Survival games became wildly popular a few years ago and still remain a strong and solid genre – it turns out that our primal survival instinct still burns brightly deep inside our souls and we crave that primal experience. Due to the current stage of our development as a civilization, most of us don’t have to fight for our lives anymore, so we turn to video games to get at least a glimpse of that savage, unforgiving survival experience in various harsh environments.

There are tons of survival games to choose from at the moment, but today we’ll focus on two particular titles – Rust and ARK: Survival Evolved. We’ll try to help you choose the better one by comparing the games’ features and taking a look at what both of them have to offer.

With that being said, let’s jump right into the action – Ark vs Rust, which one is better, and which you should buy?

Rust

Release Date: 2018-02-08
Genre: Survival
Developer Facepunch Studios

Rust is a more recent game of the two, but not by a huge margin. It’s a survival video game that puts emphasis on multiplayer action – players can freely join a variety of servers and they can start their adventure right away, which consists mostly of building bases and looting other players. It can feel unfair at first, as you start naked and must face fully geared opponents, but with a bit of luck, you’ll be able to find some useful items that should help you get stronger.

Rust

If you want a more casual-friendly experience, you may want to join a PvE server instead, where players can build their bases without worrying about other players raiding them. Alternatively, playing a single-player is still possible but requires you to either rent a dedicated server or follow a guide on how to set up and host your own.

With that being said, it’s worth being mentioned that Rust is a game designed with multiplayer PvP in mind and that’s where the game shines.

ARK: Survival Evolved

Release date: 2015-06-03
Genre: Adventure
Developer Efecto Studios

While Rust puts emphasis on a more fast-paced and dynamic survival experience, where other players are the biggest threat, Ark takes a slightly different route and provides players with a more realistic and immersive survival. It takes longer to get a base up and running here, but everything you do in Ark also feels much more meaningful.

ARK: Survival Evolved

The biggest difference between the two games is, of course, dinosaurs – Ark goes full bananas and brings fierce reptiles to the party. They are formidable opponents that come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s entirely possible for a more experienced adventurer to tame them and use them to help one with his mundane tasks, such as collecting wood, carrying large amounts of stuff around, or using one as a mount to travel faster.

Although Ark allows people to play on PvP servers, PvE can be just as fun – there’s definitely more freedom when compared to Rust.

Rust vs. Ark – General Gameplay

Both Rust and Ark allow players to jump right into huge open-world environments that can be freely explored from the very beginning. It doesn’t mean that you should, though – while Rust is equally difficult everywhere, in Ark some areas are substantially more dangerous than the others, due to the existence of more fierce and powerful dinosaurs that won’t tolerate any trespassers. Additionally, if you are playing on a PvP server, wandering around increases the risk of becoming a more experienced player’s target, so you may want to stick to the starting areas and progress slowly.

Rust

In both games, you can build a base that could be used to store your items in a relatively safe way. However, Rust is more of a shooter than it is a survival game – if you know what you’re doing, the base building part can take you less than an hour, and you’re ready to hunt down some newbies. In Ark, everything takes more time but also results in a more immersive survival adventure. In other words, Rust is all about surviving in a permanent deathmatch environment, where the easiest way to survive is to kill other players, while Ark is more of a castaway-like survival.

Both games can be played in a single-player mode, but Rust requires more preparation and is more limited. Due to Rust being more PvP-oriented, it’s safe to say that Ark delivers a better single-player experience.

Rust vs. Ark – Progression

When it comes to progression, Rust is clearly a much simpler and faster game. You can get your base up and running in less than an hour – it will be fully functional and will allow you to store your goods, so you can almost immediately start hunting down other players in hope of finding even better loot. Rust had an experience system in the past, but it was removed and there is no sign of it ever coming back. It’s also worth mentioning, that official Rust servers get wiped once a month, which allows everyone to start from scratch on an equal footing – but it also means that everything you’ve managed to get will be gone in a few weeks, at most.

ARK: Survival Evolved

Ark, on the other hand, focuses on a long-term progression, where each of your actions feels more meaningful, and there are usually no wipes on the regular official servers. The game is meant to be persistent and last forever, at least in theory, so there’s no need to worry about your little settlement being reset anytime soon. This can make it harder for beginners, as you enter the world that is already populated with fully geared players. There are, however, beginner-friendly servers that wipe every few weeks, but they come with certain limitations. There is also an experience system in Ark – performing certain actions can result in getting experience levels, and each level means more stuff being unlocked for crafting, and more skill points to enhance your character’s base attributes.

Rust vs. Ark – Graphics and Environment

While Ark feels like a more realistic survival game, in terms of visuals it’s quite the opposite – Rust looks more natural and you can immediately feel like you are playing inside a much more believable and modern but abandoned world. It consists mostly of plains, forests, and some snowy areas. There are factories, transmission poles, and other objects that suggest that this place was once bustling with life. Visually, Rust may not look as impressive as Ark, but it can be played on a wider range of systems.

Rust

Ark has a lot of futuristic elements packed inside, which combined with the dinosaurs that freely roam the island, creates a great and unique atmosphere, but it leans more towards a sci-fi game, despite the fact that you’ll be using primitive tools most of the time. The game looks gorgeous, especially when the visual options are set to high, but all of this comes with a cost – Ark is known for its hunger for computing power, and even the most expensive computers can have trouble running the game smoothly at maximum settings.

Rust vs. Ark – Storyline and Lore

Story-wise, Rust doesn’t have too much to say. There’s no story whatsoever, but the community often comes with various – and sometimes quite complex – theories about what’s actually going on. For example, one of the theories explains that the area we find ourselves in is actually a research facility that was made by the governments to observe how would people behave in a post-apocalyptic environment – and we are playing clones that are the test subjects. The lack of story and lore doesn’t hurt the title, though, as it’s still an incredible online PvP survival game.

ARK: Survival Evolved

Ark, on the other hand, has some cool story going on. It’s still more of a filler that can be ignored almost entirely and doing so most likely won’t have any negative impact on your gaming experience. However, it’s nice that the developers have put some effort into the worldbuilding, as it gives a touch of realism to the game. It’s worth noting that the story is not served on a silver platter, though – you have to find all the hidden bits of information that are scattered around and then piece them together on your own to get an idea of who you are, where you are, what’s that weird thing on your wrist, and why are you on an island together with some overgrown reptiles.

Conclusion

Rust and Ark are both excellent survival games but the differences between the two titles are clearly visible, making both games suitable for different types of audiences. Rust favors fast-paced multiplayer PvP action, where players fight and raid each other, while Ark revolves around delivering a more realistic type of survival that rewards patience and careful preparation.

Due to how different both games are, in a Rust vs Ark duel there can’t be a one and only winner. If you want to compete against other players – go for Rust. If you want to focus on building your base and exploring wildlife environments with sci-fi elements – go for Ark.