Conan Exiles Xbox One Review | Better, But Not Great
Technically, people have been playing Conan Exiles for a while now, just not the full, complete version. Another entry in the survival game genre, it takes place in the universe of Conan the Barbarian, and it’s a pretty damn brutal place. Pretty much anything and everything wants to and will kill you if you aren’t paying attention. Giant sandstorms will bowl you over and kill you instantly if you don’t take shelter, the local fauna will tear you to shreds, and other players will kill you and plunder everything they can from you. To be fair, if you could overpower them, you would do it too, because some people have some seriously worthwhile items/thralls. Basically, in a world that revolves around a very famous barbarian, pretty much everyone else in the game is also just as barbaric.
Let’s talk about what’s better now that the game is fully released, because some stuff certainly got fixed. The game looks better, that’s for sure, although it still doesn’t look amazing. It still sort of looks like a Skyrim knock-off, in terms of visuals, but that’s not a really bad thing, just a little outdated. The music is serviceable but I couldn’t name a single track, it just sort of exists to exist and add some background noise, nothing special. What I do like is how expansive the open world is, there’s huge deserts, lush jungles, volcanic mountains, and snowy canyons to traverse through. Starting in the desert, even though it makes sense to the story of how your character came to be, is easily the most boring area to play in and look at. I would have rather started in, say, the jungle, because that made me feel invested, I enjoyed exploring it.
The real meat and potatoes of the game comes in surviving, building settlements, recruiting Thralls, and trying to become a force to reckon with. You can recruit thralls to work within your fortress or to be guards for you. You can join forces with other players, play single player, or simply be a one man army against all other players. It’s not very easy to pick the latter, but hey, if you hate being social but love killing people, I guess that’s the option for you. Single player is pretty dry and bland, all the fun comes from playing with friends and forging alliances. Hunting down other players together, making sacrifices to whatever Deity you decide to worship, and working together to become stronger is what it’s all about.
My absolute favorite part of the game is summoning a god to completely and totally wreck the base of some players that have been pissing you off. Summoning a giant squid from the sky to obliterate everything they’ve ever accomplished truly is something sadistic to behold. Don’t mess with me, kids, I’ll summon some lovecraftian behemoth on yo ass.
The problems with this game, however, mostly still linger from when it was in Early Access, stuff like falling through the ground, getting stuck in terrain, etc. The game has a steep learning curve, not as steep as before, but still pretty intense, this is not a game for casual gamers. You have to spend dozens of hours playing this game to really start to feel like you’re getting something out of it. I feel as though that’s immediately going to turn anyway anyone but the most hardcore players, and the fact that the rest of the game isn’t totally polished might even drive them away. Also, combat is pretty bland and boring for the most part, imagine Dark Souls’ combat mechanics but with half the effort put into the system.
I’ll admit that the fact that it’s in this universe means that there are some pretty cool monster designs, so I definitely commend them for that. I like Conan as a character and everything, and I like survival games, but unless you’re really into PvP and you’ve got hours and hours to spend grinding materials and thralls, you’re not going to have a ton of fun with this. I would be glad to see this game do well and maybe drop the difficulty level right off the bat a bit. The concepts in the game and mechanics are above average for survival games, but the time it takes to get there and really take advantage of all of that is a bit too long. If you were a fan of the game before, you’ll probably like it more now because it’s more polished, but new players beware, the price of entry is pretty high.
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