The 2020 Game Awards was filled with big reveals, from a new Perfect Dark game to Sephiroth appearing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Perhaps the most surprising moment came in the form of Ark II. Viewers were perplexed when Geoff Keighley tossed to a world premiere trailer that featured none other than Vin Diesel fighting dinosaurs and monsters in the jungle.
While Ark isn’t exactly a household name in gaming, the high-profile announcement and Hollywood star power positions the sequel to be a much bigger deal than its predecessor. For the uninitiated, Ark is a survival game where players roam through a dinosaur-filled island. Ark 2 seems like it’ll double down on that idea with a stronger narrative element. While we wait for more details to emerge, here’s everything we know about Ark 2 so far.
When is the Ark 2 release date?
The game’s first trailer didn’t offer a release date, but a December 14, 2020 blog post from Microsoft revealed a 2022 launch. Like many other games this year, Ark 2 has since been delayed out of 2022 and its developer is now aiming for a 2023 release date.
The first game in the series, Ark: Survival Evolved, wasn’t your typical big-budget release, opting instead for an early access launch in 2015, with the full version coming in 2017. Ark 2 is being released the same way, so its 2023 launch will bring it to Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview. There’s no word yet on how long the preview period is expected to last.
Is there an Ark 2 trailer?
The first Ark 2 trailer is full of action, dinosaurs, and most surprisingly, Vin Diesel.
So far, there two cinematic trailers for Ark 2. The first, which announced the game in 2020, is a wild watch. Captured entirely in-engine, the story-focused trailer features Vin Diesel slaying monsters, outrunning a T. rex, and discovering a cave filled with futuristic technology. According to Microsoft, the game will continue Ark’s “eons-spanning story of humankind’s evolution” while still delivering a sandbox experience like the first game.
Ark 2’s second trailer is another pretty but detail-light cinematic teaser.
The second, much shorter, Ark 2 trailer once again shows a CGI Vin Diesel, along with his character’s daughter, who is also heard in voice over. While it didn’t reveal anything about gameplay, it did show the game’s updated 2023 release date.
What is Ark 2 gameplay like?
Ark 2 is a multiplayer survival sandbox just like the original, but otherwise, it’s a huge departure from the first Ark. While it still focuses on crafting and dino-fighting, it will be played in third-person, moving away from the first game’s first-person perspective. Developer Studio Wildcard says the switch will come alongside new traversal options, “including mantling, free-climbing, parkour, sliding, and swinging.”
In another massive change from its predecessor, Ark 2 is said to include “Souls-like melee combat,” which emphasizes blocking, dodging, and building combos.
Is Ark 2 an Xbox exclusive?
Following the game’s announcement, Microsoft revealed that Ark 2 is a "console launch exclusive" for Xbox Series X|S. That makes sense considering Microsoft’s relationship with the first game. Ark: Survival Evolved was a launch exclusive on Xbox in 2015 and later came to Game Pass in 2019. The game was recently optimized for Microsoft’s latest consoles. Like the original, Ark 2 will also launch on PC.
The use of “console launch exclusive” leaves the door open for other platforms. A PlayStation 5 version could still be in the works, but it won't be released alongside the PC and Xbox versions. Launch exclusives tend to only remain exclusive to one console for about a year these days, so it could come to Sony’s console in 2024.
Why is Ark 2 a Vin Diesel game?
Fast & Furious veteran Vin Diesel is heavily involved in the project, both on-screen and behind the scenes. He plays Santiago, a freedom fighter who will appear both in the game and the upcoming Ark animated series. In the game’s trailer, it’s clear that he’s playing a major role in the game’s story, though it’s less clear whether or not players will actually control him considering that the first Ark game features a character creator.
Beyond that, Vin Diesel is also working on the game himself. The actor is joining developer Studio Wildcard as the “President of Creative Convergence” on the project. If that sounds surprising, remember that Vin Diesel has been heavily involved in the gaming world for quite a while now. The actor founded developer Tigon Studios, which created several Chronicles of Riddick games and the recent Fast & Furious Crossroads.
Studio Wildcard CEO Doug Kennedy explained Diesel’s involvement to The Hollywood Reporter: "An immensely talented actor and producer, Vin is also an accomplished gamer who has played 1000’s of hours of ARK: Survival Evolved," Kennedy said. "He understands the game intimately and is providing direct feedback to the development process."
Diesel shared his excitement for Ark 2 in his own words after its appearance at the 2022 Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase. In an Instagram post, he called the first Ark “the best game out right now,” adding:
“Any real gamer is excited for Ark 2!!”
It’s quite the claim, considering not a scrap of gameplay has been shown yet, but you can’t fault is enthusiasm (and we’re certainly not volunteering to tell him he’s wrong).
Ark II is expected to launch on PC and Xbox Series X/S in 2023.
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