Conan Exiles (PC) Preview

By Ofisil 06.02.2017

Review for Conan Exiles on PC

Conan the Barbarian is one of those popular culture icons that everybody has heard of, although very few actually know enough when it comes to Robert E. Howard's famous character, and the sword and sorcery universe he lives in, and that's a shame, because, similar to the work of Lovecraft (although, certainly, to a lesser degree), it's a setting worth "exploring." Funcom, the creator of the previous journey into this primeval setting, Age of Conan, returns with the open-world survival sandbox called Conan Exiles, and Cubed3 gets its hands dirty with it.

First things first. This has an endowment meter that lets you create a mighty pair of bouncing melons for your amazon, or a big flappy… err, extra foot for your barbarian. You know it, we know it, the internets knows it - and guess what? It's awesome! Does this mean that this is basically sword and sorcery porn? Thankfully, no. The reason why this is great is simply that Funcom treats the Hyborian Age era and the ones willing to partake in it with respect.

In other words, Conan Exiles treats gamers as adults; and not just because your avatar can run around butt naked. The fantasy world that this takes place in is a dark and gritty one, full of monsters, wild beasts, cannibals, and, even worse, you have to actually become worse than them to survive. This is not a stereotypical become-the-hero kind of survival sandbox like Far Cry Primal. It's life or death here, so after surviving, you must build, and after building, you must dominate… in any way possible.

Screenshot for Conan Exiles on PC

Yes, this is a title that's very early in development (and it shows), and yet it's obvious that it has lots of potential. First of all, it has a very strong atmosphere, with the very intro being the best that this has to offer so far. The character creation sequence starts with the said character being tied to a cross. There's not much that one can do here for the time being, and it's hard to understand the impact of some choices (like races), but the next 10 or so minutes give a great taste of things to come, with the exiled hero or heroine trying to cross a desert, almost naked, and with just a flask of water.

Once this protagonist reaches the "oasis," the real game begins, and this being an open-world survival sandbox, it's all about gathering materials, crafting tools… and doing whatever, and anytime you want. The crafting system is, undoubtedly, one of this title's central aspects, and, thankfully, it's quite deep (without being complex), and very enjoyable, even at this early stage of development, with the only two major issues being the hard-to-stomach crafting menu, and the need for a general balancing, with some recipes requiring far more ingredients than they should.

Screenshot for Conan Exiles on PC

Another enjoyable part is the freedom to build impressive, multi-level structures with insane ease; structures that can act either as storage areas or fortresses. Even "better?" It's possible to capture thralls to defend them, dance, or even work as artisans… after breaking them on the Wheel of Pain, of course. Finally, religion is a major component of Conan Exiles, with one of its many benefits being the ability to summon a god's avatar (a long and costly process), and crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.

Is that all, though? Well, for the most part, yes, and that's one of the things that Funcom must avoid, because survival sandboxes (and sandboxes in general) can become very repetitive after a while if there isn't something more to them than gathering and crafting. Long story short… this needs a story. It's impossible to tell for now, but if this has any chance to succeed it must become a little more similar to The Elder Scrolls series, with tons of lore to read, quests to accomplish, and areas to explore.

Screenshot for Conan Exiles on PC

Something that's also hard to know is how the solo play experience will turn out. Sure, most will be okay with the obvious focus this has on multiplayer, but it will be nice if single players won't be put aside. That's definitely something that will need a lot of work to fix, because everything from gathering and crafting, to surviving battles, is currently a bit unfair towards soloists, despite the ability to change settings in the online servers to increase the XP/gathering/crafting speed.

Yes, it's very laggy; yes, animations need work; yes, the range for interacting with something is waaay off; yes, enemies spawn near you and very often; yes, the interface is a user-UNfriendly, disjointed mess; and, yes, the online servers are unstable. Nevertheless, for a product so early in development, Conan Exiles is a pleasure to play despite all this. Its creator is planning on adding tons more content, with more biomes than the desert, mounts, siege weaponry, a more in-depth crafting system, and much, much more… Hopefully, the end result will be even more tasteful than this small bite was.

Screenshot for Conan Exiles on PC

Final Thoughts

It's hard to say for sure, but Conan Exiles feels as if it could very well be the best survival sandbox video game yet - it's actually that good, and that's even when you take its hundreds of flaws into consideration. Funcom's ambitious project is bound to be ready in less than a year. Hopefully, and with the help of Crom, it will succeed in making people fall in love with the Hyborian Age once more.

Developer

Funcom

Publisher

Funcom

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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