Conan Exiles is a survival sandbox game with a heavy focus on crafting and building.
In most survival games that part of it tends to be the star of the game. In this one, I would say crafting plays an even bigger role in your ability to survive. It has some unique elements to it like Thralls. There is more to this game then just crafting and survival elements as well. You have villages you can plunger and dungeons to raid while you go out and explore the world to find them.
Survival in this game is far deeper than the usual fighting off enemies, collecting food, and drinking water. Granted those are elements in this game as well. The player also has to deal with fringed temperatures and extreme heat. All while hoping not to run into a sandstorm during a trip out gathering resources.
While in the early stages of this sandbox game exploring deep and fighting off creatures is usually hindered by crocodiles, snakes. If you get really far things like freezing to death start to become a concern. Later on, the player crafts better weapons and gear designed for hot or cold climates.
You can also choose in the server settings to reduce how often you need to consume food and water. Some games out there in this market make those basic necessities such a pain. It takes away from other elements of the game as you seem to do nothing else but eat and drink. I prefer survival games to have greater depth in other parts of the game and Conan Exiles delivers.
The gear you end up crafting and wearing tends to be where you end want to depend on where you want to explore. While you could carry a torch and used food like spiced meat to stay warm in colder areas. Meanwhile wearing full fur in the jungle and having a torch out during the day is not going go over well for your character. So crafting the right gear can go a long way outside of taking reduced damage from attacks.
The game has a decent amount of focus on being prepared but not stopping the player from going off and far away from any shelter if they have built if they wish. Being stuck in the open during a random event like a sandstorm without the right equipment is sure death. I love how it decreases the viability as well and watching it approach can send chills down your spine.
While something like water is quite abundant in the early half of the map. Later on, you need to carry purified water and other things with you to help on the long trips between accessible water sources. Unless you want to build a shelter and a well in critical stopping points while out gathering.
With all these different parts added up it really makes the player thing where exactly they wish to go exploring on the map. Being unprepared can be quite costly in time spent and resources lost when you die.
In many survival games building a decent shelter to base your operations out of is quite important and Conan Exiles is no different. You have quite a range of things you can build out far beyond just a couple of walls to escape storms and other dangers.
While I myself have never been big on building a massive city. If you are playing with a group of players having your own private hut along with common areas comes quite in handy. There are also some end game items that can take up massive space that you surely will want to create a display room for others to admire your accomplishments.
Otherwise, it really comes down to location, location, location. For a lot of the early stages of the game things like iron nodes are quite important. You also want to be in an area where you can gather other resources as well. Without struggling too much to survive
In the end, finding that perfect spot to build a base becoming rather vital. It’s where you will end up building out your crafting stations, praying alter, and many other large items in this game. Having to travel long distances with heavy and large amounts of basic items like iron is for a pack mule that some players become inside of community. For the rest of us, it’s not something you want to do to have any sanity remaining!
The game has such a huge focus on crafting it is the main way to progress along until you get into end game content. Tools and items have quite a few different tiers to them as you slowly build up your level and ability to gather better resources.
You can craft a couple of basic items out of your inventory. You become rather limited without crafting stations, a forge, and a bunch of other stuff as well. Not to mention you can only carry so much so having a place to store crafting ingredients is also nice to have.
While you do spend points you earn from leveling up to unlock certain crafting recipes. There are also many that have to be discovered in the world as well. Some of them are hidden away in dungeons while others could be hiding on side of a cliff.
To make things even deeper you have things like The Wheel of Pain which holds its own in the lore of Conan. It plays a big role for players who wish to invest time into it in their ability to craft. While they can take a fair amount of resources to build and even longer finding the perfect Thralls that are high enough level. The correct type for what you want to capture unlocks different bonuses.
These bonuses could be from reducing crafting costs which comes in really handy as the item decay in the base game can be rather brutal. Some times you are not always farming with your best tools to gather resources as it’s just not worth the decay. Other times you want to maximize yield on something hard to acquire and that is where higher-tiered tools come into play.
What I love most about the Thrall system is their ability to unlock tribe specific weapons and armor and the different crafting stations. They also allow you to get into a higher tier of crafting where you can get better stats on gear and tools as well.
To make something like a piece of armor. You might need to put leather on the tanner. Smelt some ore in the forge. Make some alchemy items in the fire bowl and then combine it all together at an armorer. Crafting can involve quite a few steps once you have all the ingredients which are more time than not the challenging part.
Most of my in-game time was spent gathering and crafting. I really loved having to refine down resources, obtain or unlock the recipe needed and then using those items to get into a harder part of the game for better resources and advance.
There are so many different areas for the player to raid and loot to be had. The great thing is some of these spots are rather small while others are entire massive villages where you can just go crazy in. Some of them are in hard to reach areas and others you will be cross every time on a farm path.
The main point I found for venturing into these different areas was to see if the Thrall you wanted to capture had spawned as gold named one.
There were also chests and just loot on everything you killed as well. Not to mention depending on your religion you may need to chop up the corpse to gather special ingredients as well. Other times you had a failed day of hunting and needing to bring other types of flesh home to cook for supper. This is defiantly not a civilized world after all!
There is also that pure fun factor knowing you are going into a massive town and everything in it will fight you to the death. Who knows maybe you found some hard to get ores or ingredients you needed for alchemy
For those looking for a bigger challenge, the game has a number of dungeons to explore and bosses to kill. These often contain end game crafting ingredients, recipes, and loot drops as well. They are all a bit different and can even require some thought in how to get through them.
Each region on the map seems to have its own dungeon for the player to find. Some of them you could walk right past and not find the entrance into them if you are not paying close attention. Others you can just walk right in and meet your death if not prepared.
One of the cool features this game has are ghosts that provide helpful hints to the player. While they can be found outside of dungeons as well they can often bring attention to a point of interest inside of a dungeon. There are after all a number of places inside that could be hiding chests and other things.
Some of the dungeons are set up more like mazes where they can become easy to get lost in. Others require you to work out how to unlock doors or get past certain sections. Overall, they were a nice part of the game to fight through. I wish more survival games had dungeons.
Last year as of the time writing this I ended playing this with a group of friends. I must say this game is far more enjoyable with you are in a group. Things become less of a grind and dealing with threats is not so challenging.
The biggest thing was having players train different traits and unlock different crafting recipes. In the early game when you want so many things it’s nice to have a couple of people each work towards something different.
For instance, someone can more or less be a pack mule that goes around harvesting resources and carrying back large amounts of stuff. They can speck into carrying weight and be given better farming tools.
Meanwhile, someone else can focus on health and tanking boss fights. They can be further customized with heavy sets of gear for more armor. This really allows different styles of classes to be created by the players.
No to mention if you want to build a massive city up top some mountain with an insane elevator system going down to the bottom. You are going want a number of people playing different roles to help make it happen. Otherwise, it can become quite time-intensive.
PvP was not really our thing as we were working together in a small group. I can only imagen having to set up defenses to combat players looking to raid. Not part of the game spent any time on.
There will still be those moments where people break off into different parts of the map gathering this or that. Overall though it’s nice not having to do everything yourself. If you become bored doing one type of task you can switch off with another player and go do something different.
Mods And Single Player
While I usually prefer to play games vanilla aka no mods. My second time around playing this game for this review I was solo the entire time. That is where I feel embracing mods just for the quality of life alone and not spend forever grinding away was nice.
Playing solo can be quite more challenging when you are facing and having to do everything yourself. What might have taken a single trip of gathering rock to build a new starting base could be four trips now.
On top of that, you are not able to take advantage of specializing in just one thing as well without suffering due to it. So at the lower levels, you can end up in this sad middle ground of having points spent and things unlocked all over the place. You might even have to go without something for quite a few levels.
I personally enjoyed mods that reduce the weight of items. I love being able to go on long gathering sessions without having to make a bunch of trips back to my base.
When you craft amazing items not wanting to use it due to durability loss is a shame. So again that is a perfect place to find a mod that increases durability. I've always not been a fan of games that restrict the player heavily by item durability. If you craft an amazing pickaxe you should be able to use it from here on out until you need to replace it. Not store it away and use lower-tier ones to keep farming iron and other stuff.
You also have limitations in being a single player. So things that increase theplayer level cap to 300 is frankly an amazing thing to have. While you more than likely won’t be going that high in levels. It allows you to be that one-man-band with a massive sword ready to party.
While you can play this game without mods as a single-player once you have played in a group you become a bit spoiled and rather have things a little easier. Thankfully this game has a decent-sized Workshop on Steam. So you can make the game the way you want within reason.
This game has more depth to it than your average survival game. Where wearing the right gear can help combat weather effects and other dangers. Being prepared enables you to survive for prolonged amounts of time away from your main base gathering what you need. Finally other fun things like pillaging of villages and raiding of dungeons to give the player something else to do.