Ark de Solo

In the comments for my last post, SynCaine questioned my decision to play Ark solo:

I’m not sure I’d understand the point of solo ARK. Say you push past the initial curve and get to the point where you have a base that dinos can’t mess with, you are near max level (so all blueprints you would want you have), and you have some low-mid range dinos tamed. What then?

In solo, again after the initial challenge, there is zero risk of another player causing problems, or of working together with a tribe on something bigger. So it’s just a slow grind that doesn’t have an end (you can’t ‘win’ in ARK), and gets slower and less rewarding as you go (taming a t-rex takes longer than a raptor, but what does the t-rex really give you over the raptor?).

The “what then?” is the same answer as any survival game: play until you get bored.

Ark_NormalDay

Meet Pinky. He’s basically a jet ski that flies occasionally.

I’ve been playing Ark pretty much the exclusion of anything else since the beginning of September. This past weekend’s project was shepherding an Ankylo up a mountain and setting up a metal refinement base at the top. Big improvement over riding a train of dinos to a now-depleted smaller hill along the coast. It was not until just yesterday that I got my first node of Obsidian, which was up a completely different mountain, near a full day’s flight (on my slow bird) away.

My next project is to try and snag Dung Beetles from somewhere – possibly a cave – so I can have easier access to oil, as I want to avoid underwater shenanigans if possible. Then I was looking at taming one of those snails, which requires the vegetable cake, which requires Sap, which requires a high-cost collection piece most easily inserted on top of an extremely high-cost tree structure, then you can’t forget Giant Bee Honey… and so on and so forth.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t even left the SE corner of the map. I’ve seen the Redwood Forests, but haven’t actually been inside yet. Much less anything North or West of that. Steam says I’ve been playing for 60 hours.

Ark_Hours

Actually kind of impressive.

Sure, exploring and exploiting shit is only going to get faster from here. I’m way more confident in my ability to handle (or avoid) hostile dinos than before. But the game is still interesting to me, still dangerous, and I still have things I’d like to do. Maybe try out some of the caves, maybe see how far along the tech tree I can get before things get too annoying. I don’t know how much more novelty the game necessarily has – could be another 60 hours playing solo, maybe only 20. At my current rate, I’m leaning more towards the former.

If I do get bored, I can try a fresh character in a different starting zone, for a different experience. Or perhaps on a different map entirely, e.g. the Center, or Ragnarok. There is already one paid DLC map on top of that, with another on the way. There is even apparently a procedural generated map option, or custom maps.

What I don’t need is other people to make my gameplay meaningful. I’ve gotten 200 hours out of 7 Days to Die so far, and who knows how much time in Minecraft. All solo. If I want the experience of social obligation and responsibility again, there are plenty of MMOs to fill that non-existent void. Personally, I’m still enjoying the ability to close games without having to apologize for leaving, or doing exactly what I want to be doing in that moment without asking for permission.

Is Ark more fun with friends? Possibly. It is also completely, 100% fine by yourself too. There is enough sand in the box to make for a good time either way. At least alone, you avoid getting sand into your shorts and hair from other people mucking about. These days, I’m good, thanks.

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Posted on September 13, 2017, in Commentary, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I wasn’t aware you hadn’t played ARK before, some reason I thought you had. So yea, totally fresh there is a LOT to learn and progress through, even solo and with all timers accelerated. I actually might try that myself now that it’s in full release, because i think they made a change way back the the world doesn’t progress if you are ‘offline’ in single player, right?

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    • Yep, everything is frozen when you exit the game. I don’t actually have all the timers maxed out – just taming speed and farm growth (it’s impossibly slow otherwise, as it’s balanced for offline growth). I did bump up resources and player stat growth to 1.5 though, and make the nights a little shorter. I was worried about the extra stats being a bit too OP, but just yesterday I died to a level 4 Sarco while unwittingly trying to tame his mate. Just when you think you have things under control…

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  2. Yea so fired it up and basically maxed all the sliders to make it faster/easier, hit level 50 in like 2 hours (I hit level 2 before the opening animation was even done), stone base, metal tools, dinos can’t touch me. Didn’t think you could make the game THAT easy. Think I’m going to start over with things lower, but likely still faster/easier than what you have.

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    • I’m at 71 hours now and still at level 57 myself. Haven’t touched the XP slider at all. On the other hand, I don’t build much in the base department, which I understand is a fairly easy source of XP. I did build my first boat yesterday though, and about to set sail for the North to club some penguins so I can fabricate some more modern weapons.

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