The 10 Best Ark Survival Evolved custom maps and how to play on them

The best custom maps when vanilla is not enough.

Image via Wildcard Studios

Each map in Ark: Survival Evolved has its own story, animals, and environment. It makes the maps unique but limits the gameplay. If you want to tame a Managarmr, you need to be on Extinction, but if you also want a Bloodstalker, you’ll have to play on one of the Genesis maps. In vanilla maps, it can be impossible to find and tame all possible creatures in the game. That’s where custom maps come in.

Custom maps, created by fans and modders of repute, often remove the limitations, add their own stories and creatures, and expand the experience of Ark as a whole. In Ark’s user interface, custom maps are effectively modded maps. The downside to modding is that unless made official by Wildcard, modded maps are not available on the console version of the game. That said, here is a quick explainer of how to use them and our ten favorites.

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How to play custom maps in Ark: Survival Evolved

Image via Studio Wildcard

These maps are quite simply the same as Mods. This means you’ll have to head to your Steam library and make sure you click the green “subscribe” option to add it to your library. Once you’ve added it, the map will download and install once you’ve opened Ark. From there, you’ll need to click Host/Local, and where you’d normally choose your vanilla map, select the downloaded and installed map instead. Now on to our 10 favorites.

Amissa

Image via Steam Workshop

Amissa is a large, fantasy-inspired map that is slightly bigger than the Island. It features custom spawn points based around abandoned fantasy cities, mountain wyverns that are knock-out tames, hidden islands, and more. We should note that the map is not complete and in some places feels empty. The oceans are barren compared to other maps. And in some places, while there are animals spawning, there are no resources. That said, it does have a couple of custom creatures and the mountain wyvern is a non-hostile wyvern that can be knock-out tamed. It also lays eggs that can be taken but will make adults around it hostile. The mountain wyvern has a speedy, griffin-like dive mechanic. The map also features a macaw argentavis. Similar to the mountain wyvern, it’s a non-hostile argentavis that will show up around spawn points. 

Caballus

Image via Steam Workshop

Caballus is an equestrian-themed map. Drops have been reskinned to be abandoned campsites with saddles and tack, large horse statues cover the area, horse sound effects were added to the ambient sounds, and there are new horse colors and spawns. The theme may be niche, but the map itself still has everything general players want. Due to the old farmhouses around the map, it is a good one for server owners to really bring it to life. There are some downsides to the map. The ground is far from smooth. Even flat areas are covered in bumps that can send characters or tames flying if you hit them too fast.

Related: The top 10 best Ark: Survival Evolved mods

The Sunken World

Image via Steam Workshop

This map is one of the few primarily oceanic-themed maps that you can play on Ark: Survival. It focuses solely on a singular biome, much like that of Scorched Earth, and forces players to plunge into the depths to obtain items and creatures. While there are still some landmasses for players to start out on, there is certainly much more waiting beneath the waves of the ocean. The map also features new creatures, structures, and items for players to enjoy.

Glacius

Image via Steam Workshop

Following a singular biome theme, Glacius, while not yet 100% complete, is certainly a map worth trying. It’s cold and a difficult map to survive on due to the cold and unforgiving climate. You will need to have DLCs downloaded or purchased in order to play this map in full, but it’s still playable without them. The map has removed several creatures like the Morellatops and instead created snow or ice variants for several creatures to suit the theme.

Olympus

Image via Steam Workshop

Olympus is a land abandoned by the gods. Statues, shrines, and coliseums still stand around the map where the gods once lived. The surface of Olympus is mostly complete; however, the caves, underwater regions, and boss arenas are not yet finished. The map, overall, is around 85% complete and totally playable. It features all the DLC creatures and all the biomes you need to find them. 

Shigoislands

Image via Steam Workshop

Similar to Thieves Island, the Shigoislands map consists of five islands. It is 40% larger than the vanilla map and has grasslands, jungle, swamps, snow, redwood, and desert biomes. The early game may be a challenge for those looking to explore as each island brings different dangers and varying resources. You’ll also need to rely on swimming tames or boats to get across early. 

Thieves Island

Thieves Island is a pirate-themed map with one main island and several floating islands around it. The island setup makes the map a challenge to explore during the early game. Players will need flying mounts to reach higher islands. Some are safer than others. The map still works although it hasn’t been updated for a year. If you want specific creatures, you may need mods to add them.

Tunguska

Image via Steam Workshop

Tunguska’s theme is a meteor strike. The land and environment reflect the violent and sudden conditions. There are wide, flat areas perfect for building, along with crumbling archways that are good for small outposts. The map is 95% complete, but the creator refers to it as “in completion” because there is always more to add. Nests can be found across the map where baby fliers will spawn for taming. They include: Griffins, Tapejara, Argentavis, Pteranodon, Snow Owl, Quetzalcoatlus, and Phoenix. There are small caves for resources and massive caverns with hostile animals. 

Svartalfheim

Image via Steam Workshop

While this map is not completed, as of yet, it certainly does not lack in ambiance and playability. The Svartalfheim map is a dwarven-inspired map without any flyers. It also introduces a whole new set of resources, such as Gold and Mithril, making this an amazing map for roleplaying and PvE. NPC-like characters, namely, the Dwarven Warriors, also roam the map, and there are a ton of custom creatures to find and tame. With regular updates, this map is definitely worth giving a try.

The Volcano

Image via Steam Workshop

The Volcano, as the name implies, features a massive volcano in the center of the map. It’s about the size of The Island. It contains every biome so your favorite tames should be available. The map is huge and a delight to explore. It is fully complete and features Aberration and Extinction creatures. It may not have Genesis creatures as the map was finished before Genesis Part One was available. There are 14 caves to explore, some of which are underwater. Others are easy to find and make great shelters for building. The Volcano has its own custom weather coding including electric storms, heatwaves, rain, and fog.