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Ark Survival Ascended splits audience as original holds Steam players

Ark Survival Ascended has split its audience with ‘mixed’ Steam reviews, as the original Survival Evolved keeps a comparable player count.

Ark Survival Ascended - A yeti raises its arms, fists balled in anger.

Ark Survival Ascended is here, but it’s been a rocky start for the Unreal Engine 5 remaster of the dinosaur survival game. Between performance issues for many players even on higher-end PCs, server locks, and reports of crashing, Ark Survival Ascended Steam reviews are currently sitting at a dead even 50% across more than 13,500 reviews, lumping the prehistoric multiplayer game with a ‘mixed’ rating. Meanwhile, it seems the original Ark Survival Evolved is doing a good job of holding close to the new game’s player count.

Launched on Thursday October 26, 2023, Ark Survival Ascended came from developer Studio Wildcard’s desire to experiment more thoroughly with Unreal Engine 5 and get to grips with the technology. It stated that its goal was to “further our mastery of the new engine and ultimately battle-test some of our riskier technical advancements” with this UE5 rework of one of the best multiplayer survival games before progressing further with development on the long-awaited Ark 2.

Currently, however, it’s struggling to find its footing. Among the top Steam reviews, user ‘Chaos’ reports, “I wish I could recommend this game but I cannot right now,” stating that their year-old machine is struggling to run the game even at lowest settings. Another reviewer, ‘Pank,’ adds “Barely works, crashes every ten seconds and runs at 10fps. Ark is back baby!” Others call it a “$40 texture pack” or note that the servers are frequently being taken offline to deploy fixes, making it difficult to play.”

Ark Survival Ascended - Message from the developers: "LiveOps Update! We've just launched more official servers for PVP, PVE, and SmallTribes in EU & NA. We're still investigating some start up crashes on some servers and an issue where a server locks and fails to recover without our intervention, hoping to get resolutions ASAP."

Developer Studio Wildcard has been providing regular updates, including a client-side update with “better settings assignments for each graphics quality mode.” It adds that the team has been “collecting data to identify major server performance pain points” and that it plans “to have a PTR branch of the game available to test out some of our riskier optimizations before we set them live for the public.”

Overnight, the team says it “launched more official servers for PvP, PvE, and SmallTribes in EU and NA.” However, it’s “still investigating some start-up crashes on some servers and an issue where a server locks and fails to recover without our intervention,” and is “hoping to get resolutions as soon as possible.”

The Ark Survival Ascended Steam player count has been pretty respectable, peaking on Saturday October 28 at 85,294 players, the fifteenth highest 24-hour peak on Steam and ahead of Battlefield 2042, Cyberpunk 2077, and Cities Skylines 2 (via SteamDB). However, it seems many players are sticking to the original, with the Ark Survival Evolved player count peaking at 75,245 on Saturday as well.

Ark Survival Ascended Steam player count comparison with Ark Survival Evolved (via SteamDB).

In fact, following a slight dip during the initial launch of Survival Ascended, Evolved has maintained a pretty comparable player count to what it was holding before the new UE5 version launched. Ascended’s higher numbers show that players are giving the new-look remaster a fair shake, however, but time will tell whether it’s able to hold that audience.

If you’re thinking about making the jump, you’ll want to run your eyes over the Ark Survival Ascended system requirements first, especially given the reports of struggling performance. We’ve also taken a look at Ark Survival Ascended Steam Deck compatibility and the best settings to use if you’re trying to squeeze the best performance from Valve’s handheld.