tl; dr: ARK: Survival Evolved has left the Early Access mode, making it officially appeared as a finished game. Technically the game can score with a (often) graphic graphics and the dense atmosphere. But the performance is still bad and there are graphics errors in the minute clock.
ARK has its moments
It took more than two years in the early access stage, but now the survival game ARK: Survival Evolved officially appeared. The highlight of the game remains of course the world with numerous different dinosaurs, with which also in the fight can be pulled. In addition, ARK wanted to score points with a smart graphics from the outset, which is why Studio Wildcard developers have taken Unreal Engine 4 as their base.
And in fact, ARK: Survival Evolved can look very good. The combination of a tropical island with many trees, beach, water, dinosaurs and beautiful weather works wonderfully. The atmosphere makes this combination very good and the game manages to conjure almost fairy-like pictures on the monitor.
Problems can destroy the mood
This is always only as long as you look in the right direction – and is hardly moving. Because the Survival game can be not only very beautiful, but also very very flawed. The problems are of a technical nature and can be seen in part.
Dinosaurs hanging on trees, shadows that appear out of nowhere, lens flare effects without the sun, rocks that have a black color noise, shadows jerking, and various other curious things are found in ARK: Survival Evolved in the Minutentakt marvel. The extreme sun, which has always reduced the visibility to a few meters, the developers have at least repaired now by update (a corresponding scene, but still in the following video).
The sheer mass of graphics errors interferes very much in the game, because something is almost always broken somehow. And if there are times no graphics errors, it is usually enough to walk 100 meters. That’s too bad. Because the graphics have the quality, one of the highlights of ARK: Survival Evolved to be. Would not be synonymous nor the problem with the performance.
Graphics preset bring a lot and an important trick
ARK: Survival Evolved offers four different graphics presets, which can be used to quickly and easily increase performance at the expense of the graphics – or vice versa. There are the levels “Epic”, “High”, “Medium” and “Low”. All settings have one thing in common: There is not the supposedly set resolution. Even at the highest level not.
Resolution = Upsampling
Because the game dominates Upsampling, which is hidden behind the option “resolution ratio”. There is a stepless slider that is not labeled. And so it is completely unclear, with which resolution the graph is really calculated.
Regardless of the desired graphics quality it is however always advisable to completely disable the upsampling, even at the lowest level of detail. Even with the Preset Epic, the loss of graphics quality is enormous. A preset should be screwed down before using the resolution ratio.
If you switch from Epic to the Preset high, you must accept a visible loss of quality. Even at a medium distance, significantly fewer objects are displayed, even at a far distance even less. And also the shadows do not fall quite so soft. While the latter is not a problem, the missing details are at the expense of the atmosphere.
The difference between high and medium is much smaller on screenshots. Although there are still missing more objects, the difference is not so great. The shadows, which are now quite hard, are more conspicuous. And the environmental cover falls almost completely away. The real problem is, however, that the middle setting uses an extremely aggressive level of detail (LOD) and when moving all the objects out of nowhere appear or disappear. That disturbs.
In the “Low” preset, ARK almost reminds you of Half-Life 1
With the Preset low, the game is then no longer recognizable again, everything is missing. If Upsampling is still active, ARK reminds you of Half-Life 1 rather than a modern game.
The presets thus have a great influence on the picture quality, but at the very least also provide much additional performance. If you do not use Epic with high, you get 52% on a Radeon RX Vega 64 at full resolution and 50% more on a GeForce GTX 1080. The middle stage then brings an additional 43 percent on the AMD and 37 percent on the Nvidia graphics card. It is striking that the GeForce GTX 1080 runs with a further reduction in the CPU limit and then no more power can gain. The Radeon RX Vega 64 does not show this phenomenon. Since the 3D accelerator in ARK: Survival Evolved but above average is strongly required, the CPU limit is reached automatically later.
Edge smoothing does not work well even in Ultra HD
ARK: Survival Evolved presents numerous fine objects and flickers extremely without edge smoothing. The developers have therefore integrated post-processing anti-aliasing, which is available in Epic, High, Medium and Low levels. The highest level should be selected independently of the system. Because even this costs almost no performance.
However, the effect of the edge smoothing is also not good. Especially in low resolutions such as 1,920 × 1,080, the surroundings flicker tremendously with every movement. But even in 3.840 × 2.160 the game still flickers massively. Currently, this can not be fixed. Only higher resolutions or downsampling could help.