Conan Exiles – PS4 Review

Genre: Action, Adventure, MMO, RPG, Survival
Developer: Funcom
Publisher: Funcom
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Edited by CrimsonMomongaSSS

Conan Exiles has finally arrived after spending 14 months in early access. Now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, there are a number of new features to explore. With positive feedback from the community and a first impression indicative of a lot of potential, Conan Exiles promises plenty to look forward to.

Conan Exiles is an online survival game that can be played from a first-person or third-person perspective. While the title features numerous characters and mysteries to uncover, its core content revolves around gathering resources, learning new schematics, and crafting better gear and shelters. Though you may start with nothing but a single stone house to your name, you will eventually be able to build entire cities brimming with dangerous siege weaponry.

Players begin the game crucified for some randomly generated crimes before being rescued by the titular Conan and told to make something of themselves. In order to please Daddy do so, they must survive the wasteland long enough to become one of its rulers. Gameplay closely resembles that of the online survival game Rust, encouraging players to pick up everything they can carry to eat or craft into weapons, armor, and, eventually, a home, which they will then eat.

Conan Exiles is brutal, even when it comes down to the bare necessities; it is truly a setting fit for literature’s greatest barbarian. Few foods you can find are capable of quenching your growing thirst, and even cooked food can give you a lethal dose of food poisoning, something I found out for myself when I tried to eat an imp (Hey, a guy’s gotta eat!). One time, I spotted a small fire in the distance and wondered whom I would have to kill to claim it as my own. As I moved toward the tempting light, I hit the edge of a river and realized that I was at serious risk of drowning if I tried to swim across. Instead, I had to wait for night to pass and try to make do with whatever scarce cover I could find, the warm flames mocking me all the while.

The crafting in Conan Exiles has been taken to the next level and adds, in some people’s opinions, some unnecessarily convoluted procedures; for instance, when crafting a piece of armor or a weapon, you first have to refine the raw materials (i.e. tanning leather before it can be used in armor). There have been mixed responses to this—some say it adds unnecessary grind and frustration to an already tough game, whereas others laud the more realistic approach Funcom chose. Item progression can honestly be a little frustrating, or even daunting, for lone players and/or small groups; this makes it worth putting in the effort to enthrall enough helpers.

There are a few issues when it comes to the armors in game, one of which is the lack of armors suitable for cold climates. This forces players to enlist a pack thrall to transport extra armor and repair kits. Maybe Funcom could add linings or padded armor to wear beneath other armor pieces; this would also remove the need to carry multiple armor sets. But while the different environs may make armor a bit cumbersome, Conan Exiles’s biggest selling point, bar none, is that same beautifully crafted world that lets players immerse themselves in Conan’s home dimension.  It’s a brutal and harsh environment, but it draws you in immediately, and you couldn’t ask for much more as a backdrop for a Swords and Sandals fantasy game.

Building is another thing done well in Conan Exiles: players are allowed a fair amount of creative freedom, and there are already impressive builds to be found on YouTube. You can build anything from a tiny hovel to sprawling cities. The build pieces look amazing and mesh together impressively well.

Before I end my review, I have to address the thrall in the room. Yes, in Conan Exiles players can enslave NPCs. In fact, that’s not the worst of it: you render the poor victim unconscious, usually very violently, drag them back to your base, and chain the poor soul to a “Wheel of Pain.” You then proceed to starve and torture the unfortunate soul until you finally break their spirit and enslave them.

Arguments could be made against adding this mechanic to the game (quite a few, really). However, you have to remember that this game isn’t a social commentary. Rather, Conan Exiles is an immersive look at the world of Conan as seen through the eyes of his creator, Robert E. Howard, and his vision is one of a harsh, unforgiving reality awash with monsters and slavers. And, yes, “there be dragons” in this world as well (and let’s not forget those inedible imps, either). Howard’s world is a testosterone-fueled dreamworld—or nightmare, depending on your position in its society. Conan Exiles’s developers have chosen to stay true to the author’s vision, and I will leave it to up to you as an individual to judge whether they made the right decision.

Overall, after playing the game for a few days, I would recommend this to anyone who likes to play survival games with PVP or PVE elements. There are many adventures to have, castles to build, and thralls to enthrall in Conan Exiles.  And, of course, plenty of imps to fail to digest.

Pros:

  • You can choose where to respawn. Thank you.
  • The selection of weapons and armor have grown nicely.
  • Dagger combat mechanics are fun.
  • Two handed sword combat is satisfying.
  • Advanced crafting stations actually look “Advanced” and are as decorative as they are functional.
  • New build pieces are logical and look great.
  • Graphics are beautiful and stay true to the style of the Conan universe’s most famous illustrators.

Cons:

  • Armor is far too heavy right now. Carrying two sets of armor for transitioning from warm areas to cold, and vice versa, is not an option unless using a pack thrall.
  • Carrying repair kits is also a pain due to their weight.
  • Due to the high complexity of crafting, item progression can be too hard for lone players and small groups.
  • There don’t seem to be any animations for eating or drinking, reducing immersion.
  • No animations when crafting.

LT_Kissme gives Conan Exiles a Drastik Measure of 8.0 out of 10 (80).

Even though the game could do with some polish, I can still recommend it to all survival and fantasy fans. The price tag of $49.99 USD on the PlayStation Store should not deter you; after Funcom tweaks and polishes it, this game will be among the best in its category.