Back in December of 2017, a little game by the name of They Are Billions debuted. Created by indie game developer, Numantian Games, They Are Billions singlehandedly created a new strategy subgenre dubbed “survival RTS,” or survival real-time strategy.
By most accounts, this new experiment in genre-mixing has been a rip-roaring success; They Are Billions has attracted a massive audience, at least in relation to its humble budget. And while there have been a few games that have tried to imitate it, none have really come close to what it has to offer. Until now.
Long-time indie game developers, Petroglyph (Star Wars: Empire at War, Grey Goo), have teamed up with Funcom (which has done wonders with the Conan IP of late) and together they’ve launched what could be the next big things within the newly-created survival RTS gaming category: Conan Unconquered.
Like its forerunner, They Are Billions, Conan Unconquered combines the fast-paced strategic features of an RTS with survival sensibilities. There’s also a healthy sprinkling of base management thrown into the mix as well, just for good measure. In both games you start out with a command center building and have to gather materials from resource nodes scattered around your immediate surroundings.
However, unlike They Are Billions, in this game you don’t have any pesky colonists to worry about keeping track of. Instead, all of the buildings that you construct around your base don’t seem to have anyone manning them, which actually takes away from the immersion a bit. The scale of the buildings is also off a tad, at least when compared to your units. It would have been nice to have larger buildings but maybe that sort of thing wasn’t in the budget.
In Conan Unconquered, you begin with a single hero unit. There are only two heroes to pick from in the base game; Conan the infamous barbarian, and Valeria, who also wields a sword. A spellcaster named Kalathes is a third hero option, but only for those who own the Deluxe Edition upgrade of the game. Your heroes can gain powerful, game-changing abilities the longer they stay in the game and level up through surviving assaults.
Players will have to endure 25 waves of enemies and will also have to adapt to all of the different enemy types. You’ll have to build barracks to requisition units, hovels for income, walls and other structures for base defense, and the like. Your starting units consist of Warriors, which are useful for fending off the earlier adversaries, and Spearmen, which not only attack from range but can also be loaded up into towers in order to augment your defenses.
Conan Unconquered lets you build within a certain zone around your base. To expand, you’ll have to build banners around the periphery of this zone in order to expand the build area. Because there is a slight city building element within the game’s mechanics, the devs have featured a top-down perspective in order to help space out your structures.
As you advance through the oncoming waves, you can begin building more advanced structures that produce such things as healer units and other powerful troops. Eventually, you can even summon the mighty god Mitra himself, who can sometimes do more harm than good. Although he can obliterate entire waves single-handedly, he can also damage your town while he unleashes all of that devastation.
In addition to that, you’ll have to worry about disease. If you kill a bunch of enemies and leave their corpses out to dry in the sun, they’ll rapidly decay and become infected with diseases. If you place your units too close to their rotting bodies, your troops will become diseased and suffer debilitating penalties to their stats.
Conan Unconquered is a pretty solid entry into the emerging survival RTS subgenre. It has a pretty fast pace, is easy to pick up and learn, features some interesting game mechanics, and can also be a blast to play with a buddy in Co-op mode. I’m looking forward to future patches and updates to the game.
Conan Unconquered features some pretty nice looking graphics that make its strategic 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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