Here are a few critical beginner tips to make your experience in My Time at Portia more pleasant.
1. Slow Down Game Speed
One of the first things I recommend doing is opening the Options screen and reducing the Game Speed. All this controls is how quickly the clock ticks in the game. So, instead of burning two hours of daylight heading over to your neighbor’s house to chat, it may only take 30 minutes to cover the same ground. This will also give you more opportunity to use all of your Stamina on digging/logging.
For myself, I pushed it all the way down to 60%. This gives me plenty of time to stock all my furnaces, talk to who I need to, and complete all my chores with plenty of time to explore a bit more before hitting the sack. If you want to burn some more daylight, you can speed it back up at any time.
2. All your Storage is Linked
Even though the game mentions this in a loading screen tip, it wasn’t until a few dozen hours into the game that I realized that all your storages are linked. What this means is that if you have one easily-accessible storage chest, you can open it and then browse the contents of all the others, even if they are inside your house (which I recommend doing to save real estate).
Why is this useful? Because you can name each chest and then put that stuff in the chest and easily find them later. I have chests for Metal, Wood, Cloth, Foodstuffs, relics from Ruins #1, Ruins #2, etc etc etc. Considering how often you have to physically put stuff on your hotbar to assemble things, it’s helpful to organize all your stuff.
3. Fishing = $$$
If you haven’t already learned this from the Fishing Tournament in the first month, Fishing is one of the most lucrative endeavors in the game. As soon as you craft your first fishing pole, you can purchase bait from Sophia’s store and then head to the fishing hole near the waterfall. Goliaths are the common catch there and each one has a book value of 350g. The King Goliaths are very rare and hard to reel in, but their book value is 5000g. I recommend not selling those until you have two, because…
4. Breed Fish for Easy Cash
At a certain point, you’ll be able to craft a fish tank. If you plop two fish of the same type (and rarity) into the tank and feed them regularly, eventually you’ll get a 3rd fish. There’s a distinct lack of any kind of useful interface with the fish tank, but basically you can dump in as much food as you want and the fish feed themselves until it runs out. As long as they aren’t hungry, another invisible timer will be counting down until a third fish appears in the tank. Just make sure you don’t accidentally pull a fish out of the tank until they have bred, because it resets to timer even if you put it back.
For practical purposes: put in two King Goliaths (or other 5000g fish pairs), load it up with food, and then 7-8 days later you will have a 3rd 5000g fish. Rinse and repeat for some nice passive income.
5. Don’t Overthink Relationships
There are a few dozen members of the Portia community, and quite a few reasons why you might want to cozy up to all of them. For example, store discounts, extra stat buffs, periodic presents, or because you want to make one of them your beau. Just don’t go too crazy with it though.
Each star or heart container represents 100 relationship points. Talking with townsfolk confers… +1 point each day. Sparring with them confers… +1 point. Playing Rock-Paper-Scissors… yeah, +1 point. While there are Skills that can be unlocked to boost these numbers, they pale in comparison to the other avenues to raise relationships. Giving gifts, for example. Most townsfolk appreciate certain food dishes, and giving them it on the daily is worth +10 points each time.
Additionally, about midway through the game, you “unlock” the ability to go on Play Dates with most townsfolk, once per person per week. If you plan out things right, you can fairly easily score +25 to +40 points in an evening. This isn’t even counting the bonuses (+20 to +35) that come from quests, or them viewing relics you place in your yard, or when you complete their Commissions.
In short, don’t get hung up on talking to everyone everyday.
6. Embrace the Dig
Early on you will unlock some Abandoned Ruins. While these locations have buried relics to chase, the biggest draw is just to find a mineral vein and dig. And dig. And dig some more. While you do need Wood to power the Furnaces that turn all of the copper (etc) ore into usable bars, the vast majority of your time in MtaP will be spent digging. So embrace it.
Also, Pro Tip: you can trade up to 999 Rock for Wood at a 1:1 ratio at A&G Construction. While you will want to keep some Rock around to turn into Bricks on occasion, this conversion will save you a lot of time if you don’t have to split your time between digging and logging.
7. Note the Economy
Prices in Portia fluctuate: down to the low 70% all the way to 135%. Every vendor is affected by the same multiplier shown in the upper-right of the vendor window. Changes are typically gradual, so you’ll have some idea of the direction things are moving. Needless to say, if you are wanting to sell things, you will get more bang for your buck saving it for high-price days. Just keep in mind that each vendor has a maximum amount of money they have each day, so you can’t exactly unload 50,000g+ of goods all at once.
On low-price days, I recommend stocking up on items from Sophie’s Store like fish bait, dough balls, and random cooking ingredients like Sugar and Rice and Cumin. You can also save a few thousand Gols by waiting for these days to purchase new armor from the clothing store.
There is no tutorial or hand-holding in Ark. The game is unfair, the world hostile, and the dinosaurs are without remorse. While that is part of the appeal of the game for some people, it can also serve as a barrier to others who might otherwise enjoy the experience. That’s the purpose of this guide: provide enough hand-holding to get you out of the nest safely, and into free-fall.
Whether you flap your wings afterwards, is up to you.
When you first start Ark, you will have to choose a general starting area to spawn into the world, but the specific location will be random within that area. As the game text mentions, some areas are easier than others. While you cannot do much about the randomness at the beginning, one of the first things you will want to accomplish is removing the randomness by building a bed, and NOT a Sleeping Bag. Beds have infinite respawns, sleeping bags have one respawn.
Note: You can build more than one bed. In fact, I highly recommend you build at least two, even in your first starter base. There is a respawn cooldown of 5 minutes, but that’s per bed. This will allow you a 2nd chance at collecting your stuff if the first naked run doesn’t work out.
At the beginning, think Minecraft: punch trees for Wood and Thatch, collect rocks from the ground, then craft a Stone Pick. Use that to collect some more material to craft a Stone Hatchet. Between the two, the Hatchet will collect more building material (Wood, Stone, Hide) from an object, whereas the Pick will collect “special” material better (Flint, Metal, Meat). For the majority of the game, the Hatchet is where it’s at.
By the way, save every piece of Flint, Charcoal, and Spoiled Meat you find/create. You’ll be using those quite a bit for mid-game stuff.
Dying in Ark is practically an everyday experience in the beginning, especially before you get to taming a lot of dinos. When you die, everything that you were carrying will drop to the ground into a backpack, which will despawn in 15 minutes. Additionally, your backpack will (usually) have a beam of green light shooting out of it, to assist in recovering your gear.
There are some key things to note here, given the above. The biggest is the fact that whatever killed you will still be hanging around your corpse. Dinos will wander around randomly, but they frequently do not roam large distances, and certainly not within a tidy 15-minute timeframe. So, you will need to make a decision about whether or not it’s worth trying to grab your stuff. That decision will also be informed about whether or not you can grab your stuff naked, which is your immediate condition having just respawned.
Here is a good breakdown off “the rules” then:
- Only carry what you are willing to lose.
- Die in a convenient location.
- Don’t be greedy.
The first rule is just a basic philosophy that you will need to embrace in Ark. Do you really need to be running around in your best armor and weapons all the time? Are you sure that carrying two rafts in your inventory is a good idea when exploring a cave? Unlike a lot of games, the basic armor and weapons of Ark are still viable for a large portion of encounters you’ll face. Once you have tons of resources and duplicates, sure, go out there in your Sunday best. But only do that if you’re not afraid of losing what you got.
A convenient location to die would be one in which is farther from whatever killed you to begin with, but easy to access for your replacement. Sometimes this means throwing yourself from a cliff, sometimes this means not throwing yourself from a cliff. Similarly, forcing that Carno to chase you into the water means there will be a buffer to snag your stuff back. Then again, there could be a swarm of sharks in the area too. Try your best, but also acknowledge that sometimes you will need to cut your losses and move on.
Finally, being greedy means hitting up one last node despite having already collected more than you need. Every moment away from home is a risk, and nothing in your inventory is really yours until it makes it back into container. Besides, you’ll likely have more than one death due to something dumb like Compys who ate your ankles because you gathered 20 more pounds of Metal Ore and became too encumbered to run away.
By default, E is the button to interact with just about everything: containers, campfires, dino inventories, etc. This will get annoying over time though, because pressing E around a campfire will light/smother the flames rather than giving you access to the Cooked Meat you wanted. Get in the habit of pressing F to access inventories instead. Pressing F will directly access the inventory of your target, up to and including a dino you might be riding.
This might seem silly to mention, but this is a dinosaur taming game. When I first started playing, I didn’t tame anything until level 21 when I unlocked Tranquilizer Arrows. This was a mistake. You can and should be taming dinos as soon as you have your basics covered, e.g. hut with some storage and a bed.
Here are the steps to taming:
- Render a dino unconscious.
- Feed it food it likes.
Some dinos are tamed “passively,” which means skipping step 1). For the vast majority though, you need to knock them out. You accomplish that by dealing Torpor damage. The early game options available for inducing Torpor are: Slingshot, Wooden Club, and Tranq Arrows. While it will be quite a challenge to knock out fast-moving predators like Raptors with something like a Slingshot, there are a lot of dinos that are fairly slow and can be kited around. In the early game, for example, Dilos make excellent guard dogs. And if you manage to make it on top of a rock or cliff that the dino can’t reach, you can typically knock out just about anything.
Once unconscious, go up to the dino and access it’s inventory by pressing E or F. Transfer food from your inventory to theirs, either by left-clicking for individual items, or by pressing T to transfer the entire stack. While there is special “kibble” that can be used to speed up the process, you can stick with raw meat for carnivores and berries for the herbivores. Special note for the latter though, do NOT give them Stimberriers – eating those can make the dino wake up faster.
Depending on the server settings, taming dinos can take a long time. To keep them unconscious, you’re going to need to keep their Torpor meter up. Beating them with a Wooden Club can do this, but any damage taken will reduce Taming Effectiveness, which in turn makes the dino gain fewer bonus levels. Typically, you’ll want to use either Narcoberries or Narcotics. Place either one into the dino’s inventory, hover over the icon and press E. This will “force-feed” the dino the item. The Torpor gain will not be immediate, but rather gradual. Depending on the dino, you may need to force-feed them quite a few.
Note: many older videos/guides used the term “Remote Use Item,” which doesn’t exist in the game anymore. Pressing E on an item in the dino’s inventory does the same thing.
Once you have tamed a dino, there are several means by which you can control them. If you have a saddle available, you can directly mount them and ride around. Some dinos are more useful than others as actual means of transportation though. Raptors are extremely fast, for instance, whereas Trikes are extremely slow. That said, saddles give you access to a given dino’s special talents, which sometimes more than makes up for its other deficiencies. For example, that same slow Trike can harvest 100s of berries at a time from nearby bushes, but only if you are riding it with a saddle.
Dinos are still extremely useful even without a saddle. If they are on Follow Mode and Attack MY Target, they will, well, follow you around and help kill your foes. This can and will save your life many a time if you happen to stumble into a bad situation you were not prepared for. If you are trying to tame additional dino pals though, be sure to switch your current bodyguards to Passive.
Surviving the Early Game
As mentioned previously, Ark is unfair. But it is unfair in fairly consistent ways. There will be times when there really is nothing you can do to avoid death. Other times? You can survive. Here are some quick tips for the common causes of death in the early game.
Dilos – Counter: Spears. The biggest gimmick with Dilos is their spit attack. It’s sometimes difficult to juke, so I like to jump right before they spit, which usually causes it to sail over my head. Beyond that, a simple Wooden Spear has greater reach than their melee attack, and will knock them back far enough to strike again with relative impunity.
Raptor – Counter: Bolas. Raptors are too fast to outrun, and spears aren’t near strong enough to keep them at bay. But a single Bola will automatically root them for ~30 seconds. Once rooted, shoot them in the face, or maybe beat them unconscious with a Wooden Bat if you have one handy.
Carnos – Counter: Turtles. Truly one of the more annoyingly unfair dinos in the early game, Carnos have a HUGE aggro radius and will relentlessly chase you down with what seems like infinite Stamina. One trick though, is that if you can kite them into the path of a turtle (i.e. Carbonemys), the Carno will injure itself and start attacking the turtle instead. Take that opportunity to book it or try and take it down.
Hopefully the above is enough get you started in your Ark experience.