There are lots of good survival games out there—and plenty not so good, or plain silly—but few as successful and popular as Ark: Survival Evolved. Fans aren’t just playing it, either, they’re modding it. Some mods add new features, others tweak existing ones, and there are already a few full conversion mods including one that, oddly enough, removes all the dinosaurs.
There’s also currently a mod contest underway. Submissions are being taken until March 15, with a prize pool of over $60,000 for mods, maps, and full conversions.
Here are the best mods for Ark: Survival Evolved.
This custom map, while not yet complete, contains about three times more landmass than the standard ARK map and is already being hosted on over a dozen servers. Plans for the future include explorable underwater caves and raidable dungeons. You can find a server list and more info on the map right here.
NPC Bush People
If you want to clash with other humans but don’t want to play in PvP all the time, here’s a nice compromise. This mod adds human NPCs to the world, complete with tribal settlements. Plus, like dinosaurs, you can even train them and ride around on their backs. V3 is the latest build.
Play as a Dino!
Everyone who plays Ark has probably thought about at it one time or another: can I be a dinosaur instead of just riding one? Stomp, swim, or fly through the game as a Raptor, Rex, Megalodon, Triceratops, or one of over a dozen other dinos in this single-player mod. You’ll find it, along with instructions on how to use it, here.
Metal with Glass Set
There are all sorts of building mods out there, but few look this slick and stylish. Adding over 30 new gleaming metal and glass structures, and allowing you to dye the glass different colors, you’ll be able to craft and create a sleek and modern abode to inhabit. Subscribe to it here.
Above, you’ll see a nearly-naked man riding an gargantuan Dodo. I don’t think you need to be sold any further. Find ’em, tame ’em, saddle ’em, ride ’em. Get it here.
A full conversion mod that strips out the dinosaurs—let me finish!—and transforms the prehistoric playground into a pirate paradise. For both multi and solo play, you can acquire a pirate ship, form a crew, and do battle on the open seas. Find it here, matey.
Why wallow in some creaky wooden shack when you can rule over man and dinosaur alike from a towering castle? This mod adds dozens of new structures including a drawbridge, different types of floors, walls, ceilings, braziers, sconces, and a even a throne upon which to plant your royal butt. There’s a single-player and multiplayer version.
Pimp my Rex
Everyone has a mental list of their favorite dinosaurs, and I’m pretty sure T-Rex is at the top of most of them. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your tamed Rex, so why not deck him out in fearsome duds? This mod provides several different sets of armor for your trained pal, making a deadly dino even more dire, and certainly more stylish.
This PvP mod pits two teams against each other in an effort to destroy the other team’s flag. It features team assignments, supply drop events, and faster player progression to condense the conflict into a war you can complete in a single sitting. Download and instructions on how to host a server for it here.
Survival of the Fittest
A last caveman standing mod which pits player against player until only one remains. It takes place on a revised version of the Ark island where players try to eliminate each other inside an ever-shrinking force field (as in the Battle Royale modes for ArmA 3 and H1Z1). Special events make the challenge harder and include extreme weather and predatory dinos who fall from the sky. Nab it here.
This total conversion mod’s goals are to expand end-game content for players, providing an economy, currency, and shops, as well some enhanced dinosaurs and a few all-new ones. It’s currently best played in single-player, but there is a dedicated server running it for multiplay as well. You’ll find it here.