Saturday, September 30, 2017

Conan Exiles (Xbox One) Game Preview

I'm sure many people's first knowledge of Conan Exiles was that it allowed nudity, and even had a character creation slider to set size.  Once I sat down to play the game preview of the Xbox One version, I realized I didn't even know what type of game it was.  Needless to say, I was surprised to find out it's an open world survival game.

I tried my first run, carefully setting up my character and reading stuff.  I didn't have much time then, so I had to quit out and hope that it had saved.  I tried to return later, but the single player needs an internet connection.  Sigh.  After finally getting it to work again, I found it had saved my stuff.  However, it also seemed to stop giving me experience.  I also quickly learned that the game tells you nothing.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, there is a huge area between too many tutorials and not enough.  Conan Exiles is, at the moment, firmly in the "not enough".  I don't think it tells you how to do anything other than the button prompt to read stuff.  This wouldn't be as big of an issue, but you kind of need to know a lot of stuff in a survival game.  I need SOMETHING to go on here.  What are these meters?  What should I actually do?  How do I build stuff?  I don't really have time to figure it out if doing so makes me starve or dehydrate.

I eventually figured out a few things I could harvest, and that I could eat bugs for a minuscule food boost.  I also ran into a lake...and monsters.  I somehow won my first fight.  Then I lost my second.  The game respawned me...somewhere.  There is no map or minimap that I could find.  Since you asked, yes, that IS a bad decision.  Even so, I could only craft five things, and was unsure what to do.

So, I started over with a new character.  Unfortunately, it seems you can only have one offline character, and that co-op is only online.  Hopefully that changes in the full release.  Like 7 Days to Die, I'd love to play it offline and couch co-op with my wife.

Even so, I was finally gaining experience, and had some ideas of what to do.  Still annoyed about the lack of map, though.  When I leveled up, I could increase a stat!  I don't know what each stat does, though, since as I might have already mentioned, the game doesn't tell you things.  You also use level up points to purchase crafting recipes.  This is kind of neat.  Plus, I finally found how to get more than five things to craft!

Sorting through all of the things you can craft is a pain, though.  Once you do find what you want, or think you want, you then have to have enough stuff to actually make it.  Even basic things seem to take a lot of stuff to actually make.  So, I hope you grabbed a ton of stuff while on your way, since no map will make it harder to find your way back.  Don't grab too much and become encumbered.  Also remember to make a bed roll!

Finding a place to put it was a bit of a chore, too.  I build a few walls, a door, and a foundation to put it on.  Good thing, since you actually need a foundation to attach the walls to.  The problem was getting them to play nice.  The foundation pieces, walls and ceilings didn't always attach to each other.  I'm not sure why.  So, my "house" has a hole at the top.  The interface to build and actually put them down was kind of a mess, too.  In fact, most of the UI in general wasn't that good.

Combat isn't much better.  You have to be pretty precise with your aim, which is just as annoying in combat as it is for mining and gathering.  Well, humans have that problem, not the AI.  When hit, it moves your aim to the side, so you have to re-adjust to actually hit the next blow.  I don't think that happens to your enemies when you hit them.  You seem reasonably sturdy, as it took several hits to down me.  Unfortunately, the same applies to your foes.  That's only really annoying when attacking the animals for their skins, as it's a chore to chase after them after each attack.

So what things am I hoping they fix or add?  Well, a few optional tutorials, and some in game info to start.  I'd really like a mini-map, or a compass so I can figure out where to go.  No, I don't want to have to craft them, just give me something basic so I can find stuff.  It would be nice to have single player not need online, and have multiple save slots for multiple worlds.  If at all possible, I'd like couch co-op instead of online only.  Other similar games have it, so I would think it's possible.

If you are a fan of Dark Souls-like difficulty and like survival games, then boy do I have the game for you!  For everyone but those ten people, I'd say wait and see how the game develops closer to launch and see if it's been improved before forking over your money.  Conan Exiles is definitely a game preview, as it's not ready to be released, but does have a lot of potential.

The Good:
Fans of survival, crafting and hard difficulty will get some fun out of it.  Plus, the music is very reminiscent of Conan.

The Bad:
The game offers no help, tutorials, or information to get you started.

The SaHD:
Once it's more complete, I'll play with the server options, as it looks like there's some nice settings there.

(Review code for Conan Exiles was provided by the publisher)

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