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The best mods for Ark: Survival Evolved

Strange new land mods

When Ark's current landmass is no longer enough, these mods will take you to whole new worlds. Or new islands, anyway.

Valhalla

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This custom map won Ark’s first worldwide mod contest, and it’s a remarkable work of art for community creators to release for free. Valhalla contains about three times more landmass than the standard Ark map, and it supports all of the things that Ark does: all the mods, all the dinos and grinding. Basically, if you want to keep playing Ark but you’d like a change of scenery and some new places to build and fight and survive, Valhalla is Ark, but newer and better. It can be a refreshing start for players who have already spent years on Ark’s original island.

Skies of Nazca

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If floating obelisks undulating on pillars of otherworldly light isn’t weird enough for you, try Skies of Nazca. According to the creator’s lore notes, an alien war messed up Nazca real good, and broken islands, floating land masses, and monstrous animal experiments now spice up the traditional Ark experience of punching trees and clubbing dinos. 

Thieves Island

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Unlike the other island mods, Thieves Island doesn’t try to overwhelm you with sheer scale and size: it’s about half the size of the vanilla Ark island. It’s densely packed with caves, underground tunnels, floating islands, and the ruins of a once-vigorous den of pirates and sunken shipwrecks. For a new map experience that is less about size and more about depth, Thieves Island is a good place where you can wake up naked and start fresh.

Total conversion mods

These mods turn Ark into a whole new beast. Sorry.

Play as Dino!

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It’s a hard world out there for a leech. You squinch around, doing your leech thing, and the highlight of your day is latching on to something full of blood and hopefully getting away with it.

Play as Dino takes the survival game to a ridiculous extreme, letting you play as a dinosaur on Ark’s island. If you’ve spent any time at all watching from the bushes as packs of dinos tear each other apart, you know that life as a dino is only slightly worse than life as a human. You can play as land-, air-, and sea-based dinosaurs, explore the world, eat, mate, and get eaten by something bigger than you. You can also play as a useless fish, dragonfly, or leech, if for some reason that sounds like fun to you.

Primitive+

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Primitive Plus has been so popular for so long in the Ark community that the developers brought it on as an official piece of free DLC. There’s a good reason for that: this mod is great. It adds a lot of depth and complexity to Ark’s primitive technology options and strips out all the sci-fi high-tech electronics and various bloated nonsense. The result is a nuanced, well-balanced game the focuses on surviving in a primitive world with primitive technology. If you really work at it, you can build your technology up to black-powder muskets, but that’s as advanced as it gets.

In my opinion, this is the game that Ark itself should have been all along. It’s that good.

Ark: Survival mod - Pokemon Evolved

Pokemon Evolved

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Today I played a game where I track down high-level animals, capture and tame them, then train them up and take them into battle against players and other wild animals. But enough about Pokemon, everybody, let’s talk about Ark. Pokemon mods have been a natural fit for Ark for years, and the best example running right now is Pokemon Evolved. If you’ve got a love for those iconic cartoonish critters, this mod lets you replace dinosaurs with Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and the rest. Grab a Pokeball instead of your hunting bola, and go collect them all.

Multiplayer mods

These mods will help you change up the Ark multiplayer experience.

Survival Plus

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Much like Primitive Plus, this mod restricts the sci-fi and high-tech parts of Ark to focus on the low-tech survival part of the experience. Unlike Primitive, Survival devotes a ton of time to survival minutiae: sleep and exhaustion, hunger and cooking, hot and cold. This mod is best played on a big server full of people, since the survival experience can be pretty harrowing on your own. This is why humans formed tribes in the first place, after all.

Survival of the Fittest

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Everybody buckle in, we’re in for quite a few takes on the central premise behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Survival of the Fittest may be a remix on an increasingly common theme, but it’s still a pretty great way to spend your Ark time. This mode supports 72 players at once as they’re dropped onto an island filled with loot and a shrinking play area, and the last team alive wins the game. Unlike PUBG, though, you can theoretically tame a T-Rex and use it to chomp your way to the finish line, and that sounds pretty cool.

Ark Postal Service

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Ark wants to be all about the multiplayer experience, but there’s nothing in the game that helps plays communicate, network, and organize. Enter: the postal service. Adding this mod to a server creates a network of inboxes and delivery addresses so you can leave messages for offline players and send love notes to that good looking cave-person you shot arrows at that one time.

Capitalism Currency

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Sorry, socialists. The Capitalism Currency series of mods brings currency standards to the survivors on the Ark. Gold coins form the basis for an economic infrastructure on the ark: you can trade for goods and ingredients, keep your life savings in a bank vault, and offer bounties to hire players to whack your enemies. Sure, it’s nice to be able to offload that stone you don’t want anymore and find a convenient way to buy rare ingredients, but now we’ve got bounty hunters and haggling over prices on this once-idyllic jungle island? It’s true what they say: more money, more problems.