In a new update Friday, Ark: Survival Evolved added horses, aka the Equus, to its vast menagerie of tameable creatures. The way you tame them is familiar, to say the least. It’s borrowed from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Or “pays homage to,” if you’re feeling more generous.
In case you didn’t already know, a very popular feature of Ark: Survival Evolved is creature taming: making friends with the deadly dinosaurs and other assorted critters. Until recently, it’s been a pretty tedious affair: the main way to do it was to knock out an animal, stuff it with food, then sit with it for hours, twiddling your thumbs and making sure it didn’t wake up or get eaten by a bear. It was a mechanic that only masochists would find fun.
It wasn’t until quite recently that developer Wildcard finally accepted that standing next to an imaginary creature for hours on end, intermittently pressing one button, wasn’t exactly the height of interesting game design. Since then, it’s been experimenting with new taming methods: troodons insist on eating your toughest domesticated pets, for instance, while the pegomastax, as in all the best dysfunctional relationships, will only love you if you let it steal your things.
And then there’s horse taming. Let us go on a journey of illumination.
For reference, here’s a field of horses in Breath of the Wild, just a bunch of horsey dudes chilling out and minding their own business.
And here’s a field of horses in Ark: Survival Evolved. Not pictured: 20-foot-high lizard bearing down on me while I tried to make this shot look nice.
Back in Hyrule, Link is in his stealth-enhancing Sheikah suit, poised to use his awe-inspiring sneaking skills to mount his chosen steed.
And here’s me primed and ready for some hardcore horse taming in Ark. I’m in my stealth-enhancing Ghillie Suit, which gives me awe-inspiring sneaking abilities, and also makes me look like I’m wearing the world’s worst Big Bird costume.
Once you’ve successfully mounted your preferred steed in Breath of the Wild, things get a bit tricksy. Wild horse is not pleased about the naked bloke on its back and will gallop around violently to show its disdain. Side note: there’s no particular reason why Link is naked in this shot, I just felt like mixing things up a bit.
Here we are again in Ark. I’ve successfully mounted my chosen steed, and it too has started its frantic dance of terrified hurtling. One difference between Ark and Zelda: in Breath of the Wild, it is very unlikely that your horse will gallop its way into the mouth of an oncoming T. Rex. In Ark, it’s wise to clear the surrounding area first.
Back over in Breath of the Wild, I have begun exerting my legendary powers of horse whispering (a.k.a. frantically hitting the L button and hoping my stamina doesn’t run out) in order to tame the mighty beast between my thighs. Failure will result in an unscheduled, high-speed reverse dismount, as it will in Ark.
However, while taming takes 30 seconds in Breath of the Wild, leaving you free to get on with the rest of the game, things are a little more involved in Ark. You’ll need some tasty treats in your inventory (I’m using rockarrots, but Troodon egg kibble is preferred), and you’ll need to jam them into your horse’s mouth whenever the tiny on-screen prompt appears. For a maximum level 150 wild horse using the very best food, taming should take about 12 minutes. If you fancy a bigger challenge however, try taming an Equus using berries; you’ll be riding around in circles for just over 25 hours.
So there you have it! The certainly-not-dissimilar methods of taming a horse in Breath of the Wild and Ark: Survival Evolved. To be clear, this isn’t a criticism; Ark’s core mechanics have been in desperate need of a shake-up for a while, so more variety is always welcome—and let’s be honest, if you’re going to borrow a game mechanic, there are worse places to pillage than Breath of the Wild. It’s just a shame that Ark didn’t grab a few skeleton horses while it was there.
On the flip side, thanks to this latest update, Ark now spawns a unicorn into the game every so often, so I guess we can call it a draw.
Matt Wales is a freelance writer with, oh, 1600 hours of Ark playtime under his belt.