My top picks for survival games at the moment would be Ark: Survival Evolved, The Forest and Raft on my phone but when I heard that there was an open world survival game coming to the PlayStation 4 set in the universe of Conan the Barbarian, I wanted to get my survival on and explore The Exiled Lands.
A new game to play, and I recently upgraded to the PlayStation 4 Pro, I was so hoping to see some improved graphical effects, over the standard PlayStation 4, let us find out.
In the game you are an Exile, this is someone who has been left for dead for committing crimes. At the beginning of the game you meet Conan himself who sadly isn’t voiced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he cuts you down from the cross you are hanging from and urges you to survive in this harsh world and says that you will meet again as he slips away into a sandstorm.
Conan Exiles plays out like most survival games, you start with nothing and work towards surviving in the world you are in. What I really enjoy about this game is the fact you can build massive cities and fortresses filled with AI or even real players depending on what mode you’re playing.
You need to gather resources to live, build shelters, weapons, and armor. Then use what you have crafted, to take on an array of creatures and tribes in The Exiled Lands to become the best clan.
Set in the Conan universe you will get to explore many different areas and even control giant avatars of the gods in the game. The Avatars are overpowered though but really fun to play as you can go on killing sprees and lay waste to your enemies and above all hear the lamentations of their women…. enter Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Conan is broken into three main mechanics, that I shall go over in a second. The fighting mechanics in the game are simple and easy to pick up and you will be a Barbarian warrior in no time. You have the options for PVP, PVE and solo/Co-op. My personal favorite was PVE, as PVP was challenging and I found myself dying a lot to other players that were stronger than me, with me being new to the game I felt safer and more comfortable in PVE. So the main mechanics are:
Explore/Scavenging: Personally, I feel that this is the big one of the three, using tools that you craft from various resources you are able to build massive shelters and bases to house yourself and your clan. As you progress through the game you earn levels and can upgrade different stats on your character and also unlock more things to craft.
Simply collect items, then enter the games menu systems, and craft away, start with basic stuff, like clothing and basic weapons and gets better as you level up, everything will help you survive this barbaric world.
But before you enter the harsh world to collect anything, make sure you are equipped with good weapons and armor, because if your character dies you will drop everything and have to go collect it again! if you can recall where you were. The server can have this feature turned off, but that would be down to the server manager.
You can craft loads of things from wall mounted beast trophies all the way to siege weapons and altars for your gods. You can collect thralls, these are NPC’s that are located in different spots throughout the land and can be used to make your clan bigger, stronger and work on the different stations you have. Having high-level thralls helps with cutting the cost of items you craft and can really help defend the base when you’re away.
When traveling around this harsh world you will need to keep an eye on your temperature and those sandstorms because if you get caught off guard in The Exiled Lands it can go pear-shaped quite quickly.
The creatures of the land are also used for materials, but it would have been nice to tame some and have them as mounts or pets but sadly this is not a current feature in Conan Exiles.
Building: I enjoy building in these types of games, though Conan Exiles is difficult at times to get it right. It can bug out from time to time and can make you want to delete parts of your base and start from scratch to get things working again. I spent a good 2 hours building a base and it wouldn’t let me place this one wall and there wasn’t any reason for it, so I deleted a lot of it and rebuilt it the same way and for some reason, it worked the second time around. This was frustrating but I managed to get my base finished.
You have different types are building tiers to make your base stronger as well as plenty of decorations and recipes to make it really stand out. It really helps in making you feel like there are endless possibilities for you structures when you can build on cliff sides and in trees!
Surviving/Combat: Killing enemies can give you food to survive as well as scavenging bugs and other insects to munch on. The meat needs to be cooked so that you don’t get food poisoning, you can craft water pouches or drink from various sources around the world.
Combat is fun but what isn’t fun is when the game lags out and makes you lose half your health because you’ve been taken damage without realising while in combat. I died many times to this little bug and a few times rage quit but no matter how mad I got, I still came back because the game is addictive.
Building your base in the right place is key for good material collecting as well as harvesting certain things, like thralls or creatures. There are various boss creatures in the game to locate and tackle and by doing this you get high rewards, these are fun to tackle with other members of your clan or if you’re feeling tough on your own. With the simple combat and plenty of enemies to go around its fun to just go on a killing spree in Conan and collected heads to mount on your wall.
Like I mentioned at the start of this review I am playing the game on the PlayStation 4 pro and was expecting some graphical enhancements over the original PS4, but I felt this was not the case, the game’s graphics felt more suited on the PS3. After watching trailer and gameplay footage on PC you can really see the full potential for this game, I personally felt let down by.
That being said graphics isn’t everything… well, it would be nice, when playing the game you didn’t get attack by invisible enemies that didn’t spawn into the world properly. This happened to me many times and got really annoying because, how can you fight something that you can’t see? This wasn’t just one enemy oh no, there was a whole tribe at one point! and Yes, I died to that tribe. When the game does render correctly you see all the different areas of the deserts, forests, and cities. It does look really nice when standing on top of cliffs looking down upon the world.
Creature design is really nice and I personally love the mounting the animal heads on the wall. It feels rewarding to view them and say ‘ I killed you and now you shall sit in my throne room as a trophy’
The HUD for the game is awkward to use at times, as it is clearly set for using a mouse and keyboard. You spend a lot of time managing your inventory and getting the wrong buttons mixed up with the controller when building, it gets quite confusing. Once you have gotten used to the controls it’s easier to play but still slow at performing certain tasks. Like navigating the menus and searching for specific items and materials in the menus. It would have been nice to have a different HUD for the consoles, not the same version used for the PC.
Character design is basic but effective and you are offered a good amount of customisation so that when you are playing online you all don’t look the same. The different armor sets and swords really fit the theme and really make you feel as if you are part of the Conan universe. I loved the fact that the game is based in the prehistoric Hyborian Age as playing as a tribesman/women were different and I loved seeing references in the game from the franchise the big one is seeing Conan himself.
Audio in Conan is good, it brings the barbaric world to life which is perfect though I personally had major issues with the audio in this game. The background music played fine in game and on the menus though the minute you entered the game most of the time voices of characters, roars of the creature and pretty much any other audio will be delayed. So when I fell off my buildings I’d hit the floor and take damage but then minutes later the audio for these events would play. The same issue when building something or talking to people, the dialogue would lag and be delayed to what is actually happening, which for me ruined the gaming experience as audio is a critical element in immersing the player into the world your trying to create. Though I didn’t let it get to me too much and still manage to rack those hours up!
With Conan Exiles being an open world survival game it has plenty of replay value, whether that be making a number of different characters, playing on numerous servers with friends or just other players. You’ll find plenty in this game to sink your teeth into and spend your time on. I personally got lost in the game for ages and would think that only an hour had passed but it was like four. With plenty of milestones that you can complete to progress as well as trophies, you will have plenty to do on top of your resources collecting and base building. When playing on official servers you’ll be playing for hours solo or with people to make the biggest and toughest tribe going, though if you went on to a private server where you can mess with the world setting, like resource gathering and level speed, you’ll be able to build and level up quicker which is still fun because you can build crazy bases and then go at each other and see which tribes are the best.
Overall Conan Exiles was a lot of fun to play. I enjoyed it far more playing with people in the PVE mode as it was nice building a clan and making a massive tribe. Though the game suffers from massive lag spikes, invisible enemies and audio delay which at times can make the game unbearable and annoying to play. If you can overcome these issues, like I did, you still get to enjoy the game and get so much fun out of it.
I did enjoy playing on the official servers but mostly on custom servers as it just seemed more fun to get resources quicker and not take as long to build massive cities. I understand the enjoyment of the grind hence why I had two characters one on an official server and the other one on my own server.
I enjoyed The Exiled Lands, I feel that it had enough biomes to make the environments different and to give a reason to go and gather different materials from around the world. Though I would have loved a quicker mode of transport as running everywhere with the stamina depletion on is very boring at times when you might need only the littlest of materials or taking a thrall from A to B. Conan Exiles is a good game but feels incomplete at times and lacking compared to other survival games on the market along with the bugs and other problems I encountered I feel personally like it should have been polished a bit better before coming onto consoles.