There seems to be three primary sandbox survival (crafting, building, clan-based PvP) games on the market right now. Those three would be Rust, Ark: Survival Evolved, and Funcom’s Conan Exiles. I’ve spent many hours with each of these titles, but as I’ve grown busier in my personal and professional lives I’ve had to narrow that list down to one.
Rust is a great game, mechanically-speaking, but is notorious for its toxic player base. There have always been kill-on-sight types in any sandbox survival game, but the lengths to which people go out of their way to hunt others down makes Rust my least favorite of the bunch.
Ark is also a mechanically sound game, and features some really eye-pleasing visuals, but I never really got into its backstory. Although capturing and training dinosaurs in an original concept, dinos combined with “pew pew” laser guns just never made much sense to me.
Conan Exiles was a bug-ridden mess when it debuted back in January of 2017. When I first played it I thought that it had great graphics, and of course the wonderful world of Conan’s Hyborian Age, but it was released way too early to be considered a contender.
For instance, I not only saw graphical tearing on objects, but the movement of AI beasts and other enemies was glitched and missing frames of animation. The world itself also wasn’t really that large, and felt constrained after only a few hours of my game time.
But over the course of the past year or so, Funcom have done a masterful job of not only patching Conan Exiles, but also adding in lots of content. They’ve dramatically opened up new areas of the world and filled it with all sorts of new trials and tribulations.
With the latest big update, the devs completely revamped the previously wonky combat system. Now, each classification of weapon has its very own handling properties, as well as different sets of combos that players can utilize by stringing together light and heavy attacks. The dodging mechanics have also been tweaked and feel more practical than before.
They’ve also added little touches that have made Conan Exiles more immersive as well as more convenient. For example, swimming has been changed so that you can not only swim on the surface of water, but also dive by hitting the “C” key. Hovering over dead bodies now gives you the option of “Fast Looting” them with the touch of a button.
The game’s Purge system has also been improved and now makes a lot more sense now. The more that groups of players build up in an area (and are hostile to monsters, animals, and humans within that space), the higher their Purge meters will go up. When it hits a certain threshold, prepare to be attacked. From Funcom’s update notes themselves:
“In general purges become more difficult the further north your base is on the map. Higher difficulty purges will contain special bosses with unique loot, or special crafter NPCs that have unique recipes on them. You will need a combination of smart base design, thrall defenders, higher tier buildings and good team play to withstand the most difficult purges.”
This really enhances the game because Purges are challenges that can make or break a team and their carefully constructed bases. Now, you really have to think about where you build and how you build in order to resist the mobs of monsters, beasts, or humans that can potentially wipe you off the map.
Another big change is that now players have the ability to farm their own lands. You can do this by gathering seeds from plants and making compost through compost heaps, which allows you to plant and harvest your own crops. You can also purchase potted plants as well, as opposed to planters. Potted plants are less costly (and time consuming) than planting seeds yourself.
Many people were upset when Funcom recently announced that a few promised features wouldn’t make it into the final game. One of these was being able to ride on mounts, Ark-style. Funcom somewhat remedied this in their latest update by providing everyone with new placeables called Maprooms. When you place one of these within your base you can instantly travel to any previously visited monolith on the map. While this somewhat mitigates the need for mounts, I’m still hopeful that the devs will someday add mounts to the game (as well as sorcery).
Conan Exiles has come a long way since its earlier, bug-laden days, and has blossomed into quite an enjoyable low fantasy romp. It has outstanding graphics, fun quests, and both excellent PvE and PvP action to satisfy just about anyone. It’s definitely a great survival sandbox experience that will only get better with time.
Conan Exiles features outstanding graphics that make its fantasy survival gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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