Hands-On: Conan Exiles

For the purpose of transparency, this hands on was completed using a code provided by Funcom. The use of a free code does not affect my judgement of this product.

Firstly as with all titles that are still Early Access I am going to provide an Impressions/Hands On rather than a review, as I feel it is unfair to rate a product that is technically still in development.

To be honest I wasn’t sure to what to expect to when I received my code for Conan Exiles – the main reason being I have not really taken to Survival Games very well in the past. But, in order to give the game an opportunity to swing my view I have spent 29 hours so far with the game. The question now is if Conan Exiles has swung my opinion on Survival Games?

Now Conan Exiles does offer many forms in telling its story, this is told by a number of mediums. These mediums are by finding letters, ghostly figures, none playable characters and totems – there may be others as well. Now I can’t enlightening you much on the story because even in the time spent on the game I have not come across many of these, but at least one or two of the things listed above. So, if you want the story element of the game it’s going to take some searching.

As previously mentioned these types of games really don’t get me that interested. The only type of game like this I have put some decent time into is Minecraft – and that’s more because I play that with others, rather than on my own. So, when first booting up Conan Exiles I jumped into single player, with the plan of learning the basics of the game, and it really did seem like something that was going to take time to get used to. Especially because I couldn’t make much and at that point had no idea you had to purchase/learn more skills/recipes once you had levelled up. But, by the time I had this figured out I found a friend had the game, and he set us up a private server.

This was where the game became a lot fun for me, one having a private servers to be able to play with someone I already knew – and then another joined us as well, so that was a bonus. Firstly the person with the server taught me some of the ropes of the game, and then it just built from there.

Basically the game is what you would expect from a survival game – survive, gather materials and craft, but, in the Conan universe. However, as mentioned previously you are going to have to do things in order to level, which in turn will allow you learn/buy your skills/recipes. Looking down the list of everything you can craft, again the game is going to take sometime to have it all unlocked – because in order to unlock some you must have already unlocked other skills. Even in the 29 hours I have played I have not even unlocked half of the skills/recipes available in the game. But, I think this system is a great addition as you always feel like you are making progression in the game, and learning something new.

In order to survive, as you would expect you have to keep yourself hydrated, and eat as you get hungry. You can craft a water pouch that can be used a number of times before it breaks, build a well or just choose a spot to build your base near a river/lake (this is what we have opted to do). In order to eat you must hunt and cook the meat, you can eat it raw but this will give you food poisoning. Both cooked and uncooked meat come with an expiry time – how long the food lasts will depend on the server settings you are on. Again with the food, I would recommend looking for an area with a decent quota of animals around, so you can quickly get the meat if required.

Another good tip is look for an area that has a good supply of the materials you need in the game to craft your items as well. In the private server we created one base, and then when ventured into the mountains found an area full of all the materials need, a river and animals – so we then started to set up a second base in that area. Which wasn’t a huge problem as I have been really enjoying the game the crafting element to the game (see the screenshots below of the base and workshop I have built). Also what has been a massive bonus in this area there is a number of enemy encampments, caves and other bases to attack. Meaning a lot of what we need to get a good start on the game is in this area. Although no doubt we will eventually move on to another place and pillage that area – but in the end of the day this what these are all about.

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Until very recently I have only been a console gamer, so I have taken on Conan Exiles with a my Xbox Controller. The control system does take some getting used to as you start with the game, especially the wheel inventory and crafting system. But, after I had spent around 3-4 hours with the game I had gotten used to how it works, and now its like a second nature. But, I sometimes craft an item from the inventory wheel I don’t need in error every now and then. I understand from a friend if you are used to mouse and keyboard the game is very easy to control. However for me, it would just be like starting again given my constant console gaming.

As you would expect there is a few issues with it being in Early Access, but this is expected – you need to remember there are games released with issues as finished products (I’m looking at you Assassins Creed Unity). All these issues are resolved simply by closing off the game and reloading it. The worse ones I have seen is loading as only head and hands like a VR avatar, spawning inside the buildings walls/ceiling and elements not being destroyed as you mine them for crafting – this does not make them constantly available to mine, it just means the elements wont re-spawn.

I received my code for this article upon the release of the Frozen North expansion, which has increased the size of the map. However, so far I have not ventured that far to get into the Frozen North. However, once I have spent the time with the game to get there, an Impressions article of the expansion is likely to follow.

From what I have played and how much I have taken to the game, I find it really difficult not recommend giving this game a go. As I aforementioned this genre is not the type I really get to involved in, so even if that sounds like you it is still worth thinking about – and if this game is your type of game definitely give it a look.

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