Conan Exiles – First Impressions

I’m back playing some Conan Exiles after a little break from it, so that’s why this is still just first impressions. I did originally play it at launch, but due to some pretty bad sever lag I decided to leave it alone for a little while to let some of those issues get ironed out.

Now that the game has been out for a few months and has had a ton of updates I thought I’d jump back on to see what it was like and how things we’re going.

Conan Exiles is a survival game that focuses on base building like Rust and Ark. Like Ark is also has the PVE and PVP elements to it. You can stumble across a wide range of wild and fantastical beasts roaming around, from hyenas all the way to dragons – although I’ve not seen a dragon in game.

There are also NPC like characters called Thralls that you can basically capture and put to use in your own base after you’ve subjected them to the wheel of pain which breaks them and makes them submit to your will! You can use them to guard your base from attackers and other helpful things.

Much like Rust I feel like playing solo can be a bit of a struggle in Conan, it’s possible, but you will always be slightly disadvantaged when trying to build bases as it just requires so much more effort to be able to build something even remotely viable. This is something that a lot of survival games with base building seem to suffer from though and I’m not entirely sure what the answer is beyond finding team mates.

Base building works in a modular way as you might expect, you can build foundations, wall sections, door sections all that jazz and you’ll need a boat load of stone and wood to be able to start off. The problem I’ve found was that the starting area seems to be pretty much the same for everyone, so everyone is almost squeezed in to this one ‘lower level’ area, meaning there is more of a fight for resources and even with the stone nodes that you do fine, they don’t tend to give out much stone.

There is also a character leveling system where you can boost up your strength, speed, stamina etc… It add’s a nice extra level of complexity and gives you something to work towards too. You can also unlock recipes which are basically all your buildings and weapons, you’ll have to spend points to unlock them and they will give you access to a number of different items that you can then craft just as you might expect to see in a RPG skill tree.

So how is the game after the first few months then? Well I’m a little sad to say that I still seem to be getting lag issues on servers, mainly when in combat which is immensely frustrating, you can be attacking an animal, the game will freeze or jump for a second and then you’re behind it, or it’s behind you. In the end combat just devolves in to spamming attacks and jumping around until whatever it is, is lying in a heap on the the floor.

But aside from that I like it, the base building seems good, progression feels pretty good and it feels like they’re trying to do some different things with survival.

There are cities and small settlements that you can explore – although I’ve not ventured to any large ones yet, this is where you can find unique and higher level thralls that will give you significant bonuses in certain areas. There is also a deity system where when creating your character you can choose a God that you may worship. Then later in the game you may summon that a giant avatar of that God to help you fight, there is a huge snake, a giant octopus type thing and a big man thing, it’s all a bit mad. I haven’t had he pleasure of seeing on in game yet, but they look pretty fun, although they don’t seem to last long – which makes sense as it would be a bit OP otherwise.

The current map is pretty large – I think around 10km, the final map is meant to be something like 53km2 with various differnet biomes to explore. There are also a lot of secrets for you to discover with dungeons, caves and other things hidden away.

‘Playing’ dead…

Conan Exiles seems to have a lot of potential and has some interesting ideas that other survival games don’t seem to be doing. There has been a lot of dedicated work going on in the first few months which is very promising to see with an early access game, but it still remains to be seen whether it can reach that potential.If you can get together a fairly dedicated group to play with I think you could end up having a lot of fun, but solo I don’t see it being as good, but if you’re someone who is used to playing games like this solo then you will find a lot of fun to be had.

-Will

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