As far as open world exploration goes, ARK: Survival Evolved is one of the most beautiful paradises you could ever hope to play in. But if you’re an active player, by now, you may have invested enough hours to find its landscape too familiar, maybe even boring. Luckily the game is built for (dare I say, built on) mods, and as the community and its resources have grown, so too have the available options in the Steam Workshop.
Now, the vast majority of these map mods add only a fresh change in scenery, so picking one to go with may require a peek at its Steam gallery before subscribing. And if you want more substantial updates, be check out our list of the best ARK mods.
This map mod is about double the size of The Island and brings together several biomes from across the game by including features from Scorched Earth, so there’s lots to keep you busy, between exploring and building. It’s not as far along as some of the maps on this list, but with the promise of “unique caves, ancient ruins and more with many unexplored goodies around the map…”, if you don’t play it, you’ll at least want to keep an eye on it for later.
Wickwillow is noted for its beauty, its simplicity, its lighting, and its size. The author is still working on bringing supply drops and the obelisks aren’t working at the moment, but for solo players it’s a nice vacation from the vanilla game maps.
The goal for the author of the Roraima map mod was to create a temperate rainforest climate, with the additional aim of giving it more a prehistoric feel than the original Island. The result is one of the prettiest and most creative and geographically diverse maps in the Steam Workshop.
This map mod is very special in that its landscape was developed directly from satellite imagery. Additionally, the author used photorealistic textures to add more geological authenticity to the land and give it a sense of history.
While development for this map is currently on hold as the mod author contributes to Ragnarok, an “official” DLC map for ARK: Survival Evolved, it’s still worth a download if you want to build a base near massive cascading waterfalls and giant caves and caverns.
This mod is only about half finished but is nonetheless perhaps the most gorgeous one on this list, with about 15 different biomes, four main islands (with specific resources available on each), and a landscape optimized for heavy building and easier mountain climbing.
The Volcano features five biomes, (snow, desert, Redwood forest, swamp and grass/jungle) and includes the engrams and dinosaurs of Scorched Earth along the base game material. The author has also created several caves of varying difficulties for exploration, and there are baby versions of all the dinosaurs. And to top it off, you can watch the stunning lava cascade from the majestic view of your tree platform home base in one of the many nearby forests, specifically placed for scenic treetop living.
Thieves Island, as the name suggests, is a pirate-themed map mod and unlike the others, adds some fun to the game by adding an elaborate back story leading to a good old fashioned treasure hunt. It also has nine caves for exploration and at least four floating islands optimized for building a home base.
This stunning map is ideal if you like to mod ARK: Survival Evolved into more of a fantasy RPG-friendly universe. The author is currently remaking Mortem Tupiu due to technical issues but nonetheless, it’s demands at least a spin on the back of a Argentavis to get a look at the grand landscapes.
What makes this map mod remarkable is its attention to detail in environment building, from the picturesque building ruins to natural land formations and lush, impeccably designed biomes. While the map is somewhat outdated and the authors have not released the re-make, like Mortem Tupiu, it’s still worth a look as it is now.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.