Set in the Hyborian age of the fascinating and brutal world of Conan the Barbarian, Conan Exiles is an open world survival game that aims high in it’s pursuit of greatness. It is absolutely beautiful in it’s scope, complex in it’s layers of crafting, and oh so utterly time consuming in it’s gameplay.
The game starts with your custom created character left to die among the ruins of a location called The Broken Highway, a criminal condemned to death for reasons that are generated alongside your character. Once free from your bondage, you begin your long journey into the Exiled Lands.
The world of Conan Exiles is really large and stunning, featuring a diverse landscape comprised of forests, deserts, volcanic landscape and even snowy plains. Not only are each of these biomes radically different in appearance, they pose their own unique challenges for the player to conquer, from the wildlife to the temperature status effects. You can explore these areas and the multiple different dungeons, caves and ruins found within them at your own leisure, and set up your own base virtually anywhere you choose. You’ll honestly spend hours looking for the perfect spot
Base building is incredibly deep and responsive, allowing you to build massive fortresses with multiple different platforms, turrets and traps. Basically anything you can come up with, you can build in the game, and you can construct these with a wide array of building materials that vary greatly in integrity and appearance. There are also an impressive amount of cosmetic items that can be crafted to decorate these bases with, but none of them seem quite worth the time and effort.
Over time you can even populate your bases with thralls, NPCs that you gain by kidnapping them out in the world and then breaking them on your wheel of pain, that can be appointed to work at different crafting stations or act as guards. They provide you with different benefits while crafting, and even act as your own personal security force against invaders, especially during PvP.
And while it should not come as a surprise to anyone that a game about crafting bases and other items actually includes a lot of crafting, expect to spend an unreasonably long time in Conan Exiles grinding for resources. Because in order to craft almost anything, from structures like walls and foundations for assembling bases, to essentials like the furnace that are required within the first few hours, you need a disproportionately large amount of resources.
Simple structures are relatively easy to cobble together during the game’s early hours, but more complex work stations and structures can be an absolute pain to craft. A pain that is alleviated a bit by playing together with fiends and working towards a shared home, but even then the early moments can be frustrating to say the least. Thralls make this grind a bit easier through, but even then not by much. And you constantly need to keep gathering resources and equipping your character with better armor and weapons if you want to challenge the game’s dungeons.
Combat in the game is fairly serviceable as far as systems in other open world crafting world games go. It’s not anything to write home about, but it’s nice to see attacks flow smoothly and land with a mostly satisfying impact. Different classes of weapons in the game also feel quite unique initially since they all have distinctly different combos and animations that emphasize their force or speed. But even this gets old after the multiple hours you have to spend with the game, and you realize that combat basically just devolves into mashing the attack button over and over again.
Luckily though, the dungeons and caves in the game are quite fun to explore, with their own unique layouts and tough boss battles. Completing them unlocks special recipes and unique resources that can be used to craft some of the best equipment in the game, as well as provide most of the story content that Conan Exiles has to offer.
In conclusion, while there’s a lot to see and do in Conan Exiles, the grinding that players have to engage in often times make it a very tedious experience. It’s fun to build bases and it’s fun to explore dungeons, but the sheer amount of time it takes to prepare for either of those things is often times not worth the effort.
Conan Exiles is out now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC. It was developed and published by Funcom. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
The review copy was provided by the publisher.
Conan Exiles Review
Conan Exiles is a game with a lot to see and do, but the intense grind makes it hard to recommend to anyone but the most hardcore multiplayer survival enthusiasts. Explore this beautiful and diverse world and the content it has to offer, but make sure to share the burden with a friend or two.