76 of 79 people (96%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.2 hrs last two weeks / 670.7 hrs on record
Posted: Sep 6 @ 9:55pm
Updated: Sep 6 @ 9:56pm

Review for non-Windows users

If you're thinking of buying this game for Linux or macOS, don't. It's the only game I can think of that's actually gotten progressively worse over time, and its support for those platforms is in a much worse state at release than it was during early access. All the old bugs are still there, but now with new-and-improved ones to make things more interesting! Some examples, from a Linux user's perspective:


Non-graphical issues
  • With multiple displays, opening menus makes mouse cursor appear on a different display than the game window.
  • Attempting to run the game windowed (to fix the above) causes the cursor to be offset by the size of the titlebar. (Only fixable by removing titlebar from the window, e.g. via window manager tweaks)
  • Numpad keys are not recognised and cannot be used. These keys are required to use the tame groups feature. (Binds can be changed to something else via config editing)
  • Thumb mouse buttons are not recognised and are unbindable, even via config editing. Only workaround is to use an external tool to bind them to key combination sand bind those instead.
  • The cursor often disappears while in certain parts of the UI, such as engram learning. When this happens, the game cannot be interacted with. This can sometimes be fixed by clicking and dragging, but only if the UI is scrollable. If you, say, filter the engram list and it can't scroll, your only option is to kill the game process and relaunch.
  • The game crashes if you click or even move the mouse too much during load screens. Or if the game loses focus for any reason, such as a notification popup or another window stealing focus for some reason. Hands off the mouse and hope for the best.

Graphical Issues
  • Strange, psychedelic effects any time there's supposed to be some kind of light flash. Usually only an annoyance.
  • Rain effects often turn into what I call "LSD rain", a trippy pixelated red/green/blue effect that distorts wildly when you move the camera. Made worse with "high quality VFX" and "light bloom" settings enabled, but always a problem. Happens more in some areas, such as redwoods, but can happen anywhere.
  • Many broken particle effects, especially in certain areas. Dust clouds caused by mining, dino footsteps, mushrooms, etc. turn into strange, blocky, red/black/blue surfaces that are impossible to see through.
  • The GPS, compass, torch, and some other items cause additional graphical glitches in areas affected by the above. Good luck getting your bearings if you're in an affected area, because the compass is a black surface and the GPS shows some kind of red/pink/black barcode instead of N|S|E|W
  • Caves trigger these problems and are completely unplayable as a result. Don't bother going into one unless you can turn on god mode.
  • (New!) Transparent water textures have mostly been replaced by a flat, opaque, grey, pixelated surface. Not only is this horribly ugly, it means that you can no longer see what is underneath the water at all. Unlike everything else, this is a new bug that only started a couple months ago,
  • Swamps are basically impossible to deal with because of a combination of all of the above. No compass/GPS; can't see leeches, piranhas, etc. in the water; can't see anything above-water when the LSD rain begins; and so on.
  • (New!) Thin red outline around various things, such as the character preview in the inventory screen and explorer notes. Started a couple patches ago.
  • (New!) Red flashes occur when exiting game to main menu. Started a couple patches ago.
  • (New!) Whenever water effects, such as from a tap or any other source of non-broken water, like the small lake in redwoods biome, meets the edge of the screen, it turns into red glitchy particle effects. Started a couple patches ago. This is a minor annoyance for me, but AMD GPU users are reporting that the glitching is much more common and severe for them, making the game nigh unplayable.

This is all from memory, so I'm probably missing a few things, but it should illustrate what a broken mess of a game ARK is for non-Windows users. It's not Linux-specific either, because many (most?) of the problems, especially the graphical ones, affect macOS users as well.

To make things worse, Studio Wildcard doesn't even attempt to communicate at all with its non-Windows users, leaving everybody wondering if the Linux and macOS versions are just abandoned at this point. The game's an unplayable mess for us, but they tout the improvements of the upcoming DX12 support for the subset of Windows users that can get it, without even a word about either Vulkan or some kind of fix for their broken OpenGL support.

And, finally, keep in mind that this is all in addition to the problems Windows users report.

It's a shame, because it's a fun survival / sandbox game that has a lot of potential, especially with mods (like Structures Plus) to smooth out some rough edges. I'd love to be able to recommend it to others, because there's a fun game buried under all the problems, but in its current state the game is absolutely not worth a purchase at any price.
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15 Comments
Jimmy NoShoes Sep 13 @ 2:39am 
I'd like to add that with regards to Linux servers, the auto mod updater tool they have provided has not worked for nearly half a year now. When used, it has a high chance to delete currently existing mods, or corrupt the installs of those you have added manually.
Evenfrost Sep 12 @ 10:06am 
Stopped playing a while ago, but this review has my signature all over it. LSD rains and lakes, unplayable caves and swamps, NO Vulkan switch on release and no signals for it at all (which they promoted ages ago and which could fix these issues on Linux) and more and more. Devs were great and ARK was fun once, but, shame, not anymore.
Ilazki Sep 11 @ 1:34pm 
I've been avoiding responding so I don't clutter up the comments with my own remarks, hiding what others say, but I'm curious and have to ask... How did you end up here from GoL? Someone linked it in an article comments, or what?

Also yeah, I've had the game for quite a while and played on-and-off, both on Windows and Linux, to play with some friends that keep coming back to it every so often. I've seen what the game should be like, which makes the non-Windows builds all the more disappointing. :/
AzP Sep 11 @ 4:49am 
Great review, came here from GamingOnLinux. Btw: Wow, "7.8 hrs last two weeks / 670.7 hrs on record". That is insane.
aufgehts Sep 10 @ 2:22am 
Yes, Ark for Linux is waste of money. They stole our money and used it for other platforms. There should be justice for this criminal procedure.
BasiliskEvolved Sep 10 @ 1:19am 
I can confirm having experienced all of these issues, as well as a new one: game crashes immediately on launch.
Zarx Sep 9 @ 3:37am 
I agree with this review. Unless you just want to play the game as a builder, don't waste your money. There's more serious devs out there that do real port and real support on Linux.
foxcow Sep 8 @ 4:29pm 
Accurate review. People of all platforms should just avoid this busted, hot mess. Don't waste your time or money on this half baked game because the devs couldn't be assed to fix it.
SpEcIeS Sep 8 @ 12:37pm 
Sadly this is all true and neglect for the GNU/Linux platform from the developers, Studio Wildcard, is outstanding. The game ARK itself, is wonderful, however it is unfortunate that some other developers did not come up with this idea first.

It is my hope that someday the developers will make well on there error and fix the GNU/Linux version of this game. There is always hope.
baizon Sep 8 @ 10:29am 
Thank you for the review.