Ark: Survival Evolved is an action-adventure survival game set in an open world environment with a dynamic day-night cycle and played either from a third-person or first-person perspective. To survive, players must establish a base, with a fire and weapons; additional activities, such as taming and feeding dinosaurs, require more resources. One of the primary game mechanics of the game is taming creatures. The majority of creatures can be tamed by the player, though some, such as Meganeura or Titanomyrma, cannot.
Players must keep track of various meters, such as health, stamina, oxygen, hunger, thirst, and “weight”, or how much they can carry. Should players take damage, their health meter will gradually regenerate if they have consumed the necessary food, or if they craft items that regenerate the health meter at a faster pace. Otherwise, a player’s health meter will gradually regenerate slowly over time. Players can gain experience through harvesting materials, crafting, killing, or discovering explorer notes. Once the player has obtained enough experience, they will gain a level point, which can be spent improving one of the players stats, which include max health, max stamina, max oxygen, max food meter, max water meter, max carry weight, melee damage, movement speed, and crafting speed.
Players can build structures throughout the world. To build a base, players must acquire structure components—such as floors, doors and windows built with the resources littered throughout the world—which are earned as they progress and gain levels, then collect the necessary materials to make them. These components can then be crafted and placed in the world. Players can create any structure, as long as they have the logistics and resources; the structural integrity of the building is compromised when the pillars and foundations are destroyed.