Last week, Studio Wildcard announced the first expansion for Ark: Survival Evolved. Ark: Scorched Earth moves the game beyond the island into a desert wasteland.
It's on a new map with a seven desert-themed biomes, featuring new creatures, new weapons, new cities, and items to craft. With the move to the desert, water becomes one of the larger resources players need to survive. Players can travel back and forth between the original map and Scorched Earth via the new intra-Ark travel feature. The full expansion pack for the game is $19.99 on Steam or Xbox One Game Preview.
The problem is that Ark: Survival Evolved is still in Early Access.
Fans have taken umbrage at a paid expansion for a game that's not finished. Many have said that the core game isn't complete, missing features like the elder game Tek Tier, Direct X 12 support, improved AI, and general optimizations of the game on all platforms. Fans have spoken out quite loudly, tanking the game's Steam reviews. While Ark: Survival Evolved has "Mostly Positive" reviews overall, it's most recent reviews are all "Mostly Negative".
"Started off as shining example of how to do early access. Ended up a complete disaster after the developer went off on adventures of making [Survival of the Fittest], console versions and paid expansion while still in early access! No wonder the game is so behind schedule," wrote Fastidious, a user with 987 hours played in the game.
"The game started with promising development and fast updates," wrote user Narmix. "The development then got pushed back, slowed to a trickle, and the release date got pushed and pushed. Now here we are with pre-day-1-DLC and ALL players are forced into the same server with those who have the advantage of the DLC. Pay-2-Win aspects have been introduced when players with access to the DLC (that they paid for) can attack and destroy players and players' building with dinosaurs these other players don't have access to."
Many players have pointed out that the DLC adds new tameable animals that may outclass what's in the original game. Since those creatures can be brought back to the original island, many players are complaining that it's essentially pay-to-win DLC.
"Today, Wildcard announced there is now a $20 paid expansion. For their early access game that still is missing huge amounts of core features. Additionally, the expansion represents what can only be described as "pay to win," as you can tame mother-effing FIRE-BREATHING DRAGONS now, then bring them back into other servers. Anybody that doesn't have the expansion will NEVER match that," wrote another user.
It didn't help matters much when a Studio Wildcard developer responded to the complaints in a comment on Discord. That same developer later apologized on the Ark Reddit page.
"We made essentially an entire new game to compliment the existing one. Do we not deserve to be paid?," asked the dev.
"After the release, I have spent a lot of time monitoring the forums, speaking to testers to look for issues and in this time I have read a lot of criticism. I took it personally and felt like my own efforts were completely unappreciated and undervalued. This hurt me and in turn my frustrations got the better of me. I answered someone bluntly and rather rudely, because I am human, I make mistakes, and I am truly am sorry for my actions and any offense caused," the developer said in their later apology.
Studio Wildcard has not officially commented on the neagtive response to Scorched Earth.