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Ark: Survival Evolved is out of Early Access but still needs work

There was a time when Digital Foundry would produce bespoke performance videos – and indeed Eurogamer articles – for virtually every major release. With so many games seemingly rushed to market, how well a particular title would run was a crucial factor in any purchasing decision. Thankfully, quality in this area is much improved across the board, but in the case of Ark: Survival Evolved, performance remains a major weakness for the game – even now, after finally emerging from Early Access.

Before we go on though, we would like to stress that in terms of its concept and in much of its gameplay implementation, Ark: Survival Evolved really is great fun – an aspect of the experience we’ve discussed in the past, and clearly, the title has caught the imagination of the userbase. After all, every version of the game has racked up sales in the millions. But the fact remains that Ark has always performed in a sub-optimal fashion and even now, the title still runs poorly.

While the game remained in Early Access, Studio Wildcard deserved the benefit of the doubt. Unreal Engine 4 has proved tricky for some developers to work with, and the scale and scope of Ark: Survival Evolved is clearly daunting. The fact that the game was a work-in-progress was clearly signposted to users, so the very low resolution and choppy frame-rate was perhaps forgivable. However, revisiting the game in its final release form only sees iterative improvements to performance and by and large, it feels similar in many ways to its work-in-progress showing.

Effectively, there are three console versions available to play right now – PlayStation 4 Pro, base PS4 and Xbox One (with X to follow). The Sony platform benefits from two modes: normal and detail. As far as we can tell, there’s little actual improvement in terms of detail by opting for the latter option – it simply offers up a higher resolution. Normal mode, runs at 720p on Pro (yes, really) and a blurry 640p on base (this is an approximate measurement: the game is so blurry, pixel-counting is very difficult) while the detail mode offers up 720p on the standard PS4 and 1080p on Pro.