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Ark 2: Release date, Vin Diesel’s involvement and everything else we know

Ark 2
(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

Ark 2 is on the way, and we're currently still expecting the prehistoric multiplayer to arrive at some stage in 2022. We first learned that we're set to see more dinosaur-shaped action in the popular Ark: Survival Evolved series thanks to an initial reveal at the Game Awards in 2020. Since then, though, news has been relatively quiet on all things Ark 2, and we've really seen or heard all that much about it. 

What we do know is the we expect to see more dinosaurs, more hunting and gathering, more mounts, and... Vin Diesel? Yep, Vin is not only said to be a big fan of Studio Wildcard's survival adventure, the actor is also on board as an executive producer. While there's every chance we could see more of the game before the new year comes around, the project might still be some time off yet. Below, we've put together everything we know so far about Ark 2, so you can stay on top of the new entry heading our way. 

What is Ark 2?

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Ark 2 is Studio Wildcard’s sequel to Ark: Survival Evolved, the multiplayer survival sandbox with dinos. According to a tweet by the developer, the overall gameplay idea of Ark isn’t set to change in the sequel – it will still be a multiplayer game, and you will still be able to fight and tame creatures in order to help ensure your survival as best as possible. 

There are a lot of different dinosaurs in Ark, but also other prehistoric or otherwise extinct creatures, which you can not only make into your own large zoo if you so wish, but also ride and breed. It’s not all fun though, as the survival the game’s title hints at is an essential point of the experience. Ark is notorious for leaving players to figure out mechanics on their own through death, death and more death, as well as plenty of stories of high-level players just razing through weaker players’ camps. The early Ark experience can be frustrating, but it rewards patience and curiosity, and did we mention it has dinosaurs you can ride?

Ark 2

(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

The point of Ark 2 doesn’t seem to be a complete upheaval of that concept, but for Studio Wildcard to make use of the new hardware to make a new world, bigger and more beautiful than that of the first. The trailer does certainly look impressive. It’s rendered in-engine and uses actual game assets, and if it weren’t for the slightly rough facial animations and occasional stiff posture, you could mistake it for a CGI trailer.

What’s curious is that the first Ark, which has been around since 2015 if you count its Early Access period, is still teeming with life, adding new creatures to this day. However, while the game’s performance has improved over the years, Studio Wildcard is now wrangling a very large world, something that’s noticeable in persistent lag and Ark’s overall file size. Starting afresh to benefit from the latest technology may simply be a way to improve Ark in a way that doesn’t really make sense for the current game and the state it is in.

What is the Ark 2 release date?

Ark 2

(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

While we don't have a specific date, we have been given a rough 2022 Ark 2 release date window. Microsoft is yet to clarify whether that’s a full launch or an Early Access launch, since Ark 2 could follow the same release model as Ark: Survival Evolved.

The first game launched into what back then was Xbox’s Preview program in 2015, ahead of the full launch in 2017.

What will the Ark 2 platform releases be?

Ark 2 is an Xbox Series X|S console launch exclusive. If things go the way they did with Survival Evolved, this will also include PC, (possibly Xbox Game Pass at launch) before a PS5 version will eventually follow. Microsoft also points out that Ark 2 will be optimised for Xbox Series X|S. 

Will there be an Ark 2 story?

It’s not certain Ark 2 will have a traditional storyline to follow. As a multiplayer experience, Ark: Survival Evolved did eventually add lore for you to discover, which explained the island’s sci-fi background, but you’re welcome to ignore all of that just as easily and make your own fun.

We don’t expect Ark 2 to go full Final Fantasy 14, but with the pivotal role Vin Diesel played in the trailer, it’s not farfetched to assume he’s going to be around for more than a marketing stunt. According to Microsoft, his character is named Santiago, and while the tribe he leads appears to be mostly eaten by the time the trailer wraps up, he clearly has a family to take care of. Maybe you will be able to complete quests with or for Santiago.

In the trailer, Santiago also expertly takes on a group of blue humanoids with large teeth, we’ll likely also find out what exactly their deal is.

What is Vin Diesel doing in Ark 2, anyway? 

Ark 2

(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

It’s always exciting to see a big-name actor involved in a video game, whether it’s Norman Reedus in Death Stranding or Dave Bautista in Gears 5. Perhaps Studio Wildcard working with Vin Diesel is simply a happy accident – the actor is known to be a big nerd who’s enjoyed videogames and a good game of DnD for years. According to Microsoft he’s simply a fan of Ark, with a playtime of roundabout 1000 hours – a median time for the community.

Vin Diesel will do more than act in Ark 2, though – he’s listed as Studio Wildcard’s “President of Creative Convergence”. This mouthful of a title is likely an amalgamation of the two roles Diesel fulfils for the studio. On one hand, he’s the executive producer for Ark 2, but he also executive produces the upcoming Ark animated series.

"He understands the game intimately and is providing direct feedback to the development process," Studio Wildcard says. Apparently, that also involves logging bugs in Ark. It’s not clear how heavily involved he is with the game, but it’s fair to say Vin Diesel is a game developer now. 

What was that about an Ark animated series?

Ark: the Animated Series was announced together with Ark 2, and will release in 2022. Studio Wildcard co-created and produced the series together with director Jay Oliva (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). The animation studio behind the series is Lex + Otis, who are also working on an Army of the Dead spinoff anime with Zack Snyder. Ark composer Gareth Coker will also write the music for the show.

Not only that, but the animated series is also chockfull of A-list actors. Vin Diesel as Santiago will, of course, be there, but also the likes of Gerard Butler, Michelle Yeoh, David Tennant, Russel Crowe, Karl Urban, Elliot Page and many more, some of whom you can already hear in the trailer.

Ark: the Animated Series will have 14 30-minute episodes, and will tell an original story that will segue into or at least feature characters from Ark 2. This is the synopsis according to the official press release:

"ARK: The Animated Series chronicles the story of a mysterious primeval land populated by dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, where people from throughout human history have been resurrected. When 21st Century Australian palaeontologist Helena Walker awakes on the ARK after a tragedy, she must learn to survive and find new allies, or die again at the hands of ruthless warlords -- all while trying to uncover the true nature of their strange new world."

As you can see in the trailer, characters such as Michelle Yeoh’s Meiyin Li have been transported from their different time periods to the Ark, showing that no matter who you are or where you come from, dinos will come for us all.

For more of the new games of 2021 and beyond to get excited about, do check out our Big in 2021 features. 

Malindy Hetfeld

Malindy is a freelance video games writer for outlets like Eurogamer, PLAY, PCGamer and Edge Magazine, who also occasionally works in game design consultation and localization. As a Japanese speaker, she enjoys Japanese pop culture and is always on the hunt for the next game from the Land of the Rising Sun. She also particularly enjoys narrative-focused games and cute indies, and always seeks to learn more about the business-side of the gaming industry.