The short answer is yes, there are ways to get Ark: Survival Evolved for free on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. But let‘s dive deeper into the details.
As someone who has sunk over 500 hours into Ark across Xbox and PlayStation, allow me to provide plenty of insights from personal experience with this massively popular survival game.
Can you get Ark: Survival Evolved for free on PlayStation?
While the standard price is $60, patience and luck can score you Ark for zero dollars on PS4 or PS5. Here are the best methods:
1. PlayStation Plus Monthly Games
Without a doubt the easiest way is when Ark becomes a PlayStation Plus monthly free game.
In March 2022, PS Plus subscribers like myself could download the full Ark package at no extra cost. Once claimed, Ark remains permanently in your library even after your PS Plus lapses.
Sony reportedly paid $3.5 million to make this happen – so they clearly understand Ark‘s huge appeal with over 100 million lifetime players.
Fingers crossed Ark returns as a PS Plus freebie in the future, but nothing confirmed yet.
2. Free Play Days
For a limited time, Sony occasionally offers Free Play Days – 3 days of free access for all PlayStation gamers.
I‘ve jumped into quite a few Free Play Days myself to sample games before buying. It‘s an awesome perk.
Ark has been featured in previous Free Play Days including October 2021. Stay vigilant for the next one.
3. Free Weekends
The developers at Studio Wildcard themselves have run Free Weekend promotions for Ark multiple times.
These usually coincide with a major Ark content update like the new Fjordur map.
During the last free weekend in September 2022, the base game and even some DLC maps were temporarily free.
4. PlayStation Store Sales
Frequent PS Store sales offer massive 25% to 75% discounts on Ark, dropping it as low as $15.
I personally bought the Ark Season Pass for 50% off during a holiday sale. Well worth waiting for a deal.
The recent Winter Sale saw Ark Extinction on sale for just $10! Keep an eye out for bargains.
5. Used Discs
Finally, check used game stores, eBay or Craigslist for discounted used Ark discs.
Considering Ark first released in 2017, many gamers have likely upgraded and sold their old PS4 copies.
I bought my buddy‘s old disc for $20 – a great way to enjoy Ark‘s base content and decide if you want the DLC.
Weighing if Ark is worth playing in 2023
Assuming you can in fact score Ark for free, should you actually invest your valuable time into playing? Let‘s break down the pros and cons.
Pros: Why Ark is absolutely worth playing
Endless content – Between exploring, building and taming, Ark offers hundreds upon hundreds of hours of gameplay. The core loop is incredibly addicting.
Satisfying multiplayer – Joining a tribe takes cooperation to the next level. Some of my best gaming memories stem from intense Ark player-vs-player battles.
Constant updates – The fact Ark is still frequently updated 6 years after launch is really impressive. The developers clearly care.
Taming dinos is a blast – Flying around on a Pteranadon or raiding bases atop a T-Rex just feels awesome and liberating.
Creative building – Designing elaborate bases taps into your imagination. My tribe built a massive floating fortress.
Non-stop challenge – You‘re constantly tested to survive and progress. Ark throws a lot at you, but overcoming threats provides a major rush.
Cons: Faults to be aware of
Technical frustrations – Between crashes, glitches, lag and shoddy performance, technical issues still persist years later.
Punishingly difficult – The harsh survival mechanics, snoozer crafting grind and brutal dinos contribute to a painful learning curve. You must push past immense early frustration.
Time investment – Progress requires major dedication. Casual play is extremely challenging. You need to make Ark a lifestyle to get anywhere.
Toxicity in multiplayer – Open world PVP enables griefing, hacking, harassment and wipe abuse, especially on official servers. Finding a non-toxic private community is key.
Burnout – Even the most diehard survivors eventually burnout on the repetitive resource grinds. Taking occasional breaks helps.
While Ark assuredly has its quirks and faults, I wholeheartedly believe this game is a must-play unique survival experience. Just steel your patience, find friends to play with and utilize online resources to smooth out the harsh early phase.
What content and features are included with the base Ark game?
If you manage to grab Ark for free, what exactly do you get? The core Ark package includes:
The Island – Beautiful and varied original map with beaches, forests, snowy peaks and a vast underground cave system.
Over 100 creatures – From majestic brontosauruses to the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex, taming Ark‘s plethora of prehistoric creatures never gets old. They all have unique skills and purposes.
Hundreds of craftable items – Want to deck yourself out in scuba gear, ride a mechanical T-Rex or launch rockets? Ark‘s deep crafting system enables endless gear and technology progression.
Robust building – The creative base building gives you the tools to construct anything from a quaint thatch hut to a sprawling stone fortress. Building up a base provides great satisfaction.
Character leveling – By gaining XP you can level up and unlock new craftable engrams. Having goals to work towards keeps you motivated.
Explorable caves/ruins – Scattered across the map, caves offer environmental puzzles and lethal challenges. They hide rare treasures if you dare to delve deep.
Player-run servers – You have control over settings like harvesting rates and difficulty. Running your own server lets you customize Ark‘s rules.
All major game modes – Play solo, online PVE cooperative, competitive PVP, or local split-screen with customizable settings. Tons of flexibility.
Suffice to say the base game delivers an enormous amount of gameplay and content to bite into. But Ark‘s optional paid expansion DLCs add even more exotic adventures.
Ark DLC expansions: What extra content is available?
Beyond the core Island map, Ark boasts multiple paid add-on maps and content packs. Here‘s an overview of the major DLC:
Top paid expansion maps
Scorched Earth – Desert-themed map with wyverns, sandstorms and new creatures. Introduces environmental hazards like extreme temperatures. Adds awesome whips and chainsaws.
Aberration – Set entirely underground, this map is visually stunning with bio-luminescent zones. Tame exotic new creatures like the Rock Drake. Utilize wingsuits, ziplines and climbing picks to traverse the treacherous terrain.
Extinction – Post-apocalyptic cityscape devastated by corrupted Titans. Tame new creatures, acquire an arsenal of Tek gear, wield a mech suit and take on the Titan bosses.
Genesis Part 1 – Space station themed expansion with missions across varied mini-biomes. Includes challenging dungeon puzzles and a climactic final boss.
Genesis Part 2 – Underwater sci-fi map focused on ocean exploration. Tame and breed oceanic creatures, build awe-inspiring underwater bases.
Lost Island – Stunning new tropical island map with fresh lore to uncover. The community-made map was so impressive it became official paid DLC.
Other Ark expansions
Season Pass – Bundle including Scorched Earth, Aberration, Extinction and Genesis Part 1. Saves you $15 versus buying individually.
Genesis Season Pass – Both Genesis Part 1 and 2 bundled together.
Creature packs – Unlock specific creatures like the Deinonychus or Bloodstalker for just a few dollars. Lets you quickly acquire beasts you desire.
Clearly there is no shortage of additional content to extend Ark‘s lifetime. The maps in particular each provide unique themes, challenges and stories worth experiencing.
If you want everything Ark related, the Ultimate Survivor Edition packs the base game, Season Pass, Genesis Season Pass and bonus items for $100 total. Given the sheer volume of content, it‘s arguable a fair price for the complete Ark experience.
Ark storage space: How much does it take up on PlayStation?
As you might expect, a massive open world game like Ark demands substantial storage capacity:
Base Game – Around 100GB total on PS4/PS5
Scorched Earth – Additional 15GB
Aberration – Additional 15GB
Extinction – Additional 20GB
Genesis Season Pass – Additional 30GB for both parts
Total – Can require 180GB+ if you install all the expansion maps
My advice is to only install DLCs once you approach completing the base Island map and want fresh challenges. This saves you storage space initially.
I‘d also highly recommend acquiring an external USB hard drive for your PlayStation. Having extra storage makes juggling large games like Ark much easier.
How to adjust Ark‘s settings to your preferences
One of my favorite aspects of Ark is the ability to extensively customize your experience using the settings menu:
Here are the most useful settings to tailor Ark to your personal preferences:
Difficulty Offset – Determines wild creature levels across the map. Turn this up for a greater challenge taming high levels.
XP Multiplier – Want faster leveling and engram unlocks? Increase this. Great for reducing grind.
Taming Speed – Lowering this makes creature taming faster so you can spend less time babysitting unconscious dinos.
Harvest Amount – Boost this to gather more resources per hit and minimize grindy harvesting.
Mating Interval – Lower for faster mating/breeding.
Egg Hatch Speed – Speed up hatching fertilized eggs.
Baby Mature Speed – Raise babies faster.
Day Cycle Speed – Control day length and night length.
Take time to dive into each setting and adjust as needed to tailor intensity. You can modify Ark to be super hardcore or more casual friendly. Don‘t be afraid to experiment.
Top beginner tips for starting your Ark journey
As someone with ample experience getting repeatedly wiped out as a fresh survivor, let me impart some pro tips that may spare you some painful beginner misery:
Start by punching trees to quickly acquire basic thatch and wood resources to craft rudimentary tools, weapons and shelter.
Build a tiny thatch hut on the beach as your first spawn point and storage. Nothing fancy yet, just the bare essentials to provide safety at night.
Hunt and kill dodos – they provide lots of easy meat and hide. Cook the meat for hunger.
Avoid darkness – Nighttime brings out aggressive predators. Stay near your campfire at night until you get better equipped. Stockpile resources in daylight.
Open your engrams menu and spend points to permanently unlock new craftable items like clothes, storage boxes and pickaxes. Engrams are key to gear progression.
Once you have a saddle, Parasaurs make an exceptional starter ridable mount. Use berries to passively tame them.
Quickly craft a bed so you can respawn back at your base when (not if) you die to avoid losing your items and progress. Sleep in it to set the respawn point.
Build storage boxes to safely organize and access items. Label each chest – e.g. "Materials", "Weapons", etc.
Level up and invest points into Health, Stamina and Weight to improve survivability and carrying capacity.
Join an online tribe for mutual protection and easier resource gathering. But watch your back – not every new friend has pure intentions.
YouTube, Reddit and the Ark wiki are invaluable for learning beyond these basics. But this primer should give you a smoother start than I had! With smart preparation, knowledge and a bit of luck, you‘ll be thriving and taming apex creatures in no time.
Does Ark offer cross platform play?
Fortunately Ark does offer full cross platform support across these platforms:
Xbox Series X/S
Windows 10 (Microsoft Store)
Using the Play With Friends option, you can:
Join cross platform non-dedicated servers hosted by other players
Form cross platform tribes/alliances
Visit each other‘s singleplayer worlds
Host your own non-dedicated sessions with crossplay
This connectivity makes playing with friends on other systems seamless.
However, be aware cheats and hacking are more prevalent on PC. So cross platform with PC comes with risks – especially for PVP.
Unfortunately PS4 can only cross play with Xbox One, Windows 10 and Mobile. But PS5 is compatible with all platforms.
What to expect from the upcoming Ark 2
Studio Wildcard shocked Ark fans by announcing Ark 2 at The Game Awards 2021 – and it looks visually spectacular built in Unreal Engine 5.
The cinematic trailer reveals Vin Diesel will both star in and be Executive Producer. Clearly they are aiming for a cinematic narrative experience.
Vin Diesel in the Ark 2 announcement trailer
Ark 2 will surely retain the core mechanics of survival, crafting, building and dino taming. But hopefully with significant technical improvements.
There is no indication Ark 2 will be free to play. As a major AAA release, expect a $60 price point like other new titles.
However, I suspect Ark 2 will follow the original and occasionally go on sale. It may eventually come to Xbox/PlayStation subscription services too.
We don‘t have a release date yet, but can wishlist Ark 2 on Steam. The epic trailer has me hyped!
Final verdict – Is Ark worth playing in 2023?
In closing, despite its jankiness, Ark: Survival Evolved still offers hardcore survival experiences you simply won‘t find in any other game. Once it gets its hooks in you, prepare to get hopelessly addicted.
Can it be frustrating? Absolutely. You need to accept that steep learning curve and early hardship are part of the package.
But with the right mindset and helpful community at your back, conquering Ark‘s challenges provides immense gratification.
Given the ability to acquire Ark cheap or even free on PlayStation, I wholeheartedly recommend giving this prehistoric masterpiece a chance in 2023, especially with Ark 2 arriving soon.
Just steel your patience, utilize online resources and find a friendly private server. Before long you‘ll be proudly ruling your own tribe from the back of a mighty T-Rex!
So get out there and start punching trees survivor – your dino taming adventures await!