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Ark's animated series surprise drops with a ludicrously stacked Hollywood cast ready to get chomped by dinos

 Some dinosaurs looking angry in the Ark animated series.
Some dinosaurs looking angry in the Ark animated series.

The first six episodes of Ark: The Animated Series, based on popular dino survival game Ark: Survival Evolved, have released on Paramount+, with seven more episodes to arrive at an unspecified date. The series is perhaps most notable for a stellar line-up of acting talent, including Michelle Yeoh, Russell Crowe, Gerard Butler, David Tennant, Jeffrey Wright, Elliot Page, Madeleine Madden, and best of all Vin Diesel.

The official blurb for the series is as follows: "When 21st century paleontologist Helena Walker (Madeleine Madden) finds herself resurrected on a mysterious primeval island populated by prehistoric beasts, she must learn to survive with new allies from throughout time, while trying to uncover the true nature of their strange new world."

Alongside the release, something called the "Bob’s ‘Dear Jane’ Animated Series Event" is now live in Ark: Survival Ascended. Players can unlock costumes from the show by finding "Dear Jane" notes in the game, with the role of Bob being played by none other than Judge Dredd himself, Karl Urban. This will unfold every week until April 11 with new notes and rewards that tie-in to the animation's storyline, with the first week's items being Helena and Bob's costumes, plus Dodo and Scary the Parasaur.

Ark: The Animated Series was announced alongside Ark 2 (which also stars Vin Diesel) in 2020, a sequel to the original game that's expected later this year. It was revealed with a four-minute trailer blowout, with Vin Diesel chewing through all scenery in sight, but Studio Wildcard has stayed relatively tight-lipped since then (though it will be a survival sandbox game).

That follows on from last year's remake of the first game, which was re-named Ark: Survival Ascended, which dropped a bit of a clanger by initially telling fans it would be a free upgrade for existing owners (in the event, they charged $50 for a bundle including the game and a pre-order of Ark 2). It also suffered from server issues, the subject of a memorable summary by the game's lead designer Jeremy Stieglitz that "the servers are ass, they run like ass, and their stability is ass."

Ark: The Animated Series is currently only available in the US, but will release worldwide on April 19 (which may well be when to expect the closing seven episodes). That won't be the end of it either, as the show is already confirmed for a second season.