You may stumble across Explorer Notes as you travel around the various maps in ARK. At first, they may just seem like neat little pieces of information about the world you’re in, the creatures in it, and the stories of those who came before you.
However, they can benefit you and help you reach your goals in the world sooner if you use them to boost your own experience.
What are Explorer Notes in ARK?
Explorer notes are readable notes that pop up when you near a specific location on a particular map. A few different kinds give you various information, but only a particular subset are called notes. Understanding each type of note you can find will help you know how to separate the Notes from the other types.
Creature Dossiers are informative passages about each individual type of creature on a map. You cannot find a dossier for a creature that doesn’t spawn on a particular map – you must be on one where it spawns naturally. Even bringing a tame in via the transport system won’t make a dossier appear.
Creature Dossiers can give you some clues about approaching and using a particular creature. However, they aren’t always completely accurate. Sometimes the dossier might include something that isn’t a part of the game.
For example, the Death Worm Dossier from Scorched Earth includes a few different pieces of information.
- The Death Worm is properly called the Khorkoi arrakis and gets its nickname from the population near it.
- Helena doesn’t believe it’s a worm, even though it is segmented.
- She explains that it is the apex predator of the desert, warning survivors that it will eat anything that ventures to the Dunes.
- She says it’s underground most of the time and only surfaces to eat its prey.
- The Death Worm is rendered temporarily immobile if the first attack misses, and a survivor might be able to take advantage of that to escape.
- Players should not attempt to domesticate them because it will likely result in their deaths.
For players who are new to ARK or don’t like to use creature information from the Internet, the Creature Dossiers are a valuable source of data that they can use to stay alive.
However, not all creatures have a dossier that you can get your hands on. Three of them do not drop one at this time and may not until the game gets an update to enable them. They are:
- The Deinonychus from Valguero
- The Tropeognathus from Crystal Isles
- The Griffin from Ragnarok
The Creature Dossiers are written by Helena, a scientist from Australia who lived in the modern world. At the story’s beginning, she’s already been on the ARK for years. She works her way through the world, learns why the ARK exists, and then moves on to the next one.
Boss Dossiers are similar to Creature Dossiers. They give information about a boss that you’ve fought and defeated. While it might seem more prudent to read these types of notes before you take on a brutal fight, it’s impossible. You can only access them once the boss is dead.
They are more for fun information than any type of help in the game.
Records are the notes written by Sir Edmund Rockwell, a chemist who lived in London during the 1800s. They talk about his experiences in ARK and some of the recipes he created.
For example, the first Record is Rockwell Record Number One. It explains that you’ve found the journal of Sir Rockwell, a scholar, gentleman, and explorer. He says that he may be dead and if not, perhaps you stole the note. He suggests that you hang your head in shame or return it to him.
Rockwell’s Records tell his story in the same way that Notes tell the stories of others. Like Helena, he is one of the survivors whose writings you will encounter on many maps. He’s mainly interested in creating recipes for a variety of purposes. Some of them are actual recipes that the survivors can craft and use.
Journals are Notes written by Emilia, Boris, Rusty, Sky, and Trent. They’re graduate students who write about their experiences in Abberation.
Logs are records kept by Diana, Santiago, and some others. They include information about their experiences on the ARKS.
Notes can be written by several authors, including Helena. Some of the other authors include:
- Mei Yin is an ancient Chinese warrior. She starts a group on The Island and tames a variety of animals. They are significant to her and drive her story.
- Gaius Marcellus Nerva is a Centurion. He wants to work toward claiming everything around him for the glory of Rome. His hunger for power drives his choices.
- Unknown Author is cited in certain notes, but it’s unclear who it is.
- John Dahkeya was a reformed criminal from the Wild West.
- HLN-A narrates discoveries for survivors who equip the Mini-HLNA skin.
The more ARKs you play on, the more notes from different authors you will find. To play the entire story of the ARK and learn about it from the Notes, you start on the Island and move through the maps in chronological order.
One of the most fun things about the Explorer Notes is understanding how the world works better. For example, in Note Two on The Island, Helena explains that the world doesn’t have an axial tilt, which means there are no seasons. That helps explain the different biomes from her perspective.
The Notes also help explain certain things that don’t make sense. For example, while writing the Mammoth Dossier, Helena explains that she sees a Tyrannosaurus attacking them even though they wouldn’t usually be in the tundra.
As you read through the notes, you track each survivor’s progress through the world and see how they dealt with being transported to and left on the ARK. You can also see some interactions between characters. For example, Helena explains that Rockwell gave her an Argetavis and that she wants to get floral samples for him.
How to Use Explorer Notes
Explorer Notes have benefits beyond informing you about creatures and telling you about the story of the ARK you’re on. They also offer players an XP boost for a limited time after they’re read.
However, there are a few caveats and some things you can do to get the best possible effect from the notes.
First, the effect of the notes is to give your character a double XP boost for 600 seconds. This means that everything you do will provide you with double the normal XP for the next ten minutes.
Next, the double XP bonus stacks. If you read a few notes in a row, you can extend the bonus for a longer time. Many people who decide to take on large creatures will first fly to a few notes and read them. In that way, they maximize some of the highest XP gains in the game.
You can also give a mounted creature double XP. You must be riding it when the XP takes hold to receive the bonus.
If you die or fast travel anywhere, the XP bonus disappears. This includes every XP bonus you currently have active.
Many players also use the Explorer Notes to grind through levels. They activate a note and then craft high XP items or large numbers of other items. If you’re trying to gain new engrams quickly, this is one route that can help you do so.