Gaming

Backlog Quest: Return to Ark

Hello, dear nerds. Thank you for joining me in a veritable grab bag of video game experiences from random points in the past. In an effort to sorta clean my closet of unfinished video games…and because I am slowly going mildly batshit being cooped up due to the plague, I am revisiting my collection of games left undefeated. I present to you: Backlog Quest!

In today’s entry, we’re gonna revisit the sandpaper handjob that is ARK. For those who are unfamiliar, ARK is a survival game in which you are thrown naked on a beach to punch trees until you become a dinosaur riding techno-God. The old survival standard at this point. Oh yea, it has dinosaurs. ARK is infamous for drawing human behavior that proves every 6th-grade goth poem right. By the end of my first attempt at this game, I hadn’t really gotten much of the experience. I tried a Player vs Enemy or PvE server. On these servers, players cannot attack one another or their tamed pets. Anything you build is safe from other players as well. This time, I wanted the full experience, so I went with Player vs Player. At first, I was intrigued by the idea of a harsh world where other players could help or harm. An always running world that existed even when I was logged off. A true survival experience! By the end of this revisit, I was astonished that the developer had gotten from me not only 50 bucks, but another little bit of negative emotion they need to resurrect whatever dark and old creature that led them to create this game’s PvP.

When I first saw the game, it was because of a funny video of someone’s character shitting. Truly, we have reached the zenith of survival gaming when taking a dump is worked into the mechanics. It’s not even realistic either. Your character grunts as a brown soccer ball rolls away from you. You can even craft with it! Dinosaurs do it too, and it’s huge. COMPELLING GAMEPLAY FOLKS! That was some guys project for a few weeks. Programming shit-physics. Anyways, after chuckling for much longer than I’d like to admit, I found myself intrigued by the dinosaur taming. It’s got like every dinosaur ever. Plus wolves and stuff! And dragons!

Screenshots By Andy for The Game of Nerds of ARK
Seriously, look at this scene! It’s like a Michael Bay cocaine fever dream! How could every fiber of your being NOT yearn to fight alongside a giant, laser sword-wielding monster while riding on the back of a Techno-Rex? Best make-believe combo next to pizza that gets you drunk.

After a few gameplay videos, I went home and bought it immediately. Initially, I played for a bit, ended up not having enough time to commit, and shelved it for a year. This time, when booting up the game I was again asked to create a character. With no real options to change the face and no hairstyle choices, I did what any other person would do and twisted the poor bastard’s bones into an unfortunate shape I named OmegaDad. He looks like Thanos wearing dollar store spray tan after skipping leg day and every meal for a decade.

Screenshots By Andy for The Game of Nerds of ARK

He thicc thicc. He looks like the surprising result of an Easter Island statue miraculously rising from the sand to show us all it’s full glory.

The game opens with a flash of light as the world comes into view. OmegaDad awakens on a beach with a strange chip attached to his arm and a burning desire to assault trees. I begin my new life by foraging for rocks, sticks, fibers, and berries. Within about 20 minutes, OmegaDad is dying of hunger and dehydration. After creating some crude tools and a spear, I found myself with only enough materials to craft some sandals and a shirt. Seeing as how some armor is better than none and with death inching ever closer, I ran like a goat on fire in my finest Porky Pig outfit down the beach. I descended upon a poor unsuspecting Dodo bird with the fury of a man possessed and naked from the waist down. Having procured myself a meal, I turned my eyes to a source of water. I returned to my encampment and roasted the meat. Shit! The thirst meter was dangerously low, and since Instagram isn’t a thing in ARK, this meant I needed to fill it by drinking. I sprinted to a small pool nearby when suddenly OmegaDad fell dead. A message telling me that I was killed by a lvl 70 Velociraptor explained the hyperactive clawed feet I see stomping my remains.

I respawn small ways down from camp. Being a survival game, I have lost all my possessions. They are resting in a little neatly wrapped paper parcel spinning above the greasy smear my last body had been repurposed into. As I approach, I am once again instantly mauled by my corpse’s stalwart defender. This continues for hours as asshole dinosaur either kills me before I can get to my things or rends my fleeing meat from my equally fleeing bones. Night falls. I awaken born anew from maiming number 78. I have given up on my belongings. As I return to my camp, I see the shadow of an old friend by the fireside. As it flickers, I see him turn and start towards me. This was a house jacking. I got house jacked.

Screenshots By Andy for The Game of Nerds of ARK
Pictured above: Bastard Asshole Guy

I spawn down the beach and wander aimlessly, collecting things. Off in the distance, I can see that scaley dickhead patrolling the horizon. When I realize I have enough shit to start rebuilding my life, I craft a spear and turn to head back to a decent and safe looking plot of land and…I. CAN’T. MOVE. A message pops up to let me know I am over-encumbered. Before I could prioritize what to drop, I realize that I am not alone. You see, the most dangerous enemy in ARK can only be found on player vs player servers.

Bumbling up to me on the beach was a short, stalky bearded fellow. He is exuding green stink lines and is swarmed by flies. He has sustained, constant coughing and is begging me to make him a spear. I comply and he darts off, illuminating the night with his vile and sickly aura. I’m noticing the coughing hasn’t died down since he left and it hits me: I’m sick with what he had. With my thirst, hunger stamina, and health meters depleting at double the rate, I decided to turn to Google. It’s really hard to cure. Great. It also causes OmegaDad to stop and shit uncontrollably. It’s worth mentioning, ARK has unique connection issues. One will be in the midst of running through a jungle from a pack of fierce beasts only to have them freeze as if a director yelled cut. Randomly, seconds later, you will be transported back to where you were. Can’t adjust to being set back thirty seconds ago when you could feel the beastie’s breath with the little hairs on the back of your neck? Guess you can just die. I cannot stress how badly this messes up everything when it happens.

Screenshots By Andy for The Game of Nerds of ARK

Hacking, shitting, and dying, I wandered the coast. I had been contemplating giving up on the game altogether when I saw two of my diseased brethren trotting down the beach. Could they be here to help? What are you, drunk? They greet me by clubbing OmegaDad over the head, knocking him unconscious. Things escalate as they drag me back to their nice wooden encampment and lock me in a cage. They dance around the cage spinning and teabagging, as is tradition, while I shit and die in the cage. Suddenly, one of my assailants stops dancing and unlocks my cage. Stepping out into this obvious trap, I make a break for it only to die by the pointy ends of their authority. By the time I respawn, they are already on my heels, clubbing me and once again dragging me off to the cage. We repeat this scenario. I have had enough for today. We shall try again tomorrow.

Upon logging in after work the next day, I would seem my enemies had stepped up their empire. The coast in the distance is now blotted out by their expanded fortress. As I am checking the place out, I am clubbed and knocked out again. He drags me back to the cage and locks me up. The two others join him as now there are three members of tribe DoucheCanoe. They caper and dance as I fume, seethe, and question my life choices. The door once again opens, but I’ve decided to allow OmegaDad to succumb to disease and dehydration. This works, much to their disappointment.

Screenshots By Andy for The Game of Nerds of ARK

Infuriated and fed up, I head into the woods. Herbivores gently munch leaves and pay me little mind. With this, I shall have my vengeance. Posturing myself behind a large and high-level triceratops, I set my retribution into motion. I punch the poor creature square in the butthole. It is understandably not pleasing and joins the rest of the world in its beloved pastime of murdering OmegaDad. This, however, is all according to plan.

With death nipping at my heels, I ran like a diseased bolt towards the encampment of my rivals. Our intrusion alarmed two of em, as they chased me with bows and spears. It was, for them, too late. Quickly, I hastened my retreat and hid behind their stronghold. As I crouched and embraced death, my grand scheme came to fruition. The dinosaur killed the lot of them and gleefully fucked their house up. I respawned feeling accomplished, making my way off into a new direction to find lands unexplored…for about 10 minutes until a T-Rex stood between me and adventure. He was, by the way, a damn good adventure deterrent.

Screenshots By Andy for The Game of Nerds of ARK

I tore ass, screaming back to my starting point. In the distance, bearded assholes scrambled to mitigate the rage of their new horny houseguest. Between me and them, the stupid-ass raptor runs from peaceful herbivore to peaceful herbivore, murdering them. Behind me, a wall of teeth. I scramble up a hillside and hide. The Rex gives up on me and starts towards the raptor. Instead of the long-awaited moment where the little basketball mascot would get his just desserts, they then joined forces in massacring the helpless plant-eaters.

Screenshots By Andy for The Game of Nerds of ARK
This happens a lot. Having Raptors teach karate to your insides is one of the main things you do in ARK.

Returning home meant feeding myself to the world’s nastiest power couple and I hated my neighbors anyways. It was time to leave the server. Looking through the menus provided no clues as to how this was done, so again, I returned to the fount of knowledge that is the internet only to discover that in order to leave the server I had to actually travel to one of the 4 giant gates shaped like my arm chip. Sighting the closest one, I began my journey.

My exodus was marked by many deaths. It was an excellent chance for the game to showcase the scope of different creatures it boasted, each with the single-minded desire to see what OmegaDad looked like inside out. Upon finally arriving at the giant monolith, OmegaDad froze and uncontrollably shit himself in the first time I had really connected with the character. A tribe of players had built a fort around the exit. They had metal structures and mounted guns. OmegaDad had a shirt, some hand wraps, and a pickaxe made of stone. My heart sinking was cut abruptly by a sniper’s bullet. I visited the others. Each was fortified. There was no escape.

Finally, after abandoning hope and choosing to respawn next to Dick Village and the dinosaur duo, I degraded into being a diseased homeless man who chased and punched any new players. The small beginnings of my starting shack had been long since destroyed while I was logged off. ARK had turned me. Had the guys who threw me in a cage for there amusement started their game running from their homes and tormented by other players? I’m not sure I can stick around to find out.

So there you have it! I failed at my original intended task. My bad. Hopefully next time I will actually complete a game. In my defense, there’s no real beating ARK, as I learned that the point of the game is to be the strongest asshole who can beat up the other assholes with less stuff. Just like real life!

Tune in next time for another exciting episode of BACKLOG QUEST!

All photos are screenshots taken by myself with PS4. Ark: Survival Evolved is property of Studio Wildcard

1 comment

  1. This genuinely made me laugh out loud reading it. I don’t play Ark, but my partner does and I’ve sen some of the insane nonsense the game throws at him. Sometimes I log into his server to feed his tamed creatures and that can be an adventure. Ark has a brilliant concept, but it’s implementation needs work!

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