ARK: Survival Evolved: Part 1
Like many of the survival/crafting games of the genre it partially helped popularize, ARK dumps you on the beaches of a massive, foreboding island with just enough clothing to stay modest and your own two fists. From there, the challenge is to stay fed and hydrated while avoiding a huge variety of terrifyingly detailed dinosaurs and other beasts long enough to progress up the tech tree. Early in the life of a character, you might be taking out dilophosaurs with throwing spears and hoping a triceratops doesn’t come and knock your thatch hut over in the middle of the night.
But the excitement is dulled as the amount of menial grinding required to reach the higher tiers of technology goes up exponentially, to the point where it could take an entire day of playtime just to stock up on ammunition for certain weapons. This can cause things to really start to drag when you’re just getting access to some of the most interesting tech - especially if you don’t have a large tribe of other players to help you divide the labor. It’s one of those games that can be played solo, but at least on PvP servers, I wouldn’t recommend it.
In offline single-player, there’s actually an extensive and detailed sort of campaign to follow that will take you to a variety of monster-filled caves to acquire artifacts and summon three challenging bosses. There’s a giant spider queen and a bona-fide fire-breathing dragon! These encounters show quite a bit of attention to detail, though they rely a bit too heavily on summoned minions to increase the difficulty. It’s also extremely punishing to lose in one of these encounters because not only will you lose any armor, weapons, and ammo you had equipped - potentially several hours of gathering and crafting - but you’ll also lose the artifacts needed to summon the boss, forcing you to replay those challenging caves all over again.