Disclaimer: This is not a review of Conan Exiles. Any subsequent review of the game may refer to content produced in this first impression but ultimately, the game will be reviewed for its own merit.
What is best in life? “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” A famous quote from the film, Conan the Barbarian. Conan Exiles is set in the same world as the films but doesn’t have a linear story as it is a (sigh) survival, crafting game available on Steam.
To be fair to Conan Exiles, it tries to do something far simpler than other titles it shares the genre with since there is no progression of weapons from spears & bows to assault rifles & rocket launchers as is the case with Rust & ARK.
You can create your own character where you can adjust everything from your hair, your eyes, your nose, your endowment size, there is a slider for everything. However, I was disappointed to learn that beards are not a feature available at the moment.
In Conan Exiles, all of the equipment you are able to craft and obtain is somewhat primitive, which suits the balance of play just fine. The balance of combat, however, does not feel fair when fighting armed enemies with higher tiered weaponry. Quite often is the case when you join a server, someone will have better gear than you, and trying to duel with them is out of the question unless you catch them napping.
It’s really difficult not to compare Conan Exiles to ARK as a lot of what you’ll do, even down to some of the animation is almost mirrored from ARK. The main difference is that you are not taming dinosaurs, but instead looking to tame thralls (human NPC’s) to do your bidding.
Thralls are used to defend your home or work furnaces or other structures you have built. Each thrall has its own talents in which it is proficient. To break a thrall, you need to make them work on the wheel which over time breaks them to your will. Once this has been completed, you can put them to work at one of your structures or assign them guard duty if they are a “combat” thrall.
The avatar summoning does look interesting, albeit overpowered, but I can’t comment on how it actually works as I never reached a high enough level in order to summon one.
I’ve noticed that hit detection when in third person view seems more lenient than when you are fighting in the default first person mode. Enemies I would otherwise have to hug to attack in the first person, I’m able to keep a reasonable distance and land blows in the third person, which I’m pretty sure is a bug the team over at Funcom will be aware of.
Speaking of bugs here is a little short list I compiled. This isn’t all of the reported bugs, but just some of the ones I found. Some of them are amusing, others are not:
- Running/walking animations not there resulting in people “sliding” toward you.
- Rocks bouncing off the floor as you finish them off with your pickaxe.
- Certain rocks giving you nothing, despite looking identical to rocks you have previously harvested.
- 3rd person combat being more effective than 1st person.
- Combat feeling like rock em, sock em robots.
- AI can’t climb rocks, so GG if you jump on a rock.
- AI can’t swim, but they walk at the bottom of the lake/river and get stuck.
- AI can’t path find if you hide behind a wall.
- Blocking with the shield takes more time than swinging a weapon and is, therefore, useless.
- Bows are useless
- My head disappeared
Conan Exiles offers a single player function, which I ended up spending most of my time on, since populated PVP servers resulted in my premature death to bands of well-equipped barbarians while I’m struggling to find food and shelter, and many of the PVE servers I tried to play would be deserted.
I did, however, see certain servers reasonably populated, however, these were locked off by either a password or I couldn’t get white listed, as these servers are used by streamers who are looking to avoid trolls and the sort of players that may make their own experience less enjoyable, which I can understand to a degree, but locking yourself away from other players does (as was the case in my own experience) detract from the true experience you’ll have of the game and doesn’t give viewers a true look at what the game would be like if they were to purchase and start playing.
Unfortunately, my limited time spent on populated servers were mired by players unwilling to allow others to learn, killing them on sight and shouting obnoxiously down their microphones; and as for the role playing servers: many of them are modded to allow faster gathering and crafting which didn’t give me a real flavour of the standard experience and just weren’t populated by many players, with exception of certain private servers.
By far the biggest issue was the latency issues on day one. Most games released onto the market these days experience teething issues, but I believe that with some foresight this issue could have been dealt with considering how many players were initially interested in the game.
The worry for me is that Conan Exiles hasn’t made the greatest first impression with its audience and I believe that many gamers will turn back to other titles before this game has been improved to significant enough degree. Empty servers on an online game are the death knell of the game.
I think Conan Exiles has potential, but as it stands there just isn’t enough content in the game in order to make the experience engaging enough to keep grinding for more resources. The game as it stands feels like a waste of time with no real end goal in sight.
You are simply existing for the sake of existing, which isn’t engaging enough when you consider there are better survival crafting games out there. My opinion? Don’t bother until it’s improved.
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Ryan Griffiths is a British gamer, known as a bit of a lone wolf. Retro games are his passion, with newer releases not living up to his expectations. Of course there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to Dynasty Warriors & Total War games.