Republished on Wednesday 27th March 2019: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of April's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
Conan Exiles is surprisingly good. When we first learned about an open world survival game themed on the Conan universe, we were tempted to write it off as a cash grab. And that might have been the initial idea, but the result is not only a labour of love for the genre, but also the barbarian himself.
Picture the scene: you're a completely naked, ripped, and very well-endowed male or female tied to a cross in some desert, left to die for an unknown crime. That is, until our favourite misogynist Conan arrives to free you because he's actually a pretty decent guy. He then leaves you naked, alone, and scared in the desert to fend for yourself.
That's where the game starts, and it's incredibly compelling stuff. Your first priority will be on clothing yourself (after spending a lot of time speechless at the remarkably accurate genital physics), finding something to use as a weapon, and quenching your thirst and hunger.
All of the above is trickier than it sounds – particularly if you're new to survival games. There's no tutorial, crafting is hidden inside a menu, and you probably won't even be able to differentiate between what you can and can't pick up. The only clue you get is "press square to interact" and you'll do that on everything until it works.
That pretty much sums up the opening hour or so – you, fumbling about in a harsh desert, dying of thirst, starvation, and weird goblin creatures that explode. Slowly but surely, though, you'll figure stuff out. You'll learn that you can make clothes out of leaves, that your crudely-crafted pickaxe is a very poor weapon, and that you have to cook meat or you very well might die of food poisoning when you eat it.
And before you know it, eight hours have passed and you've built a lovely house, crafted a sword, and started working on your first leather armour set. You might even have a proper bed, basic furniture, and a fence around your property to protect it.
We could criticise Conan Exiles for a lack of tutorial or explanation of any kind, but that would sort of miss the point of a survival game. It's meant to feel harsh, and boy does this feel harsh. Ultimately, though, it does lead to some nice eureka moments, and overcoming an obstacle – be it enemy, cliff, or thirst – feels very rewarding indeed.
And that sense of reward doesn't let up anytime soon. There's always a goal to work towards in Conan Exiles, and not knowing how to even go about achieving it makes it even more compelling. You'll hit a dead enemy with a pickaxe and get hides, then you'll venture a little too far out of your comfort zone and stumble across an iron ore deposit. The rewards are constant, and each time you return to your crude base you'll do so with a wealth of fresh knowledge about the world, as well as a ton of plans on how to conquer it.
That you can do all of that with a friend or group in multiplayer is the cream on top, though. You can even choose a server with or without player killing depending on your preference. The servers are all dedicated too, and run the game super smoothly from our experience so far. You can save your progress and return at any point as well, and going inside your house keeps you safe from the dangers of the outside world.
The only real thing letting Conan Exiles down is its general jankiness. It freezes at random (often inopportune) moments, has a less than stable frame rate even on a PS4 Pro, and some of the animations are, frankly, just a little bit rubbish.
We also can't decide whether it's good looking or not. It varies wildly from environment to environment, with some reminiscent of the PS3 days while others are Monster Hunter World levels of gorgeous. The character models are terrific (maybe a bit too much so in some areas) while the hair is jarringly unrealistic.
If you love open world survival games, you'll overlook that, though, because it's just so damn fun. That probably says more about the genre than Conan Exiles, however, because it doesn't do anything particularly different. In fact, unless you really like the aesthetics you probably won't stick around for very long if you're invested in the likes of Minecraft or Ark: Survival Evolved.
But we still commend Conan Exiles for being more than the sum of its parts, and blending excellent survival mechanics with the harsh world of Conan. If you're a fan of either, this is well worth a shot.
Conan Exiles is a surprisingly good open world survival game that does a good job of blending genre mechanics with the harsh world of Conan the Barbarian. It's seriously addictive stuff despite general jankiness and a strange obsession with nudity, but the multiplayer is the real highlight. If you're looking for something new to play with your friends for a bit, look no further.
That reads like an 8, shocked to see a 6 after reading the actual review.
For some reason I got it (not my kind of game) and I really enjoy it. It has it flaws, but it is also fun! My only problem is that I have my main character at a server that gets full too often, so sometimes I can't log for hours.
this game doesn't look good to me
Plays very well, some bugs can ruin the experience, but overall this can only improve. Can see the engine needs a little more optimisation but the draw distance helps to immerse you. Building and crafting is some of the best i've seen, even if it can be overwhelming at the beginning.
This game is definitely on my radar, but I think I'll wait until; 1) It's been patched a few times, especially in the areas of optimization and bugs, and 2) it comes down in price.
Is this playable in 3rd person?
Definitely doesn't read like a 6 imo, looks good.... I'll wait till it comes down in price tho.
Open-World Game: The Game.
Is this the one where you could scale the size of your genitals?
@Nightcrawler71 same here.
Yup read like an 8.
Kinda interested tbh.
I was reading the review thinking man he’s really high on this it’s probably going to be an 8 so color me surprised when I get to the end and see a 6. This is one of the few times where the general tone and words of the review def don’t match the score given
I got bored of survival games a long time ago. I'll pass on this one.
Like some of the others in the comments, I was a little surprised to see a 6 slapped on the end of this review. It is a bit of a buggy game but still, the text definitely suggested a higher score.
I'm really enjoying it myself, and I'm usually not someone who enjoys survival games. Generally, if a game has survival aspects I'll tend to steer clear, but this has really captured my attention. I've spent so much time just building a house and trying to get set up before I go exploring and grabbing myself some thralls.
This was not on my radar at all! And i use to love conan comix. Really glad i read this review (which i was close to just skipping) i loooove open world. I love conan. Im pretty keen on survival as long as it isnt too cruel. Like a constant horrible click ticking down making you COMPLETELY UNABLE to just enjoy the game.
It looks interesting, but I think I’ll pass on something with a strange obsession with nudity.
Also, (this is not directed towards the author, but in general), does it annoy anyone else that words like misogyny get misused? He doesn’t hate woman (as far as I know, he rather likes them, I haven’t seen much Conan, but that the impressions I get), he’s just a sexist with how he likes them lol..
This will be a guaranteed purchase for kids who want to see nude females in pixel version. When I was a kid, all we had was Leisure Suit Larry to feed those needs!!!
This review seems to have the wrong score on the bottom...
"The only real thing letting Conan Exiles down is its general jankiness. It freezes at random (often inopportune) moments, has a less than stable frame rate even on a PS4 Pro, and some of the animations are, frankly, just a little bit rubbish."
Maybe an eight once these things get fixed. To be honest, I'm enjoying watching people play this on YouTube. I don't have enough time to invest unfortunately. Even taken to turning on Ni No Kuni 2 and switching off the tele just to get more cash in from my kingdom whilst I mow the grass etc...
Maybe the score is in inches, which would make it slightly above average.
What is best in life? Crush the enemy. See them driven before you. And hear the lamentation of the women...but first, ten hours of wayward wandering, goods gathering, hovel habitation, and fence forging.
Totally agree, without any other knowledge of the Game or Seeing
Demo's etc - I expected an 8 based on the Written Review
Can you chin a camel in it?
The new combat system is trash, the Dodge doesn't work. They need to put it back to how it was. The slower movement is also terrible. What did they do to this game
I'm getting it on sale now
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