Survival games have really grown in popularity over the last decade, from the huge international success of Minecraft to the recent hits like V Rising and Project Zomboid. They offer an addictive gameplay loop, challenging you to survive and thrive in a world full of danger, and rewarding risk with better items to make things a little easier for you.
One of the mainstays of the genre is ARK: Survival Evolved, an open world game featuring a diverse cast of dinosaurs, prehistoric creatures and even fantasy beasts. It’s an addictive single player experience, but, like most games, it’s more fun when you play online with your friends. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to enjoy ARK with your buddies, and in this guide we’ll show you som of the options available.
How to Join an ARK Server
Any cooperative play in ARK will take place on a server, a remote (or sometimes local) computer which each player connects to. Joining a server is a fairly straightforward process, and you can filter things down depending on what kind of game mode you’re looking for.
- From the main menu, select ‘Join ARK’
- Adjust the filters to find a server which suits your needs
- Select your server and press the Join button
From there, you’ll see a server browser which lists the available servers. As with most of these types of games, you can view various bits of information about each server such as player count, ping, server description and more.
There are various public servers available to join. Some are official and guarantee a certain level of performance and stability, and there are numerous 3rd party servers being hosted by players and hosting companies which offer a diverse range of gameplay modes.
Playing with Friends –Server Options
There are a couple of options for players looking to play together – dedicated and non-dedicated.
Playing a non-dedicated session involves the creation of a unique instance of the game for you and your friends to join, however it involves something called a tether. This tether forces all players who are joining the game to be within a minimum distance from the server host (otherwise known as the player who created the session), otherwise they are teleported back to where the main player is on the map. For PC players, this range is fairly large, however for those playing on console it can be quite limiting.
The advantages of using this mode are obviously the lack of cost and the convenience of just starting a game together, but you’re limited in your exploration options and how you actually play the game.
A dedicated server requires, as the name suggests, dedicated hardware running the game. This is normally done via a separate device. If you’re setting this up yourself it can be a bit tricky, requiring things like file management, port forwarding and a really good internet connection.
More commonly, players will rent a server from a specialist server hosting company. For a monthly fee, they will handle the setup, management and operation of the server and it will all run on specialised hardware to give a more consistent experience. They will also typically have a server management panel, allowing you to make changes to the server in a straightforward way.
The negative here is the cost involved, but it provides the best possible experience when playing together with your friends. You can share the server name and limit who can access it, meaning you can restrict play to only those you want to join your world.
Which Approach Should You Take?
With two options available, it’s ultimately a personal decision on which will work best for you and your friends in ARK. In terms of the best possible experience and the most diverse way to enjoy the game, running a dedicated ARK server is by far the number one choice. However, not everyone has the finances to afford a monthly server hosting payment, even when splitting the cost with a few friends.
Playing in tethered mode can be a fun alternative, and although it can be limiting it does mean that you’re genuinely exploring together and not having your own adventure in another part of the world. Ultimately, the choice will come down to your own situation and requirements, but we hpe that this guide has given you some insight into the options available.