After playing two different free weekends, I bit the proverbial bullet and purchased Conan Exiles this week. The price was pretty reasonable, around $25 including 4 DLC packs (mostly cosmetic).
Here are some initial observations about the game. I've not delved into the modding world, although there is quite a healthy community producing content (and the obligatory cheats).
Single Player Mode:
I started out with a single player game on the initial map. The graphics are lush and exotic. The first impression I formed is that the game is quite beautiful. The character models are well done and give a very good feel for the Conan IP. The world is large. Creatures are dangerous. The various clothes are exceptional looking, and the DLC outfits are both pretty and fit into the world of Conan very well. There are a variety of resources, everywhere. Almost everything can be harvested or collected and has multiple purposes. The crafting is deep.
The Journey walks you through the game, giving you goals on how to proceed. This serves as double purpose. The Journey records what you have done, but it also gives the newb player (me) hints at what can be done, and what should be done next. In effect, this acts as a very non-intrusive tutorial, and mostly reduces the need for spoiler sites. At level 30, I'm still learning things about the game, so I'd have to say this is probably the most effective tutorial I've ever seen in a game. Other games would do well to make such quality in guiding the player around.
The combat is fun. Brutal and realistic, but fun. There are all sorts of features built into the game, but not paraded around -- knockdowns, knockbacks, stuns, bleeding, etc. -- the messy little details that make combat feel so dangerous. Running away and defensive fighting are very viable combat options.
There is a lot to like, but along with this good, there are some relatively annoying issues.
- Graphics -- Grass pokes through a foundation. This has been around since 2017, but hasn't been fixed yet. About the only visual flaw I've noticed.
- Repair -- Repairing an item requires almost the same amount of materials it takes to build the item initially.
- Building -- The snap-to feature works well (better than in No Man's Sky), but there are still glitches that require you to stand in specific places to put the component in place. The UI to remove a component is very awkward, and many components (fences, stairs) only destroy the element instead of putting it back in inventory. Stairs are a particular problem, as removing any component breaks the entire stairs, instead of just removing the one element you put in wrong.
- Crafting -- There are an amazing number of things to build, but the main crafting menu UI really needs tabs (or some other method) to organize the various recipes. With the 4 DLCs I have, it takes 22 mouse wheel scrolls to get past the culture-specific architecture to the crafting stations (and the important Storage box).
- Saves -- The Single Player and Coop share a single save game. That limits a single active game on any given PC. I can't restart to try something without destroying the existing game. Consequently, there's no way to load specific games.
Since this is primarily an online game, I decided to invite a friend to help out with learning the map. This introduced some further issues.
- Adding player -- Adding a player to share your single player game is relatively simple through Steam. This is done via a Steam invite. Using this function is relatively simple; finding this function wasn't. It is accessible from the ESC / Main menu. It also isn't persistent -- you have to invite the player every time they join in. There also isn't any KICK function (that I could find) to disconnect another player.
- Combat -- Fighting together takes some getting used to. You can accidentally bump and push another player around in a fight without actually hurting them. That isn't an issue in a PvP setting. In PvE (coop), it can be annoying.
- Player UI -- Basically, there isn't anyway to interact with another player. There's no Trade interface. There's no way to Assist, no way to Target a player. This is where the games really shows it's Single Player focus; it's not very friendly for multiple players.
- Chat -- It appears that the only kind of chat is Global chat. This is essentially a Clan-based chat. To communicate in-game, both players essentially need to be in the same clan. (Unknown if this applies to voice-chat as well).
- Tethering -- This is a serious issue. The game tethers all characters to the host character. No one can get too far away from the host. This prohibits doing things at different locations; players must stay close. If the host character dies and respawns a good distance away, any additional characters will immediately warp to the recovering player. This feature cannot be disabled, but the max distance is 52000 units, which is about 1/5th of the map away.
I haven't tried this yet.
Conan Exiles seems to be a very good game. It is definitely the best survival-type game I've tried. I'm quite happy with the decision to purchase this, and anticipate that I'll play this frequently, especially once I understand setting up a server a bit more. (That should act as a work around the Save issue identified above). I don't expect I'll get into the PvP much at all, but there are numerous servers that should do. There are enough basics done well enough to make this game a quality role-playing experience, which is what I'm looking for.
Thanks for reading.
Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.