This year will probably be known as the year I rarely post. Life has just been crazy, and when I have a minute or two of free time there’s always something else that needs to be done, like house chores, or reading, or groceries. I’m still working 48 hours a week, and I don’t have a lot of free time to game, let alone free time to write about gaming. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been playing anything though!

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ARK: Survival Evolved released, a game I had never heard of before and was certainly not on my radar in any way shape or form. I saw a few friends on my list playing it on release day and then I decided on a whim to pick it up because it sounded like something I would be interested in. I was right. I love this game. It’s another survival game, this time with dinosaurs roaming the planet. You’re left in an area with an implant in your arm and no memory as to what has happened. There are a few hosted servers up for the game which include PvP and PvE servers, but I decided that I’d be better off running my own server, so after a few days of trying to figure things out, I successfully got that started. I opened it to a handful of friends, and let the dinosaur taming begin.

This game is incredibly beautiful, and even though it’s in early access right now (I know, what ever happened to me not buying in to early access games?!) there’s already a lot of features completed (along with a lot of bugs). Crafting is simple, you run around collecting components and killing things, as you do these basic tasks you’ll level up and earn ‘points’ to unlock recipes. There are not enough levels in-game to be able to unlock everything, so your best bet is to trade off on learning recipes with a friend. That way you’ll end up with a great selection.

Then of course comes the survival part. Dinosaurs will come and break through your structures, so you want to build in a location that’s going to be relatively ‘safe’. I ended up learning this the hard way as I had to re-build my home a handful of times. Eventually I settled on a location that was against a cliff, so that was at least one side where I didn’t have to worry about dinosaurs coming from. As you get higher in level you of course unlock more powerful recipes, and are able to build more sound structures. You can also create narcotics, pots for cooking, storage, and beds that let you respawn in camp instead of many miles away.

The dinosaurs are incredible, and it takes some learning (if you’re not familiar with them) to figure out which ones are only interested in the plants and shrubs near by and which ones are interested in tearing you into tiny pieces. The game released at a great time, too, when hype for Jurassic World is at a record high. I can’t wait to see where they take the game in the next year, and even though there are bugs, it’s probably one of the best early release games I’ve played to date. Check it out on steam (it’s also 17% off right now).