Conan Exiles is a huge and sprawling albeit confusing game set in the world of Conan the Barbarian.
There's not much to Conan Exiles' story at first. You're left to die after being crucified in the desert for unknown crimes but you're rescued by none other than Conan himself. After a haunting speech, he leaves you to your own devices with nothing more than your bare hands. From here, you must survive and explore a huge world while crafting your own base and killing enemies. You can explore alone, go with a buddy in local multiplayer, or join various servers with different rule sets with both official and private server options. Some servers let you kill other players while others allow only PvE combat. For this article, I played solo so that I could get a feel for the gameplay without worrying about interacting with other players.
To survive, you have to find food and water. Water is plentiful because you can find it in rivers. Food comes in the form of insects that are found by searching shrubs, eggs from nests, and grubs within the forest. Once you have a campfire going, you can also kill animals and cook their meat on it. Crafting is fundamental to progressing through virtually every stage. To get to the crafting menu, you have to press the touch pad and move your cursor to the right side of the screen. Your inventory is on the left side and in the middle, your character along with their worn items. There are a lot of items to craft and they're not sorted very well so I had a lot of trouble trying to find the desired item. I wish crafting had its own menu or anything besides just a third of the screen.
Before you can craft cool stuff, you first have to gather resources. You need 20 stone to craft one wall for your house and 240 stone and 160 wood to craft a work bench. In other words, you'll have to find a royally ridiculous amount of stone, wood, and plant fibers to craft everything that you'd want to build. If you make a mistake and die, you spawn at the location of your bedroll, a craftable item that acts as a spawn point. If you don't have a bedroll placed somewhere, you'll instead spawn on the Broken Highway, the place where you first started playing. Needless to say, you should always make sure you have a bedroll placed to save yourself from having to run back to where you were before. When you die, you lose your items and you'll need to find your corpse to get them back.
There are no tutorials to walk you through any of the basic mechanics (as you would expect from your average survival game). You're forced to learn how to navigate the menus, find food and water, gather resources, make clothes, level up your character, forge weapons, cook food, build a home, and countless more tasks before crafting more advanced items. Even though I'm a good five to ten hours in, I still feel like I'm playing the tutorial. My main source of frustration comes from trying to craft the items that I need to progress. As I said, the crafting menu is small and poorly organised. I should also mention that Conan Exiles lags a lot. I'm anything but a technical expert so naturally, I have no idea what's going on but it's clearly unacceptable to have a half-second lag spike when I'm running away from an alligator. The sound effects sometimes cut off for a few seconds during combat, too, which is pretty weird.
Conan Exiles has you create thousands of items, explore a huge world with unique biomes, and team up with other players or wage war with them. It's obvious that I've only touched the surface of this huge game and going by what I've seen from other players, grinding is a huge part of the gameplay; not only for gathering materials but also for leveling up. In the end, I'm sure the experience will open up once I make it through the initial grindy stages. Have you played Conan Exiles? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.