There are film quotes that you never forget as a passionate cineast. "I'll be back" is undoubtedly one of the most memorable sayings in film history. What the Termininator once prophesied also applies to another iconic character who has not only made it onto the big screen, but also onto board game tables and computer screens: Conan the Barbarian. It was also Arnold Schwarzenegger who lent his face to the loincloth-wearing, rather taciturn contemporaries. With the somewhat unsuccessful development of the MMORPG Age of Conan, Funcom has already ventured into the fantasy realm of author Robert E. Howard. With the survival game Conan Exiles, the second title from the Conan universe is now in the queue.
JThe survival game was recently released as part of Early Access - and has conquered the top of the Steam charts. You can hardly blame the players for a lack of interest at the moment. We too went on a journey through the desert and played the Early Access version of Conan Exiles. You can read our impressions in the following, not entirely youth-free, game test.
Conan Exiles: the best survival game?
Conan Exiles is not the first survival game and it will certainly not be the last. But it's a survival game that has a strong brand like no other. Where Conan is written on, players expect nothing less than martial fights, bloody executions and a rough game world that demands all their survival skills from the players. Once you have decided on a game mode and a server, you start in the middle of a barren desert landscape - without weapons, equipment or food. It is up to the player to find their way around the world and survive. Which way is always up to the player, even if some basic processes are repeated with each restart.
That Conan Exiles is not a game for children or faint-hearted minds, becomes clear after just a few minutes in-game. Packed the waterskin, listened to the first bits of audio, you first hike towards a desert ruin, upon reaching which you find a corpse with a lower leg gnawed off – the bone, of course, peeps out on the stump. Numerous skeletons on stakes line the main path of the "starting area". One can guess what must have happened to the living in the past. Conan Exiles is deliberately cruel, also because Robert E. Howard's submission demands it in a way. A good introduction to a real survival game is the first few minutes of play Conan Exiles in any case
The barbarian is back
Whether Conan Exiles At this point in time it is worthwhile, also depends on the benevolence of the player with bugs and stripped-down game content to survive. Conan Exiles is currently in the so-called Early Access phase, which is also the basis for this first game test of Conan Exiles serves. We therefore do not rate the game conclusively, but rather give a first impression of our gaming experience. This is how players should determine if the survival game Conan Exiles you might like. The early access version of the new survival simulation costs around 30 euros and contains a surprising number of different game modes. Loners can roam the game world on their own or take on monsters and human opponents in a cooperative PvE mode. If, on the other hand, you are drawn to the fight against human opponents, you can use the PvP variant, which is much more relentless and also more difficult. If desired, you can host your own server or join an existing community. Whether you are a hardcore fan, a relaxed explorer or a real role player: Funcom has the right alternative for every type of player. With more than 320.000 copies sold (and rising), there are enough player communities open to start the adventure together or semi-cooperatively.
The so-called “Thrall system", which allows even solo players to recruit their own companions, with recruitment at Conan Exiles is to be understood more as enslavement. From player level 10 you can stun opponents and then drag them into your own base. What happens then is already known from the original film: you chain the knocked out opponent to a torture wheel in order to break your will. From now on he can be divided up for various tasks.
The Early Access version of Conan Exiles in a pre-test
The survival game Conan Exiles starts with the creation of the game character. For this purpose, Funcom has implemented a character editor with which many details can be adapted to personal taste, from hairstyle to breast or penis size. The choice of ethnicity and the worshiped deity are also particularly important, because both options are also noticeable in a playful way. The game world is currently still reduced to the desert landscape. In the course of development, however, several different biomes are to be found in Conan Exiles can be explored: including jungle landscapes, swamps, snow-covered areas and a large urban complex. The Norwegian developers cannot be blamed for the fact that the desert landscape is visually boring. In addition to rocky sections, players will find other ruins or oases after just a few minutes.
The latter in particular are not just a visual detail, but are already immensely important in terms of play. As a survivor you are at least dependent on raw materials, for example to craft equipment, weapons or a dwelling. That would be bad without trees and plants, which is why the oases are an important part of the game - not to mention scarce water supplies. Conan Exiles is all about playful Exploration, resource gathering, crafting and hunting. There are already some adversaries at this point in time. In addition to weak mutants, you will encounter tortoise creatures, flying creatures and human plunderers. Because magic is not yet available in the current version, fights often take place over short distances - also because bows and arrows consume resources, especially at the beginning. The combat system could use some variety. Armed with your bare fists, later also with a sword, shield, ax or spear, you "punish" around your opponents and hit them. It's not really entertaining yet, in real survival games it's more about success and the "loot" anyway.
However, the greatest enemies of a scantily clad barbarian are initially hunger and thirst. Since the goal of the game is Conan Exiles consists of survival, you always have to pay attention to your strength indicators and replenish your energy supplies at the right times so as not to perish in the desert. And so, as a player, you spend your time beating stones or chopping wood in order to make your first pieces of equipment such as the stone sword. Thread and clothing are made from plant fibers, so that the free-swinging structure is covered after about 30 minutes of play. The longer players carry out survival-relevant actions, the further they rise in the level, thus unlocking new craft recipes and skill points. The first expand your crafting skills, with the latter you improve a total of seven character values such as strength, agility, survival or vitality.
The crafting system is easy to understand and runs alongside. You don't have to take breaks to make equipment, which keeps the gameplay flowing. The first stone dwelling can be pulled up within a few minutes thanks to the intuitive construction function. For the first night, players should remember to set up a campfire: the night is known to be dark and full of horror.
It is also dwellings that are currently taking the air out of the sails of PvP. Players only tear down stone walls more easily with advanced equipment, so that even your measly stone walls become a real fortress. However, if you are up for it, you will find entertaining PvP activities in "Strafing Duels".
Useful details: the penis slider
The penis slider, with which players can determine the size of the sex in the character editor - not entirely freely, but with the help of a practical slider, proves that sometimes size does matter. The limb size ranges from minimalist to clearly visible. The good piece in the game even becomes physically correct shown, for example when you crouch with the character. The idea is a bit weird, but at least it earned the development team increased attention in the vast expanse of the web.
Even if sloppy penises are playfully questionable, such details simply belong to the rough world that Conan fans already know from books and comics. In any case, the penis slider is only an expression for equality, because being able to change the cup size of the female characters was an integral part of the character editor.
Nevertheless, Funcom plans to continue to give the best piece a little love in the future. In addition to castration, human sacrifices and instruments of torture are on the agenda of the Norwegian developers with the hand for provocation. Although it is doubtful whether players will buy Conan Exiles just because of such details, it is well known that nothing should be ruled out on the Internet. Funcom has at least achieved one thing with the penis slider: everyone is talking about it.
Conan Exiles: Room for Improvement
That as a player you are in an early development phase of Conan Exiles one notices quickly. AI dropouts are more common, bugs anyway and glitches are no exception. Conan Exiles is far from finished, but it is already playing surprisingly well. What is currently missing most are the subtleties of the combat and equipment system, a more varied environment and increased server stability. Still does Conan Exiles Fun, especially for those who are passionate about survival simulations. What stands out when playing, however, is the fact that elements like the Thrall system and the cooperative processes do well in the Hyborean Age. The title is promising, it has potential - and that is not meant to be derogatory. There is not much of the background story in the Early Access version. In addition to the intro and some audio snippets, players are more likely to be driven by their personal progress. One should assume that Funcom will also use the strong template to condense the story. Improvements appear regularly, even the server structure has recently been completely turned inside out. Funcom is aggressively dealing with the development and the increasing number of players shows that the community wants to go along this path.
Conan Exiles Media - Early Access
Number of players: 1 (also online)
Playing time: 60+ hours
Difficulty: medium to difficult
Long-term motivation: high
Year of publication: 2017
Platforms: PC, console
Cost: 30 Euro
Given the currently small size of Conan Exiles I am surprised by the comparatively high fun factor that this survival sandbox generates. So far I have avoided survival simulations, even with ARK I didn't really warm up. Conan Exiles but could captivate me from the start. This is partly due to my personal expectations and my ideas: I like Conan, have always liked him - and I also liked to play Age of Conan. On the other hand, the Early Access version already gives an idea of what Funcom is planning to do with the Conan Exiles project in the future. The Thrall system promises fun and lively player settlements, the possibilities of survival motivate you to continue playing. Even if Conan Exiles is anything but varied at the moment, you can feel as a player that Funcom is serious about development. The Norwegians and game makers like Age of Conan and The Secret World, plan to release the game in 2017. Innovations such as siege engines and story details are firmly planned.
The playful framework of Conan Exiles works excellently even in the early development phase, even if the investment of 30 euros should be carefully considered. Anyone who would like to be there from the start to experience the ongoing development can safely dare a trip to the desert. If you hardly enjoy a game with noticeable bugs, you should rather wait for improvements. While PvE fans are well entertained, PvP people shouldn't be enough with the current possibilities. Conan Exiles is also a large sandbox experiment kit for developers - you have to be able and willing to adapt to constant changes.