We're probably a few decades from experiencing something like Jurassic Park in real life—which I'm okay with considering the body count those movies rack up. Judging by this reveal of the gameplay footage, Ark Park looks to be the next best thing. Developed independently by Snail Games, Ark Park lets you explore and interact with dinos in a variety of Jurassic climates all from the comfort of your VR goggles. Snail Games invited members of Studio Wildcard, the original developers of Ark: Survival Evolved, to see how Ark Park is shaping up.
Ark Park takes the learning experience beyond the textbook through allowing players to get up close and personal with the dinosaurs.
"Our vision is to create a virtual world where players can explore at their own place and have close encounters with dinosaurs," executive producer Sky Wu tells me. While the game lacks the ever-present danger of Ark: Survival Evolved, that doesn't mean it's a completely passive tour either. "A hard core survival game like Ark: Survival Evolved is too fast paced for VR and might result in discomfort, but we still want core gamers that loved Ark: Survival Evolved to enjoy Ark Park. What we decided to do was make both options available. For core gamers, the game features dinosaur hunting and some hidden elements that are a bit more challenging while the game allows casual players to just hangout, ride, feed dinosaurs and enjoy the view. Overall, Ark Park falls in the casual game category with some optional hardcore elements."
Watching the video, you can see there's a lot more to Ark Park than just gawking at lizards and telling them what nice boys they are. What's more, you don't have to do it alone. "In Ark Park, there will be single and multiplayer modes," Wu says. "Players will embark on excursions and enter different attractions where they will see different prehistoric creatures and plants. A core gameplay element will include collecting gene cubes from dinosaurs, allowing players to develop their own 'petting zoos.'"
But there will be some light survival elements too. Wu says that Ark Park also features "hunting areas" where dinosaurs can attack the player. To survive those attacks, players will need to use their gathered gene cubes and resources to create "survival items and weapons." By unlocking new attractions in the park, they also unlock access to more cubes and crafting options. Collecting those cubes will take some clever thinking, however. For example, players will need to manipulate the environment, such as disturbing an ant nest to attract a big spider, to collect everything.
If fieldwork becomes too tiring, you can always retreat back to the visitor center where you can learn about the various creatures of Ark Park. "Ark Park takes the learning experience beyond the textbook through allowing players to get up close and personal with the dinosaurs," Wu says.
Overall, it sounds like a rather meaty experience—and lord knows that VR needs more of them. It's an interesting decision to take Ark: Survival Evolved to tamer frontiers, but dinosaurs are cool as hell so having the chance to look at them a little closer is certainly welcome. Ark Park is due later this year on both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.