Studio Wildcard, creators of poop-harvesting dinosaur trainer Ark: Survival Evolved, has responded to players who were upset the Ark: Survival Ascended upgrade turned out not to be free as promised. After raising the ire of those players by announcing it was going to release the Unreal Engine 5 remaster in a $50 bundle with Ark 2, the studio says it has "digested the feedback" and has presented a revised plan.
In a community update, Studio Wildcard said it will instead release Ark: Survival Ascended as a standalone package that will contain several DLC upgrades at launch, and receive more without additional cost (including community-created maps) when they become ready. Also, it'll be priced at $60. Now I'm no mathematician, but that sure does seem to be $10 more.
Explaining how it arrived at this decision, Studio Wildcard said, "When we had first considered doing an Unreal 5 upgrade, we planned just to port the Switch version of the game and undo the 'graphical' limitations required for that hardware. We weren't going to maximize the potential of the new technology, we weren't going to introduce new gameplay changes, and we weren't going to make critical design changes that would have had an impact on existing save data."
Ark: Survival Ascended will apparently have new creatures, items, structures, and other content that wasn't in the original game, as well as extra features, which Studio Wildcard listed some of:
- Dynamic navigation mesh and creature pathfinding overhaul (AI pathfinding)
- Photo mode
- Nvidia DLSS support
- Dino/Baby management QOL
- Wild Babies
- Snap point improvements (new snaps, logic improvements)
- Character creation and customization improvements
- Cross-platform multiplayer and full Blueprint modding
Regarding the original statement that the UE5 remaster would be free, Studio Wildcard said, "We weren't trying to mislead you with earlier comments; our plans and overall intentions changed. So you're probably asking, why don't we make these upgrades to the original ARK: Survival Evolved (ASE)? Frankly, it would not be viable. Many of the changes we're making in ARK: Survival Ascended will touch a lot of aspects of the game; it'll invalidate save data, some mods may not be functional, some things may not play the same way as they did before, and we didn't want to change that experience for those who prefer it or are unable to upgrade."
That's also why the studio decided to shut down Ark: Survival Evolved's official servers on August 31, "shortly before" the launch of Ark: Survival Ascended. "While we know it's not the same," it said, "we hope making the saves available for unofficial use helps diminish the loss. Our reasoning behind the decision is that those servers are essentially based on old technology and require significant development resources and time for our teams to operate and maintain. In some cases, the issues aren't as easily solvable without an overall upgrade. Additionally, we know that those resources could be better utilized on fundamentally new technology to further enhance the overall game experience for all players."
It's hard to see how charging $60 for the remaster instead of $50 will assuage the players who were upset because they expected it to be free, even if it comes with $40 worth of DLC rather than a preorder of a sequel that's been delayed until the end of 2024 and will be coming to Game Pass anyway.
Ark: Survival Evolved will receive a final update in June, which will add a new creature called the rhyniognatha, which is a large flying insect. Ark: Survival Ascended is planned to release at the end of August. Here's Studio Wildcard's list of the DLC that will come with it:
- The Island (Released at Launch)
- Survival of the Fittest: The Island & Scorched Earth map variants (Released at Launch)
- Scorched Earth (Released at Launch)
- Aberration (Released by Q4 2023)
- Extinction (Released by Q1 2024)
- Genesis Part 1 (Released by Q1 2024)
- Genesis Part 2 (Released by Q2 2024)
- All the community-created maps are also to be released over time in 2024 (Fjordur, Ragnarok, The Center, Lost Island, Valguero, Crystal Isles)