ARK is a game best enjoyed with friends. After all, having someone to help you tame, gather resources for a base, and find your items after a viscous raptor attack is a huge boon in a survival game.
While it’s easiest to play ARK online with people using their own devices, there is also a split-screen option on some consoles.
ARK uses a horizontal split-screen, which means that the first player controls the character on top, and the second player controls the one on the bottom. If you want to be on top, you should be the first one to enter the game.
To play ARK in split-screen mode, you’ll be using a non-dedicated server. This means that you’re hosting the game on your console rather than having an external server host it, aka local host.
One of the main differences between a non-dedicated server and a dedicated server is whether people can play when the host is offline. If you play on a dedicated server, the server is supposed to be up all the time. Various players can log on and off, playing whenever they want without regard for whether the server owner is on.
On a non-dedicated server — the type you use for split-screen — the entire world is saved on that console. If the host logs off, anyone else on the server will be disconnected. To reaccess the game, the original host simply starts another non-dedicated session on the same map.
How to Play ARK Survival Split Screen on PS5, Switch, and Xbox
On consoles that support split-screen, the process is relatively easy. Setting up a session and having the second player join is all it takes. The game can detect when a second controller connects to the device and takes that as its cue to start split-screen.
Playing split-screen means that one player — the first one — is the host. The progress and save points are tied to the host’s account and console. Make sure that the host is always the last to save the game and quit.
Split-screen on Xbox takes place on non-dedicated servers. It sets up in just a moment.
Here’s how you set up a split-screen on Xbox.
- Have player one turn on their controller.
- Click “Host/Local.”
- Click “Host Non-Dedicated Multiplayer Session.”
- Check “Private.”
- Start the session.
- Turn on player two’s controller, press “Enter,” and they should be able to create a character and enter the game.
The session that you play in is saved on the Xbox and with the account that started it. While the second player doesn’t need an Xbox account or subscription to play, the world you play in will be inaccessible unless you start it through the same Xbox later.
As with Xbox, PlayStation split-screen games always take place on non-dedicated servers. They offer a quick setup and don’t require a PlayStation account for the second player.
Here’s how you set up a split-screen on PlayStation.
- Start the game with only player one’s controller connected.
- Click “Host/Local.”
- Click “Play Single Player.”
- Create and name your character.
- Press “Options” on player two’s controller, and they should be able to join character creation.
As with Xbox, PlayStation games will be saved on the console where it was made. The players who want to rejoin that world for future sessions must launch from the same account and console. This remains true even if you choose to play multiplayer in a way other than split-screen for subsequent adventures.
Unfortunately, split-screen isn’t possible on the Switch at this time. Future updates could introduce the feature, but there is no indication that Wildcard is planning it.
To play ARK in multiplayer on the Switch, either use two consoles or share a character. Local co-op is not supported on this console.
On the Nintendo Switch, you can still join friends online and play on other servers. Each of you will need your own console and game, though.
Some Minor Hiccups While Playing Split Screen
Tethered Split Screen
The type of split-screen offered on PlayStation is tethered split-screen. You and your second player will not be able to get more than a certain distance apart without having to return to each other. If you continue to gain distance, you’ll be forcibly returned.
The tether distance on PlayStation appears to be 300 meters. On Xbox One X, there is supposedly no actual tether, and you can travel anywhere in the same zone while playing split-screen.
Most non-dedicated sessions do have some kind of tether on consoles. It’s necessary to maintain the integrity of the game and not make it challenging to play by overloading the server.
Split Screen Shadow Problems
Some players who use ARK in split-screen mode experience a graphics issue with shadows. There is a fix that you can implement if you’re comfortable using the console.
To open the console, press:
- L1, R1, Triangle, and Square on PlayStation
- Left Bumper, Right Bumper, X, and Y on Xbox.
Once the console is open, type “
Admincheat shadowquality 0 1” and press enter. This should help fix the shadow glitch.
Keep in mind, however, that you’ll have to re-enter this code each time you start a split-screen session.
Screens and Monitors
One issue you might run into when you play ARK on split-screen is that it’s tough to read the writing. This can hinder your attempts to craft, select options, and even control your tamed dinosaurs.
There is no current fix for the size of the writing on the game. Instead, you’ll have to play on the largest screen that your console can handle. If you are currently playing on a monitor, switching to a larger screen like television might be worth your time.
Playing ARK in Split-Screen
While playing split-screen in ARK may offer a few more hurdles, it’s still an easily accessible way to share the game with a friend. If you run into trouble as you set up your game, consider trying to play with the console commands to improve your frames or eliminate the shadow glitch.
While playing in split-screen may also lower your FPS and introduce a little more lag than usual into your game, it lets you share the dinosaur hijinks with the people you care about. Besides that, split-screen ARK is an excellent way to introduce your friend to the game in the hopes that they’ll purchase a copy for more fun in the future.
Can Ps4 and Switch Play Together?
Unfortunately, there is no cross-system multiplayer between the PlayStation Network and Nintendo. ARK does have some options for crossplay, though. Players on an Xbox console can play with others who play through Windows 10 on PC.
For most players, though, it’s better to purchase the game on the same device their friends play on. While crossplay may be added between other devices sometime in the future, it’s not in any currently released roadmaps for ARK.
Is ARK 3 Player Split-screen?
You can only have two players join an ARK split-screen session at the same time. Trying to play with more players would make it very difficult to navigate and very difficult to see more minor details on the screen, like text.
You can play with others players if they join your non-dedicated server locally, assuming it’s supported on your console of choice. But there is no way to increase the number of players who can access ARK sessions when playing split-screen. You will always be maxed out at two.
Is ARK: Survival Evolved Split-screen on PC?
ARK does offer split-screen through the Windows 10 version of the game on PC. They do this because it’s based on the same game that is released on Xbox.
The version released on Steam doesn’t have the same functionality. You cannot play ARK on split-screen on PC unless you purchase it through the Microsoft store.
Follow our Guide for solving crash issues in ARK.
How Do I Play With Friends on Switch in Ark?
Even though the Switch console doesn’t offer a co-op mode, you can still play with your friends. You just have to host a local session. Choose a non-dedicated server in the options when you set it up.
How Many Players Can Play Ark: Survival Evolved on PC?
PC servers can support more than 100 players. If you’re looking to play with a lot of friends — or strangers — then the PC version is probably the best way to go.