The Story of ARK: Survival Evolved
Spoiler ALERT!!! If you do not want the mysteries of the ARKs or the ending to this story spoiled, PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS!

Element is a highly advanced material filled with energy, that either came from outer space, or deep down from earth. Humans discovered it during the 22nd century, and quickly became obsessed with this overpowered resource. Humans evolved quickly and discovered/invented new technologies that were possible due to Element. However, Element turned out not just to be a precious resource.
During the "Element War", the use of element-powered weapons began to heavily pollute the earth. The war on Earth soon took its toll as the polluted element became almost conscious/self-aware, and the element was revealed to almost be a form of living organism/flora with a hive mind personality with endless hatred, that only wanted to cause devastation and annihilation. Because of its self-awareness, Element has begun to dig deep into Earth at Element-polluted battlefields.
Earth has grown terminally ill as if it is in an end-stage disease from something, most likely from pollution over the course of human history and the recent three centuries of Element pollution caused by the URE and Terran Federation.

In the 22nd century, two superpowers had mastered Element-based technology (referred to as Tek) - the United Republic of Earth (URE) and the Terran Federation (Feds). For reasons that are still unclear, the two factions were inevitably drawn into a war that ultimately consumed them both. What they were fighting over is unknown, but "Original" Santiago suspects the usual culprits of starting a war: politicians.

The United Republics wanted to use the new energy source (Element), to manipulate the human body and survive by becoming more than human. Employing the neurological modifications that allowed interfacing with Element. Thus, becoming a race of Transhumans', eventually becoming early Homo Deus (energy-based beings). The URE hoped that the Homo Deus would be an option of escape for humanity. In Genesis: Part 2, many Terran Federation explorer notes explain that Homo Deus were referred to as "Transhumans'" in the past and they were mainly from the United Republics of Earth. The Homo Deus/ Transhumans' have a strict mindset that “Original” Santiago describes where people involved in Project Genesis must do whatever it takes no matter the cost to succeed and sacrifice themselves and their livelihoods for the greater good.

The Terran Federation wanted to use the new energy source (Element) for a grand engineering of Earth to repair and hack into it. By creating weapons and machines that employed the use of Element. They promoted being Humanist. And heavily restricting or discouraging their citizens from putting on neurological modifications and interfacing with the unknown.

The Element War lasted 16 to 17 years with tensions escalating two years before the start of the war. According to "Genesis Clone" Santiago, one of the causes, if not the main cause of the Element War was the differences between the two Governments use of (Element). "Original" Santiago's death ended the Element War in Year 2347.

By the end of the Element War, Element grew to critical masses at alarming rates. The entire planet Earth collapsed as Element spread across the planet by first digging roots deep into its crust, enabling it to create Titans to ravage everything in sight. On top of that, natural disasters ravaged the environment and killed a majority of the inhabitants. Most notably, Earth's rotation has stopped for some reason, causing certain locations on Earth to have constant day, constant night, and a twilight zone.
Once the two factions realized the damage that they caused, and the greater threat of Element, they reconciled and worked together to focus on the real problem. They invested all of their effort into Project Genesis. In the aftermath of the Titans, and natural disasters brought on by Elements' ravages, both the URE and the Terran Federation collapsed, and very few landmarks and monuments remained intact, with most traces of the old world consumed by rapidly growing veins of Element. The only notable surviving landmarks are the city of Sanctuary, the Proto-ARKs of Extinction, and Arat Prime.

Project Genesis initially was a project that planned to preserve and restore all life without Element contamination. And both factions worked together to construct the ARKs and the Colony Ship (Genesis Simulation) in an attempt to save life on earth from extinction.
Project Genesis was a massive project that was done by the Terran Federation humanists and the United Republics of Earth transhumans, its purpose is to hold and record every engrammic matrix, or the minds and personalities of every single known human in Earth's history into an archive. The project was so indifferent that if the whole world found out about efforts to archive every human into an archive, a multitude of organized mobs and riots will try to shut them down. As a result, the general public was kept in the dark.
Both the Colony Ship and ARKs will hold a copy of this archive to allow them to repopulate the worlds they will inhabit respectively. Before the collapse, the Genesis Simulation was one of many simulations that students used to routinely learn their classes, most notably online sciences by wandering around the given simulation's environments. It was also a vital research facility where social science researchers such as psychologists and sociologists are enjoying the sight of seeing every possible human interaction.

The ARK in-lore story begins about millions, or even billions of years after The Collapse, when the ARKs begin to malfunction. Explorer notes indicate that the ARKs have remained in orbit far longer than 646 years.

Is a space station intended to house living organisms such as humans, Creatures, and Plants. They are incredible feats of human engineering, kilometers-wide mobile space stations housing vast vaults of genetic information, cloning devices, and terraforming technology. In their dormant state, they wait in Earth orbit, simulating a diverse ecosystem by controlling onboard climate and animal populations. The dome that protects this false ecosystem from the void of space also doubles as an artificial horizon, masking the station's true nature with a blue sky and an artificial day/night cycle. Humans are deterred from reaching the edge of this artificial horizon by methods that look like natural boundaries. For an unknown period of time, the ARKs awaited an activation signal from Earth. The stations are programmed to perform a controlled descent in response to this signal, touching down on the planet's surface. Each station is a giant seed built to bloom over the Earth's wasteland, its terraforming systems sweeping away the Element infestation. All of this is triggered by an order called the Reseed Protocol that calls the ARKs to return back to Earth's surface. However, the Reseed Protocol is blocked by another piece of criteria: the Element Toxicity Rating.
ARKs’ are powered by the Obelisk, and each ARK contains at least one Guardian. In-game, the power of the obelisks are shown in the Extinction ending cutscene when the obelisks and their station released enough energy to cause a shockwave that levels the nearby remains of the city of Sanctuary. Curiously, although designed to repopulate the planet, modern Earth species are almost entirely absent from every known ARK. Their creators used each model as a whimsical genetic playground, featuring new species that are either heavily modified or completely fabricated. The Island, the closest known ARK to a 'pure' Earth ecosystem, features modified versions of animals from across prehistory unnaturally mixed together.
ARKs' strange quirks do not stop at their animal populations. Their builders discovered a hidden part of the brain called an 'engrammic matrix', which stored information in some human bodies even after years of decay. Personalities and memories were recreated for people who had been dead for centuries or even millennia.[3] These people were set loose in the ARKs with no idea of where they were, or how much time had passed. Every human that is on the ARK has a strange implant in their left wrist in the shape of a prism. This implant somehow acts as a medium between two languages by translating the speaker's language to the listener's language, so the listener completely understands what the speaker is actually saying.
These ARKs' were launched prior to a global-level extinction event in which Element wiped out Earth's Human population. With the defeat of the King Titan and the activation of the signal, every single ARK descended to Earth, including the Aberrant ARK with Rockwell and a station full of corrupt Element. Given that Rockwell is present on the Colony Ship and has intentions on conquering a different habitable world, Rockwell fled through the Genesis Simulation as Earth is clean of corrupt Element and the ARKs were able to clean up the Aberration ARK.

Homo Deus, meaning "god-man" from the Latin roots, are conscious entities that watch over the ARKs. They are energy-based beings who live in a tangential reality and are an option of escape for humanity. The technology of Element, the Genesis Simulation, and the ARKs were likely developed from the same principals; and thus the Homo Deus were capable of integrating with the ARKs. The Homo Deus eventually become the beings created to watch over the ARKs.
These beings can rarely resurrect any Humans. One did and created a new Homo Deus, A notable one, "The One Who Waits", who guides the survivor through The Island, Scorched Earth, and Aberration to Extinction via the use of Notes and Dossiers. With Element prolonging the ARK's time in orbit, this caused the Homo Deus to lose themselves. Helena is the last Homo Deus whose mind hasn't crumbled yet.
Homo Deus have a number of abilities: Being able to see the entire universe in a virtual pane of glass. Their ability to see so much at the same time helped those who built the ARKs. They have a power that tends to the ARKs. They can interact with the physical world by touching survivor's minds and making things to help them. Where a typical person lives a day, Home Deus’s ability to see and experience entire time streams (i.e. the beginning to the end of the universe) as singular moments may be likely what causes the Homo Deus to lose their sanity, as maintaining a singular persona within non-finite experience requires great effort and energy.
Homo Deus technically don't exist in the physical world anymore and have their own plane of reality, a reality. In the Island's space station at the end of the Tek cave, the third planet hologram with the Dead Earth being highlighted in red has another hologram across it that has a description that states that the Homo Deus are considered endangered.
It is worth noting that not every human using the Genesis technology became Homo Deus. Some prerequisite seems to exist, but it is tastefully undisclosed. The only clue on who becomes a Homo Deus is from Santiago's Mek Pilot Evaluation on Helena Walker, the only mek pilot in-lore that has maxed out every synchronization gauge.

While the ARKs simulated environments in analog, the Genesis Simulation was entirely virtual. Housed aboard a colony ship it was built to train passengers in preparation for arrival, without waking them from hibernation. Genesis was designed by the same group that built the ARKs. Both projects seem to have developed concurrently, with lessons learned from one feeding into the other. Both technological marvels improved each other with their mutual relationship. When the ARKs have an issue in how they operate, the builders go back to the Genesis Simulation and apply the conditions inside the simulation in order to safely know how to resolve the problem. This process can be the reverse when the Genesis Simulation glitches out and it needs the ARKs to resolve its issue.
From humble beginnings, Genesis was built into a technological marvel rivaling even the great ARKs, in a more compact package. Its design focus changed several times over development. Remnants of code from older versions still linger, causing glitches. The Genesis simulation has an early version of a piece of technology that can store a personality and put it into a body that was later applied to the ARKs. This result of the technology can be seen during the in-game's respawn mechanic. Older versions of the Genesis Simulation included pleasant environments such as a shopping center.

The creators of the ARKs and the Colony Ship were constantly considering what lifeforms they were going to bring into their habitats. The team can't possibly recreate every single form of life that existed, and they decided to back up as many as they can, whether the creature is extinct or currently living. Some of the creatures may have made a possible balance in ecosystems and that it doesn't make sense on how some civilizations in the past may have survived a natural disaster.
The creators of the ARKs and Colony Ship not only looked up information about dinosaurs, but also about creatures of mythological, and sci-fi origin to have more creatures. Humans surviving alongside dinosaurs worked so well as a simulation that it worked just as well in the real analog world for a strange reason. This explains why all the ARKs have creatures that are mostly dinosaurs. When the dinosaurs were a simulation experiment, the creators sorted out the dinosaur behaviors in the simulation and those edited dinosaurs were brought to life on the ARKs.
Some of the creatures are the result of genetic modification that was caused by humans using Tek gene manipulation technology to alter organisms to have traits of more than two creatures. This was done to expand on more creatures for humans to be experimented with.

With the Genesis Simulation technology near perfection, the creators of the ARK moved to phase 2: creating prototypes.
Proto-ARKs can be found on Extinction. Unlike the environments that were sent up into space, Humans and Creatures can freely enter and leave the Proto-ARKs. They also have a prototype obelisk in their center that powers the ARK. Those obelisks helped the builders of the ARK to figure out what will power the ARKs while they are in orbit. The only problem the Proto-ARKs have is a dome that allows creatures to walk in and out of the ARKs. This was solved by making the dome strong enough to prevent creatures from getting in or out.
The ARKS The ARKs were designed to help heal the poisoned Earth. At one point, the makers moved the ARKs and Genesis Simulation up into orbit over concern of the Proto-ARKs inhabitants being mixed with animals outside the ARK.
The very first Proto-ARK that is up in orbit, the Farm stands as the basis in design for the artificial biomes and the many prehistoric creatures that are native in the ARKs and the Colony Ship. The Farm developed technology that later applied to the ARKs. A terraforming system- The Reseed Protocol. The Farm could speed evolve lifeforms with a memory engram learning system, it was able to adapt to the new situations. The AI Control of all the Farm systems, and eventually became the Overseer in all the ARKs. The Farm will have inhabitants that will have conflicts with each other, as indicated with 99.452187% chance of having conflicts.
Obviously, it is the basis for The Island, the closest known ARK to a 'pure' Earth ecosystem, features modified versions of animals from across prehistory unnaturally mixed together.
Scorched Earth was a breeding ground for wyverns and other fantastical monsters. Their creators used each model as a whimsical genetic playground, featuring new species that are either heavily modified or completely fabricated.
Aberration began as a normal ark and was changed as Helena, Mei Yin, and Santiago destabilized the obelisks. Causing the Rockwell incident and overseeing the Completion of the Gateway Project (2 weeks before it was finished). The events in Aberration are all within 30 standard days.

In Extinction, there are creatures that are either natural or genetically modified by Element, allowing them to have abnormal powers that can be done by Element. They were present in-between Earth's collapse and the Arrival of the Colony Ship at the habitable world.
The ARK creators moved the Proto-ARKs up into orbit to prevent creatures from both outside and inside the ARKs to interbreed, but the damage had been done, many generations of inbreeding leading to the snow owls, managarmrs, velonasaurs, gachas, and gasbags that are on Extinction.
The Crater Forest was a failed experiment. This underground forest was formerly an operational, forest-themed Proto-ARK but sunk into the ground. It seems to have no borders. This implies that the ARKs need a boxed-in area.
The Desert Dome was an experiment that had improvements since the ARK now has a metal ring, a circular area, but has a massive hole and some ARK structures being exposed. This might imply that the ARKs need solid ground that has very few cave systems underneath it.
The Snow Dome was an experiment that might be the foundation of all the ARKs since it has no exposed structures, few cave systems, and holes. Now all that is left for building the ARKs is making the barrier far sturdier so survivors can't exit, more, larger obelisks to power the ARK, a wider area for the ARK, and systems that can carve, and move the chunk of land up and safely down from orbit.
Arat Prime is a mysterious location on the far side of Earth from Sanctuary City, somehow related to both the ARKs and the Genesis Simulation. Arat Prime when translated into Latin is called "Primus Aratra". Primus means "first" and Aratra means "plow". Put together, Arat Prime means "The First Plow". Based on what its name means, the technology on Arat Prime will play a pivotal role with all of the ARK's Reseed Protocols where Arat Prime acts as the plowing tool to make the ground ripe for growth, and the ARKs act as seeds that plant themselves into the ground.
With Earth currently not rotating, the area around Sanctuary had constant exposure to the sun, giving an impression of constant day. Since the location of Arat prime is on the far side of Earth, it would experience the opposite: constant night.
Arat Prime is a location that has a superlight speed bridge via Genesis Simulation to connect the Colony Ship with Earth. Mei-Yin and Diana Altaras, now the only two people left on Earth, head for Arat Prime. According to Diana Altaras and Mei Yin, Arat Prime was being referenced by the bunker they found and showed information how Element can command the Corrupted horde with troop movements, and any artificial entity made by Element can spread it anywhere they go. Remarkably, at the final cutscene of Extinction, we see that the broken aberration ARK crash landed on a dark part of earth, giving us a hint that maybe Rockwell made his way to Arat Prime.

The Feds concentrated their energies in building the Colony Ship to find a planet with similar conditions to Earth. “Original” Santiago pondered about this as he was thinking of recruiting people that are willing to sacrifice their lifetimes and their children's lifetimes to see the Colony Ship's mission through to the end. The project also became disturbing to some of the initial Colony Ship crew members. The transhumans made engrammic copies of the crew members in the archive's database regardless wither they consented into being archived or not. When “Original” Santiago did random searches on the engram archive database, he found something disturbing that he noted he will never unsee: the engram archive team under Yongki somehow meshed two distinct identities together that became the result of a person that never existed in human history. Yongki, the archive director and friend of Santiago, found that his family had been archived regardless of if they said yes or no to consent.

The current version of the Genesis Simulation has five simulated environments: Bog, Moon, Ocean, Snow, and Volcanic. Anti-contamination codes work to keep elements of one ecosystem from crossing over into another. They simulate extreme biomes that can greatly impact Earth as a whole. However, these extremes are not found on Earth in its current hazardous state.
Upon beating the Corrupted Master Controller to escape the Genesis Simulation, the player wakes up from their storage unit on the colony ship and notices a specimen implant that is dubbed a "Terran Ascension Implant".

A massive ship with a Terran Federation Logo that is the setting of Genesis: Part 2, the Colony Ship contains ring worlds that depict the most accurate picture of humanity's peak ingenuity and technology through Tek tier. According to Rockwell, the ring worlds are a treasure trove of so many advanced scientific discoveries that are so groundbreaking, the known boundary between biology and technology is about to disappear. It was built and launched by the Terran Federation during or just before the Collapse and was sent with the hope of people finding a new planet to colonize. The colony ship was made as a backup plan, in case the reseed protocol never initiated.
Arat Prime might not just have been used to launch the colony ship, but may also be used to beam/transfer peoples minds/consciousnesses to the Genesis Simulation onboard the colony ship, into a sleeping clone body on the ship. How Rockwell got onboard is unknown, but a fair guess is that after the broken aberration ARK crashed into Earth in Extinction, Rockwell made it to Arat Prime where he beamed himself to the ship in deep space.
The Colony Ship supposedly also had an operational crew born from generations of humans that were launched with the ship. However, most of the crew got slaughtered when Rockwell began to overtake the ship. According to Nida, the remaining crew members went into hiding but it is uncertain if they put themselves in pods or Rockwell drew them out and slaughtered them
The Corrupted Garden Ring, home of Rockwell prime contains many types of creatures either natural or genetically modified by Element, allowing them to have abnormal powers that can be done by Element. The Astrocetus and the Astrodelphis are some of the creatures that live naturally in the space between the Eden and Corrupted Garden Ring.
An “unknown event” that will soon happen in the ARK universe, Helena mentions that the ship will soon arrive, the Genesis Simulation on the colony ship keeps participants under constant pressure to prepare them with survival skills in anticipation for the “upcoming event”. The end of Genesis part 2, the whole ship, aside from the Eden ring, crashes down on a gas giant/deserted looking planet. The Eden ring however, begins to launch pods with survivors including “Genesis:2” Santiago down to a neighboring planet. According to Santiago, this is, "Just the easy part". This may be "The Arrival".
Below you will find the various links and sites that the above accumulation of lore has come from. All Credits reside in the authors of these sites.
u/diamondcreeper of Reddit for the wonderful condensation of ARK's Lore.
Interesting Character Sheets from "ark.fandom.com". I wanted to capture these awesome compilations of the various Characters of ARK Survival Evolved. They have been copied into a document for safe keeping.
All rights are attributed to the editors of "ark.fandom.com".
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On this page
Back history of Earth.
Element
22nd. Century Earth Governments.
Element War - Year 2327 - Year 2347
The Collapse - Year 2347 -?
The ARK in-lore story
ARK
Homo Deus
The ARKs’ interaction with the Genesis Simulation
The Creator Teams of the ARKs’
Phase 2: Creating Prototypes
Extinction and Arat Prime
The Colony Ship (Genesis Simulation)- Earth 22nd. Century
Genesis: Part 1 - Over 684 years after the events of The Collapse.
Genesis: Part 2