When you’ve conquered the scariest creatures the land has to offer, you can still find adventure and danger below the water’s surface in ARK: Survival. Many maps have extensive underwater biomes with features like caves, unique resources, and tameable sea life waiting for you to make your way to a briny depths.
When venturing into such a wild part of the map, be sure you’re prepared, so you explore the ocean floor successfully instead of resting in a watery grave.
How to Prepare Your Character for Underwater Exploration on ARK
If you’re preparing to spend a lot of time underwater, you might want to build your character so that they survive the hostile environment.
First, put more points into your oxygen and stamina stats. You need the stamina to swim fast and complete tasks without a break, which can help in areas with large undersea areas. Oxygen enables you to stay under longer without help. This can save your life in certain situations.
For example, you have to swim a long way to explore the underwater caves in The Center. If you aren’t using a quick water mount, your stamina will carry you through the experience.
While many players use particular gear to keep their oxygen high and avoid drowning, it won’t ultimately save you in every situation. Every underwater explorer has had their SCUBA mask break right in the middle of a trench and had to repair or replace it while using up their oxygen stat.
Finally, many people prioritize health and fortitude underwater. Health makes a lot of sense and is always something players should focus on. However, fortitude isn’t necessary to stack as a stat in every case. You’re better off getting hypothermal insulation from the gear and food you use.
You only have so many attribute points, and the others will probably give you more bang for your buck when it comes to surviving and exploring underwater in ARK.
Gear to Survive Underwater in ARK
If you’re at the right level and have access to SCUBA engrams, SCUBA gear is the best you can do for underwater equipment.
SCUBA Gear Stats:
- Level 81
- +200 cold protection from the SCUBA leggings
- Enhanced underwater vision from the SCUBA mask
- +20 oxygen every second from the SCUBA tank
- +250 percent movement speed from the SCUBA flippers
Each piece of gear provides its own bonus, but having the complete set makes traveling underwater much easier. Remember that the bonuses only apply underwater, and you will be slower with worse vision if you wear the set while on land.
However, since SCUBA gear requires such a high engram level to unlock, it’s good to have a backup set in mind for earlier expeditions.
Hide offers excellent cold protection in the water, but perhaps not the most armor. When you’re going to fight while underwater, check out Flak armor. Each of these will offer you more cold protection and help you while you adventure in the water.
Best Weapons for Underwater in ARK
There are three weapons that you should consider using underwater.
- The Harpoon Launcher is an excellent weapon that unlocks at level 43. It can fire Spear Bolts, Tranq Spear Bolts, and the Net Projectile. The Spear Bolt does 140 damage and is meant for battle, while the others are meant for capturing or taming aquatic creatures.
- The Tek Rifle also works underwater. It does 150 explosive damage and can hold 50 rounds of Element in its chambers. It’s a faster weapon than the Harpoon Launcher, better for above-water fights, and will probably keep you alive longer in massive battles.
However, it doesn’t unlock until very late in the game when you have the Tek Replicator. It’s also much more expensive to craft and load.
- The Crossbow is the best weapon to use when exploring the depths early in the game. It works underwater, is easy to craft, and has inexpensive ammo. Stone arrows do 95 ranged damage at a rate of 36 DPS, so you can take on some moderate creatures without dying.
If a few players are exploring together, you can also take on bigger ones with multiple crossbows.
Many weapons simply won’t work underwater. If you have a favorite and aren’t sure if it works, try it before committing to a trip without a backup underwater weapon.
Food for Underwater in ARK
There are two foods that many ARK players recommend crafting in bulk before you head under the sea.
First, check out Fria Curry. You’ll need a few crops like Longrass and Rockarrot, but otherwise, it’s easy to craft. With it, you’ll increase your resistance to the cold. If you don’t have SCUBA gear, it’s even more important to craft this.
Each one lasts for 15 minutes, increases your hypothermal insulation by 50, and reduces your food consumption by 25 percent. However, it does degrade in your inventory in five hours. If you store it in the inventory of an underwater tame, it will last 20 hours instead.
Next, consider Lazarus Chowder. It reduces the amount of oxygen you use down to 15 percent of your usual amount. This means that your oxygen pool will last much longer than normal when you’re going underwater. While under the effects of the Lazarus Chowder, your stamina will also regenerate without you having to leave the water.
Fria Curry and Lazarus Chowder are great backup foods to have on hand.
Underwater Dangers in ARK
The cold and lack of oxygen are the biggest dangers in ARK. While there are hostile creatures and dangerous environments, these factors will be with you every step of the way. Preparing with gear and food is the best way to combat them.
Next, there are a few creatures to keep an eye out for.
- Cnidaria is an aggressive jellyfish that can’t be tamed or ridden. They are also torpor immune. However, they will inject you and stun you, making it impossible to get away or kill them. Always avoid them or engage with distance weapons. If you get up close, there’s a much higher chance of dying.
- Megalodon is an ancient shark with a hunger for blood. Stay far away from them and don’t try to fight them up close. You generally find them nearer the surface and shore. I prefer to fight them with a raft nearby where I can disengage if needed.
- Plesiosaur often reminds players of Nessie, but it’s aggressive and always ready to attack. While they can detect you from far away, they also disengage from fights if you can quickly get out of their radius. However, if you decide to engage, have a high-damage ranged weapon available.
- Tusoteuthis is a giant, angry squid that is an excellent mount but a terrifying foe. If you aren’t explicitly planning to tame or kill one, try to avoid them. They will move toward you if they spot you, so moving slowly and avoiding their range is essential.
Best Tames for Underwater Exploration in ARK
If you’re looking to spend a good deal of time underwater, consider taming one of these creatures to help you.
- An otter can provide a boost to your heat if needed. However, it is also susceptible to drowning if you remove it from its perch on your shoulder.
- The Plesiosaur is an excellent underwater mount when you can tame one. They can be challenging to master, but they offer various benefits. For example, they have a platform saddle which can help with sea battles. They’re also swift and dangerous enough that you can escape encounters unscathed.
- A Tusoteuthis is another great powerhouse mount and battle tame. It took my friends and me a few hours to find and tame one without dying, even after we were prepared with SCUBA gear, food, and weapons. However, it’s great at moving large tames and is very hard to kill.
- While they aren’t dangerous or tanky, the Ichthyosaurus is an excellent early-game mount for survivors. It can help you explore the underwater areas on ARK and move more quickly through the water than you would alone. Besides that, it’s easy to tame and uses a passive taming method.
Can I Build an Underwater Base on ARK?
You can build an underwater base in ARK, though it wasn’t originally part of the game. In a 2017 update, the developers released some building pieces that could be used to set up an underwater base.
One of the most critical pieces is called the Vacuum Compartment Moonpool. It works very much like a Vacuum Compartment. However, you can enter the base you create with a hatch on its bottom.
These two pieces can only be used once you’ve beaten the appropriate bosses and unlocked the Tek Replicator. They require a Tek Generator to function, which means you must have enough elements to power it and keep it going.
Both of them require a lot of materials to build. Since you may need multiple to set up a functioning underwater base, you may want to start collecting and saving crafting items before unlocking the Replicator.
- 360 Metal Ingots
- 180 Crystal
- 136 Polymer
- 32 Black Pearls
- Two Element
If you plan to make an underwater base, keep the plan simple. Many players find them frustrating and expensive to create and maintain. Starting small and building up might make it a more manageable task.