Conan Exiles – A Brave New World

Survival sandbox games have seen a recent boom.  Games like Rust, FarCry Primal, and Fallout 4 are just a few of the well-known titles of this genre that have found success with gamers and critics recently.  Many games in the genre have horror aspects like 7 Days to Die and Rust.  Sometimes it’s  more cartoonish like Don’t Starve and Minecraft. They may differ in style, but they all rely on testing the player’s ability to survive with few resources.

In January, 2017, there will be a new addition to the genre: Conan Exiles, a game based in the world of Conan the Barbarian. And it looks impressive.

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On the Battlefield. Photo Credit: Funcom Games

Venture to the Hyborian Age

Announced in January of 2016, Conan Exiles is a game by Funcom, creators of The Park and The Longest Journey.  In Conan Exiles, the player will play as a barbarian doing his or her best to survive in the harsh world of Conan.  There will be gods and monsters, and one will have to be downright brutal in order to survive any and all threats.  Build your world, protect your lands, rule your people, either alone or in your own server with friends.  With MMORPG options, players can even form strongholds or go out on their own and brave the harsh sandstorms.

This game, despite looking extremely polished in the trailer, has somehow managed to fly entirely under the radar.  With so many high-profile releases, especially in the past few months, perhaps it’s been a bit of a blessing for Funcom.  Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a beautiful game slip by the wayside due to too much pressure.

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Under the Sea. Photo Credit: Funcom Games

A World for Newbs and Veterans Alike

The work put into Conan Exiles so far is impressive.  The art alone looks as if someone’s been working on it for years.  For an independent studio, the graphics are impressive and the art design is detailed.  The creatures look amazing.  As long as the final product looks as presented in the trailer, Conan Exiles could stand up well next to a AAA genre title.

So what will make Conan Exiles stand out?  For starters, it’s not a horror title as many of the recent survival open world games have been.  Conan feels more like it’s aiming to echo 2015’s Mad Max and even improve upon the model.  Conan’s world is also an established world unlike Rust, meaning that it’s a world that people have seen before.  There were the movies in the eighties, and the attempted reboot in 2011, along with novels and comic books.  It’s not Star Wars, but there are those who are loyal to Conan just as much as any other fandom. The plus side is the fact that Conan the Barbarian is not terribly popular right now, playing into Funcom’s favor.  Those who perhaps haven’t seen the old Arnold Schwarzenegger movies can enter this dangerous world with new eyes.

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On the hunt. Photo Credit: Funcom Games

New Frontiers

The fact that Conan Exiles is adopting some MMORPG features is notable. Why are survival MMORPG’s so popular?

It could be that, as humans, we like to have an influence in our world, be it real or virtual.  Games that allow players to build a character and become a part of the game really resonate with us.  Having the ability to create and destroy, to have visible influence on our world, means a lot to us.  Conan Exiles builds on this need and gives gamers a new frontier that we’ve never really been able to explore in this way.  The game’s release is currently set at January 31, 2017 for PC and spring for Xbox, with no announcement for PS4 just yet.

 

Elisabeth Sills
Lifelong gamer and writer starting with the Commadore 64 all the way to the XBox One.

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