Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

The universe of “Conan the Barbarian” authored by Robert Irvin Howard (Robert Ervin Howard) clearly received less of its part of the game incarnations. If the film adaptations gave us a series of excellent action films (and at the same time opened the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger as an actor), then the daredevils swung at a video game of this magnitude only once – in 2008, Funcom released the MMORPG Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. Despite some interesting decisions (in particular, the original combat system), it did not gain much fame, gradually turning into a free-to-play MMO with a very narrow circle of fans. Nevertheless, the game is alive to this day, which is also a success, you see.

Almost ten years later, the Norwegians decided to try their luck a second time. Another genre, other heroes, but still the same Conan universe – Conan Exiles early access, please love and favor.

If in Rust, with great luck, you can make a successful raid on the enemy base with a completely fresh character, then this number will not work here – the guards do not sleep.

Change of course

Indeed, when the development of a new game was announced, many thought that we were waiting for the continuation of the same MMORPG, but Funcom decided that in our time it would be a more promising idea to make the now popular “survivor”. Meanwhile, in the new “Conan” RPG elements are much more pronounced than in the standard “survival”.

Take, for example, the process of creating a character, from which it all begins (unlike DayZ, there is no “common” hero for all servers). Gender, origin, deity to worship, appearance are configured, which allows you to end up with a more or less unique hero. You can talk for a long time about the sensational unique technology that allows you to realistically depict male personal belongings and adjust their size when creating a character, but is it worth it? The fact is remarkable, but no more – it does not affect the gameplay in any way. I will only note it as a successful marketing move – Funcom’s bold decision led to the fact that only the lazy did not mention these advantages of the game (and its characters).

It didn’t come to choosing a class and distributing skill points, as is customary in classic RPGs, but only at the creation stage – directly during the game, our hero grows in level, getting the opportunity to “pump” one of the seven characteristics. In the same way, new “recipes” for weapons, armor, buildings and everything else that can be made from resources found and obtained in battle or honest labor are studied.

We remain to survive

Another important difference from typical survival sims is the greater focus on story, which is not surprising given the rich literary and cinematic base. There was a place even for Conan himself, albeit in a slightly different way and only in the opening video. It is the brave Cimmerian who saves our hero, convicted of various crimes (they are different at each start, and sometimes they are quite funny), removing him from the crucifixion.

Our character has nothing behind his soul, and from his clothes there is only a mysterious bracelet that will kill its wearer when trying to get rid of such a terrible jewelry or cross the borders of the Land of Exiles, which has become a new home for many of the same poor fellows. However, not everyone was lucky – staying alive here is not at all easy, especially in the desert. Fortunately, a more fertile area is very close – the criminal saved from a cruel death will have to go there.

There is no censorship – except for the nudity of the characters, there is an honest “dismemberment”. Another thing is that while she looks rather comical.

Life is already in full swing there, and we are talking not only about other such exiles (although traces of their activities are noticeable almost immediately). The world here is not an empty “sandbox” that players have to equip themselves: everything is very similar to the usual single-player open-world RPG or MMO (if you take into account the constantly respawning “mobs” and deposits of resources). The map is quite large, and you can spend a lot of time exploring it.

Nevertheless, the terrain remains static, created without the use of procedural generation and other fashionable ways to diversify content today. On the other hand, manual work is still noticeably better than a computer algorithm. So here – dungeons, ancient ruins, settlements of savages and other interesting places are found at every step and are made completely to last.

How quickly you get bored over and over again to “study” the well-trodden up and down area is an open question. The developers promise to gradually expand the map by adding new regions, but this cannot go on forever. However, there is something to do and besides travel and discovery.

Divide and rule

The character feels hunger and thirst, which are quenched, oddly enough, by food and drink. He also knows how to fight and construct various useful and not so useful things: from a stone ax and a loincloth to a workbench and structural elements of his own home. If you do not follow the same hunger and thirst or fight the wrong way and with the wrong ones, then our hero can use one more of his skills – to die suddenly. Actually, in order for the latter not to happen, it is necessary to engage in the extraction of resources and the construction of various infrastructure.

There are two important differences from the usual scheme for the genre: slavery and worship of the gods. The lands of the exiles are inhabited by a variety of creatures, intelligent and not so, including ordinary people. They, in addition to the banal murder, can be captured and after a little psychological and physical processing (in the form of the so-called wheel of pain, familiar to most thanks to the original film), you can get valuable workers or fighters at your disposal.

In such dungeons, very strong opponents can meet.

Guard slaves allow you to leave your dwelling under minimal protection when there are no active players left in the settlement. Robbery raids are a favorite entertainment in this genre, so some time after the launch, entire cities grow on the server with a complex system of protection and fortification. It is quite possible to imagine yourself as the ruler of the local lands, proudly sitting on a throne in your own castle (fortunately, the construction system allows this), but it is unlikely that you will be able to become one alone. Conan encourages cooperation much more noticeable than other similar games. Wars between clans for resources or for the sake of banal fun are a common thing on any server.

Choosing your own deity to worship at the start is not just another element of the role-playing component. Each of the gods can show favor to his flock – if she proves her devotion to him, of course. You will have to prove it in different ways: for example, the serpent Seth prefers bloody sacrifices, and the Yogi requires his followers to eat human flesh.

The more a player is zealous in worshiping a particular god, the more powerful his support will be: from the ability to create special equipment and weapons, ending with the summoning of an avatar. With the help of this giant incarnation of one of the deities, you can easily destroy the enemy base to the ground. However, the avatar will not be an absolute weapon – it exists for a very short time, the summoner is practically defenseless, and his location becomes visible far around.

Apparently, once upon a time there was not a lifeless desert here at all. Only the remains of mysterious buildings remind of its former grandeur.

***

Alas, while the players have to deal mainly with bugs and shortcomings – we have in front of us the same classic “early access”, when a frankly unfinished product is put up for sale. In the early days, it was quite difficult – for example, the list of servers could simply stop working without explanation. To the credit of the Norwegians, the patches were not long in coming and continue to come out with enviable regularity. Do not forget about the promise of a variety of settings when creating your own server and support for mods – all this is already available.

As a result, despite everything, Conan Exiles, a month after the release in Early Access, feels quite confident among analogues like Rust, and Funcom happily announces half a million copies sold and shares its plans. Did a realistic simulation of the physics of individual body parts really help?

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