TL;DR ARKs overall design is providing MMO players a glimpse of the MMO future: Merging of the PvP and PvE player base to accomplish goals on both fronts. I have a unique perspective on the concept of this game that I wanted to share with anyone who is on the fence about it, as well as anyone who cares about the progression of online mmo games in general. Mostly based on my experiences with the following games. You see, this game, its general concept at least, is very close to what I was hoping archeage would be. WoW has spoiled a major part of mmo, that is socially connecting with others to interact and accomplish goals within the game. Nonsense! you still have to que to do 5mans and raids, all social activity accomplishing a goal in the game, doi! You may be thinking something like this. But think further, how does one do that? Why, by sitting in their garrison and queing up and waiting.......waiting....waitin...quepopped! And rinse and repeat. My opinion: BORING AND DULL. SOCIAL interaction to accomplish a goal in a pug que pop is actually near zero, you are all just going thru the motions. Organized raids for hm is the only true effort and social interaction that game provides now, but it has been the same ol same ol for over a decade, dressed up in a pretty new dress every once in a while. But gamers like me became thirsty for change. Enter Wildstar. So many people I had played WoW with in the past and quit were excited about giving Wildstar a try. Why? It appeared as if it would provide some of that same ol same ol, but better! And when I probed them a bit, the common response was two things, new but similar pvp / pve endgame system, and the HOUSING SYSEM. Ya, some harcore pvpers cared about a socially useless aspect of that game! Primarily, they loved designing their own pvp arenas, and others, like me, also loved the simcityish aspect of that housing system and the freedom it provided us to socially interact and share with each other our unique creations. But, an unbalanced pvp system earlier on, combined with the fact that their created arenas were worthless due to LOS placed items not working at all, etc, pushed most of them away. The pve group of friends stuck with it though, and overall like the challenge of keying up to get into the GA and data raids, etc. One common thing I am hearing from them is that at least the end game content is refreshing and more challenging than anything wow has offered in years, but for others, the grind was too rough, and they didn't stick with it, even though some admittingly enjoyed the similar, but overall change of pace, style Wildstar offered over WoW. These two games have a general theme in common: a division of multiplayers into two groups: PvE and PvP players. Enter Archeage. Here, I was exited about the community aspect of this game (sandbox), and ready to take part in an immersive world were players had to socially interact in order to accomplish end game goals. Farming, building of houses and land development, to castle building and defense, I was excited to finally see an MMO that was going to have players work together in the world to accomplish goals, not just sit somewhere queing up or mindlessly trolling and cookie cutter pvp. It promised PvE content, very similar to what other MMO's like WoW and Wildstar offer, but with a catch. PvP seemed to be needed to help advance PvE goals....or so I thought. It turned out, the game leaned way more toward sandbox, with a huge and virtually impossible to solo economic system and had extremely lackluster, and far too boring and repetitive, dungeons for PvE content. Sandboxwise, I fell in love with the concept of building up your resources and land enough to actually lay claim to a territory build a castle collect taxes, etc. specifically the amount of social teamwork involved to get this done. As long as you have competition and a strong competing team on your server, this kind of endgame content was, to me, the beginning of the future of MMOs, but it lacked too much on one side while focusing too much on the other, and a balance of a more immersive PvP/PvE culture did not arise. Also, the limitations imposed on the sand box is annoying. Why? We can only build in one of x locations, thus everyone can and will know where to look to find you as the spaces available are extremely restricted and thus can it really be sandbox? A half full one, IMHO leaving a void for those of us looking for a full sandbox MMO experience. Welcome to Ark. The main point of my article, I feel strongly that ark is addressing all the issues I laid out above. Here is the break down: PvE, sandbox style: No ques or pugs here, real work and effort with your team mates towards a worthwhile sandbox goal. The cave system in Ark is arguably the sandbox equivilant of 5 man instances. First, you have to find the caves. Then you have to group up and work your way and survive just to get to it. Then you have to explore the cave fighting groups of mobs, to a chest. The chest contains an artifact. Then you have to successfully bring it back home. No quing, no pugs, one item to get your team one step closer to its endgame goals. The point of the artifacts you collect in these caves is to summon the sandbox equivalent of an endgame raid boss, where many more team mates that went into the caves are needed to successfully take it down. This is the 20/40 man raid style content the game provides for endgame. There are more than one summons now, and even further lore coming to bolster the end game content in a traditional RPG style leading to much more robust endgame sandbox content other than trolling and griefing which is what all sandbox mmos to date come down to in the end.....mindless pvp no golas or rewards to seek. From the official FAQ: #2. There are actual long-term game-play goals that involve things other than killing players, which in many other survival games ends up being one of the only long-form things to do after a while. In ARK, there's a definitive end-game that can be pursued by advanced players should they wish to take on the challenge. This gives an... alternative... channel to vent such violent intentions, and as will be unveiled the nature of the end-game further will encourage ARK-wide cooperation PvP, in the ARK sandbox: PvP today has devolved into who is the best cookiecutter! Basically, any mindless zombie these days can find the proper build, learn to push the buttons in the right order, at the right time, all from little to no effort on your part via google.com. Archeages' game play cycle added RNG and gear upgrade worthiness to counter such BS, so not everyone can have the same exact stats across the board, forcing you to be the most pro cookie cutter by pressing the buttons better and more efficiently. But what good does all that do, beside quench your PvP thirst? Any goals being accomplished? Meaningful, more content goals? I argue hardly, and further that sounds like it would get very boring in the long term, rinse and repeat cycle of MMO's as players wait for the next expansion. ARK, like Archeage, lets you establish and develop your own land, unlike Archeage, it can be anywhere, not in one of x available locations. You can also create other base camps, forward camps, etc, with some effort, but not as grindy as Archeage to do so. Now, based on the official response regarding there being a push towards cooperative endgame long term environment, I wonder. If they make it so you have to do simultaneous things all over the island in coop with other tribes to keep unlocking the end game to its furthest point, or some such thing, could there not also be room for total dominance to do the same thing? Or how about a tribe that holds a key area needed to advance the end game that refuses to help the others, thus stalling progression and forcing other tribes to take their base out to advance the game? Sounds like a pretty damn full sandbox, where PvP has a purpose other than being the top cookie cutter.......to help unlock all the game has to offer! Like most PvP in MMO's, I can see this falling to cookie cutter status, that is "here are the best items and builds for you and your dino", but, it is a much more exciting merger of PvP and PvE actually helping each other reach both their goals. That is something I am looking for in a game.......true usefulness and immersion of PvP and PvE where one has to and most likely must help the other for both teams to truly advance to their ultimate potential in game........pretty damn full sandbox IMHO. As the game develops further, I can see people bumping into each other on cave runs, for example, and guess what then? PvP to protect that artifact so PvE can occur......this as well as many other contrived scenarios are very real aspects to this game, and I feel like the sandbox here has a potential to overflow....... Regardless of how ARK turns out, IMHO they are paving the way to a shiny new generation of MMO games where PvE and PvP are successfully merged so that both groups of players must help each other so that both can reach the same dominant state in the end game.