| Ark is a sandbox survival game with dinosaurs on an island called "The Island". You begin as a man or woman stranded naked and starving on the shores of an island in an area called the ARK. Dinosaurs roam the land and you must use skill and cunning to kill or tame the dinosaurs and other primeval creatures with which you share the island. Begin by crafting stone tools for yourself, learn to create a shelter, and gather food. As you gain experience in survival, you will be able to craft better tools and weapons, better shelter, and prepare heartier food. Form a tribe with other survivors to gain experience together, build a common shelter, tame herds of animals, and possible raid other tribes.
On The Island after the Overseer is defeated the Survivor enters Ascension. Many ARKs can be seen during the Ascension cutscene ultimately reaching Scorched Earth. According to HLN-A, the ARKs were one of the many solutions for escape from the Element Corruption and constant wars. They were the main option humans chose to escape, while the other solutions were the Genesis-Ship and becoming Homo Deus. In Diana Explorer Note #19, she notes that the ARKs are all connected by one server room (located in Mt. Bracken) and finds the ARKs' current status in a slip of information:
- Currently on cycle 235669-F
- Are 96% capable of terraforming their surrounding area.
- A 0.0002% Decaying Process/Cycle
- Lost communications status with Arat Prime
- Locked Reseed Protocol
The Island is a map included with the base game. It is the first known ARK and is the first map that follows with the storyline. The Island consists of multiple climatic and geological regions. There are five larger mountains in the north and plains in the south. Three large Obelisks form a triangle on the Island. The Island is a large landmass with several smaller islands surrounding the central island. Resources become more common as one travels farther inland, but so do the dangers. Some areas are higher in temperature while others are lower which can be life threatening. On the Island there are two types of weather, rain and fog. When it rains, you will hydrate and can fill your Waterskin, Water Jar, or Canteen with rainwater. When fog rolls in, it is hard to see very far.
| The story is primarily told through notebooks and journals hidden all over the island, and through cutscenes that play after defeating all the bosses on each map. The Explorer Notes are either a Dossier or a piece of narrative from actual survivors.
An Australian biologist from 2008, Helena Walker, arrives on the Island to study the local fauna and flora. She maintains a good friendship with 19th century Englishman and alchemist/explorer, Sir Edmund Rockwell who acts as a neutral party in tribal disputes between the Blackthumbs, Golden Arrows, Howling Wolves, Iron Brotherhood, Laughing Skulls, Painted Sharks and The Red Hawks tribes. He develops a one-sided rivalry with Helena when the two start investigating the three floating obelisks in the sky and discover the Island is an artificial and monitored construction. Rockwell joins the violent New Legion tribe, led by Roman Centurion Gaius Marcellus Nerva in order to reach the Island's core, then passes through one of it's many gates to reach another "ARK" island. Helena, joined by Three Kingdoms era Chinese warrior - Li Mei-Yin (the Beast Queen), follow Rockwell through the gateway.
Events continue in the Scorched Earth DLC.
The increasingly sci-fi story is told across 6 canon - paid DLC maps:
- The Island
- Scorched Earth
- Genesis: Part 1
- Genesis: Part 2
There are 5 official non-canon, non-story DLC maps available for free; many fan projects:
- The Center
- Crystal Isles
- Lost Island