One of the biggest benefits of all that power is giving developers the ability to make games that are Xbox Series X|S Optimized. This means that they’ve taken full advantage of the unique capabilities of Xbox Series X|S, both for new titles built natively using the Xbox Series X|S development environment as well as previously released titles that have been rebuilt specifically for the console. In our Inside Xbox Series X|S Optimized series, these creators will share the behind-the-scenes accounts of how they’re optimizing their titles for Xbox Series X|S and what that means for the future of gaming. Today, we’ll be chatting with Jeremy Stieglitz, Co-Founder & Development Director at Studio Wildcard about optimizing Ark: Survival Evolved for Xbox Series X|S.
Q: “What excites you most about developing and bringing Ark: Survival Evolved to life on next generation hardware?”
A: Being able to experience Ark in its absolute definitive form and getting to immerse oneself in its expansive primeval worlds as our team’s artists and designers had ultimately intended.
Q: In addition to benefiting from the power and performance of Xbox Series X|S for quicker load times etc. what Xbox Series X|S features were you most excited to explore leveraging in the development of Ark: Survival Evolved?
A: The increased memory lets us keep nearly the entire game world loaded in the background, which enabled us to eliminate the so-called “tether” when hosting in certain multiplayer modes, while the next-gen console’s fast storage medium makes getting into Ark’s gameplay and travelling through its environments extremely quick and smooth. Together with the upgrade’s extreme graphics improvements in draw distance, texture resolution, and levels-of-detail, these changes make the feeling of playing Ark on a 4K HDR TV with the Xbox Series X feel like a new, engrossing adventure.
Q: How will these enhancements impact a player’s experience with Ark: Survival Evolved?
A: Being able to see so much farther lets you plan your journey through the game’s world more effectively. For example, if you can spot a certain resource off in the far horizon, now you’re able to decide whether to make the trek out there. In effect, your view distance now spans across nearly the entire game world in the Series X version of Ark, and this has a tremendous impact both on a player’s gameplay strategy as well as their immersion. Also, local/couch co-op for 2-players in Ark is now a beautiful thing at 4K on the Series X, where each player on the split-screen has ultra-crisp output with no graphical compromises. The game’s drop-in/drop-out split screen multiplayer, which also functions while hosting a session online, is one of Ark’s little-known features on Xbox, and it really shines in this upgraded version.
Q: Why did your development team choose to focus on increased resolution, visual fidelity and draw distances as enhancement areas for Ark: Survival Evolved?
A: The essential visual data was, for the most part, already there within the game’s, ahem, large install size, so we figured it’d be ideal to output it with such a dramatic new difference in clarity and detail on the next-generation hardware.
Q: How do you expect fans of Ark: Survival Evolved will respond to playing it on Xbox Series X|S with these enhancements?
A: With farther draw distances, higher resolution, and better framerates, I think players on the Xbox Series X may tend to have an advantage online. But even if someone’s just playing the game cooperatively or casually, seeing the environments rendered with such newfound detail makes surviving in ARK’s dangerous worlds that much more intense.
Q: What is it like developing on Xbox Series X|S?
A: It’s like being handed the keys to a tricked-out sports car and told to take it for a joyride: the power under the hood is a lot of fun and a little scary.
Q: What does Xbox Series X|S/next-generation development enable in current or future projects that you could not have achieved with the previous generation of consoles?
A: With the Xbox Series X|S capabilities, we have the graphics horsepower, storage speed, and memory to present to players a much more detailed and realistic environment than before. We’re going to be taking full advantage of this as we continue to create new content and pushing it even further as we focus our efforts over here on the next-generation.
ARK: Survival Evolved