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Nothing is Forever

ARK is no stranger to controversy, but the latest debacle is especially cruel.

ARK 2, which stars Vin Diesel for some reason, is set to radically change the formula from 1st-person survival game to 3rd-person Soulslike, presumably with you dodge-rolling away from a T. Rex’s jaws. So there’s already some angst from longtime fans (including myself). Like most of Wildcard’s products though, ARK 2 is getting delayed… this time all the way into late 2024.

Enter a tweet from the devs that they are working on a UE5 engine upgrade to the original game, to be released to everyone for free!

oops, just kidding. The UE5 upgrade will cost you $50, but hey, you’ll get ARK 2 for free. For whenever that gets released. In the meantime, enjoy the original game upgrade… until they release UE5 versions of the expansions, at which point you’ll have to buy them again.

Also, the official servers for the “old” ARK are shutting down.

Wildcard is doing some damage control, with them acknowledging the general shittiness of the situation. The new deal is that, yeah, the ARK UE5 upgrade is going to cost $60, but it’ll come with the upgraded expansions too. But now ARK 2 will be a separate purchase. Which is sort of what you’d expect for this situation, although it still seems like something is getting taken away.

Which, in terms of official servers, it is.

Now, everything I have ever heard of in regards to the official servers is that they’re a shitshow. Alpha clans raiding noob shacks for fun, murdering dino tames that take people literal, concurrent hours to achieve for no reason, and trolls building posts everywhere on PvE servers to prevent others from building a base anywhere useful. This is the same game where you could literally be drugged, kidnapped and held indefinitely in a cage.

In my few hundred hours of playing, I never joined an official server for more than a few minutes. My escapades were safely sequestered on a private server, where I effectively eliminated the time it takes to tame a dino, because fuck that. However. Wildcard got famous and (presumably) made a lot of money on the backs of players using their established rulesets on official servers. And now that will be over in a few months. Not because the server is shutting down per se, but because they want more money for an upgrade that is probably being done to save the sequel with a cash infusion. Sort of like how Wildcard sold paid DLC of the original game while it was still in Early Access to pay for the lawsuit threatening to bankrupt the company.

As MMO players, I think we all understand that none of our digital lives are forever. Granted, EverQuest seems to still be going strong, and WoW Classic is more profitable than Blizzard certainly ever expected. Nevertheless, I still sympathize with ARK players who are seeing their digital lives evaporate. The servers are apparently able to be exported to private servers, but that is cold comfort to the psychopaths players who roleplayed murder-hobos ARK socially.

Gaming News

As Reddit is largely my source of gaming news these days, periodically I find that several items relevant to my interests have been buried by random nonsense. In no particular order:

Oxygen Not Included’s DLC has entered Early Access

Called Spaced Out!, the DLC seems focused on creating and managing multiple mini-colonies rather than one. Considering how complex and fragile just one colony can be, Klei is either targeting hardcore vets of the original game or will be introducing methods to trivialize some of the fundamental problems players encounter (heat, water usage, leaning on and then running out of algae or coal, etc). Although I have logged 143 hours into the game – making it my 5th most-played game on Steam – I have never actually made it to the rocket launching endgame, so I would be fine with the latter.

ARK 2 has been announced, starring Vin Diesel

No, really, look at the (pointless) trailer. Cue up the Adam Jensen “I didn’t ask for this.” Supposedly there will be more details coming out over the next few days, but the underlying kick in the teeth is that Studio Wildcard is rather pointedly ending the development of its original game in favor of a star-studded sequel. This shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, considering Wildcard is rather infamous for releasing a paid DLC while the original game was still in Early Access.

Having said that, if the end result is ARK on more stable game-code… maybe it’s worth the re-admission price. Clocking in at 147.5 hours, ARK is my 4th most-played game on Steam. And all that time was spent in single-player, almost entirely on the original map. The bones were good; it’s the flesh that needs work.

Slay the Spire is (still) coming to Android… Eventually!

Mentioned in passing at the top of the latest patch notes: “While we’re awaiting news from our publishing and porting teams for the Android mobile release, we’re bringing some more of the under-the-hood improvements to PC!” While an Android release of Slay the Spire is not news per se, I’m always happy to be reminded that it might eventually happen someday. After all, it’s been six months since it was released on iOS and I have resorted to a number of questionable phone games (like Hearthstone) to scratch that particular itch.

And just to continue the theme, Slay the Spire is #2 on my Steam list with 166.8 hours played.