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Ark represents some of the best and worst aspects of Early Access. After more than two years spent in Early Access, Ark has finally hit the retail milestone. Poor performance and glitches were somewhat excusable during the extended 'beta' period, since the game wasn't officially released—it was early and many assumed optimizations would be coming in future updates. But the retail launch has now come and gone, so there are no more excuses. Let's just get this out of the way right here: Ark's system requirements are steep, and it's perhaps telling that there's no official word on the minimum and recommended system specs for the game. While the visuals can be impressive at times, animations could be better, and clipping is a major issue. I also encountered various graphical glitches, depending on settings and hardware. In short, Ark isn't running anywhere near as smoothly as the Destiny 2 beta. If you're using anything less than a high-end graphics card, be prepared to dial down the settings quite a bit. The epic preset is brutally punishing, taking down even the fastest current graphics cards. Let's start with the features checklist: Given its PC and EA roots, it's

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds may have popularised the genre inspired by the Japanese movie, but it’s not the only battle royale game pitting players against each other in desperate fights to the death. Below are 11 games, modes and mods that you should check out if you can’t get enough of hunting your fellow man. GAMES PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Let’s get the current top dog out of the way first, shall we? PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, is still in Early Access, but it’s already swallowed up the lives of millions of players. In each match, 100 survivors are air dropped into a bucolic Russian island, seemingly abandoned during or just after the Soviet era. It’s a huge place, but the play area is always shrinking, forcing players to race towards safety on foot or using cars, bikes and boats, all while trying to murder each other with a wide range of guns and melee weapons. It’s a game filled with long moments of quiet tension, punctuated by chaotic, nerve-racking battles. H1Z1: King of the Kill Another Early Access game, H1Z1: King of the Kill was spun out of Daybreak’s zombie survival game. The survival aspect became its own separate game,

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Waking up in Ark: Survival Evolved is a bit of a jolt. Lost and naked, new players open their eyes on the shore of an island teeming with dinosaurs and a wild, hostile ecosystem. Ark is an open world in the truest sense: there's nowhere I need to go, nowhere I'm supposed to be. But I can't just starve to death on that beach, so I set off. More than two years after it emerged as (yet another) open-world survival hit, Ark has finally launched. We're still learning how customer-funded, Early Access development affects games, but for Ark the flush of money and attention seems to have led to an unbalanced game with too many extraneous features and unrefined, unfocused fundamentals. Sauropod goals In the jungle, I tear a branch off a tree, tie it to a rock, and then I have a stone axe. Basic tools help me get more trees and rocks, bootstrapping my way up through the history of human-made technology. Unlike many other survival games, Ark's exploration of technology goes all the way: that stone axe eventually leads to rocket propelled grenades, industrial forges, and forcefields. Whether I'm wearing a hat made out of grass or steel, my goals in Ark are essentially unlimited. Like many of the best PC games, Ark asks me to set goals for myself and be the author of my own stories. I can climb the biggest mountains,

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"You know, it feels weird because we still plan to work on the game," Jesse Rapczak told Steven at PAX West, speaking of Ark's launch from Early Access at the end of August. "So, it's not this big 'OK, we're done!'" Rapczak went on to say that he considers the launch an important milestone for Studio Wildcard's dino-survival game, but there is still plenty to do in terms of bug fixes and other improvements. "While it feels good," he said, "we still feel like we got work to do." Along with improvements to the base game, Aberration is in the works, an expansion that brings survivors to a hostile alien world with no atmosphere where the safest place to be is deep underground. Aberration will be along sometime in October of this year, to be followed in 2018 but a third and as-yet unannounced expansion. Watch the full interview from PAX West 2017 above, and check out all the rest of our PAX coverage here.

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Ark: Survival Evolved, in addition to launching from Early Access this week, announced a $45 season pass, which includes the Scorched Earth DLC as well as two unannounced expansions. We've now learned a bit about one of those expansions, called Aberration, which is set to arrive in October of this year. There's a trailer above. The Ark (planet) in Aberration isn't quite as friendly to organic lifeforms as the one we're used to. The atmosphere has bled from the Ark and the sun is highly radioactive, meaning if you're going to thrive and survive it'll have to be underground in caves (at least until you've crafted some protective gear, we assume). Those caves, at least, look pretty. Added to the mix are ziplines and wingsuits for traveling over pits and chasms, new weapons and armor, new items to craft, and of course a host of new creatures: "Clamber up walls & glide through the air on the back of a camouflaging chameleon-like ‘Rock Drake’, keep the dark at bay with a friendly ‘Lantern Pug’, or grab and toss multiple creatures simultaneously with a massive ‘Cave Crustacean’, or -- if you are talented enough to tame one -- command the vile ‘Nameless Queen’ to impregnate your foes

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Update: We reported a few minutes ago that Ark refunds were being allowed on Steam regardless of how long players had owned the game, or how many hours they had played. That was true for a while today, but Valve has fixed the issue, and the standard refund rules appear to be back in effect. Well, that's what I get for taking the time to test it out myself and attempting to obtain comments from the developers and Valve. I was late to the party with this story. Sorry, everyone! Original story: A post on Reddit today claimed that Steam was allowing players to receive refunds for Ark: Survival Evolved—and that those refund requests were being honored no matter how long ago they bought the game or how long they had played it. While the Steam refund policy typically only allows refunds if a game has been bought within the past 14 days and has been played for under two hours, several Redditors chimed in to say that they had received refunds even though they had purchased Ark in Early Access months or even years ago, and had played it for dozens of hours. I asked another member of PC Gamer to attempt to refund Ark, and sure enough

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