Ark Park is the newest addition to the Ark brand, but one that should have never released. What should have been a heartfelt fan service to all those that have stayed loyal to Ark Survival Evolved throughout the last few years, and to fans all around the world who have dreamed of interacting with dinosaurs on a larger scale than just a TV or theater screen, ended up being a half-assed and extremely overpriced scam. Granted, the game wasn't advertised to be something too dramatically different than what it is, it's just that it almost took an effort to be this bad. Any number of people could have told the developers they are doing something wrong here, so I'm confused as to why a game with crafting, guns, dinosaurs, and a Jurassic Park vibe had to suffer so much.
Ark Park, for all intents and purposes, is a Jurassic Park clone. No, not the very good clone that comes at the end of decades-long trials and tribulations, and the mad scientist screams out loud "Finally, my greatest creation!" It's more like the very first attempt, with appendages missing, generally really painful to look at, and you feel obligated to remove it from existence. Well, there are a lot of things missing here, and it is one of the least attractive VR games to be inside, but let me explain why.
a day at the park
The game begins as you find yourself on a train station platform….. alone. The doors open, and you point your face at the ground inside the train to teleport inside and make your way to the front, where you will enjoy the view to the island… alone. Crossing the large body of water, you'll catch a glimpse of a few birds and a giant water dinosaur swimming happily about. The view stretches to the horizon, and if you have played many VR games, you'll know far distances and big game rooms equals blurry pictures for everything. You arrive to the island, hop off the train, and prepare to walk into the headquarters… alone.
"Wow, there they are; the dinosaurs! No wait, those are just holograms."
It takes all of 30 seconds to make your tour of the tiny lobby, which is still completely empty. There are no people here. Maybe you should have checked Trip Advisor first. You can play with mini dinosaurs that fit in your hand, and you can play with mini dinosaurs that fit in your hand. Yes, I just said that twice, and not by accident.
Perhaps I missed them with all the excitement I had at exploring this lobby to the fullest extent, but I failed to find tutorials. Nothing that showed me how to work my controllers, my buttons, or any other relevant tips to help me navigate this desolate park. I'm not saying 100 percent they are not there, just I didn't get offered any assistance that I can remember. I somehow made my way into an exploration area, where I found an egg, took it to an egg machine, and hatched the egg into a triceratops. I opened the cage and this little beast took off with the speed of a turtle in quicksand. Somehow, along my new dino's 15 meters, 15 minute, trot across the small area, he grew to a full-sized adult and was equipped with a saddle.
"Hey, I'm pretty good at this."
I took him on a ride on a wooded trail where I passed a handful of other dinosaurs that were minding their own business. I didn't even have to steer my triceratops, he just followed the trail. This was awesome, but quickly became the most aggravating time ever. Confused what I was supposed to do, I ended up taking him back and forth, and I think on the third ride, I reclined my real life chair and closed my eyes. There is no fast travel, and any time you teleport to the saddle, you've obligated yourself to endure the trip to its entirety.
Controls and Shooting
You have 4 buttons that will control your life; one that brings up your menu to select where you want to go (lobby, exploration areas, and the wave shooter mode), one where you essentially look at your backpack but it is shown as several inventory slots in front of you. You begin with gloves, a pistol, a scanner, and a pickaxe. If you are in the exploration areas, you can use the gloves to harvest materials from bushes, the pickaxe to smack rocks and gems, or the scanner to collect gene data. As you collect these things, you'll be allowed to craft a shotgun, rifle, or other various equipment.
This is the closest to "Ark VR" that you will get, though. Where you have the freedom of true exploration and crafting in Ark Survival Evolved, you are forced to farm what the game allows you to. You will find yourself unable to travel to a part on the map, more than where you can travel to. And maybe it wouldn't even be that bad, but moving is the most horrendous mechanic I have seen in a VR game yet. I mentioned it already, but you have to look at where you want to teleport to. Too often I would point my AIM controller to a spot only to teleport where I was looking at instead. It's locked on a cursor in the middle of your vision, which breaks more immersion than the game could afford to lose. The AIM controllers are basically useless here. The only true benefit of them is for the wave shooting mode.
The wave shooting mode is a joke. I don't know who thought they were smooth with this, but there are only two areas to play in. The menu tricks you to think there is a load of content here, but it's just two maps, with three difficulties each. How it works is you stand right next to some old clunk of a machine, and protect it from an onslaught of dinosaurs charging it. Why the dinosaurs care about that piece of metal, and not the human standing two feet away is beyond me. You can't even die, which would make sense if they were targeting a younger audience, but when I shoot the dinosaurs they get covered in blood and rag-doll away. They come from three easily noticeable paths, and if you manage to kill them all, you are given a boss to kill. I stood to the side of the machine and shot everything as they walked right passed me. There was no stress and no joy.
It pains me to know just how bad the game turned out, but it feels good to pass on the knowledge I have to you. Save your money. This is the result of a brand name (in this case "Ark"), blowing up and someone swoops in to cash out on fans looking to extend the joy and experiences. There was no attention given to controls, gameplay mechanics, visuals, performance, or fun factors. The little adrenaline you may have upon downloading and starting up the game will quickly go away, and you'll be left in bland areas of land with nothing to do than point your face to the ground to teleport around, and maybe shoot some dinosaurs that would rather attack an old rusty machine than the fresh meat in the VR headsets standing right next to them.
I don't know how any update could fix this, other than maybe adding new settings for movements, and a crap ton of free content. The price tag is a scam, and you are far better off taking that AAA game budget and buying several other VR games that have had genuine passion put into their developments. It's beyond obvious how they tried to fluff the tiny amount of content that was there, such as the two maps with three different difficulties. It's borderline a scam. The most disappointing thing about this high price and low-value package is that there is a genuine push in the VR industry to progress the hardware and grow the community of gamers who embrace the VR possibilities, and games like this will leave a bad taste in many mouths.
|+ Dinosaurs||– Very little content|
|– Wave shooter mode is a complete joke|
|– Horrible movement controls|
|– Boring and empty park|
|– Blurry graphics and bad draw distance|
|– Bad practice with a high price and very low value|