When I first started to play Ark: Survival Evolved. I was very disappointed. I HATE persistent on-line play, and hadn't realized that it was a driving force behind the games popularity. Oops.
I am rushing an early release so I can hopefully save players from the horribly terrible start that I had. I intend to update this as I play the game. I have found a deep and full-filling experience in this game, but it was not easy to figure out. Hopefully, you will be encouraged to try out this fantastic game as well.
The game is in Alpha, and so is my guide. Get used to it.
Regardless of the online emphasis, I was determined to give the game a fair chance. I built a house. I gathered supplies. Built armour, a sling shot, etc. I then ventured out to tame a Dodo. I had read that taming animals could be difficult, boy was I in for a surprise.
Five dead Dodo's later, I had had enough. I turned to Dilo's an apparently popular choice for an early game dinosaur. My first dilo almost killed me, but I got him down safely enough. I gave him food, and sat down to wait. Four dilos and three deaths later I had had enough. I was sick of putting together the ingredients for a simple shirt, while trying to gather supplies that spoiled to quickly for me to get enough to tame an animal.
At this point I turned to the internet. Hoping to find some guide at solo play, but there was absolutely nothing useful for as far as the search engine could see. I didn't give up there though, I looked into guides on how to capture dinosaurs, and gather supplies. This is where I realized what I had been doing wrong.
The game is balanced for online play. It is designed so that you, the player, can unlock everything. Eventually. It was difficult gathering supplies, because it's supposed to be a group effort. Two tribe members are gatherers, one tribe member is a builder, one tribe member is a crafter, four tribe members are fighters.
I realized I needed to adjust the balance, forgetting that the game had shown me a huge list of options at the very beginning. I turned to trainers, cheats, etc. None of them did what I was looking for (More engrams), but in the process of this, I discovered that one character could unlock everything. You just need to level up. I then remembered seeing something about XP in the launcher options. The Host/Local launcher options are quite extensive and provided the solution that I needed. Time scale saves your bacon.
What settings to use?
I am really flip-flopy when it comes to what setting I should be using. At first, I was thinking complex, then I was thinking easy, and back and forth I go.
Dino/Player/Structure Damage - This effects how much damage is received. To the right means more damage, to the left means less. Left for you, right for dino's is easiest (Can HUGELY break game, use small changes. I only just changed this after reaching twenty, I believe it will make tranquilizing easier)
Dino/Player/Structure Resistance - ?
XP Multplier - How much xp you get. Push to the right for solo play.
Taming Speed - How fast taming happens. Push to the right to speed up the process. (Big dino's can take HOURS)
Harvest Ammount - How much you gather each time to click. Right is more, ALOT MORE. This makes gathering less tedious.
Player Character/Dino Character Food/Water/Stamina Drain & Health Recovery - Kinda hard to explain. Push left to make it easier. Right is harder. Oops
Dino Count - Right means more Dino's! This is good. If you like a faster pace. When exploring might get annoying
Harvest Health - How much health a harvest has indicates how many times you can click on it before it dies. Right is good?
PVE Structure Delay - ?
Resource Respawn period - Not sure yet, but I think left is good. Need to test.
Even as I finish, I realize I still need to tinker with this a LOT. *sigh* Some of these can really break the games mechanics. I would recommend small incremental changes for anything you do, expect for XP multiplier, taming speed, and harvest ammount/health. Those four you should max for solo play. It's possible, with the damage stats, that you can punch a T-Rex to death. Funny? Yes. Fun? Only Once.
Note: I also suspect that the developers are changing things as well, this means the modifiers base value is potentially changing without
Stats (Recommended by Rayden, updated by me)
Health - 1
Energy - 1
Movement Speed - 1
Weight - ? - I will try to leave empty on my next build. Massed Dodo's are a perfect slave force!
Not a lot of building you can do, get an axe and pickaxe. A spear might not hurt for fighting dilo's, but I prefer the axe myself. I prefer to 'stay behind' the dino and run circles around him. The axe just feels better for that
Engrams: First, Axe. Then Bedroll->Basic Bed and thatch structure component. Armor if you want it. (I think it's worth it...) vs mortar and pestle (begin prepping for tranq arrows->make tranquilizer)
How to level: Gather supplies! (Thatch, Wood, Hide, and some stone) If you are carrying too much, tame a Dodo! While they may seem difficult, I can now say that they are not. My settings have fixed this. Dodo's are easy, and only require fists. A dodo can carry around 50 lbs of weight. Not much, but I can tame ten Dodo's in about ten minutes, assuming it's a herd. That's five hundred pounds, better? These levels will fly through!
My run: I have made it to level 5 in about 10 minutes. I have 3 Dodo's and somewhere around 200 wood, tinder, and stone each. That's a lot, right? Each Dodo is carrying his weight alright! Dodo's work perfectly as little pack mules!
Observation: I grabbed clothes as well. Coulda grabbed mortar and pestle, but wasn't planning this out very well. Mass producing Narcotics at the beginning sounds like a very important idea. Then again, this run is all about the speed, I have a feeling I can hit 20 in about five hours with this strategy! DON'T LET YOUR DODO's FOLLOW YOU! Keep them somewhere safe and stationary. It's too easy for them to get separated and killed by a dino (or fish).
My second run: I will focus on establish multiple little camps. I may let my character die (but store everything first!). Then respawn in an entirely different zone. As long as my dodo's are in a structure, I believe they will be safe. Change that, I wont die, as it will spread me too thin too quickly. Maybe twenty Plus however... Once you have a solid foothold in one area, move to an entirely new one (You REALLY need to level to 20+ in order to play).
Build small thatch structures wherever you can safely reach. Unlock the simple bed and start adding walls and beds to them, don't add storage until you are certain it is a good long-term camp site. MINEABLE resources are not to be trusted as a perimeter. Dinosaurs can path OVER, AROUND, THROUGH? them. Destroy any rocks in the area. Against a cliff with a nice open flat area is my current campsite. I cleared away any OBSTRUCTIONS, so that I could put in a solid defense. This will require LOTS of materials.
Engrams: Simple Bed, Wood foundation and wall, Spike wall, slingshot, mortar n' pestle, narcotics
Structures: Three two five 'simple' camp sites. One secure thatch structure in a defendable location, it won't be a primary structure, just a storage hut. You also want to consider marking out, roughly how big your initial camp will be. Consider how many animals you will have inside, etc. I like to keep a herd of Dilo's as guards when I am resource gathering, but when I am going to go taming it is probably best to leave them behind. I have had too many complications with controlling dino's (All of my 20+ dilos charging in pirahna infested water while I was trying to grab a Phoimia). Keep in mind, a wandering predator will still attack them at your base camp, but it should be 'safer'.
Supplies: Build up a HUGE Stone reserve, also try to build up a large reserve of wood and thatch.
I reached level 10 and hit an unexpected problem, the chests are blocking my layout for my first 'small' storage hut. Place got WAY to big. So I am going to restart, in order to optomize the process. It is important to understand I have a better option for storing stuff than storage boxes. Storage boxes can hold ALOT of materials, way too many to make them a practical starting option. Dodo's are incredibly cheap and highly replaceable. I am actually going to use 'living' (I use it loosely, because a stationary dino uses no food) storage boxes. This will allow me a LOT more flexibilty when it comes to structure design, and it should allow me to stay closer to the original plan. 5-10 small 'scouting' huts. My small storage hut took me to level 10, and it isn't even close to finished.
Build your 'outer perimeter' for your base camp. This will consist of Spike walls, don't worry about gaps between the walls. You want some space, once your stone walls in place, these function as 'traps' pining any dinosaur that gets through them against your stone wall. Probably wont catch you a raptor, but it should be enough to feed you and your carnivores. Probably catch you a parasaur (Your first scouting mount), and a phoimia (your first pack mule). Both are going to be very useful.
Engrams: Stone wall and stone wall mount, bow and arrow, cooking pot
Structures: A few more permanent structures, made out of wood. These will contain your manufacturing and what not. 20-30 spike walls in a LARGE perimeter around your camp. You will probably hit 15 before you are finished.
Storage: Try to build up your narcotics supply! Wood, Thatch, and Stone are now going to be in SUPER high demand (500+ materials!)
Before you finish your spike wall, start up putting in the stone walls. These link together, leaving no room for gaps! Be careful and methodical 5-10 walls will be an easy level. Once you finish the stone wall you will probably be close to level 20. Go ahead and finish up your spike wall 'outer perimeter' and grab your tranq bow!
Egrams: Tranq arrows! (I think are level twenty, I am 17-18'ish atm). You have plenty of spare engram points, so experiment. I am planning on building vertically, so I can shoot arrows down on dino's from safety, but I have no idea if it will work. (I envision a tower in the dangerous area I have expored, with spike wall latices to trap dino's in it, but I have no idea if it will work)
I have no specific ideas, but building is the most useful and efficient use of my time so far, keep in mind. My stats are not good for a builder, I intend to be a pretty beastly fighter. Building is just a safer, easier, and faster way to level. I will focus on building up my scout camps (Into towers?), and add new camps.
Ok, I have looked into it a bit. The game treats a higher level WILD dino as a good thing. If you do a 'good' job taming the creature it will 'gain' levels when it joins you. This is a nice boost for early game. Meaning you can get some powerful early dino's to help you. For the stat distribution, it seems to be completely random, it any gain occurs. I highly recommend training up low level dino's yourself. This lets you specialize them far better than not.
Battle Dino - Health and Damage (Still haven't gotten a high level, but it is only due to a focus on other things. I have captured dozens of Dilo's, and the universally start with a damage around 200-300 range. I believe that 5 levels directly into damage result in a 300-500% range. THIS IS HUGE!)
Worker Dino - Weight?
Mount - Speed, Health, Weight, and Damage? - Mounts may need to be extremely versatile, depending on what you are trying to do with them. As such, it may be better to just capture a high level WILD dino.
Note: Slingshots are a mixed blessing, I don't recommend them. Primarily because I found them only effective at bringing down Dilo's. With practice you can do that with bare hands. Especially if you only try to tame low level dilo's! Level 1 Dilo's are super easy to capture barehanded. Kill any high levels with your axe, and then switch to fist's for the capture.