We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Ark 2 is the big Xbox exclusive no one seems to be talking about

Thanks to a combination of star power, ambition, and Palworld-mania, survival game sequel Ark 2 could be Xbox's biggest upcoming console exclusive.

There’s no denying that 2024 is a bumper year for Microsoft when it comes to Xbox exclusives – there’s the new Indiana Jones game, the stunning Hellblade 2, and the intense and haunting Stalker 2. We’ve even had one real blockbuster console exclusive already in Palworld. But due to several reasons, including the success of Palworld, the most important exclusive of this year is the one that everyone – seemingly, even Xbox – has forgotten about: Ark 2.

I wouldn’t blame you for forgetting about Ark 2, because I did myself. I was only reminded that it exists by the recent surprise drop of the long-awaited Ark Animated Series, and the announcement that one of the new Xbox Game Pass games for April would be Ark Survival Ascended. The first game, Ark Survival Evolved, is one of the most popular and best survival games ever, and while the release of Survival Ascended, its current-gen remake, has drawn criticism, there should be a lot of excitement and anticipation for the Ark 2 release date.

I say ‘should’, because for a long time, things have been eerily quiet. For a game that is supposedly still on track for an “end of 2024” release on Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Game Pass, we have heard very little about it, despite its enormous ambition.

Even in Microsoft’s own preview of 2024, which includes several upcoming first-party and third-party Xbox exclusives, there is no mention of Ark 2.

YouTube Thumbnail

So, why is this strange, and why am I predicting that Ark 2 could be a bigger and more important game than something like Indiana Jones and the Great Circle?

Let’s start with the obvious: there is a huge existing audience for Ark that will no doubt go wild for Ark 2. While it’s making some brave and bold changes, the existing Ark fandom will be super keen to see how this evolution of the series lands. Back in June 2022 when Studio Wildcard revealed some of these changes – which, incidentally, was the last time we actually heard any tangible details about the game – it made the sweeping statement that Ark 2 would signal “the future of survival games”. If it can deliver on that promise, this game will be hugely popular.

YouTube Thumbnail

Ark 2 also has huge star power behind it. As you’ve more than likely seen by now, Vin Diesel portrays one of the game’s main characters, Santiago. On top of that, Santiago’s daughter Meeka is played by Auliʻi Cravalho, the voice of Moana in the hit Disney movie. While there may still be more celebrity cast members to come, even if it is just Diesel and Cravalho, that’s more than enough to put Ark 2 on people’s radars.

The even more star-studded Ark animated series has also now arrived, which features voice work from even more well-known names. Diesel appears in this too, alongside the likes of Russell Crowe, Michelle Yeoh, Gerard Butler, and David Tennant.

YouTube Thumbnail

Even for this celebrity-stuffed project, there seems to have been little fanfare, and its launch onto Paramount+ was pretty much a stealth drop. That’s surprising, but it’s clear a lot of money is being pumped into making Ark a recognizable franchise, and if it succeeds, that’s huge news for Ark 2.

Finally, 2024 is fast-becoming a big year for the survival genre, spearheaded of course by the surprise success of Palworld.

Palworld has become something of a gateway drug for folk like me that haven’t been that big on survival games before. Sure, the initial influx of players was thanks to massive social media fervor and the fact it has chipmunks with guns. But its sustained success proves there is an increasing desire for games with survival elements – even when they’re blighted by bugs, in Palworld’s case.

All these ingredients mean that (probably aside from Palworld) Ark 2 could be Microsoft’s biggest console-exclusive game of this year. Who knows if it’ll be one of the best Xbox games, but it’s got the potential to attract a lot of players to the Xbox ecosystem. It’s day one on Game Pass, and with that cocktail of star power, massive sweeping improvements to gameplay, and the survival game buzz, I feel like it’s going to be huge.

Ark 2 Xbox: Vin Diesel's character from Ark 2 riding a mount wearing tribal necklaces, wristbands, and tattoos

That makes it all the more strange that there’s been such a long spell of radio silence. I reckon Ark 2 is a shoo-in for an appearance at Xbox’s summer showcase in June, so maybe the hype train will start from there. Right now though, it is one of the most important new Xbox games that no one seems to be talking about.

For more Xbox news, check out our latest Game Pass obsession, which is a strange but addictive blend of Borderlands and Hades, and see why this limited edition, Final Fantasy 14-themed Xbox Series X is actually completely useless.