What does each server type do in Ark: Survival Evolved?

An aspect of Ark: Survival Evolved which often leaves players scratching their heads is which server they should join. There really isn’t any in-game explanation as to what they mean or which ones are for beginners or more advanced players. Unfortunately, this can ruin the game if you constantly find yourself on servers where you get killed by anything and everything without a second thought.

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There are both servers and modes that can change the way the game is played, and it’s designed to let players decide what they want their experience to be. You must understand them all before making a decision in order to have the best possible time playing Ark: Survival Evolved!


Updated on February 22, 2022 by Jacqueline Zalace: Ark: Survival Evolved is packed with content that is constantly growing, so we’ve updated this guide to provide additional information to help you decide what kind of server you want to play on.

Server Types

Ark: Survival Evolved

When you first start playing Ark: Survival Evolved, it can be difficult to choose how to play. Do you want to create your own server or join one that is already pre-made?

There are several types of serverswhich you will find below. We will also look at each of these server types later.

  • Dedicated servers
  • Non-dedicated servers
  • Solo
  • Official servers
  • Unofficial servers

It is important to note that you cannot transfer your character data between certain servers, such as official and unofficial servers. The character you create can also only be on one server at a time, so be sure to upload them to an obelisk before leaving if you don’t plan on returning.

Dedicated Vs. Non-dedicated

characters fighting in ark survival evolved

Dedicated servers

A dedicated server is hosted by playerand requires quite a bit of RAM and memory, especially as more players join the lobby. If you do not have a powerful computer, we do not recommend hosting your own dedicated server.

Dedicated servers run 24/7, which means that the host does not need to be online for the server to be operational. This is useful if you’re playing with other people who don’t have the same schedule as you or who are in different time zones.

If a system is used as a server, you cannot use this same system to play the game. This means that you would need two PCs, or a PC and an Xbox, to play and host a server at the same time.

Globally, choose this server if you play with several people who are not physically close to you.

Non-dedicated servers

Ark: Evolved Survival Settings

A non-dedicated server is still hosted by a player, but it is local, and the best option of the two to play with a couple of friends.

You will be able to play the game and host at the same time with your own settings but this only works if your friends are physically nearby.

Globally, choose this server if you want to play with some friends nearby.

Solo Servers

Singleplayer in Ark: Survival Evolved

Solo Servers put yourself in an Ark: Survival Evolved map on your own without the possibility of other people joining in the fun. You can explore, create, tame multiple creatures, and adjust the settings to your liking.

If you don’t fancy being attacked by other players or want to focus your attention on taming creatures without any negative physical side effects, this is the server for you. You can even apply multiple cheat codes to really customize your experience.

Official vs. Unofficial servers

Official server on Ark: Survival Evolved

Official servers

An official server is one that is created and managed by Studio Wildcard and is ideal for beginners. They are regularly wiped down once in a while to give beginners a chance to succeed. If you want to build an epic base that will last forever, you should consider trying creating your own server or playing in a single player world.

Globally, choose this server if you are new to the game and want to learn without feeling overwhelmed by experienced players.

Unofficial servers

Unofficial Astral Ark server in Ark: Survival Evolved

This type of server is rented to a third party. While it’s going cost money to rent these, they will be automatically saved and will have backups in case something goes wrong.

There are hundreds of unofficial servers available for players; we recommend that you join one of them before deciding to create your own dedicated or non-dedicated server.

Game Modes

Ark: Survival Evolved

Within the server types, there are also a variety of game modes available. Below we have listed game modes that can be applied to all of the above server types.

  • PvP (player versus player)
  • PvE (player versus environment)
  • Primitive
  • Hardcore

Similar to servers, it’s not possible to transfer your character between different modes. For example, a PVP character cannot be added to a PvE server.

PvP and PvE modes

player shooting base in ark survival evolved


It’s the bread and butter of Ark: Survival Evolved because it pit players against each other. This allows for things like Tribe Wars and competition for resources and supplies, as you not only face off against dinosaurs, like the Magmasaur, but also humans who roam the map as well.

It is not recommended to start on a PvP server until you understand the basic gameplay mechanics.

This is the only mode that cannot be applied to a single player server. Since you are alone, there are no other players to attack.


PVE in Ark: Survival Evolved by Sitharias

If combat isn’t really your thing, but you still want to join a map with other players, then you should join a PvE server. This mode prevents you from damaging other players, as well as tames or structures which are not yours. This allows a peaceful environment where building and upgrading is your main focusrather than becoming the most formidable tribe on the map.

Primitive mode

Primitive Plus in Ark: Survival Evolved

At the start of the game, you will have to live a fairly primitive lifestyle, and this game mode keeps it that way. This removes multiple engrams it would allow you to upgrade and become more technologically advanced.

If you just liked this mode, there is a DLC called Primitive Plus this adds engrams to compensate for the loss of those other elements.

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hardcore mode

Hardcore in Ark: Survival Evolved

In hardcore mode, once you die all your levels are gone, and you have to start all over again. It adds a sense of suspense to the gameplay as you are constantly worried that something is going to kill you.

This mode is not for light people; only consider a hardcore mode server if you are an experienced gamer.

Which server and game mode should you choose?

player in full chitin armor
via TEM187/Steam

With all of these options, you might be a bit overwhelmed when deciding what to choose. Below, you can check which server type and mode to choose based on your playing style.

Gameplay style Server type Game mode
Solo beginner
Solo With experience
Social Beginner
Social Experienced
  • Official
  • Unofficial
  • Dedicated
Play with friends nearby
  • PvE
  • PvP
  • Hardcore
  • Primitive

That’s all there is to know about the Ark: Survival Evolved servers. Now choose your server and start taming dinosaurs!

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