary felt hot and humid, so I also needed a reliable way of keeping cool. My fortune seemed to improve when I stumbled on a park plaza, complete with dramatic waterfall and artificial pool. And there were dodos! With some quick work, I had a small home and reliable food source.

My base established I set out to explore. Now that I had time to soak it all in, I began to realise just how vertical Sanctuary is. Giant concrete obelisks climbed into the sky, but a network of paths and ramps coiled round them like vines. Deep canyons would open to expose uncercity below, rivers plummeting off into the void. But without purpose, the precincts blended into each other, luminous signage shouting incoherently.

Instead, the city offered wonders of a different sort. I’d seen some of the dinosaurs in my previous Ark adventures, but the alien Tek was much more prominent this time around. Robotic raptors that gleamed bold Voltron-inspired colours shone in the midday sun as they prowled the walkways. A purple Enforcer, its whip-like tail stretched out behind it, darted in front of me. Glowing outcrops of crystals and other weird resources reached out like fingers from the ground.

It was Ark, yes. But a different take.


The trouble with being cocooned in a sanctuary of concrete and glass is that I yearned to break free from it. Occasionally I’d wander near the edge of the biome and spot bleak desert nearby, and I found myself desperate to venture forth. Soon, I promised myself, once I had enough gear and a suitable steed, I’d take to the skies and leave the city behind.

For now, though, I’m content to live in the grime and the damp under the shadow of fallen greatness. I’ll herd dodos, hunt snakes and piranhas, build a fort, and steadily unlock the tech I had before plus the new stuff that’s now available. At some stage, I’ll have a well-defended tek citadel of my own.

Ultimately though, there’s the lure of big challenges. Epic titans to defeat with a team, technology to unlock, and a Final Boss to prepare for. Maybe then I’ll finally get an answer to all of Ark’s mysteries. As I continue this review in progress with Part 2, I’ll be taking a closer look at reaching towards some of these goals as I work to thrive in this dystopian future Earth. 


Gareth Harmer

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.