The water in ARK: Survival Evolved [Steam] is broken on certain maps, instead of water you see some horrible plain brown texture. It seems the developers have finally acknowledged it and here's a temp fix.
Here's what the developer said on September 16th:
This is on our to-do list, we will be resolving this, as well as taking a look at the other Mac and Linux graphical issues. I don't have a timeline for it right now, it will be when an engineer is available, but we haven't forgotten, in addition to taking a look at working with Vulcan in the future. Thank you guys for being so patient, I understand how frustrating it is so we'll look at taking care of this as soon as possible.
Also, it turns out there is a temporary workaround to get water looking nice again. Since it's not actually an issue on all maps. With thanks to this post on the ARK forum, here's what to do.
First, you need to have "The Center - ARK Expansion Map" (free) installed. Annoyingly, all the normal methods of trying to install it failed, they just loaded ARK or showed me the Steam page for the free DLC inside the in-game overlay and nothing happened. I tried many other ways, but the only thing that worked was opting into the Steam Beta Client which somehow suddenly made it work.
Here's how the water looks right now on maps like The Island:
How to fix the water
First, open up the install folder for ARK. If you don't know where it is: right click on ARK, go to properties, click the local files tab and click the browse local files button.
Once you have The Center installed, copy this file:
Overwrite this file with the one above:
You should then see the water fixed. Here's a shot I took on our ARK server after doing the above:
You might need to repeat that on updates, after verifying files (which would see it as wrong) and so on. It's a temp fix until the developers actually sort it out.
It's pretty nuts that we have to go to such lengths, with this bug being well known for months. To have a temp fix of replacing one file with another, that the developer could likely just do themselves in the main build. I find that utterly shocking.