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ARK Survival Ascended & UE5: Match Made in Gaming Heaven?

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What Is ARK Survival Ascended About?​

ARK: Survival Ascended is a dinosaur survival simulator that pits you in large open worlds, surviving against the elements and many creatures roaming the world. You can learn more about ARK in our review post for more information and details.

There has been confirmation that ARK (“one”) is getting an upgrade to Unreal Engine 5, which will make some big improvements to the game’s performance overall. The original game was created off a modified version of Unreal Engine 4, and the UE5 upgrade will be a stock build of the engine, more or less, which should improve performance significantly.​

The Community Has Backlashed Against ARK Devs​

We are not sure why the community is as against this as they are. The developers are partially to blame, for sure, but there is also blame to be given to their publisher, Snail Games. The publishers tell the developers what they can and cannot say or share. It is all on the publishers for some of the key areas that people are complaining about.

We recommend sharing the blame with Snail Games as well. This publisher has ruined some other games in the past, so we hope that Studio Wildcard can get away from them as a publisher, and go to a better, more reliable publisher like Microsoft or similar.​

ARK Survival Evolved’s Development History​

While ARK has had a mixed history in the gaming industry, they have made a game that was, at the time, very unique in its combining of survival and a wide range of dinosaurs you can interact with, tame, or survive against. At the start, they used a customized build of Unreal Engine 4 (Source), and not a stock build. This means updating the game to later, stable versions of Unreal Engine 4 was not all that feasible.

With ARK Survival Ascended, the remaster, being coded in a standard (vanilla) version of Unreal Engine 5 (probably 5.1), it will make it much easier for them to update the game to the later builds of Unreal Engine 5, say 5.5, down the road. This should help it benefit from all the improvements of future versions of the UE5 engine.​

What Are The Unreal Engine 5 benefits?​

The benefits of UE5 over UE4 are plentiful, it has made many strides in performance over Unreal Engine 4. Unreal 5’s Lumen lighting system has made dynamic global illumination much less costly, and more efficient. The Nanite mesh improves the quality of static system meshes, which makes a low-cost, more beautiful environment renderer. It also improves the physics aspects of games. The engine itself is also free to use, which is nice for modders and indie developers wanting to make great-looking games!

Some of the best parts of Unreal Engine 5 are:​

  • Lumen – A lighting system overhaul, which is dynamic real-time illumination.​
  • Nanite – An overhaul of the mesh system. This should solve all the meshing problems that the original ARK Survival Evolved has. It does not waste resources on rendering things not shown on screen (which Unreal Engine 4 does). So this should vastly improve performance on consoles, for example.​
  • World Partition – This allows people to make much larger maps than the original ARK Survival could handle. This allows maps to load and unload chunks of the map dynamically. If nobody is in a specific region of the map, it can unload it so it doesn’t take up resources on the server.​
  • Physics System Overhaul – Unreal Engine 5 introduces “Chaos Physics” – a new system built from the ground up for UE5. It’s a huge leap in physics capabilities, and will vastly improve the quality of all Unreal Engine 5 games that make use of it. This includes:
    • Rigid Body Dynamics & Animations​
    • Cloth Physics​
    • Ragdoll Physics​
    • Hair simulation​
    • and much more!​
  • Destruction – A completely new Destruction system. Will ARK Survival Ascended use this? We don’t know yet. It will have thresholds that define how much damage is needed to destroy an object. This could allow for more dynamic caves and custom structures in ARK Ascended.​

Improved Lighting & Visual Updates are Incoming!​

As we mentioned in the previous section, Unreal Engine 5 had a complete overhaul of the lighting and visual systems in the latest engine version. There have been samples of what ARK Survival Ascended could look like, thanks to some tweets, shown below.

There Are Some Downsides To This Upgrade, Too!​

There will be some downsides to this update, two of the biggest will be that mods will break and are incompatible from ARK Survival Evolved to ARK Survival Ascended. We will have to wait for the mods to be updated to the remaster. Another downside is that save files will NOT be compatible between the two editions of the game. You will need to start new saves, and cannot transfer them to the new game.​

Mods On Steam Edition WILL Break!​

This is one huge downside to the remaster that we will have to deal with. Thankfully, Nekatus (Fjordur creator) has stated he will be moving at least some of his stuff to Unreal Engine 5. Unfortunately, it seems the Eco decor mods developer may not be bringing their mods to ASA, which is a huge bummer if that remains the case. Those decoration mods are amazing and they make your bases look much cooler!​

ARK 2 Release Date Delayed Again​

This has been confirmed now. ARK 2 has been delayed yet again. To be honest, that is no surprise. We were expecting something like this to happen. What we are thinking now is, ARK Survival Ascended is being made just in case ARK 2 fails to meet sales expectations, or similar. This will allow them to have a more up-to-date game that they can continue updating to make some money to keep the studio alive if ARK 2 fails.​

Concluding Thoughts​

While the community is partly right, they are also partly wrong. Sure, Studio Wildcard has made some questionable choices in the past (like selling Scorched Earth while in early access), but they have also made huge improvements to the game over the last 6-7 years. They also have much more experience and knowledge nowadays. They should be able to successfully fix the game with this remaster.

Updating ARK 1 would not be feasible at this point, due to its heavily customized engine. They would have to recode the entire game from scratch even to fix ARK 1. So why not build it in a new engine with tons of fixes and improvements? Since it is a completely updated engine that was not customized by them, the remaster should perform a lot better.

The biggest downsides are that save files are not transferrable to the remaster and those mods will need to be “recooked” according to multiple developers. It may not be very difficult to update mods for the remaster and not take a recode of their mod. But a lot of mods are abandoned at this point so some of the best mods may never get an update for ARK Survival Ascended or the updated Unreal Engine 5. Hopefully, someone will step up and remake the mods for the remaster if that is the case.


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Kenson M

Kenson M

Owner of Mesozoic Haven since 2015, when it was previously known as Jurassic Kingdoms. Is a family-friendly content livestreamer and lives in Texas.View Author posts

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