Getting started

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"As a man or woman stranded naked, freezing and starving on the shores of a mysterious island called ARK, you must hunt, harvest resources, craft items, grow crops, research technologies, and build shelters to withstand the elements. Use your cunning and resources to kill or tame the leviathan dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the land, and team up with or prey on hundreds of other players to survive, dominate... and escape!"

Here's a link to the Steam store page, so you can get started on your journey through the ARK.

You start your journey with nothing but your fists and your wits to survive the creatures hunting you. The following is some fundamental information to help you get started:

ARK's UI is not always intuitive. For a list of controls, see Controls.

For more advanced tips, advice and tricks, see Tips And Tricks

Starting The Game

After the WildCard logo is shown and you see the Title Screen press any button and you will have the options on the left to 'Host a Server' or 'Join a Server'. Host a Server is actually where the Single-Player gameplay is. Let's assume Single-Player is where you will start your adventure; therefore you went to 'Host a Server'. You will have the settings for your gameplay on the left of the screen and the available maps in the center of the screen. Select the map you can play on and hit the Single Player Option beneath the map column to start your survival.

Character Creation

Choosing to create a new character will delete any existing character you have on the same server, removing you from any tribes and losing ownership of all property so be careful when using this option!

When you begin in ARK, you must create a Survivor. Character creation is mostly cosmetic and does not affect the character's hitbox. However, size and skin color can benefit the player's playstyle to some extent:

  • Playing a short survivor can make it easier to hide in bushes or behind rocks from other players.
  • A survivor with darker skin could blend in the shadows to camouflage themselves and hide from  other survivors.

On the other hand, if you are too tall your head will stick out above bushes and various structures exposing you. For an average height character (that fits comfortably through door-frames), it's optimal to decrease 'from the default' the: Legs, Arms, and Torso all by 2 or 3 points.

"If you have the ability to use admin commands checkout Body Regions for other ways of customizing characters."

Once you are done customizing your character's appearance, you may name your Survivor which will appear to other players that approach you in-game or game chat. Once you officially created your survivor into the game by means of spawning; you cannot alter the character's body form again.

Note: currently on PS4 preset options on top of the Character Creation screen is only momentary, once you leave the screen you will not be able to use that save preset again.

Now that you have created your survivor, you are given a set of spawn points on the map to choose from. It is generally regarded that the southern spawn locations are safer, whereas the northern areas tend to have several dangerous creatures roaming near the beaches such as  Raptors,  Direwolves and  Sabertooths. It is entirely possible to be immediately killed by a wild creature when spawning, in that case, you must simply choose and respawn again!

Freshly Spawned

Welcome to the wildlife of ARK. ARK is especially brutal to new players, so expect to die a lot until you level up a few times. If you are lucky, you may not see any large or dangerous dinos like the  Rex or  Raptor, but you will find a wide variety of dinos on the beaches. Ignore most of them until you have weapons to defend yourself. Instead hunt oblivious creatures for Meat and Hide.  Dodos are recommended prey, but if you see  Trilobites hunt them for their rich resources as well. Few predators spawn on the Southern beach on The Island, but beware of  Dilophosaurus. They can kill a beginner fairly quick, just as well as a pack of voracious  Compies can. It's best to avoid all confrontation until you learn the basic survival of the game.

Once you have spawned, your first priority is to craft a  Stone Pick. To craft a Stone Pick, you'll need:

You should be able to find plenty of Stone laying around on the beaches. Press the "use" button to collect stones off the ground.

(Some stones are part of the ground texture. Don’t be fooled! You can pick up any small stone with a shadow). Look on the ground for  Grey Stones, and tap the E if on PC, or Y on Xbox, and if on the PS4 Triangle when you're above them to pick them up (Items can be picked up if the hand icon is displayed on the right side of the screen).

To get Wood and Thatch, go to a tree and punch it repeatedly. Punching trees with your fists will cause you to lose  Health by injury, so you'll only want to punch it enough to gather your (1) Wood and (10) Thatch.


Many items are held in stacks of one hundred while others like armor and tools are not stacked. Creatures and storage units can also hold items in its inventory.

You can access your Crafting Menu (pc shortcut VKey) through your inventory by pressing the Circle key then the R1 on PS4, or B key then the RB on Xbox. This will show you all the Blueprints  called Engrams that you have learned and what materials are required to make each item.

Once you've gathered enough materials to craft your first Stone Pick return to the Crafting Menu and select the Stone Pick Engram and craft it by either double-tap the Interact/Confirm button Cross, or A to make (1) PickAxe.


The Hotbar is where you place shortcut items from your inventory to the bar at the bottom of the screen. In survival it's important to be able to quickly choose the right tool or item when it's necessary. Setting up the hot bar is crucial for your beginning journey.

  • It's wise to have your important tools and weapons like the  Hatchet or the  Spear in the hotbar.
  • Most survivors eat their food from their inventory, however it helps to place the food and a water container such as a  Waterskin in the hotbar when traversing in a cold or dangerous environment.
  • For building, it's a lot easier to have the structures you chosen temporarily in the hotbar as well. Be sure to remove them when you are not building so the assign structures on the hotbar doesn't accidentally get pressed while you're under attack.

Return to your inventory and then place your new tool in your Hotbar at the bottom of the screen by selecting it with the Confirm Button and then selecting the Hotbar Slot of your choice. This makes it where you can press the buttons that is assigned to the Hotbar slots to have quick access to the tools or items you placed.

Hotkeys (PC)

For learning the Buttons on other Gaming Consoles visit: Controls

Action Default Key Result
Drop Item O Item is dropped from the inventory currently being accessed to the ground.
Transfer Stack T The stack you hover over is transferred from one inventory currently being accessed to the other.
Transfer Half-Stack ⇧ Shift+T Half of the stack you hover over is transferred from one inventory currently being accessed to the other.
Transfer Item Ctrl+T One item from the stack you hover over is transferred from one inventory currently being accessed to the other.
Transfer Item Lmbx2 One item from the stack you double click is transferred from one inventory currently being accessed to the other.
Transfer Five Items ⇧ Shift+Lmbx2 Five items from the stack you double click are transferred from one inventory currently being accessed to the other.
Transfer Half-Stack Ctrl+Lmbx2 Half of the stack you double click is transferred from one inventory currently being accessed to the other.
Toggle Item Names Q Toggle whether or not to show the names of all inventory items over the item icon.
Toggle Tooltip G Toggle display of tooltip information when hovering over inventory icons.

Your First Level Up

ingame stats screen
Disambig.png Main article:  Leveling

By the time you've created your first stone pick, you've probably received a message that you have leveled up, since it only requires 5 experience to level up the first time. You may have missed it, though. You will see the message if you open your inventory. Leveling up is an essential part of surviving. You will be able to improve your character's statistics as well as Engrams Points for learning crafting recipes.

Once you're in your inventory, you can press the [+] button next to one of your stats to increase the property of that statistic. See Attributes for more information on stats.

Crafting the Essentials

Your beginning or new survivor will already know (3) Engrams:  Note,  Stone Pick and  Torch. Engrams are the crafting knowledge your character has learned by distributing experience to survival traits in form of Engram Points by Leveling in the Center Inventory Menu. After harvesting Berries for food and finding  Fiber from the bushes and foliage. You can find all the materials needed almost anywhere for the basic essentials.

After you've increased one of your stats. The Engram menu will appear for you to spend engram points for unlocking new Engrams. Being early in the game, it's recommended that you invest the Engram Points wisely. From the previous sections your survivor learned to craft the  Stone Pick. The next thing is to learn to craft  Cloth Armor with  Fiber in order to give your Survivor some protection from the Environment. For extreme heat or cold will harm your survivor.

If you haven't already, invest the remaining Engram Points to learn how to craft your new best friend; the  Hatchet. With the capability to gather large quantities of  Wood faster, build  Campfires to  cook meat and to stay warm. Gather  Hide with the Hatchet from dinos to craft a more tough and warmer clothing called:  Hide Armor.

For more information regarding clothing and armor see:Armor

From your crafting and harvesting experiences you probably gained another level. Use what you've learned to craft  Spears and eventually  Bolas. Bolas are useful for capturing or stopping prey or predators that has small legs comparably for example:

Has small legs. Whereas the:

has large thick legs and cannot be caught by a normal Bola.

A fun fact, even elite players with advanced weaponry still use spears. To conserve resources that maintain their technology.

Tools of Survival

To make gathering resources easier, its important to know what's the right tool for the job:

With these basic tools, you can start properly harvesting larger amounts of resources and creating all the essential tools you need for survival.

The stone pick is abysmal for harvesting metal( or any rare resource); craft a metal pick after learning the refining forge, smithy, and the metal tool engrams. The same goes for the stone/metal hatchet.

Now that you are equipped with the essentials and basic knowledge of survival, go forth and build a  Shelter or Base.

Building for Beginners

A place where a Survivor can escape the dangers of harsh weather to being hunted by dinosaurs or players. A place to hide one's valuables, or simply a place to call 'Home'. Stories are seldom heard of survivors surviving without shelter. While the structure design of the Base/Shelter depends on the builder themselves, the game engine basically considers a shelter to have walls surrounding the players with a roof.[1] Some natural boundaries count as walls and/or a roof, allowing the player to gain the shelter buff without building fully surounding walls/ceilings. As long as the  Shelter symbol shows on the right of the screen, the game counts it as a Shelter.

White/green beacons sometimes contain a full shelter of Thatch or Wood, respectively.

It is possible to build a shelter without a floor foundation and instead use a combination of  Pillars with ceilings connected above the pillars. You must have a foundation placed down to build on, then have walls and ceilings all connected to form the  Shelter symbol.  Floor Foundations and  Ceilings both can be counted as floors.

Natural Shelters

There are natural shelters that are located in various rock formations. For example, in Scorched EarthScorched Earth's desert the player could crawl under certain large rocks and will see the shelter symbol. And in The Center The Center, The Island The Island, and Ragnarok Ragnarok there are rock formations and caves that counts as shelters as well.

Hunger and Hydration


Staying satiated is necessary to survive on the ARK. Gathered berries can be eaten, and hunting can be quite satisfying. Simply put the desired food in your hotbar, press the corresponding button, and you can eat anything you deem fit (including some  not so gracious choices.) So be careful what consumable you place in the Hotbar, accidents are prone to happen.

  • Your  hunger meter fills as you eat, and depletes as you exert yourself. Survival is key, starvation is death.
  •  Hunger will increase more quickly when you regenerate stamina. And the  Cold makes you starve faster.


Staying hydrated is essential to your survival on the ARK. To do this simply walk into a shallow portion of water, look down and press the E on PC, the Y on Xbox, and the Triangle on PS4 to drink! You can also submerge yourself in a body of water, though depending on the location you run the risk of attracting predators if by a swamp or river:

The ocean:

If you wish to fill  a water container of some sort, move towards a body of water or in the rain, place the bottle in your hotbar and then press the corresponding hotbar buttons to the water container and it will fill with delicious ark water, you can also fill it by pressing consume while submerged, also you can water crops by putting a wateskin in its inventory and pressing consume, (press the same key to drink the water when filled).

  • Thirst steadily decreases with time but will decrease more quickly when you regenerate stamina.

Finding Food

For other kinds of food and cooking recipes, see Cooking. For learning how to grow your own food see Farming.


  •  Berries are a good source of food and picking them as you walk is a good way to stock up. But be careful of eating these two berries:
    •  Narcoberry
      • in quantities above 5 or 6 will put you to sleep without points in Fortitude. Don't eat them.
    •  Stimberry
      • will rapidly make you thirsty, but will counteract the drowsiness/ Torpidity that is inflicted by certain poisons/attacks; such as that of the Scorpion ( Pulmonoscorpius),  Narcoberry, Titanoboa, or the infamous  Troodon; where falling asleep means almost certain death.


While hunting gives good experience, hide, and meat among other resources. Exercise caution when hunting anything other than  Coel or  Dodo early in the game, as dinosaurs are much more powerful than humans without technology. The spear attack causes knockback to the attacked creature and is essential to early game survival.

Remember even  Dilos or several  Compy can easily overwhelm a new player.
  •  Spear Fishing is sometimes a quick but easy way to get  raw meat. Just keep an eye out for the deadly water predators such as the:
  • Use  Campfires to cook  Raw Meat and  Raw Fish Meat.  Cooked Meat is always better than raw, because raw meat will satisfy 10 points  Hunger but also decrease your  Health by 5. Cooked meat will satisfy 20 points of  Hunger and restore 8 points of  Health.
  • You can also eat  Raw Meat at the cost of a few  HP and smaller amount of food recovered than Cooked Meat. It's a quick solution to hunger but generally not recommended.

Dying and Spawning

Disambig.png Main article:  Tips And Tricks

Ark is particularly brutal to new low-level players. You are likely to die often. Do not get discouraged.

After dying, you might see a green pillar of light. This beacon indicates where your dead body is. If you can find it, you can recover your lost items. Be careful, the thing that killed you might still be there.

You might want to know where you're spawning in the Arks:

The Island

South Zone

  • South Zone 1: South Zone 1 is a very safe area with few predators,  Dilophosaurs are about the only dangerous creature you will encounter,  Spinosaurus have a small chance to spawn up the inlet and  Piranhas may spawn in the inlet too. There is also a Mountain nearby along with a Swamp and a decently flat spot on the edge of the peninsula, perfect for building a small base. River rocks can also be found in the inlet that can provide small amounts of  Metal.
  • South Zone 2: South Zone 2 is a good choice for newcomers due to it having metal deposits and river rocks,  Piranhas and  Sarcos do occasionally spawn in the river though so take caution when crossing.  Spinosaurus rarely spawn up the river as do  Baryonyx. The location is also surrounded by two forests which provide large amounts of  Wood,  Thatch,  Fiber, and  Berries, but they also house  Raptors and  Therizinosaurs so be prepared when exploring them.
  • South Zone 3: An excellent starting location for new players, contains relatively few carnivores and has a large amount of resources. Once you unlock a  Raft, you can go to Herbivore Island easily because of it's close proximity. Herbivore Island also has no terrestrial carnivores and contains a very flat area, here  Metal also spawns in abundance which you can harvest with an  Ankylosaurus which can also be found here.

Sleeping bags and beds

  • If you have placed a Hide Sleeping Bag or Simple Bed, you can choose to respawn at that location instead of using the standard "random respawn" feature. This is especially useful once you have built a shelter or if you are playing with a friend.
  • Sleeping Bags are consumed upon use, and cannot be used by other people in your tribe.
  • Simple Beds are permanent (unless destroyed or auto-decayed), and can be re-used as many times as wanted, with a 5 minute cooldown. Any of your tribe member can use the bed of any other tribe member to respawn.
  • Build a Sleeping Bag and/or a Simple Bed as soon as you are able to.


On all servers except some private servers, all structures and tamed dinosaurs auto-decay. This means that if nobody in your tribe logs into the game every few days, your structures and dinosaurs may disappear. In general, higher-tier structures will last longer than lower-tier structures. Thatch disappears after 4 days, and tamed dinos disappear after 8 days.

Please see the page about building for how long each type of structure will last.

Obelisks and Supply Crates

Disambig.png Main article:  Obelisk

If you peer out into the distance, there are enormous floating structures casting an otherworldly light. They are called  Obelisks. These huge obelisks are probably much further from you then they initially appear. Beneath the Obelisk, is a strange protruding piece of metal with a button attached on top, called a 'terminal'. The obelisk terminal has 2 purposes:

  1. To fight a boss. If you insert the required artifacts and trophies, you (and up to 10 tribe-mates and 20 tamed creatures) will be transported to a boss arena to fight a  Boss.
  2. To transfer to another server. Use the terminal to transfer yourself, your inventory, and some tamed creatures to another map. You use the obelisk at the destination to obtain your items and tames.

Supply Crates

Disambig.png Main article:  Supply Crate

Pay attention to the strange pillars of light with a fairly large mechanical object slowly descending from the sky. Those are called  Supply Crates. Keep in mind that the distance is probably further than it seems and the Supply Crates don't last forever.

Supply crates have 3 purposes:

  1. They can be used to fight a boss, like at an obelisk; however, their temporary nature makes obelisks preferred for this.
  2. They can be used to transfer to another server, like obelisks.
  3. They contain a variety of free supplies within. If one appears near you, it might be a good idea to check it out, but notice the color:

Each color resembles the level granted access.

  • White/Prismatic Supply Crates require you to be level 3 to open them.
  • Green Supply Crates require you to be level 15 to open them.
  • Blue Supply Crates require you to be level 25 to open them.
  • Purple Supply Crates require you to be level 35 to open them.
  • Yellow Supply Crates require you to be level 45 to open them.
  • Red Supply Crates require you to be level 60 to open them.


The other worlds mentioned in the Obelisk section, is about joining different servers that may or may not be using the same Ark maps. There are 4 different types of servers listed as the following:

  • Official or Unofficial
  • Dedicated or Non-dedicated

Each one can be accessed or searched. Unless, a privately hosted server is set to 'private'.

Information on setting up a PC dedicated server: see Dedicated server setup


Official servers are the main online servers run by the developers, WildCard.

Unofficial is referred to privately Rented/Owned Servers.


Dedicated Servers, are servers that are hosted by a user. The user cannot interact and if they switch the server to Singleplayer mode it will wipe or delete everything owned by other players.

Non-dedicated servers are local servers hosted from Singleplayer mode. The host can interact however their server is limited to (4) players and the players are tethered to the host meaning they cannot travel a predetermined distance from the host.

Preparing for Specific Situations


  • Once you have the  Spear engram, craft a couple of  Spears and fight some  Dilos, as they will give you some combat experience. You will have to learn to dodge (circle-strafing works well) as they have a poison spitting attack that blinds you and severely slows your movement speed.
  • Using the landscape to your benefit is an extremely important aspect when fighting dinos as it can give you the edge both in fighting as in taming.
  • Basic weapon handling is very important as you will notice that the  Stone Axe and the stabbing attack of the  Spear have different ranges, the more distance you keep with the dino you are fighting the safer you are.
  • Always keep an eye on your  Stamina and  Health bars, as you won't be able to run when  Stamina is depleted and when your  Health is quite low you will be injured and move slowly. If this happens during a tough fight, your chances of success will be really low. Always equip  food and  Stimberries in your hotbar, as this is the easiest way to recover  Health and  Stamina respectively.

Searching for Dinos to Tame

  •  Torpor inducing gear such as a  Wooden Club or  Slingshot.
  • Consider bringing Armor. You may need to be able to take a lot of hits from the potential tame (depending on the creature) while in the Taming process.
  • Taming food. If you know what you're looking for, bring extra of that dino's taming food. If you don't know what to expect, bring  Raw Meat and  Berries. If you happen to be travelling on a  Wooden Raft pack perishable items in a  Preserving Bin or creature that won't eat them. If you wish to use less advanced items for feeding your tame you should collect them on the spot with a dino.
  • Extra  Narcoberries or  Narcotics to keep unconscious creatures asleep.
  • If you are wanting to tame a quick creature, make sure to bring  Bolas to slow them down to make the tame much easier.
  • Additional needed supplies suiting your target tame. For example, if you're going to tame a  Parasaur, bring  Bolas.


  • Dinos. You never know what valuable materials or dangerous dinos you may come across, so bringing a few decent, possibly expendable dinos to fight and hold more weight is a great idea.
  •  GPS if possible. If not, then bring a  Compass. These are what let you draw your map, and the  GPS can help you mark important places on the map.
  • Lots of food.
  • If possible, bring Armor suiting all environments.
  • Taming gear. Though not always useful when exploring, as taming takes you off track and slows you, taming gear is something to consider.
  • Any extra available gear that you know will be useful in your situation.


If you play on any multiplayer PvP server, raids are a major component of the gameplay. The chances of surviving any raid is pretty low. So try to balance good gear and minimum valuables. The Inventory that players take with them on raids varies immensely, so this section will combine different role's preferences and general tips. Note: this section WILL NOT discuss raiding strategies.

  • Decent armor.  Flak is preferable, as it provides decent protection, but can be expensive to make several sets.  Chitin is the next best thing, providing moderate protection and being fairly cheap.
  • Weapons that suit your role. Guns,  Bows,  Pikes,  Swords,  Explosives,  Assault Rifles,  Fabricated Sniper Rifles, and even  Rocket Launchers are all commonly used.
  •  Bola. Any player hit with a  Bola is doomed. A Harpoon gun utilising Net Projectiles can immobolise a much larger variety of creatures, though is higher level than a bola.
  • Food/Water. This includes any available dishes made from  Rockwell Recipes.
  • Resources for repairing Armor and Tools, if they can be repaired from your Inventory.
  • Other than the above, bring whatever will help you, depending on your enemy's base, location, and strength. If you're raiding very weak players (Not encouraged, as it is bullying unless they attacked you first) don't risk your good gear. Save it for stronger foes. Minimize items and gear that you will regret losing, and will not be very helpful in the raid. Remove all items from your Inventory that are not required for raids.

Steam Guides

Steam provides an excellent feature for many games, where members of the community can create guides for the public. ARK: Survival Evolved is lucky enough to have a community that is regularly creating more guides and improving the existing ones. A currently popular guide, aimed at beginners is called ARK: A Beginner's Guide and details many areas covered in this wiki and more. Visit the Steam Guides section to find out more.


For the latest updates and patch notes for all the versions of the base game (Also including Survival of the Fittest and ARK Mobile) then please visit the Patch Notes page.


  1. Citation needed. Game code would be best.