This Guide gives you some goals and milestones to work towards. Most guides answer questions, but if you are new to the game you do not know what questions to ask and when something becomes relevant to you. I try to solve some of that here and provide a 4x4x3 Base design.
ARK: Survival Evolved Guides:
If you are new to this game and do not want to be surprised by everything i want to provide you with a list of things to do in a ordered fashion. This will not be a strict bucketlist to work through, more a list of milestones and for simplicity i do not cover most things that are available in this game. I assume you have a general knowledge of what a survival game and especially ARK is about and you know how to use the internet to find more detailed information about not covered topics.
I will cover several milestones from the unlockable engrams and a few key Dinos.
Milestones in the Engram List
The first few levels are very straight forward, gather stuff (especially fiber) and make a 1x1 home with storage boxes, bed etc. With Lvl 6 you can start to make narcotics, you can not have enough of them. You will burn lots of wood for fuel, keep the ashes stored somewhere, since you will need it for gunpowder later on. Most Creatures can damage thatch and also wood structures, building a lot with these materials is not recommended.
LVL 16 - Raft
The Raft allows you a mobile home and gives good EXP for crafting, you also learn the Trike Saddle and this should make collecting berries and thatch much faster.
You can build structures on the raft, i suggest to build a taming pen raft that you can upgrade to stone later so it works for Rexes and bigger creatures too. You should watch a video on building with rafts since it is not as straight forward as it appears.
LVL 18 - Raptor Saddle
The Raptor is the first carnivore you can ride to gather meat and hide quickly, also the preserving bin allows you to create jerky that you will need later on for kibble (the best taming food).
LVL 20 - Metal Tools
Metal tools gather more resources per strike then stone, only dedicatd dinos gather more then metal tools.
LVL 24 - Stone Structures
The Stone Structures allow you to build a base that is safe from most sources for a start, you should have gathered and stored resources for this lvl to build a litle house. A bigger one if you do not intend to move far away.
LVL 25 - Crossbow
The crossbow with tranq arrows is the most efficient way to knock out creatures, if you did not start taming already now is the point you want to do that. You will need lots of Narcotics.
LVL 26 - Medium Crop Plot
The small crop plots are for berries only and the medium ones are for vegetables. planting berries in the medium ones has no added benefit. plants need irrigation and fertilizer (literal poop or fertilizer from a compost bin). watch a short video on how to set this stuff up to safe yourelf some time. Vegetables are a better food to tame Herbivores and is also needed for some recipes like kibble later.
LVL 30 - Sickle
By this time you know how annoying it is to gather fiber, finally you can craft this tool specialized for gathering fiber.
LVL 36 - Ankylo Saddle
The Ankylosaurus is the ideal creature to farm metal, crystal, flint and oil. Also the large crop plot is unlocked now, you can plant Plant X seeds in it to have a turret for home defense.
LVL 38 - Pteranodon Saddle
This is the first saddle for a flying creature, now is the time to scout around or move to the destination you want to make your home. Unfortunately the Pteranodon can not carry a lot of weight.
LVL 45 - Metal Structures
These structures provide the biggest protection, they can not even be damaged by alphas, upgrade your home if you feel the need to, but that will be expensive.
LVL 50 - Industrial Grill
By this time you can set up electricity in your base and you unlocked the industrial grill, the upgrade to the campfire. Cook meat faster and in bulk. Now you can cook primal meat efficiently to make jerky for kibble.
LVL 62 - Argentavis Saddle
You unlocked he fridge to preserve food much longer, air conditioners to hatch eggs and tranq darts for the long neck rifle. But beeing able to ride the Argentavis is a big deal, now you can grab bigger dinos like a Ankylo and go out farming or make taming easier by throwing stuff into your taming pen.
LVL 64 - Industrial Grinder
This thing creates 1 flint out of 2 stone or 5 thatch out of 1 wood on top of 2 EXP(x Multiplier) per craft. Since you will have more need for flint and thatch then for stone and wood this is amazing on top of the massive EXP gain. You should farm the required 800 Cementing Paste, 2000 Crystal, 3200 Metal Ingot, 600 Oil and 600 Polymer before getting to lvl64. For Example to reach level 65 you need 1554 EXP you would need to pet the Lystro and grind down less then 6 stack of wood (that ideally you stole from a beaver dam).
LVL 74 - Rex Saddle
Finally you can ride the big guy to get meat, hide and EXP from killing everything.
LVL 75 - Vault
The Vault stores up to 350 stacks of items, totally worth it to have many of these to tidy up your storage area.
LVL 76 - Quetz Saddle
Now you can ride on the biggest flying creature, a Quetzal is very tough to tame but worth it, it can carry big creatures like a Mammoth, Carnotaurus or a Stego. Dismounting in the air will let your character stand on top of the Quetzal resulting in you having a mobile platform to shoot down from.
The higher the level of a creature the more stats it has but it is also tougher to tame. Lower level creatures will do the job just fine and save you a lot of hours and resources while taming. Aim for lvl ~20ish in the beginning and try to go for females since they produce eggs for you to collect. Higher level creatures with good stats are recommended when you start breeding them and that is a whole new topic you can get into later.
Since there are so many creatures in ARK i will not touch most of them, but just a few that i found to be very useful to have as early as possible, i do not put a character lvl recommendation here on purpose but the order is somewhat important.
A passive tame, gather a few Rare Flowers and tame one of these little dinos. Petting it will rant you and surrounding creatures/tribemembers a 35% EXP bonus for 5 minutes.
You can knock them out with your fists and tame them with some berries. Get some females to startyour egg production.
You probably need a bola to stop it from running away, tame one or more of them to warn you from hostile creatures aproaching and they can carry stuff for you when farming.
Your first dino to farm resources, avoid shooting at its head when knocking it out.
Use a bola or elevated positioning to be safe when taming these guys.
This little Armadillo will gather Stone if set to wander (be careful when you let them wander around). Get one as soon as you can to safe you time. The saddle is not really needed.
The beaver will gather Wood if set to wander. Taming one is very difficult because they live in packs and will attack all at once, using a pre built trap, bola or a elevated position is key in taming one. Like with the Doed you do not need a saddle to make use of its ability.
The first flyer, use a bola o tame one.
They only have use with the saddle, but you should have one when you hit lvl 36 to start farming metal and flint efficiently.
These birds have a high carry weight and allow you to be more efficient at farming even before beeing able to ride them. Get several before you can craft the saddle.
These guys are quite rare but you need them to boost your eggfarm production, the lower the lvl the fewer dodu eggs you need to tame one. (they only eat eggs when taming and you do not want to waste anything but dodu eggs on them).
This sheep provides wool for fur clothing and mutton as the go to taming food for carnivores. Taming requires one Sweet Vegetable Cake (one ingredient is sap and therefore requires lvl 36). You can carry them with an Argent later on and start breeding them. Slaughter one for mutton when you tame high lvl carnivores.
Since most creatures start to flee when they get close to beeing unconscious it is annoying to run after them, having a taming pen is recommended for most tames to safe on time and to keep frustration levels down. You can either build one from scratch near a potential tame you want to have or lure the creature into one. smaller creatures can be picked up with birds and dropped into taming pens.
4x4x3 Base Design and Taming Raft
This 4x4x3 house is a very compact design where you can fit everything you need. You start out with a 2x4 floor plan and extend it later when you need it.
in the first section you want to place the bed, campfire, preserving bins, refining forges, smithy, mortar and pestle. All these things are only up to one wall high. You can place catwalks now and put storage units on top of them that you can access them from beneath. In the picture I only placed 2 catwalks on each side and only one large storage box and 3 vaults so it does not block the view of the things below but you get the idea of the storage above. Also look how i placed the two vaults next to each other, the goal is to make them accessible easier from the area between the two catwalk lines since the area near the walls is occupied anyway. This 2x4 area is 3 walls high.
Obviously you only need one of each structure but later on you will want to work faster and have several forges smelt metal at the same time etc. Later when you unlock the Fabricator you can extend the house by another 2x4 and make it a 4x4. Between the Fabricator and the Refining Forge i left a wall to visualize the divide. The new 2x4 area will get filled with stuff that is more then one wall high and therefore not allow for a catwalk with storage on top. I placed a Fabricator, a Generator, a Industrial Grill, two Refridgerators and teh Grinder. Since the Industrial Grinder is huge but has a much smaller hitbox and will be the last structure to place, i suggest opening up the ceiling to place it from above to ensure it doesn ot stick out of the walls. This new area only needs to be two walls high. The ceiling can be used to park flyers or plant crops.
You can see two doors in this build, one main entrance between the smithys and one next to the generator where you can extend your build further to make a breeding chamber or stable for your dinos.
If you play on a PVP server you will want to make it safer with more walls and doors on the outside and inside.
On this Raft i lowered the foundations to surround the raft on the top and bottom, this leads to you not beeing able to click the raft at all, so you need to lower the area where the rudder is one more to the point where the wood of the raft sticks through the stone, like in the picture. Now you can interact with it. To be safe you can build a 1x1x1 around the steering area. I extended the foundations to 5x5 just to visualize where everything is located. The taming pen is a 2x3 floor plan located one wall higher then the steering area, this allows me to drive the raft even with a unconscious dino in the pen. Each short side has a Gateway and the longer sides are two walls high where the side that is closer to the middle of the raft has the 3x3 ramp going up. The lower walls can have several doorframes. Depending on how small the creatures are you want to tame here you have to put doors in or you cna leave them open. In the case that you have doors in them you should not have the doors open up into the taming pen, because bigger dinos can use these open doors as stairs and climb out of the pen. Creatures up to the size of Allosaurus can fit through the gate but a Rex requires you to demolish two of the upper walls to get out.