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Conan Exiles (Xbox One) Review

September 13, 2017 | Posted by Liam Morrow
Conan Exiles
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Conan Exiles (Xbox One) Review  

Conan Exiles is an open-world survival game from Funcom games, currently running on the Game Preview program. Players take on the role of a criminal who, after being left tied up in the desert, is released by Conan himself. You are then are left to fend for themselves with no food, no weapons and barely any clothing. Before you get to any of that, the staple of any good open world game- the character creation. To start of with, you choose your gender. Then the race, which aside from a few minor cosmetic differences, doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference overall. Then you can change things like skin colour, physique and hair.

The last physical appearance trait you can change is, quite oddly, the size of the (ahem), assets. These can be displayed quite prominently if you wish to start off with tiny rags for clothes, or a nude option. Now, I’m no prude, I don’t object to nudity in games. The Witcher 3 had quite a bit, all in the context of getting lucky. Same as Mass Effect, Dragon Age Inquisition and others. However, I feel this is a rather unnecessary addition. Especially the ability to make genitalia bigger. Now, unless you’re going to run about topless or bottomless the whole game- which isn’t advisable– it seems a bit juvenile. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, as it certainly doesn’t add to, or subtract anything from the game, but the fact you can make a naked buxom Amazonian Goddess of a woman doesn’t really have a point to me.

Your last choice is your religion. Slightly more important than genitalia, this gives you access to an Avatar , a giant embodiment of the Gods. There were 4 to choose from in the preview ; Crom, Set, Yog or Mitra; although no religion is also a choice. Your Avatar is basically a giant monster that can destroy everything in your path. People, animals, buildings, the lot. It takes ages to summon them though. You have to build a shrine, find a priest to thrall (enslave) then spend an eternity summoning them, in which time some beast can savage you to death, making the whole play a waste of time, so you have to pick your moment and make it worthwhile, because it doesn’t last long.

The actual gameplay wasn’t terrible. Its run by the Unreal 4 engine, so looks good enough. The area you’re in is quite empty however. Granted it’s supposed to be pre-historic, but you start off without much direction at all. This is possibly something they will address towards the release date, but I found myself wandering aimlessly before I realised pressing left on the d-pad opened up my mission menu, telling me a few things I should be doing such as crafting some better clothes, tools and a bedroll. Pressing up gave me my map, which was extremely basic. There weren’t any waypoints or places of interest at all so it was absolutely no use. This is something that could possibly be added prior to release, but it made the experience much harder.

Crafting is fairly easy, with you needing to find certain plants to make basic clothes and some stones and twigs to make a makeshift pick-axe. As you level up, you can acquire new craftable objects such as armour, dwelling parts and weapons. There doesn’t seem to be any progression tree, so it’s all open as soon as you have enough points, letting you pick which one you need at the time. As with everything else so far, it’s open for change with this only being a preview copy.

The battle system is your standard first-person view. You start off with just two hands, and until you level your strength a bit you’ll be hard pressed to do a lot of damage. It’s quite hard to land a blow though, you have to angle yourself just right, or you just punch thin air. You can evade attacks by rolling backwards, but theres a bit of a delay between standing up again and being able to attack until you work up your speed, so you may want to avoid any potential two-on-one encounters. Its not a bad system and quite easy to use, but if you’re a Skyrim player, it’ll take a bit of getting used to comparatively. This isn’t a pick-up-and-play kind of deal, with you needing a good 4 or 5 hours to begin with to get used to all the mechanics. I’m pretty sure in the full release you’ll be able to map different buttons to certain actions, although I couldn’t find a way but I was concentrating on the actual gameplay so I didn’t look too hard for a way to do this.

All in all, Conan Exiles is not a bad little game. But expect to put a lot of time in to begin with, as you literally start with nothing but (maybe less than) the shirt on your back. The entry price point (around £30 on Xbox One) may be slightly high at this point, although along with the preview release they’ve also released an expansion called “The Frozen North” which is free, and adds about half again on top of the base map. You can also hire your own server, so if you want to play online with your friends without hundreds of others, that’s an option.

The final score: review Average
The 411
A decent enough game, you'll have to put in a major amount of time to begin with to get anything out of it. It can be frustrating in the lower levels being dropped in without much guidance. Once you've worked out the basics however, there's enough to keep you going for a while.

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Conan Exiles, Liam Morrow