If you have caught any of the games media’s Conan Exiles coverage over the past few weeks you would be mistaken for thinking that there wasn’t much to it, other than cock lengthening and tit-o-meters. However, looking past Funcom’s risky make-or-break “endowment” gimmick reveals a fun, if unoriginal, adventure that is surprising “fleshed out” for an initial early access release. Crafting, base-building, monster slaying, enslaving the local populace and plenty more features have all been available since launch. You would know that if you had managed to tear yourself away from the character creation screen, you deviant.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Conan movies, books or lore, truth be told, so with nary an idea of what to expect I jumped in head first. Disappointingly, instead of being confronted with breasts bigger than heads and dongs as long as your legs, I was greeted repeatedly with a “your password is incorrect screen” and the inability to see my friend’s server. I only had to contend with this screen for a half day before I realised that the game didn’t automatically create a firewall exception for itself – thanks Funcom! So, it was with a sour mood I trounced my way along the vast dangerous desert of Conan’s starting area, all the while my thirst and hunger meters depleting. Enter Conan Exiles‘ first real issue – lack of documentation or reference material.
Yes, I know this an Early Access release, and I know that these things take time to compile but for the love of all that is holy, is a little documentation too much to ask for? Prepare to find yourself scouring wikis and talking to your fellow players, or you may end up unable to even grasp the most basic of concepts such as tool making, food and water retrieval, and clothing – if you are into that sort of thing. Perseverance is key in Conan Exiles opening few hours, but if you can make it through you will be richly rewarded – especially if you are in the company of friends and companions.
Sure, the combat mechanics are flaky and unbalanced , sometimes even broken, but there is a simple joy to joining a band of marauding, axe-wielding maniacs as they murder their way across the desert. There’s already a variety of beasts lurking across the arid plains, and killing them will give you crafting materials and experience points to spend on your character’s attributes.
Crafting is simple, if a little uninspired. Each time your character levels up you will receive attribute points and crafting points. Crafting points can be spent on a variety of items such as building materials for your base, cosmetic items to decorate them with, as well as weapons and armour. There are several different tiers of craftsmanship and each will take time to achieve as they are linked directly to the level of your character. Crafting bigger and better bases and kiting your character out with better weapons is the main incentive to playing Conan Exiles at the moment and I am quite satisfied by that, in all honesty.
Much like the other crafting adventure games on the market, Conan will appeal to different audiences. You’ll find people who want to build things and make them look the best they can; you will also find people that want to murder anything that moves whilst attaining the highest level gear. I’m placed closer to the former group than the latter and have found myself spoilt for choice with the plethora of items to unlock and improve my base with. That’s not to say I haven’t found satisfaction in the combat, though. There’s no greater a satisfaction to be had than kiting an oversized dragon around a wall your friend has built, bashing its skull in whilst the game’s pathfinding goes apeshit.
I wouldn’t want to be a lone wanderer in this harsh, unforgiving landscape. Some experiences are best when shared with others – friends and foes. I would highly recommend playing with other people, you will get your bearings much quicker and the game is, overall, a much more enjoyable proposition in a group than going it solo.
With the exception of its well-executed setting, there really isn’t a huge amount to differentiate Conan Exiles from its peers at the moment, but Funcom has pedigree in the MMO market and with the Conan brand itself. They’ve been quick to issue patches for some of the game’s more annoying bugs, and are open about the game’s development on their Steam discussions page. Despite a rough launch, which drew criticism from some outlets, Conan Exiles looks set to have a bright future having sold over 320,000 copies already.
Take your cursor off of the titty slider and get to it!