Armor in Ark: Survivor Evolved serves two purposes: it protects you from the elements like the cold and rain, and it mitigates damage done to you from creatures and other players. When you first start out you'll be naked and extremely exposed to both the elements and physical attacks. One of the first things you should unlock for crafting is the initial set of cloth armor, that should be good enough to protect you from low level dinosaurs long enough to farm them for meat and hide.
Armor can be crafted from several different materials, each of which offers its own defensive strengths and weaknesses. Eventually you should try to have one of each type so that you can counter each situation with the correct armor. The different armors only become craftable after levelling up, but they can also be found in the loot drops taht periodically happen around the map.
Craftable at: lvl 2 - 3
Crafted from Fibre, the cloth gear is the first you will be able to unlock via engrams. Each piece only gives a small amount of damage mitigation but will keep you cool in hot weather.
If you’re on a PvE server or safely in your base, you can get away with wearing this armor the majority of the time but as soon as you enter a PvP situation or want to hunt the larger dinos, you’ll want to switch to something heavier.
Craftable at: lvl 15 - 20
No surprise, the Hide gear is crafted from the hide harvested off of dead animals. It’s the second tier of armor and provides a lot more damage resistance than the cloth armor does.
While it doesn’t keep you as cool as the cloth armor does, the Hide is great for keeping you warm during those chilly nights, or while exploring caves. You should have at least hide armor if you are attempting to tame any of the carnivorous dinos (raptor) or participating in any form of PvP.
Craftable at: lvl 30 - 35
Chitin armor is crafted from the Chitin that drops off of enemies with exoskeletons like the scorpion or spider. Because of the dangerous nature of the creatures that drop it, you will want to have Hide Armor when farming Chitin.
Chitin is heavy armor that is very good at defending against physical attacks from both dinosaurs and other players. The trade-off is that Chitin armor is not very good at regulating your body temperature, especially against the heat. If you are caught out in a hot area too long you will quickly become dehydrated, so either stick to the shade, or bring lots of extra water.
Craftable at: lvl 45 - 50
The closest thing to a suit of armor you can get, the Flak gear is crafted mainly from metal ignots and is the best protection currently available from player and creature attacks.
Like any good thing there has to be a downside, which is the armors terrible climate control, particularly against the cold. Too long in a cave or cold water and you’ll start to lose health from hypothermia fast. That being said, in a PvP battle there is no better protection to be found.
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