ARK: Survival Evolved, your first 3 hours!


Now unlike many other games that can be completed in a matter of hours ARK is a whole new monster that you can expect to sink Bethesda amounts of time into. While not Xbox One exclusive this guide will use the XBOX controls to explain things, base content however will apply (outside of menus and such that PC has hotkeys for) to the PC and upcoming PS4 versions of the game.


So you’ve done it, you’ve created your character no matter how hard they are to look at, and woken up naked on a strange possibly alien beach! So what are you gonna do about it?


Well that’s what we are here for isn’t it? First things first you need to learn your controls, as this is a Xbox walkthrough we will start there. You’re obviously familiar with your sticks, Left for movement right for looking about (on Default) pressing the left stick in toggles running which does cost stamina, and pressing right in toggles crouch. Neither of which is overly important in these first few minutes.


First things first open your inventory, crafting and leveling menu with the B button. (keep in mind all of these instructions will be based on Default key mapping, if you’ve changed this configuration in game or with the Xbox app, you’ll have to reference your setup for that).


At this point you’ll bring that strange implant up and it will in real time display your menu. You are at risk! This doesn’t stop dinos (or players in PVP) from attacking you. Your basic layout is as follows.

Along the top you’ll see sorting options, tab options for craftables, and search options to narrow what you’re looking for. The left box is your inventory and just below that your hotbar item. If you have a useable item double click it with A to move it to your hotbar. The Center box is you and the right hand box is your important box! The right hand box displays your location (roughly) xp to level, health and other important imformation. BECOME VERY FAMILIAR with this side of the character menu.


Ok tap the right bumper to toggle to the crafting menu. First thing you need is a stone pick, select this item and it will pop up an overlay that tells you what you need to craft it. In this case it’s 1x stone, 1x wood and 10x thatch. Now for the second most important button in the first 3 hours…..the Y button. Look around the beach for small rocks and mash that Y button, this allows you to gather the rock, you’ll use this on plants to gather berries and fiber as well.

Do not eat black or white berries!

Got your rock? Good now find the closest tree……and using right trigger punch the crap out of it. You suck at gathering wood huh? Yeah that’s all of us who punch trees in hopes of gathering usable wood. The good news is you probably have enough thatch for this project. If you don’t have the one wood find a new tree and punch it!


Bet you noticed a few things while you were doing this in the right hand lower portion of your screen didn’t ya? See those icons? These are the most important icons in the entire game! Starting from the top you have your level progression arrow, which begins semi solid, as it fills with XP it will gradually become more solid. When it flashes it’s full and you can level (a step we will discuss later)

Next up is your weight which also starts empty, indicating you are holding nothing. At level 1 you can hold 100 units of weight. When you look at an item in you inventory you’ll also see its weight. At nearly overweight you will be unable to jump or sprint, as you weigh yourself down you will also move slower and consume more resources.


Next is Hydration, followed by Food, Stamina and Health. These four icons work together, as your survivor moves, jumps, runs, swims, or gathers. they use stamina for most of these activities. Running out of stamina means you are tired and use more resources to survive (the water drop and meat icons) continuing to move or gather while tired also burns health.


Food and Liquids are slow burns most of the time, however they are effected by the weather. You’ll receive a status message across the top of your screen to indicate extreme heat or cold as well as a variety of icons in the lower left corner of the screen, small and large flames for heat, and a snow flake, small or large ice cube for varied types of cold.


If you’re hot you burn water faster, cold? Food, freezing? Health. I cannot stress how important these meters are!


Enough about that time to build that pick. Ensure you have the right items, click right bumper and see that the icon for stone pick is now white instead of red? Double tap A, or select the item and use the left stick to highlight craft item. Stick that baby in your hot bar and use the corresponding button to equip it or unequip it!


Now we can start on a torch! Follow the same process except now using the pick smack those big rocks scattered about to acquire flint. Once that’s done craft and hot bar the torch! This will be important at night and in slightly cold weather as the torch provides both heat and light. By now you should have a level or two, open the menus again to access the leveling options. You’ll notice that your stats have a flashing box around them along with a plus button. For the first 20 or so levels it’s important to focus these attribute points in survival, Health, weight, and a mixture of Melee Damage and Movement speed are your best bets, after that consider investing in Fortitude and possibly oxygen (especially If you aspire to have a base built in one of the various underwater cave locations, wouldn’t want to drown on your way home. Food, Water, and Oxygen are all truly optional investments though. In the later game you’ll have a multitude of options for these. Food items that max out your food and water meters, scubagear that negate underwater oxygen draining etc. Personally I focused on Health, Weight and Melee.


Now you’ll notice the box between your XP and attributes is flashing when you selected an attribute to level. These “Engram Points” are how you learn to survive further and further into the game.


Hopefully you’re between level 3 and level 5 by now. If not don’t sweat it just keep smashing rocks, smacking trees and picking berries and fiber. You’ll want plenty of Fiber and thatch and wood for what comes next.


At level 5 you’ll see you have a variety of options in the Engram menu.


HERE is where having your play style figured out is a must. If you’re playing single player then this is a one man show and you have to know what’s up, if you’re playing in a server with buddies it’s easier but I Will get to that shortly.

Your first engram investments need to be hatchet and camp fire, follow that with cloth clothing items, and finally thatch structure engrams and only then Spears. Don’t spend any leftover points yet.


Here’s why, if you’re in single player your greatest enemies are food water and being naked. The beach is rarely home to excessive predators you can’t fist to death, so when you encounter one you’ll want spears. A stack of 10 spears though weighs 30 units. But until then you need shelter!

The ALMIGHTY CAMP FIRE! This item should be your first non-handheld item ever! Gather the items you need quickly to build your first hatchet, once you have that it’s time to learn the basics of the hatchet and pick. When it comes to trees, the hatchet obviously gathers copious amounts of wood, the pick on the other hand is a thatch monster. They reverse roles when it comes to rocks. The hatchet will chunk up the rocks giving you more stone and the hatchet will dig out all that flint and metal (which will be important later. Build a fire and fill it with 100x wood, but don’t light it yet.


Most players spawn in the south but the dinos don’t really change just their levels the north beach is home to higher levels and occasionally large predators. The east and west beaches also are home to swamps and massive Titanboa that will knock you out with one or two attacks and then eat you.


Using your hatchet or pick, fight some smaller dinos being mindful of their levels. Your number one concern is watching out for Compy. Compy rarely ever attack one at a time and get pack attack bonuses. Just like in Jurassic Park they will make quick work of you. Kill a dino, beat your chest and bellow about it then using your pick to ensure maximum meat collection grab all that meat, now run back to that fire and throw it in the second slot and light up the grill!


Unlike berries which you’ve been eating up till now, meat does not also fill your water. However rather than nearly 100 berries you can go from dying of starvation to completely full in 6 pieces of cooked meat. Raw and rotten meat will fill your food meter as well but will lower your health. Camp fires also provide more heat, in a freezing situation 3-4 campfires will warm you enough to avoid death. Note that now is a good time to get used to accessing inventory space in structures with the X button to avoid putting out or relighting your campfire.


Now that we are fed and hopefully have the level requirement to learn waterskin we need to do so. You’ll notice your kill also likely netted you some hide which you’ll need for your cloth shoes, gloves, and the waterskin. Note that the water skin leaks water over time so if you’re a long way from a water source forage for berries to supplement you’re hydration. Hot key your water skin and fill it in the nearby ocean, activating a waterskin in water will refill it, this also counts for rain which automatically hydrates you. Waterskins also only hold enough for 1 drink, later you’ll learn water jar which holds two drinks and finally canteen which holds three drinks.


Now check your craftables for the Thatch structures items, (Floor/foundation, wall, door, doorframe, celling) factor up how many materials you need for these times for a 1×1 thatch hut and gather them. You can hot key these or you can select them and select use item, you’ll then have to back out of the menu to build and repeat with each item which is why it’s much easier to hot key them.


Now move inland a little bit off the beach but still in walking distance to this massive water and resource….well source. This is also important to learn to do early especially if you’re playing in a PVP server.


Clear a small area and build your hut. Note that floors and foundations as well as pillars prevent other players in about a 100 yard radius from building. However it also prevents resource and dino spawns. In PVE and single player you need only worry about a attacking wild Dino destroying your structures, in PVP thatch is just a means to an end as players can easily destroy them.


Now is a good time to learn the hide sleeping bag, while it can only be used once it allows you to respawn in or near your hut. You should also if able or as soon as able after building this hut learn storage box. Your 1×1 hut should include one box and one sleeping bag. Also include a mortar and pestle as soon as you can craft them.


Now learn wooden club. While not the best melee weapon it is great at knocking Dinos and other players out!


Remember those Black and white berries? Still don’t eat the white ones. But armed with these black Narco Berries we are going to learn a whole new trick. Hopefully by now you’re level 5 because this is gonna come into play. Using the engram points learn narcotics and mortar and pestle. You may have noticed that meat both cooked and raw spoil. Using 5 narco berries and 1 spoiled meat in the Mortar and Pestle you can craft one Narcotic. Which you’ll need.


For carnivores you’re going to need raw meat, for herbivores you’ll need mejo berries (the purple ones)



Taking a stack of narcotics find a small dinosaur, compy or low level trike whatever. Using the included link (use this link to find the right portions for each animal find the animal you picked and input it’s level into the calculator to determine the maximum amount of narcotics or narco berries you need as well as meat and berry counts.


Now using that wooden club knock that sucker out! Once it’s in dream land access its inventory put the narcotics in the dinos inventory along with the meat/berries, over time it’s TORPOR will decrease (or the purple unconscious bar when not in the inventory but looking at the animal) before this reaches 0 you’ll need to feed it more narcotics. Keeping it full is best but the provided link also tells you how long of a buffer you have from full torpor to 0 torpor if you wanna run around and gather berries, meat or make more narcotics etc. the dialogue box that indicates it’s unconscious also has a meter that builds as you get closer to taming the animal.


You’ll receive a large amount of XP for taming the animal, a great new pet that you can level up the same way as you. And depending on your level possibly a new mount.


That’s all the basics and more than likely the last 3 hours of your life, from here it’s up to you.


Happy survival