ARK The Animated Series – Drifting Away From The ARK Lore?

Ark The Animated Series

On April 19th, ARK: The Animated Series was released outside of the USA in selected countries, including Germany where I live, allowing me to watch the first half of the first season. The second half is not available yet, and we also have no information on when it will be released. Therefore, everything in this article is my personal point of view after watching the available episodes.

This article will contain some spoilers regarding the story. If you still want to watch the series and explore the story for yourself, please read this article later.

First of all, I am a big fan of the ARK Lore. While I might not be as knowledgeable about the lore as some others, since I started exploring the ARK story relatively late after beginning to play ARK, I know my basics and have certain parts of the story that I think are the pillars of why I like ARK.

When we look at the lore for the Island, our main protagonists in the game for that part of the story are Helena Walker and Sir Edmund Rockwell. When Helena was stranded on The Island, Rockwell was, at least for some time, a like-minded soul to her. Both scientists, but with a significant information gap due to being almost 100 years apart in their times. Helena talks about the discussions and conversations she had with Rockwell early on. Even Rockwell, in his very patriarchal view, acknowledges Helena as a good person to have a conversation with. As different as they were, their thirst for knowledge and understanding made them kindred spirits. This part of the story showed an outlook on the future of ARK that had potential if they both continued on the same path and followed a common goal.

Edmund Rockwell Supervillain
Edmund Rockwell is the super villain from the first minute

Back to the series, we see Helena getting captured by the Roman troops of Nerva. Part of these troops is a very cartoonish and superficially evil and sadistic Rockwell, who had never met Helena before, and whom Helena had never seen. That is their first interaction with each other, and the series tries to point out who is good and who is evil from the very beginning by positioning Helena and Rockwell on opposite sides of the spectrum. They share nothing in common, no mutual respect for their scientific interests, no shared curiosity for what the ARK really is.

Meiyin And Helena Defeating Broodmother
After defeating the Broodmother by accident

The first part of the first season of the series explores Helena’s background before the ARK, which was not talked about much in the ARK lore itself, and also Helena’s time with the people on the Island, which was mentioned but was a small part of the larger story. In the game lore, her interaction with Mei Yin, which ultimately caused a jealous Rockwell to make all the bad decisions he could for himself and the people on the ARK, was omitted from the series. While she met Mei Yin in the animated series and they even defeated the Broodmother together, their growing friendship seemed flat, forced. They stuck together, but no one really knows why, and it didn’t seem like Mei Yin wanted her to be around in the first place.

Meiyin And Helena Animated Series
Mei Yin and Helena Walker

Jeremy Stieglitz mentioned on Twitter that Rockwell will undergo character development in the next episodes.

“I promise Rockwell gets some of the love he needs in Part 2, and more critically, the arc we have him on and his essential connection with Helena gets its own twisty depths to it.”

While I really hope that Rockwell will not be left behind as a bad copy of a villain, I am saddened by the lost dynamic that the game lore had and the series could have had. From friends to enemies to destroying the world to asking for help in his last minutes. This was the story Rockwell deserved.

With the lore being changed this much for a series that is also seen by people who are not ARK players, it will change the way ARK as a game is seen and perceived from the outside. I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t annoy me because I don’t feel that emotional investment in the series’ story that I had with the game’s story, simply because I feel like I was presented with what I had to think about every single character from the start. Helena good, Rockwell bad, Mei Yin, eh.

With all my criticism about how the lore was changed and how I am not the biggest fan of that happening, if you see the series completely disconnected from the game and as its own entity, it is a good story (so far). It is not badly written at all, but it does not reach the depth of the game lore. But if you don’t expect game lore, I think you will enjoy the series.

For myself, I will wait for more episodes before I can give my final opinion about the story. I also want to see what the writers had for Rockwell in mind. Right now, as it is, I am not super happy. My interpretation of the long delay of the Animated Series was that it was hard to find a streaming service that wouldn’t want to edit the episodes themselves because everyone tried to avoid the story becoming unrecognizable to the ARK lore, and that garnered my biggest respect. Unfortunately, that was not the case. But right now, it is what it is. The series, in my eyes, is not for die-hard ARK fans but for people from the outside to get interested in the ARK IP, and that works very well. I had a lot of non-ARK friends asking me about it. For my part, I will wait for Neddies’ new series on the ARK lore that he announced he would publish. He already did a good job with ARK Survival Evolved, and I doubt he will disappoint with ARK Survival Ascended.


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