Ark fans, the wait is finally over – on some platforms at least. After years of anticipation, Studio Wildcard’s Ark: Survival Ascended launched on Xbox Series X and Series S yesterday, November 21, 2023. However, PlayStation 5 gamers will have to wait a bit longer as certification issues have caused another delay for that version.
This visually stunning remake brings the world of Ark into a new generation with updated graphics, gameplay enhancements, expanded features and full mod support. Built from the ground up using Unreal Engine 5, Ark: Survival Ascended offers the ultimate way for both new and returning survivors to experience the dangers and wonders of a mysterious primal world filled with dinosaurs and mythical creatures.
Xbox Series X/S Version Now Available
As committed to by the team at Studio Wildcard, Ark: Survival Ascended became available to purchase and play on Xbox Series X/S yesterday at 9am PT/12pm ET. After a rocky development cycle filled with delays, Xbox players can finally jump in and start their survival journey on the Ark.
Early gameplay shows the power of Unreal Engine 5 with stunningly realistic visuals including advanced lighting, textures and effects bringing the world to life like never before. From dense, ominous forests to the glittering mountains and rivers, Studio Wildcard has created a truly next-generation experience exclusive to new consoles and high-end PCs.
The Xbox release comes with full support for 4K displays at smooth 60 frames per second performance along with other enhancements ideal for Microsoft’s powerful home consoles. Gamers on Xbox Series X/S can play online co-op or solo and enjoy features tailored to the Xbox platform.
PlayStation 5 Delayed Again
While Xbox players are now enjoying Ark: Survival Ascended, the PS5 version has been delayed yet again. Originally expected at the end of November, Studio Wildcard announced the PlayStation 5 release has been pushed back to early December 2023.
In a statement, Studio Wildcard cited certification issues around enabling full cross-platform play as the reason for the PS5 delay. The team is reportedly working closely with Sony to smooth out any problems and deliver a unified cross-platform experience across Xbox and PlayStation.
This means PS5 gamers will miss out on playing Ark: Survival Ascended during the Xbox exclusivity period. It’s another frustrating setback for PlayStation fans who have been waiting years since the project was first announced.
Once released on PS5, Ark: Survival Ascended will support console-specific features like enhanced haptic feedback and 3D spacial audio thanks to the DualSense controller and custom PS5 temp audio hardware. Visuals will also be tuned to take advantage of the console’s specs and 4K output.
Steam Release Fraught With Issues
While console gamers have been largely left waiting, Ark: Survival Ascended first launched on Steam earlier this year. However, the initial PC release was filled with technical problems that impacted reviews and player counts.
In the first two weeks, over 600,000 units were sold on Steam – showing strong interest in the remake. But widespread performance issues on many machines at launch significantly hurt the user rating. Currently Ark: Survival Ascended sits at just 56% positive on Steam with “Mixed” critical reception.
Many players reported problems with stability, frame rates not reaching 60 fps reliably even on higher-end rigs, visual bugs and glitches. Some felt the PC version was not optimized well leading to a shaky initial period.
Studio Wildcard has addressed the criticisms and says they are working hard to improve technical issues through ongoing patches. With updates and fixes, the Steam version’s rating and performance is expected to improve over time.
For now, interest seems higher in returning to the original Ark: Survival Evolved – which is maintaining significantly higher concurrent players compared to Ascended. However, Studio Wildcard remains committed to ironing out problems with the remake as seen by their quick Xbox launch turnaround.
The Ambitious Vision for Ark: Survival Ascended
Even with its stumbles, Ark: Survival Ascended represents an ambitious effort to revitalize the popular survival game for new hardware. As a re-imagining built-in Unreal Engine 5, Studio Wildcard has created a visually breathtaking world teeming with life and activity.
The expansive environments are filled with enhanced creatures and wildlife along with new geological formations, rich vegetation and advanced weather dynamics for a truly living world. Combined with the core loop of gathering, building and surviving against predator dinos – this creates an engrossing evolution of the Ark concept.
For both multiplayer tribes and solo players, Ark: Survival Ascended offers new challenges in a dynamically generated 114 km map – over twice the size of the original Ark Island. With 4K graphics, improved effects and assets built from the ground up using Epic’s Nanite and Lumen technology, Studio Wildcard levels up the visuals tremendously.
And that’s just the base experience at launch – Studio Wildcard plans substantial content expansions over time adding new creatures, customization options, quality-of-life features and gameplay mechanics via seasonal updates. If properly supported, Ark: Survival Ascended could become the definitive edition.
The Verdict – A Promising Foundation
For all its delays and rocky early reception, Ark: Survival Ascended shows fantastic potential if technical issues are properly addressed by Studio Wildcard over the coming months. It may not be the revolution that was initially envisioned – but the Xbox launch helps get it back on track.
As the team works on polishing and expanding the game through 2023, Ark: Survival Ascended could become a must-play experience demonstrating the capabilities of new console hardware with its dinosaur-filled world.
But only if Studio Wildcard can cultivate trust with its player base by delivering on their ambitious promises of a smooth cross-platform experience free of major technical problems or progression-blocking issues. For now, Xbox survivors can enjoy the stunning and chaotic wilderness – while PlayStation fans continue waiting for their chance to ascend.