December 5, 2021

Conan Exiles – Xbox One Review

 Games like Ark Survival: Evolved for me I find very boring and tedious so many gameplay loops and common tropes within the genre featured in Conan Exiles I find to be literally a chore to play.  However I decided to give this game a shot and see if it changed my mind.
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Before I start this review I would like to point out that I am not a fan of survival games in general.  Games like Ark Survival: Evolved for me I find very boring and tedious so many gameplay loops and common tropes within the genre featured in Conan Exiles I find to be literally a chore to play.  However I decided to give this game a shot and see if it changed my mind.  It did not however, although to be fair a lot of the survival elements in the gameplay that I find boring are the very things a fan of the genre might be actually looking for in this type of game.  So I have decided that I cannot give this game a traditional review per se and as such I have not included a score at the bottom.  But instead what I have done is, hopefully, provide some insight into my experience with the game, give an informative and in-depth look at what is on offer, comment on the game’s technical merits and negative aspects and hopefully provide a informative guide for someone who is a survival game fan whether this game is worth buying or not.
 
 

 
Conan Exiles begins with your character nailed to a cross who is saved by a mysterious barbarian looking stranger.  It is here you can create your own character, male or female, with a good number of customisation options and different races to choose from although this affects your character’s starting stats everyone begins with no weapons and only a loin cloth covering their unmentionables.  There is little in the way of a tutorial although by going into the start menu and looking at the Journey tab are a list of things to do that helps you get started with the basic mechanics within the gameplay.  I also found the crafting system to be fairly intuitive and easy to get to grips with so was able to quickly and easily find out what I had to go and collect in order to make myself some basic clothing, tools and weaponry.  Using my newly crafted axe on trees let me gather more wood, seeds, insects and plant materials faster.  A pick axe allowed me to gather more stones.  Pretty basic survival game stuff but as an un-innitiated player I found Conan Exiles very easy to wrap my head around and get to grips with.
 
 

 
The open world of Conan Exiles is vast and expansive and graphically it looks fairly good looking (playing on an Xbox One X I should point out).  However the world is largely empty with huge stretches of just running across empty desert with nothing really happening.  There is also no story driving me forward and it pretty much is a sandbox where the only incentive to keep playing is to level up and farm loads of materials in order to craft better and better stuff.  The game does have building in it though where you can create anything from a small shack where you can place a bed, which will act as a save point if you die you will respawn at it, a chest to store items in and a campfire to cook your food.  To huge fortresses with multiple levels that look very impressive in videos I have seen but I never had the patience to actually get that far before this review.
 
 

 
And that is the thing if you do enjoy this type of gameplay Conan Exiles does have a lot to offer you and incentivise that you keep farming and learning new crafting abilities.  If you do enjoy that then you can literally build huge bases and defend them against the huge monsters but to get that point will require copious hours of grinding which I’m afraid I just couldn’t do as I didn’t find it in any way fun.  It takes a lot of materials to make things which means lots and lots of chopping trees, smashing rocks and spamming X while running over plants to pick up materials.  I might have been able to enjoy the game more if the combat was decent however this is sadly not the case.  The combat for me is worse and more erratic than some free to play MMORPGs I have played and is every bit as shallow and repetitive.  It does try and have a bit of nuance to it with a dodge roll move to avoid enemy attacks, light and heavy attack buttons which you can pull of some combos with and a block button.  The problem is none of them are very responsive and it is a lottery whether they work when you press them or not.  Further to that hit detection on enemies is very hit and miss (pun not intended) and sometimes the stamina system breaks and you freeze unable to move while enemies pummel you for no  good reason.  Combat is broken basically and sucks any chance at fun I might have had with it.  The enemy designs are decent enough and if it all worked a bit better I might have enjoyed that aspect more in order to give me a reason to keep farming away at the crafting and survival part.
 
 

 
You can climb any structure within the game world but you have a stamina bar which limits how far you can climb.  You can level this up as well as other common RPG attributes like attack, defence, vitality etc which you gain XP from crafting and killing enemies.  You also have an unlock tree for items you can craft giving you a reason to keep playing and get better equipment, build better bases and take on tougher monsters in new areas you’ll discover as you venture further and further into the game world.  The game can be played solo, in coop with a few other people helping you out or with lots of other players where it is up to them whether they team up or try and kill you and pilfer all your hard earned stuff.
 
 

 
As I said at the start I am not going to score Conan Exiles but hope I have provided some information to help you decide whether to pick this game up or not.  I will openly admit that I only played this game for around 3 hours and it did nothing for me personally to make me want to play any longer than that and actually I forced myself to play that much so that I could provide at least some feedback on it after the publisher kindly providing a review copy.  I hope this information is useful for you if you are considering purchasing this game.  If you are like me and generally don’t like survival games I would say this is not for you.  However as I say above many of these aspects are the very things fans of the genre are looking for.  I hope the game’s combat gets a few patches polishing it up at least as for me it was very broken, unresponsive and unsatisfying.