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Ark: Survival Evolved beginners guide to Engrams

Ark: Survival Evolved is all about survival, and to do it successfully, you'll need to craft your socks off.

You can’t just craft things willy nilly, regardless of the amount of materials you have. Crafting recipes - called Engrams - are unlocked using Engram Points (EP) and are accessible from the menu.

They’re used to unlock recipes for weapons, tools, items, and gear. You’ll need the appropriate amount of engram points (EP) to unlock them, which are earned as you level up your character. You can check out our tips on how to level up fast if you want to access more engrams as quickly as possible.

They’re not to be confused with Blueprints, which are lootable crafting recipes and don’t require any EP to access.

As you’d expect, the level cap also caps how much EP a player can earn, and it isn’t enough to unlock every Engram in the game, so you’ll have to pick and choose which Engrams are right for you.

Your needs are going to change depending on whether you intend to play PvP, PvE, or solo, so bear that in mind.

It's possible to respec your character using a Mindwipe Tonic, resetting your character's stats and Engram progression. You'll retain all of the XP and EP points you've earned and can redistribute them accordingly.

Throw the following ingredients into a Cooking Pot to cook up a batch (level 8 Engram):

  • 24 x Cooked Prime Meat
  • 200 x Mejoberry
  • 72 x Narcotic
  • 72 x Stimulant
  • 20 x Rare Mushroom
  • 20 x Rare Flower
  • 1 x Water

When you first start out, it’s advisable to focus on a few specific Engrams that will help you progress and - more importantly - survive. If you need to find out where to get the materials for the engrams listed, check out our resources guide for more details.

Different tools can be used to gather the same resources, but some are better suited to the task than others, so we’ve focused on the primary material for each one.

And as much as you might want to pass on some Engrams, you will need to spend some points on a few not-so-useful ones to unlock their higher level counterparts.

For more on how to survive in Ark: Survival Evolved, check out our 9 essential tips for starting out.


Engrams essential for basic survival

Thirst and hunger are likely to kill you first - unless you’re unlucky enough to run into a dinosaur who’s feeling peckish. The following Engrams are essential for survival in any mode.

The Stone Pick Engram is already unlocked. Use your fists to gather enough materials to make it, then use it gather materials to make the Stone Hatchet. The first few Engram tiers will unlock fairly quickly as you go about harvesting resources.

As soon as you make a spear, find something to kill sharpish. You can cook the meat on the campfire - which you can also use for warmth - and use the hide to make a waterskin.

Level 1

  • Stone Pick
    • EP: 0
    • Materials: 10 x thatch, 1 x wood, 1 x stone
    • Harvests thatch from trees, flint from rocks, raw meat from bodies

Level 2

  • Stone Hatchet
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 10 x thatch, 1 x wood, 1 x flint
    • Harvests wood from trees, stone from rocks, hide from bodies
  • Spear
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 23 x fiber, 8 x wood, 2 x flint
    • Melee weapon that can also be thrown. Required for Pike
  • Campfire
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 12 x thatch, 2 x wood, 1 x flint, 16 x stone
    • Fuel: Thatch, wood, spark powder
    • Used to create cooked meat, cooked prime meat, cooked fish meat, cooked prime fish meat and charcoal
    • Provides heat, light, and cooked food

Level 3

  • Waterskin
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 12 x fiber, 4 x hide
    • Carries water, but slowly leaks. Required for water jar

Engrams for basic base building

Now that you’ve taken care of hunger and thirst, you can start focusing on mid to long-term plans to stay alive.

You’ll want to make a sleeping bag or two as soon as possible for its use as a one-time respawn point and the fact that it’s needed to unlock the Simple Bed Engram. It can also be used to fast travel, and is a prerequisite for the bed.

Shelter is important, and the basic thatch will do while you scope the area and move around looking for more permanent digs. Don’t get too attached to your dwellings, as it can easily be destroyed by dinosaurs and other players in PvP.

Thatch structures are prerequisites for wood and lumber, which should be on your to-do list once you’ve found somewhere to set up shop.

Cloth armour isn’t a necessity at this stage, although it is required to unlock the Hide Armour which we’d recommend getting once you’ve spent enough time crafting and building.

Level 4

  • Thatch Foundation
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 15 x fiber, 20 x thatch, 6 x wood
  • Thatch Wall
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 7 x fiber, 10 x thatch, 2 x wood
  • Thatch Doorframe
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 6 x fiber, 8 x thatch, 6 x wood
  • Thatch Door
    • EP: 3
    • Materials 4 x fiber, 7 x thatch
  • Thatch Roof
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 10 x fiber, 15 x thatch, 4 x wood
  • Hide Sleeping Bag
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 15 x fiber, 25 x hide
    • Single use respawn point for the player. Required for Simple Bed and Tent
  • Storage Box
    • EP: 6
    • Materials: 10 x Fiber, 20 x thatch, 25 x wood
    • Small storage box. Required to unlock Large Storage Box

Level 5

  • Simple Bed
    • EP: 8
    • Materials: 30 x fiber, 80 x thatch, 15 x wood, 40 x hide
    • Permanent respawn point for players and their tribes

Engrams for hunting and taming

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Hunting animals is necessary for meat and hide but making some tame animal friends is crucial for resource management.

You can read more about how to tame animals in our dinosaur taming guide, but there are certain engrams you can unlock to get a start on the process as soon as possible.

Level 5

  • Slingshot
    • EP: 6
    • Materials: 20 x fiber, 5 x wood, 1 x hide
    • Short-to-medium ranged weapon that can inflict Torpor. Required to unlock bow and whip

Level 6

  • Mortar and Pestle
    • EP: 6
    • Materials: 65 x stone, 15 x hide
    • Used to craft recipes
  • Sparkpowder
    • EP: 3
    • Materials: 2 x flint, 1 x stone
    • Fuel for fire and Preserving Bin. Required to unlock Gunpowder and Smoke Grenade
  • Narcotic
    • EP: 6
    • Materials: 5 x narcoberry, 1 x spoiled meat
    • Makes narcotics to tame dinosaurs

Level 7

  • Spyglass
    • EP: 2
    • Materials: 10 x fiber, 5 x wood, 10 x hide, 2 x crystal
    • Allows you to check animal levels for taming and give animals the command to attack a target

Level 8

  • Bola
    • EP: 8
    • Materials: 15 x fiber, 10 x thatch, 3 x stone, 3 x hide
    • Used to immobilise creatures. Keeps humans in place for 25 seconds, and wild dinosaurs for 30 seconds. 10 second cooldown

These engrams are amongst the most essential when starting out in the game, and prioritising them above the rest will help you progress that much quicker.

Efficiency is key when you have to manage hunger, thirst, and temperature, as well as wild animals and possible hostiles, and the suggested engrams will get you off to a good start.

Got any must-have Engrams that you didn't spot on our list? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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