Ark 2 is in the works, and it's bringing a rex-wrangling Vin Diesel with it. While the sequel to Ark: Survival Evolved will be revamping its gameplay experience in a third-person, soulslike direction, you may be wondering: Isn't Ark a multiplayer survival RPG? Was there eventually a story after all the nude tree-punching? Why are there orcs?
Well, given an upcoming animated show, it seems like Studio Wildcard is investing in evolving its storytelling. We'll see how well all this is explained, but there are worse ways to write a story than giving a Vin Diesel an excuse to ride a thunder lizard.
Here's everything we know about Ark 2.
Does Ark 2 have a release date?
Currently, Ark 2 is set to release at the end of 2024. While Ark 2 was initially set to release in 2022, an appearance at the 2022 Xbox & Bethesda Showcase was a clear indicator to adjust our release expectations. A planned 2023 release was also scrapped, with Studio Wildcard announcing a move until the end of 2024 in a post on its website in March.
According to Microsoft, Ark 2 is a console launch exclusive on Xbox, which likely means Xbox and PC at launch, and PS5 sometime down the road. Worth noting as well: Microsoft individually spent over $2.5 million to have Ark 2 on Game Pass for three years. The first Ark spent two years in early access and although we do know that Ark 2 will also start as an early access game, we don't know how long it will stay that way.
Ark 2 trailers
Here's the latest Ark 2 trailer from June 2022
This cinematic trailer from the 2022 Xbox & Bethesda showcase gives us a taste of the backstory for the world of Vin Diesel, dino-wrangler. Evidently, humanity has undergone some kind of apocalyptic conflict. This war took place so long ago in Ark 2's past that it's remembered as a battle between the gods—gods who apparently tried to transplant humanity to another planet as a last resort. And, it seems, they shipped some dinosaurs along for good measure.
Watch the Ark 2 reveal cinematic
Out of nowhere Studio Wildcard dropped a 4-minute cinematic reveal trailer for Ark 2 back in 2020. A follow-up to Survival Evolved, a game known for its big expansions, is surprising enough, but even crazier is that Ark 2 will star Vin Diesel.
Studio Wildcard later said on Twitter that the trailer was made completely in-engine with real game assets. It's hard to believe the final game will look quite this good when it releases, but it's nonetheless impressive.
Ark 2 story and gameplay
Who is Santiago, Vin Diesel's character?
As we see in the cinematic, Vin Diesel's character Santiago appears to be wading through dino-infested forest alongside who might be his wife and daughter. According to his bio from the animated series trailer, Santiago is a "24th-century ‘Mek’-pilot, gearhead, & freedom-fighter." He's also got a little tribe in tow, who run into a bit of trouble when a band of creepy blue guys jumps them.
Based on some cursory research, Vin Diesel's Santiago, is a clone of a figure from Ark 1 lore, described in his animated series trailer bio as a "24th-century ‘Mek’-pilot, gearhead, & freedom-fighter." Santiago factors into a prolonged saga of wars brought on by superscience materials and technological arms races, culminating in a ruined Earth that's orbited by biodome Ark space stations populated by dinosaurs, dragons, and sand worms. Those stations are where Ark 1 and its DLCs take place. It's a lot.
At the end of the storyline delivered in chunks throughout Ark 1's DLCs, an Ark colony ship that'd left Earth for deep space jettisons its population of human survivors and genetic monstrosities onto an Earth-like planet. Presumably, that same planet is where Ark 2 takes place.
Will Ark 2 have a playable story?
✅next gen graphics✅next gen online multiplayer sandbox✅next gen logo✅next gen hype pic.twitter.com/MfT5aTYu5ODecember 11, 2020
While the cinematic trailer certainly gives you the idea that Ark 2 will be about Vin Diesel's best efforts to not get eaten by dinosaurs, the official Ark Twitter account clarified that Ark 2 is indeed an online multiplayer sandbox.
At least, that's what its willing to share at the moment. Maybe Vin Diesel's Santiago will be featured prominently in the lore, or maybe he'll be a vendor? For a game that's always been about the social interactions between actual players, throwing living, breathing fictional characters into the mix does raise questions.
What changes are coming to Ark 2 gameplay?
As described on its Steam page, Ark 2's gameplay will be third-person only. It'll feature "advanced character traversal mechanics like mantling, free-climbing, parkour, sliding, and swinging." Tarzan-tech, in other words.
That third-person gameplay will also feature "soulslike" melee combat, which Wildcard defines as "blocks, dodges, combos, staggers, special attacks." Third-person-only play is a pretty big departure from the original Ark, which allowed players to alternate between first-person and third-person perspectives.
It sounds like crafting will be getting an overhaul, too: your weapons and tools will be built from "distinct modules" that can be combined to determine your gear's looks and function.
Other Ark 2 info
What else do we know about Ark 2?
If that wasn't enough excitement, Ark is also getting its own show simply called Ark: The Animated Series. Here's the official synopsis from the trailer:
"Ark: The Animated Series chronicles the story of a mysterious primeval land populated by dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, where people from throughout human history have been resurrected. When 21st century Australian paleontologist Helena Walker awakes on the ARK after tragedy, she must learn to survive and find new allies, or die again at the hands of ruthless warlords -- all while trying to uncover the true nature of their strange new world."
Sounds neat! Collider reported that the show is already confirmed for two seasons, and although we don't know what streaming service will host it, the show's set to release this year. There is also a cast of surprisingly stacked talent that's on board for the show, including Vin Diesel (of course), Russel Crowe, Elliot Page, Gerard Butler, David Tenant, Karl Urban, Alan Tudyk, and Malcolm McDowell. Here's a complete list actors and characters they're playing:
- Gerard Butler plays General Gaius Marcellus Nerva, a brutal ancient Roman despot.
- Devery Jacobs plays Alasie, a peppy 17th century Inuit teenager, now finding her place on the ARK.
- Cissy Jones plays The Gladiatrix, a formidable commander in Nerva's army.
- Madeleine Madden plays 21st century Australian paleontologist Helena Walker, newly awoken on the ARK.
- Deborah Mailman plays Deborah Walker, a 21st century Aboriginal Australian activist, and mother to Helena Walker.
- Zahn McClarnon plays Thunder Comes Charging, a 19th century Lakota warrior who leads a thriving community on the ARK.
- Malcolm McDowell plays Senator Lucius Cassius Virilis, a manipulative aristocrat during the reign of Caesar Augustus.
- Juliet Mills plays Chava, a wise healer and village councilmember.
- Elliot Page plays Victoria Walker, an idealistic humanitarian aid worker, and wife of Helena Walker.
- Ragga Ragnars plays Queen Sigrid, a bellicose 10th century Viking warlord.
- David Tennant plays Sir Edmund Rockwell, an egocentric 19th century scientist harboring dark ambitions.
- Alan Tudyk plays The Captain, a crusty buccaneer who profitably sails the dangerous waters around the ARK.
- Karl Urban plays Bob, a recent square-jawed ARK arrival.
- Jeffrey Wright plays Henry Townsend, an 18th century American watchmaker and Patriot spy.
- Michelle Yeoh plays Meiyin Li, a 3rd century Chinese rebel leader, known on the ARK by her reputation as the formidable “Beast Queen.”
- Ron Yuan plays Han Li, a 3rd century Chinese rebel leader and brother to Meiyin.
- With Russell Crowe playing Kor the Prophet, an eccentric ‘dino-whisperer’ hailing from a time before recorded history.
- And Vin Diesel playing 24th century ‘Mek’-pilot, gearhead, & freedom-fighter Santiago.
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Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.