Funcom are a development house that has traditionally stuck to MMO’s and have created some very interesting, if flawed, games over the years. One of their most successful endeavours was the well-regarded Age of Conan that is still going even today with a free to play model. Conan as an IP provides a brutal universe filled with cannibalism, human sacrifice and ample nudity.
Now Funcom seeks to try its hand at the open world survival genre and bringing a new slant on the Conan franchise. Conan Exiles hit early access with a fairly large bang and quickly become the number 2 most watched game on Twitch upon its launch. The game takes the founding pillars of the genre and puts them into the world of Conan with a few unique additions to boot.
Set in the exiled lands, players start the game being cut down from a crucifix after being left to die for various crimes. They have a bracelet attached to them and are now stuck within the harsh climates of the exiled lands forced to try and build a life. The game does contain story elements and mysteries to be solved through exploration. Various items in the world can be interacted with which will cause voice over narration to begin for example finding the diary of a fallen exile will start the narration of that diary with the voice of that dead exile.
The crafting system and character progression work like most other survival genre games. As you go around collecting rocks and branches to craft your first items, you’ll constantly be gain experience points. Upon levelling, up, your character will receive a point to put in their stats such as strength or agility which will improve your character is some aspect. You’ll also gain a crafting point which will unlock new recipes for crafting which currently contains an extensive list.
While on the surface Conan seems to be just another survival game with a Conan skin with full nudity and penis size sliders included. Once you delve into the game for more than the initial starting section, it becomes apparent that the developers have some mechanics and future content that could set this game apart from the rest. Being able to capture and dominate NPC’s and then put them to work defending your base, having to make sacrifices to your gods or risk damnation and more could lead this to become a very authentic Conan experience.
While the world, character design and available end tier crafting options are certainly impressive even at the start of the early access development, Conan Exiles has not been without its problems. Lag is a major ongoing issue for players with rubber banding being at the forefront of current issues. The developers had taken down their official servers after too high demand as their original partner PingPerfect could not provide the quality and numbers to meet the server demands. To add to this there are plenty of current issues that need resolved including various bugs throughout the game.
Edit - The developers have now released several patches to improve the quality and performance of the game. New official servers have now been launched. There will be plenty of patches to come in early access as Funcom try to imporve the performance and balance of the game. Keep up to date with the latest patch information here.
Early Access Gameplay
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Minimum: OS: Windows 7 64 Bit/ Windows 8 64 Bit/ Windows 10 64 Bit Processor: Intel Quad Core i5 or AMD equivalent Memory: 6 GB RAM Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 (1GB) or AMD equivalent DirectX: Version 11 Network: Broadband Internet connection Storage: 35 GB available space Recommended: OS: Windows 7 64 bit / Windows 8 64 bit / Windows 10 64 bit Processor: Intel Quad Core i5/i7 3.3 GHz or AMD equivalent Memory: 8 GB RAM Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti/970 (High settings) and 1070 (Ultra set-tings) or AMD equivalents DirectX: Version 11 Network: Broadband Internet connection Storage: 35 GB available space
Funcom have stated that they do not see Conan Exiles early access development period lasting longer than twelve months which could put full release around Q1 2018.
Conan’s world is fantastic and everything from the visuals to the sound is fantastic even in this early state. The IP could thrive in this game if all of the issues get fixed and that the game gets continued support and content in the next few years. It is the first open world survival game since Ark that has the potential to be the leader in the marketplace but whether Funcom will be able to deliver on its potential remains to be seen.
The core mechanics of the game are solid and enjoyable as is the amount of customization options for private servers. The single thing that holds the game back is the technical state and while players seem to be pushing through the issues, if the rubber banding does not get solved soon, it may cause players to migrate back to more polished games.
That being said, the developers seem to be pushing out patches at a speedy rate which is a good sign that they are committed to the game long term, especially given its instant popularity. The game may well shape how future survival games are made if they manage to correctly implement things like god summons and siege warfare in the future.
Most Anticipated Feature: Summoning giant creatures to tear down enemy fortifications will be impressive to watch.
Price and Purchase
Conan Exiles is available on Steam via the early access platform for $29.99