Ark: Survival Evolved is a fantastically fun and original dinosaur survival game for the online multiplayer gaming universe. Since it is entirely online, players must join an Ark-specific server in order to play (whether alone or with friends).
However, if you’ve ever tried hosting a dedicated server on your PC (Steam) and playing Ark at the same time, then you’ll know that your PC will stop you from doing so. It says Ark is already running, and thus you cannot play and host at the same time.
Similarly, on consoles, you cannot host a dedicated server but must choose an established one instead, thus you would never be able to host and play at the same time.
Thankfully, however, it is possible to host and play Ark: Survival Evolved at the same time. There are two ways you can do this. Firstly, you can run the server independently, outside of Steam, and then once it’s fully-loaded, head back into Steam to play Ark on your dedicated server. Secondly, you can host a dedicated server on your PC, and join the same server from your gaming console.
We’ve written a full comprehensive guide on how to create a dedicated server for Ark: Survival Evolved, so read that to find out what to do before following our tutorials below!
Table of Contents
- How to host and play Ark: Survival Evolved (PC only)
- How to host and play Ark: Survival Evolved (PC and Console)
How to host and play Ark: Survival Evolved (PC only)
- Boot up your PC and open Steam
- Outwith the Steam app, locate the dedicated server .bat file you created after following our dedicated server creation guide
- Double-click the .bat dedicated server file
- Leave the server to load in its window, keeping an eye on the commands until you see ‘Full Startup Complete’ (this make take several minutes)
- Back on Steam, click ‘Play’ on Ark: Survival Evolved
- Next, click ‘Join Server’ and select ‘Unofficial’ (to filter out the official servers)
- Finally, search for your dedicated server by name, or by ping rate (it should have the lowest ping rate of all available unofficial servers, since you’re hosting and playing on the same PC).
- Select your server and play away!
How to host and play Ark: Survival Evolved (PC and Console)
- Boot up your PC and follow steps 2-4 of the tutorial above
- Turn on your PS4/Xbox and sign into your profile
- Locate and launch Ark: Survival Evolved
- From the main menu of the game, select ‘Join ARK’
- Next, search for your PC-dedicated server next to ‘Name Filter’
- Make sure that ‘Session Filter’ has ‘Unofficial PC Sessions’ selected, that ‘Map’ and ‘Game Mode’ are set to show ‘All’ and that ‘Show Password Protected’ is on.
- Once you’ve found your PC dedicated server, select it and tap ‘Join’
Note: When playing a PC server on a games console, you will have to keep your PC running at all times.
And that’s all there is to hosting and playing Ark: Survival Evolved at the same time, either solely on PC, or on PC and console at the same time. For other information, or further questions, see our FAQs below.
What is Ark: Survival Evolved?
Ark: Survival Evolved is a cross-platform, open-world survival game in which you must forage, hunt and search for the materials you need to craft weapons, eat, drink, and build bases.
Ark is set in a mythical time of dinosaurs, which you can tame and keep as pets, leave well alone, or fight and kill. In Ark: Survival Evolved, you will usually be playing with other people (including your friends) from around the world, provided they are playing through the same server as you.
Whilst originally built to be played on the PC via Steam, Ark: Survival Evolved has now been released for the PS4 and Xbox One, and its successor, Ark 2, will be released on the new gen consoles later this year (2022).
Ark: Survival Evolved is an online game, meaning that in order to play (even by yourself) you have to join a server dedicated to hosting multiplayer online Ark games. For most users, there are free-access servers that do the job, however many players prefer to host their own server to play in.
This article attempts to instruct you on how to host a server and play Ark: Survival Evolved at the same time.
Do you need to run your own server to host and play Ark at the same time?
You don’t need to run your own server to host and play Ark at the same time. On Steam, you can choose to host a non-dedicated server by hitting ‘Play’. This makes you the host of the server in which you and your friends can play. Thus, you can host and play Ark: Survival Evolved at the same time.
However, using this method, the server is only online whilst you are. If you decide to leave, or shut down your computer, the server will close and all your friends will be kicked from the game. Moreover, you are limited by the server settings, and cannot personalize your gameplay.
It is for these limitations that many people prefer to actually create their own dedicated server which they can host and play at the same time.
What do you need to run your own Ark: Survival Evolved server?
You can create and run an Ark: Survival Evolved dedicated server for free. Having said that, you do still need a computer with certain specifications to ensure that your server will run smoothly and will not suffer from lag.
Basically, only high-end computers (especially computers tailored toward gaming) can effectively and efficiently run Ark: Survival Evolved servers. In order to run your own dedicated Ark: Survival Evolved server, you’ll need a device with:
- 2 x CPU physical cores of 3GHz or faster
- RAM of at least 6-8GB
- Hard Disk space of around 30GB
- A strong, secure, fast broadband connection (we recommend using an ethernet cable!)
- Microsoft or Linux operating system
Can you play Ark on your Xbox or PS4 through a PC server you host?
The Xbox and PlayStation versions of the instant-classic Steam game Ark: Survival Evolved now come with (when updated to the latest version) cross-platform compatibility. What this means, is that you can now choose a PC-dedicated server for Ark when playing it on your Xbox or PS4.
This comes with two major benefits. Firstly, it means you can play on the same server both on your computer and console, so no matter where you are or what device you have with you, you can access the same server. Secondly, it allows you to dedicate your PC or laptop to hosting the server, whilst using a different device (namely a console) to actually play the game.
Note: You cannot create your own dedicated Ark: Survival Evolved server on a gaming console, but only on PC.