ARK: Survival Evolved Beginner Guide - How To Level Up & Survive Night 1

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  • Action-Adventure
  • Survival
ARK: Survival Evolved
ARK: Survival Evolved has officially released, so we've made a guide to get you started. Learn how to level up and tame some cool Dinos. ARK: Survival Evolved is available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, OS X and Linux. Studio Wildcard

ARK: Survival Evolved has officially released, and this game can be a little intimidating for new players. With that in mind, here’s a beginner’s guide to help get you through your first few nights. We’ll also offer a brief roadmap for the XP gains ahead.

What To Do When You Spawn

Like many games of this ilk, ARK teaches the player the fundamentals by throwing them in headfirst. If you’ve arrived on the beach and have no idea what to do, here are a few quick tips. Your first night should be focused on getting some basic tools and building a shelter, so let’s get started.

ARK Gathering
Harvesting berries and punching trees is the basically the start of your ARK adventure. Photo: Studio Wildcard/JayEx23
  • Especially if you’re playing PvP, get off the beach. Being out in the open will get you killed very quickly. 
  • Punch trees, pick up stones and harvest berries like crazy. This will level you up quickly  enough to increase your stats and get Engram Points. For stone and flint in particular, the patches of rocks yield a lot more than individual boulders.
  • Engram Points unlock the ability to create certain tools with the right supplies. As you level up from punching and grabbing, there are two things you’ll want to spend points on: the hatchet and pickaxe. In terms of points for your stats, those are best allocated to food, health and weight in the early game.
  • As you level even more, you should also consider spending Engram Points on thatch base items, clothes, a campfire, torch, slingshot and spear.

The Tools Of The Trade

Once you’ve used Engram Points to unlock the hatchet and pickaxe, you’ll need to use them effectively to get the supplies you need. Scroll over to your craftables menu to make the tools, then consider these tips:

  • Hitting: Gives more thatch than wood and flint than stone
  • Hatchet: Gives more wood than thatch, hide than meat and stone than flint
  • Pickaxe: Gives more thatch than wood, meat than hide and flint than stone

Put these in your quick item slots so you can access them easily. The items will break as you use them, but as long as you keep harvesting, the quick menu ensures they’re automatically repaired.

A Quick Note On UI

Once you’ve started harvesting and early crafting, your UI elements start to become important. If any of these start blinking, take notice:

  • Water Drop: Hydration. In the early game, the best way to fix this is to hop in a body of water.
  • Hambone: Hunger. Eat some berries that aren’t narcoberries. Kill Dodos with your axe and harvest some meat. Put berries in a quick item slot for easy access.
  • Lightning Bolt: Stamina. Stop moving and eat some berries.
  • Cross: Health. Don’t get hurt. Eat cooked meat or consume blood packs to heal.

Building A Base

Assuming you’ve fully mastered the above steps, you might notice it’s getting a bit dark. In that case, we hope you’ve leveled up enough to spend Engram Points on thatch foundations, walls, doors and doorframes. Assuming that’s done, put those supplies in your quick menu. Lay down the foundations and make a home.

ARK Base
A basic house with a fire will help you survive night one. Photo: Studio Wildcard/JayEx23
  • Homes are best built in locations that are shady, near water and out of sight.
  • A simple shelter can be built with about four foundations, seven walls, and one door and doorframe.
  • Lay down connecting foundations to get more XP.
  • Once inside your base, you’ll want to build a campfire and put some wood or thatch in its inventory to light it. You might also want to cook some Dodo meat if you’ve harvested any.
  • Don’t forget to build a Bed too. Beds allow you to return to your house when you die.

By now you’ve probably survived your first night of ARK, so here’s a bit of a roadmap to keep you going.

Leveling Roadmap & Tips For Quick Levels If All Else Fails

  • Once you reach level 5, building storage boxes and demolishing them is a major XP gain.
  • Once you reach level 10 you can craft a bola and start killing Raptors.
  • Once you reach level 15 you can start hunting Dinos with a bow. It also helps to build and destroy rafts if you have extra supplies.


Taming Dinos begins when you reach level 20, and you can also craft a Trike saddle. We’ll do more detailed guides on taming later, but here’s the general idea behind taming a Trike.

ARK Trike
The Trike is the main beginner Dino, and it’s fairly easy to tame. Photo: Studio Wildcard/Dominus
  • Collect large amounts of all kinds of berries except Stimberries. You’re going to need them.
  • Look for a Trike that’s lower level than you are.
  • Keep a good distance, hit with a slingshot and run until it’s knocked out.
  • Once it’s knocked out, put one of every kind of berry in the Trike’s inventory. The one it eats first is its favorite. It’s probably Mejoberries, so load up on those. Next you’ll need to feed it plenty of Narcoberries too.
  • The process can take about an hour. During downtime, collect more berries as needed. Watch the meters fill up.

With your Trike fully tamed, craft a saddle and start riding it to harvest insane amounts of berries.

That should be more than enough to get you started with the basics of ARK: Survival Evolved. We’ll have plenty more guides to help you in the future as the game’s post-launch period begins!

What do you think of ARK so far? Was this guide helpful? Which tips do you need next? Tell us in the comments section!

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