Conan Exiles hits early access on steam and yes, it is another open world survival game but I think it should be said that’s it’s not ‘just another’ survival game. In a current world filled to the brim with games of this genre, Conan steps out and feels different. Early Access basically means your purchasing and testing an incomplete game, not all planned gameplay features will be implemented at launch of early access, there will be a plethora of patches, tweaks and updates during this critical stage of development. I feel it’s important to tell you this before continuing not necessarily to provide an excuse, but to tell you yes there will be issues but that comes with the nature of early access.
Being an open-world survival experience, story is never the key feature of titles in the genre, that responsibility goes to gameplay. Upon creation of your character, you wake up as an exile who’s been sentenced to death by crucifixion in the desolate wastelands where only those strong of will and heart can even bear to live. Starting out with nothing you must scratch and claw your way to survival, scavenging for food, water and resources followed by creating primitive weapons and tools to combat your enemies and build an empire. In terms of actual narrative that’s pretty much it, however the world itself is fleshed out containing history and lore. The wasteland is filled with devastating monsters, ruins from ancient civilizations and flesh hungry cannibals.
Upon traversing the landscape and getting a feel for the terrain, there’s that feel of seclusion, your alone, stranded almost, you look at your meter’s in the top left corner and feel that urgency to just go, find water, craft some tools, armour, weapons, get shelter and of course obtain food. Even in a populated server, the urgency is always there, settings can be changed sure but the feel of the game itself cannot be. I remember sprinting along the dunes not a care in the world, all my survival meters were full when out of nowhere a pack of hyenas are darting towards me from over the top of a dune, so then on top of the urgency, there’s danger and lots of it from the before-mentioned hyenas to the intimidating dragon’s and everything in-between, different sizes, shapes, colours, no horns, lots of horns, shells I could go on and on.
Combat is solid for the most part with the differing enemies moving and fighting in different ways you have to be tactical about your approach to how you take on each one. Being mindful of your health always, otherwise you may find yourself taking the big fat cut to black more than you will care to admit. Measuring your target is vital to success, being able to land blow after blow without fail will ensure a quick victory, if you miss time after time, you can certainly keep moving but you will get hit. Judge your fights accordingly, if there are too many enemies around that you could draw their aggro, then maybe it’s better to live and fight another day or you know come back with your friends.
Moments, awe-inspiring views and set-pieces are scattered through-out, be it the gigantic structures of rock or the smaller things like coming across an oasis in the middle of the barren desert. Frequently I would stop to take in my surroundings and enjoy those moments, right before some bloodthirsty raging cannibals came racing towards me ready to feast.
Moving on to the visuals which I believe would be perfectly welcomed in the final product. Playing on Ultra Settings, the game is beautiful, whether it’s the fine detail in the sand, walking along the dunes and turning around to see your trail or watching the sand dust flying through the air in the high-winds there is plenty of detailed textures and effects that really put help nail the immersion of Exiles.
The ambient soundtrack is intoxicating, you feel like you are on an adventure, setting out to create your own civilization. The soundtrack delivers on building that up, working with the visuals to create these stunning moments that I’ve mentioned before. Adding to the soundtrack are the sound effects, what’s important with sound is I personally feel you should be able to close your eyes and imagine that yes you are in this world, the wind whistling in the air, footsteps whether it’s on the sand or in the water and even your blade slicing through the air with each swing. This game nails it all on that front.
There are certainly issues happening at the moment which include lag occurrence, lengthy loading times and general game bugs. I joined the game one time and whilst travelling around the area I would often see creatures just sort of floating up trees. I expect this at this stage which is why I haven’t completely written the game off, all the issues I have with Conan Exiles can be fixed and I believe they will be.
The server browser system allows you to choose what type of game you want to play, of course you can choose the solo route, but I believe you get the full experience playing with others, first choice is whether you wish to enter a PvP or PvE server. Next will be the option of what type of players are you looking to play with or how do you want to play, choosing from Purist, Relaxed, Hardcore, Roleplaying or Experimental. These choices work as filter’s in your browser, choose the server you wish to play on and your away.
Character creation surprised in the sense that I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot of choice, but having 11 races from the Conan universe to choose from along with 4 gods to choose to worship, 6 voices and then many appearance changing settings and sliders which include, hair, body, eye colour and the rest of the normal features. But then, there’s one more slider that can be referred to as NSFW, which is entitled endowment, yes, you can change the length of a male character’s penis or the size of a female character’s breasts. The nudity can be set as either none, partial or full which once again puts that stamp on giving the player choice, to play what they want, how they want and I guess see what parts of the body they want.
Conan Exiles is the survival game I can truly sink hours and hours of playtime into and still not feel it’s such a chore which often happens with other games of its genre. More features are to be added over the coming months including new areas, mount systems and even siege weapons. I’m looking forward to be a part of all that. It’s visually appealing with a gorgeous soundtrack and whilst there are some teething issues, they can be rectified.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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