Ark: Survival Evolved is free on the Epic Games Store this week

And there's a free new Crystal Isles map on PC.

Developer Wildcard's perennially popular dinosaur-themed survival game Ark: Survival Evolved is the latest freebie to grace the Epic Games Store.

Ark: Survival Evolved first reared its head in 2015 as a Steam Early Access title, eventually making its way to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch - albeit in the form of a barely functional smear in the latter case. Yet despite its age, Ark has still rides high up Steam's list of concurrent players, all drawn to its compelling, if shamelessly time-gobbling mix of prehistorically themed homemaking and bloodthirsty PvP.

Initially, Ark was a fairly focussed game of dinosaur taming, base building, and survival meter management, all in service of massive-scale tribal warfare (unless you joined a PvE server, in which case your worse, most terrifying foe was usually a pillar). Things have changed tremendously over the years and four paid expansions, however, with developer Wildcard taking a more kitchen sink approach to development, upping the sci-fi and fantasy elements, while heaping endless new tricks of an already creaky base.

Despite its issues, though, Ark has managed to maintain a large, dedicated audience since launch, and now - until next Thursday, 18th June - those yet to experience its wobbly charms can pick it up for free on the Epic Games Store. Ark's official servers will support cross-play between Steam and Epic, and both versions will be updated in parity. Wildcard does note, however, that mod support won't be available on the Epic Store until Epic gets around to implementing it.

Those players particularly smitten by their Ark experience, incidentally, will also be able to purchase the game's Scorched Earth, Aberration, and Extinction expansions, as well as its season pass on the Epic Games Store, each with a launch discount of 50%.

Alongside Ark's Epic Games Store arrival, Wildcard is celebrating the game's fifth anniversary with a number of in-game activities and additions. There's a special birthday event, a new tameable pterosaur Tropeognathus, and a brand-new fantasy themed map known as the Crystal Isles. The latter is free and available today on PC and will be heading to consoles this autumn.

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Matt Wales

Matt Wales

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Matt Wales is a freelance writer and gambolling summer child who won't even pretend to live a busily impressive life of dynamic go-getting for the purposes of this bio. He is the sole and founding member of the Birdo for President of Everything Society.

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