PixARK Producer Talks Creating Gameplay With Quests, Mods & Magic

PixARK aims to mix the voxel-based accessibility of Minecraft with the intricate survival mechanics of ARK: Survival Evolved. In a recent interview with Player.One, the game's Executive Producer, Peter Kang, discussed how gameplay, quests and combat will work when the game enters early access on PC and Xbox One next month.

One major difference between PixARK and its predecessor is the new game features magical weapons and creatures in addition to standard dinosaurs and survival tools. "We felt like magic was a great way to help this product stand apart from Survival Evolved," Kang said. "While it is loosely based in the same universe, magical elements really allow us to stretch out the fantasy as we see it. With magic you can have resistance to magic spells and the different Wyverns can be fire, ice, poison or lightning."

In other words, with these fantastical elements at work, both designers and players can bring new character interactions to the more grounded ARK universe. Instead role-playing as a human like in Survival Evolved, the PixARK community offers more freedom to be something totally different. In a larger multiplayer world, it's not unthinkable to imagine entire tribes or servers that are wizards or fantasy-only. With that aesthetic shift in mind, this spinoff can start to feel very different very quickly.

The advantages to fantasy are more than just cosmetic, according to Kang. "We feel like [magic] adds another level of gameplay. You could be in a fight with your opponent and he's using a sniper rifle while you're using a laser-bolt staff. We feel like this is a more engaging way for players to enjoy this world while not being restricted to a certain fantasy," he mused.

Familiarity with Survival Evolved will come into play in how the moment-to-moment action unfolds. "This should still be about swapping to melee weapons and knowing when to provide distance so you can eventually transition to ranged combat. That part of the gameplay is still intact," he explained.

PixARK Combat
PixARK's combat will feel familiar to players of ARK: Survival Evolved. Snail Games

Survival Evolved 's emphasis on competition and creation is also present in PixARK. PvP, in ARK's traditional spirit, is still very much alive. "On PvP servers it's a sandbox survival game, so every game session could be different. You could be playing next to peaceful farmers who just want to trade, or you could land next to the server's bully who just wants to rage you everyday. We leave it up to the players to dictate their own playstyle. It is, at the core, still a sandbox survival game on official servers. If the bully wants to kill everybody near him, he'll find himself without support. People who don't like to be killed will move to another server. Because many of the gameplay mechanics have been simplified, players can pick up and move around without issue," Kang said.

If open-world PvP isn't your thing, Kang also sees mods as an outlet for more defined match types. Not only will Snail Games sponsor official mods, but players can make their own using a free creation kit as well. "From Battle Royale to deathmatch, any of the above, it's definitely possible with the dev SDK," he told Player.One.

He also sees mods as a possible facilitator for additional single-player modes. "Solo players can hop in, play a mod for 15 minutes and check out if they need to go to dinner. It's up to the players, but I personally feel like PixARK is better for single players" than Survival Evolved, Kang said.

Though the dev team has said mods will be a central feature of the PixARK experience, Kang could not yet confirm whether they would be playable on Xbox One, PS4 or Nintendo Switch. With ARK: Survival Evolved, only officially sanctioned mods are available on console.

PixARK Base
Creativity is central to the PixARK vision. That means base construction is a big deal too. Snail Games

To serve as a guiding light between the multitude of PvP and creative offerings, Snail Games has included a new procedural quest system. These quests will be mostly short-term and focus on completing certain objectives. Players may, for example, be instructed to go to a certain spot, kill a certain enemy or retrieve a treasure chest placed at specific coordinates. Once the task is finished, all players in the surrounding area who finish the quest will be rewarded with resources.

"Procedural quests allow people who just want to get going with a group of friends to have a starting point," Kang said while describing the feature. While quests will likely be simple at the start of early access, the producer hopes to eventually make more intricate ones for true survivalists. If questing isn't your style, though, Kang doesn't see them as a mandatory feature.

PixARK will rely on its community to create lasting memories and gameplay loops. As Kang put it, "it's really about providing tools for players to create their own fun. That's exactly what we're trying to do right now is build those toolsets." In other words, magic, limitless modes and procedural quests will sow seeds for the larger, rich world that will blossom under player influence.

PixARK comes to early access on Xbox One and PC in March, with additional releases on PS4 and Switch later this year. Check back on Thursday for exclusive details about DLC plans beyond early access.

Does the sandbox gameplay of PixARK sound fun to you? Tell us in the comments section!

PixARK Producer Talks Creating Gameplay With Quests, Mods & Magic | Gaming