Community Crunch 381: Sunsets on ASE, New Horizons on ASA and FAQ

Posted on September 29th, 2023 07:45 PM EST

As we stand on the horizon between the ending of an era and the dawn of the next, we'll take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary journey we've shared. Your exuberance, sense of community, and the vivid tapestry of experiences you've woven in the world of ARK: Survival Evolved have truly brought our creation to life. You’re the beating heart of our “little” dinosaur game.

Some might consider the upcoming transition a bittersweet occasion punctuated by a sense of loss and sadness. We feel otherwise. Unofficial ASE is in great hands. Yours.

But, as one chapter concludes, another unfolds – and again our stories will mix with yours to create something greater than the sum of two parts. Remember, it's not farewell, it’s “see you real soon” with more ASA news, reveals, gameplay and, ultimately, the launch of ARK: Survival Ascended near the end of October!
So, Survivors, thank you for eight incredible years and here’s to many more.

With heartfelt gratitude and dino-sized enthusiasm,
The Studio Wildcard Team

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Species: Shastasaurus carmentellum
Time: Late Triassic
Diet: Carnivore
Temperament: Curious

This odd variant of Shastasaurus seems as curious about humans as its distant relative Ichthyosaur. It sure got my attention when one of these sea monsters swam up to have a look at me! Luckily, its bulk turns out to be worse than its bite.

Shastasaurus has weaponized the ultrasonic chirps it uses for echolocation. It can focus those sounds into a tight cone that disorients prey, or widen the effect to blast apart a school of fish in a concussive wave.

Taming a Shastasaurus was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I brought  along some Ichthyosaur pals to entertain their larger cousin while I scraped some of its itchy barnacles off with a sickle. From then on, I had a gigantic escort in deep water.

Some tribes manage to kit out their finny friend with a periscope, torpedo bays, and even a cargo hold… Those Shastasaurs end up looking like something from the old kids’ cartoon with cavemen who turned dinos into cars and submarines!

Hey Survivors!
We’re going to recap some of the information we’ve shared regarding ARK: Survival Ascended in this crunch, along with touching on some topics that haven’t been covered and expanding on some that have! 
If you’ve been following along for the last few months, you might already know some of this information, but we’ve seen a lot of questions lately, so let’s start with the basics before diving into some of the more frequently asked questions from the community.


What is ASA?
ARK: Survival Ascended (ASA) is a next-generation remake of our beloved ARK: Survival Evolved, harnessing the power of Unreal Engine 5.

When is it launching?
The launch is just around the corner! We’ll reveal the launch trailer screenshots and set the game live near the end of October.

Where can you play it?
You’ll be able to play ARK: Survival Ascended on Xbox Series S/X, PlayStation 5, and PC (Windows/Steam).

Why are you doing it?
There are various reasons we’ve decided to take this approach. One is to refine the development team’s skills on UE5 and how far it can be pushed for next-generation titles (ARK 2).. Another factor is for business reasons. Developing a next-generation sequel while no longer releasing paid expansion packs has proven difficult for our Studio’s long-term survival, so we need to continue generating revenue while we develop ARK 2. And finally, the ultimate reason: whereas ARK2 is being designed as a Souls-like adventure, we want to provide the community with an evergreen classic-ARK experience, one that can continue to grow over time on a cleaned-up code base, leveraging new technological advancements not only in the industry but also what we’ve been working on with the ARK Franchise as a creative whole.

How are you leveraging the new technology?
Another question that could result in quite a mouthful of a response, so we’ll try to keep it simple. Here’s what’ll be coming with ASA:
  • ARK’s codebase has been rewritten, and its artwork recreated by hand to take full advantage of Unreal Engine 5, including its Lumen and Nanite systems.
  • Advanced graphics features such as dynamic water (Custom FluidNinja integration), complete interactive physical foliage, and more systems to create a beautiful, immersive, next-generation experience.
  • Cross-platform Modding: we’re working with Overwolf to provide an industry-first cross-platform modding experience, where mods created on PC are delivered directly to your consoles from a custom modding backend and in-game user mod browser. The modding capability for creators includes using the full power of Unreal Engine 5, including Blueprint, to create anything, any kind of new content or gameplay, within ARK.
  • Full Cross-platform Multiplayer
New content, QOL improvements, balance, and gameplay changes, including but not limited to:
  • Over time we’ll be releasing 11 Brand-new creatures (More than any previous DLC expansions)
  • New mini-map system (pan, zoom, pings, etc.)
  • New structures (display cases, smaller TEK Teleporters, building pieces) & major building-system overhaul
  • New Gameplay Items
  • Dynamic navigation mesh and creature pathfinding overhaul (AI pathfinding)
  • Total UI Revamp
  • Photo Mode
  • New camera systems for players and dinos, with the option to revert to the old systems.
  • New Player Character Assets with Revamped and Improved Customization
  • Gamepad virtual-cursor UI input system
  • New Dino-Manager system (view the real-time status and track-locations of all your creatures at will through one unified menu)
  •  … and much more!
A key thing to remember is that ARK: Survival Ascended will include all its previously released DLCs and maps in its remastered form and will have its own content roadmap. This will include new story content for the game, its own gameplay/QOL changes, new DLC, seasonal events, and more (some things we’re not quite ready to talk about yet!)

Alrighty, it’s safe to start reading again!

Q: Will there be a preorder? Get access to the game early? Exclusive Content? Pre-loading?
We aren’t planning on making ARK: Survival Ascended available for pre-order. You can purchase the game towards the end of October when we reveal the trailer and related media.

There are no plans to allow anyone to access the game early; you will all have access to it at the same time, and no intentions to release exclusive content only available at launch.

As we intend to set the game live immediately when it’s ready to purchase, you cannot preload it.

Q: Tell us more about Crossplay? How will that work?
Okay, so we will have a 3-phase system for rolling out crossplay. This is because it allows us to iterate more rapidly after launching a fresh title and makes managing our operations much less complicated, allowing us to deliver you a better experience. Also, we’re waiting for updates on the engine/plugin side to enhance the experience further ;).

Phase 1: Launch - Time Frame: October
TLDR: Crossplay will be enabled for Xbox Series X/S, Windows PC, and PlayStation 5.
Crossplay will not work for Steam PC at launch.

Why? Frankly, when we launch the game, we’ll have to patch a lot because you’re going to find things we missed or break the game in ways we never identified, and we’d prefer to be able to patch the Steam platform very quickly to resolve these issues.

Once the game has passed the launch hurdles and has entered a more stable state, certifying builds on other platforms will be much quicker, and so, at that point, we’ll look into enabling full crossplay.

We’ll split Official Servers between the respective ‘crossplay’ platforms. We also intend to host some servers that are crossplay only between Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 to keep out the PC Master Race folks (namely, so you stop asking us about it on Twitter (X) :))

Phase 2: Full Crossplay - Time frame December (This is a Wildcard ETA ;))
TLDR: Crossplay is now enabled for ALL PLATFORMS. Meaning Steam can play with Xbox and vice versa.

At this point, we will be at a stage where the game can fully enable crossplay for all platforms.

What this means is that we’ll be aiming to patch all platforms simultaneously and keep them running on the same version, and it is at this point Steam users will be able to play on the same servers as their console friends directly.

This applies to both Official and Unofficial servers, but don’t worry; we’ll still have a separate Official network online that is restricted to just Xbox and PlayStation users (without PC)!

Phase 3: Cross Progression - Time frame: 2024
Cross Progression isn’t going to be enabled with Full Crossplay because we’ll need to integrate some forthcoming updates to the Epic Online Services system. We don’t have an exact timeframe for that because it’s out of our control, and the integration may take some time. Plus, we’re still working out the kinks for how we intend to enable cross-progression for existing accounts, so we’ll share more on that later.

Q: What changes have been made to servers?
So we’ve made a few changes to servers, first of all we’ve increased the stasis-replication range for structures (significantly) and dinos, by about +70%. This means you’ll be able to see them from further way before they “de-render”. Additionally, we’ll be making use of instanced rendering for all our structure tilesets (think building pieces), meaning bases are going to run a lot better!

At the moment, we’re still keeping the servers capped at 70 players. With a lot of the other changes we’ve made, we’ve had to make some trade-offs and right now the tech (nor hardware) isn’t quite there yet to increase the slot cap much higher. We’ll be evaluating this over time and see whether we can increase it as further engine upgrades and optimizations come through (either via Epic or us). Of course, player-run unofficial servers can increase to 100+ players, and that is highly viable if they reduce the stasis-replication range or lower the maximum dino counts.

Q: What content changes have been made for Day 1? Caves, Rafts, Cryopods, TEK, Giant Squirrels…? 
This is a hot topic, and we wanted to clarify our intentions, but we wouldn’t be surprised if some things have slipped through the cracks.

Generally, we intend to release content based on the map it launched with. It doesn’t matter WHEN it launched; for example, the Rafts will be available on Day One and the Rhyniognatha on The Island; however, TEK creature variants and Cryopods will not be available.

We have done a pass on caves with some balance adjustments to choke points and improved the caves' internal appearance. We were hesitant to make dramatic changes to cave balance as, while the meta in ASE had flaws, we didn't feel a complete overhaul was wise. Between these changes and other adjustments throughout the game, we expect to see some shifts in the meta players create. We plan to monitor the impact of these moving parts in the hands of thousands of players and pivot as needed post-launch.

Honestly, there are a fair number of changes on the gameplay side:
  • Overhauled Building
  • Disabled leveling of movement speed on creatures and players on Official Network (Unofficials can change this via config, of course) -- we see the conversations, we already did it a while back 😜
  • Small Dino QOLs
  • Breeding Changes
  • This one sounds scary, we know. Our Product and QA teams were freaking out about it, but generally, our intention hasn’t been to change the strength of creatures but to make the implementation cleaner. Previously, mutations were based on a creature's wild stat multiplier, and now we’ve given it its multiplier. This has led to some creatures receiving some buffs/nerfs in particular stats, but we intend to rebalance this over time as we evaluate their roles in the meta. We’ll want your feedback on that :).
  • We have NOT FIXED getting more than 20 mutations, but we removed the 255 cap so that servers can specify a cap. We’ll leave it as is for our Officials (255), but it’s open to adjustments.
Of course, these examples cover only some of what you can expect to see redesigned in ASA. We could wax lyrical about the environment, water, sky, and how adorable wild babies are...but we'll let the game itself speak a thousand words really soon!

Q: Character Creation Overhaul
It was paramount to our art team that we overhaul the Character Creation system for ASA so that characters looked less survival-jank. And we successfully did that….but then we decided to say screw it and allow you to mess with all the bones and scalers anyway. So yeah, you can make something that feels nice and polished, or you could choose to make a character of questionable proportions that looks like it belongs to ARK: Survival Evolved (but next-gen).

Q: Is there new Gareth Coker music?
Sorry, in main menu, can't hear you over the new Gareth Coker music

We’re working very closely with Nvidia on all the things. They’re actually in our game code themselves, doing all the things. You can read more about these systems on their site:, but our goal is to launch with as much as we can or have it shortly after that.

Q: Unreal Engine 5.2? Why not 5.3?
Unreal Engine 5.3 is a relatively recent release, and we’ve been keeping up with all the changes that Epic is working on. It’s too soon for us to integrate it thoroughly, and quite frankly, quite risky so close to launch. For now, we’ve decided to cherry-pick some things from 5.3 that we like (such as Navmesh improvements, as well as the landscape), and over time, we’ll continue to upgrade the entire engine to 5.3 and beyond.

You will 100% be able to see the game via a trailer/screenshots before you purchase the game in October. Not getting any more specific than that (right now..)

Q: What about cheaters?
We will still be working with an anti-cheat for ASA. We won’t be sharing any more information about Anti-Cheat as it doesn’t benefit anyone to do so. This anti-cheat will also work cross-platform, and we intend to create more systems to use in our live operations to battle against cheaters… which, again, we won’t talk much about because it’s better if we keep that close to our chest :).

We’ll be doing another bounty program with ASA, so you can look forward to making some money while making hackers cry as they lay in bed alone, with their parents disappointed in them.

Q: The Survival of the Fittest 5.0?
So, we’re going back to the name SOTF. It felt easier to say than TSOTF, but more importantly, SOTF will not be available at launch. We still intend to do it, but we’re putting all our time, resources, energy, sweat, and blood into remastering the game to make it as good as possible. After launch, we’ll be tackling remastering SOTF (as an in-game downloadable Mod) for a Winter Release!

Q: With no SOTF, will there still be a queue?
There will not be a queue system at launch, given that we intended to have it implemented with SOTF. We’re still weighing up the technicalities of implementing this and whether it’s worth it for the game -- depends on the direction we take SOTF -- but we hear the concerns about “queue botting”, and will make sure that it’s a server-side configurable that can be disabled (and will be on our Official PvP servers) as well as implement measures to prevent this (such as blocking from the same connection, hardware, etc).

Q: Events? Extra Life? ASA Content!
Yes, we’ll still be doing these. The first ASA event will be Extra Life, bonus rates ‘n all dat jazz, and then we’ll be doing our first content-related event in December with the launch of Winter Wonderland!

And just as mentioned above, ASA has its own content roadmap, but it’s too soon to talk about that ;).

Q: Creature Submissions, what’s the plan?
Honestly, it’s taken us so long to get the Shasta dossier done because of the design and tech investigation required to ensure it was viable for us to create that creature’s abilities without destroying the game. It’s a challenge, but we’re getting it done. This kind of threw a spanner in our calendar for doing creature votes. We might take a break because voter fatigue is creeping in. Plus, once ASA ships, the meta might establish a need for different types of creatures, and we want to give you some time before the next vote to think about that.

Q: Developer Q&As, blogs, vlogs, streams, etc.
We have intentionally been very quiet the last year as we’ve worked aggressively on shipping ASA; once the game is out the door, we intend to do a 180 and will become more directly engaged with the community (we’ve been reading and monitoring throughout, trust). This could include more Q&As, streams, etc., but the general idea is that our quiet days are ending with the launch of ASA and then you get to see directly what we’re cooking up!

Thanks for reading the Q&A, guys! It was great answering all of your questions. Please check out our new release, ARK: Survival Ascended, coming to a virtual video game store near you at the end of October!

Our Official PlayARK Discord[] will be one of our main social hubs during ASA launch and beyond. This is the only official Discord server run by Studio Wildcard (well, really, it’s run by our wonderful mods and admins so please say hi to them!) and, if you haven’t joined the incredible two hundred thousand ARK community members there, you may want to check it out!

Fan Art Gallery[] | Screenshot Gallery[] | Artist Feedback Form[]

Monarky's newest season is still on going. This massive collaboration of over 30 content creators challenges them to work together or struggle alone as they battle through one of ARK's most challenging mod, The Hunted!

Welcoming seasoned and newer creators, Monarky's The Hunted is set to last until ARK: Survival Ascended's release at the end of October! Their goal is to celebrate eight wonderful years of ARK by creating a community network all in support of ARK content and pushing everyone's in-game survival knowledge to the very limits!

Peruse the list of all the content creators here[].

You can also join Monarky's Discord[] to stay up-to-date with the event!

Creator: Raasclark
Raasclark and other content creators attempt to survive The Hunted, a brutally hard mod that changes dino behavior, taming, and survival. Can they live through it?

Creator: FirePumpkin
ARKitects' FirePumkin sings a sea shanty about the pirate life on ARK.

Ark Allo by @N4STYR4BBiT

Cute by @bonten_ARK

Let's all be stylish! by @rianeko_mabi

Spacewell by SirFritzM

ARK Plesiosaur by @DW_ARK

I will stand my ground by @CrimzonCurlz99

Snow Owl by @k3zk_627

Iguanodon by Haxxine

Vanaheim wonderfull by Powpiki

Construction of this castle started a month ago, and is still not done! by BlueSky

Enjoy your weekend!
Studio Wildcard










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