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Ark: Survival Ascended gets powerful mod tools this month, expansion maps in February and April

 Concept art of a gigantoraptor from Ark: Survival Ascended.
Concept art of a gigantoraptor from Ark: Survival Ascended.

Dinosaur survival game remaster Ark: Survival Ascended will get massive improvements to its development kit this month, letting modders do much more than they can now. Developers Studio Wildcard have also announced a release window and date for delayed expansion maps The Center, by the end of February, and Scorched Earth on April 1st.

This month's update to Ark's development kit will apparently be very extensive, and will "put the power of unbridled game creation directly in your hands." It seems like it'll be some custom version of the Unreal Engine 5 editor, apparently capable of creating "not just ARK mods, but entire custom Unreal Engine games to be made available inside ASA." The developer gives examples of platformers and PvP dinosaur jousting arenas built inside of Ark.

The original-Ark expansion map Scorched Earth was supposed to launch alongside the game last year, but was delayed twice—this makes a third delay. The community-originated The Center was due to come later this year, but has apparently been moved up to February.  The Center is "sprawling, diverse map that will redefine your ARK experience. Lush jungles teem with hidden secrets, treacherous ice peaks pierce the sky, and crystalline caverns beckon with untold treasures," says Wildcard. That update will also come with the big, feathery Gigantoraptor creature.

Scorched Earth is a desert map with a Wild West theme, meanwhile, and will be accompanied by a DLC called the Frontier Adventure Pack of suitably Wild West themed garb. It'll also introduce a new desert dinosaur steed, the Fasolasuchus, and apparently will include trains.

"Build train tracks that crisscross the scorching landscape, choo-choo your way past sandworms, and create your own Wild West-style dino raids," says Wildcard.

You can read the entire January development update on Steam.

Ark: Survival Ascended is the Unreal Engine 5 remaster of dinosaur world survival game Ark: Survival Evolved. Its development was plagued by disappointments and community controversy, most notably when people thought it would be free and then it turned out to not be free. After it released into Early Access last year it was then the focus of technical complaints and performance issues, leading to a developer admitting that the servers were "ass."

You can find Ark: Survival Ascended on Steam for US $45 and on playark.com.

Nice spots, Eurogamer and RPS.