Conan Exiles has been out on early access since 2017 but now the full version is available on all platforms and we decided to review this beast. We at GReviews are all huge fans of Conan The Barbarian so getting a chance to strap on some sandals and head for the lands of high adventure was a dream come true.
Funcom have gone for a brutal survival experience and I have to say they really picked a perfect setting for it. Robert E Howard’s world of the Hyborian age is a savage and ruthless placed filled with terrifying monsters and cruel raiders. But even if you manage to find a quiet spot away from all the violence you’re still going to have to contend with the harsh environments. Blistering cold, sweltering heat and good old fashioned exhaustion are all out to get you too. One thing that really drives the Conan atmosphere is the stirring soundtrack that plays during the menu and cutscenes. It really feels like its lifted straight out of a Conan movie but it’s a shame the music doesn’t crop up that much during gameplay.
My journey into these lands started with my character nailed to a cross and left to die in the middle of the desert. I’m a stickler for character customisation so I love being able to play a character that looks like me. Unfortunately I’m not a muscle bound, meat titan with a horse penis. You get several variations on that theme but it’s pretty much all giant, stacked dudes or giant stacked women in this game. Given that it’s Conan I really didn’t mind too much so I finished up making sure my beard was exactly the right shade of brown then turned the dong size dial up to 11.
After accepting my character I got a short cutscene where the man himself, Conan the barbarian, strode forth and cut me down from the cross. He offered some words of inspiration then walked calmly into a sand storm. I woke up in the desert with nothing but my freedom and a hugely inflated sense of self esteem. After checking my map I saw that heading north along the only road in sight would eventually take me to a river. Given that I was starving, dehydrated and completely defenceless it seemed like the best place to find shelter.
Wandering through the desert I managed to make some rudimentary clothes out of plant fibre and a make shift axe out of some stone and fallen tree branches. It wasn’t much but I felt like these were just the humble beginnings of a mighty conqueror. Fortunately the giant, winged bat beast that I crossed paths with just flew away after roaring at me instead of ripping me to shreds. On the other hand I found that I was starving at an alarming rate. It seemed hauling that giant elephant’s trunk of a penis through the desert was more tiring than I had anticipated.
With my time running out I found a feral monster scavenging around the edges of the river and bashed it’s brains in. The combat follows a pretty Dark Souls and Monster Hunter pattern. Lock onto the target then use light and heavy attacks at the right time to chop down their health bar. For defence you can block, with a shield if you craft one, or use the all powerful dodge roll. I’m pretty familiar with this combat form so killing animals for their meat wasn’t too much of a problem. Unfortunately I was almost completely out of time and I had to figure out how to cook the spoils of my hunt. This didn’t go so well, I managed to build a campfire but before I could actually cook any food I starved to death.
I re-spawned back in the desert with no clothes, no axe and no more uncooked meat. I took some time to read a few guides on the basics of the game and this time around I had a much better sense of what I was doing. I managed to make it to the river safe, clothed and with a full belly. I was greeted by a whole host of other players who were building themselves riverside properties and demolishing the local flora and fauna. I started to notice a lot of frame rate issues here and chalked it up to lag on a 40 player server. But I did a little single player gaming to confirm it and despite the graphics being pretty average I did get frame rate issues offline as well. Even so the inevitable tide of human progress was slowly civilising the wilds so I joined in and built my very own mansion fortress by the riverside. But things aren’t as simple as all that.
Conan Exiles offers a huge map with multiple environments and terrifying dungeons to explore. Setting up shop by the river and lazily harvesting eggs and meat from the weird turtle monsters was only so fulfilling. It was time to get out there and see what the world had to offer. Also a host of trolls rampaged through my settlement in the night and destroyed everything…
The Hyborian wilds are teeming with savage encampments and gruesome monsters to explore and slaughter. If you can avoid the corruption that might send you mad and enslave enough thralls to batter your way through the cities of skeletons then one day you might become the mighty conqueror of the entire server. It’s not easy but one thing I can definitely say for Conan Exiles is that despite the gameplay and graphics being quite run of the mill it really is quite addictive.