With so many Conan games coming out, it's easy to confuse one for another. That's how I learned that "Conan Exiles" and "Age of Conan" were two different games. They're both made by Funcom, but they take two different approaches.
"Age of Conan" is a massively multiplayer online game while "Conan Exiles" was an online survival title that can also be played alone. The former has been around since 2008 while the latter is a new project that was released on Steam Early Access on January 2017 and is slated for a full release this May. The game will come out on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Similar to "Ark" or "Rust," the game puts players in the Exiled Lands, where they'll have to survive by battling and gathering resources. In this open world, temperature, hunger and thirst matter. They'll have to hunt creatures for food and use their hides to keep warm. They'll have to find a water source to stay alive.
Meanwhile, they'll also worry about monsters attacking them on top of the AI-controlled humans who will target players without a second thought. Lastly, there are other online gamers as well.
In "Conan Exiles," players will have to gather resources by finding ironstone or gathering branches. Those materials can be used to build armor, weapons and even buildings. Once players are geared up, they stand a better chance to survive. They can even challenge those NPCs who may have been giving them trouble. If they defeat them, players can drag them back to camp and put the victim in the Wheel of Pain to break them. That turns them into a thrall, or servant, that can protect a camp or work at crafting stations.
That's the kind of depth and world building that makes survival games compelling. The desire to create a camp in the mountains, deserts or swamps reinforces the itch to gather resources and explore the enormous setting of the Exiled Lands.
A major change that's come to "Conan Exiles" during its Early Access period is a combat system overhaul. Those who initially started the game and took a hiatus will discover that Funcom shifted the mechanics from one modeled on "Skyrim" to another inspired by "Dark Souls." Players use the right shoulder button and right trigger for light and heavy attacks, respectively. They can do a few light attacks and finish an enemy with a heavy blow in rudimentary combos.
But players have to keep in mind that each weapon has its own properties. Swords may be balanced with moderately strong attacks that move at a decent speed. Meanwhile, daggers are quick and weak but give players a special backflip dodge.
One of the other additions is the Purge system. If players don't protect their base, they run the risk of having it overrun by monsters during what's called a Purge. That's when beasties descend on a camp and destroy it. Players can prevent it by training thralls to be archers to fire on foes.
In addition to the Purge, Funcon also added World Bosses. These are powerful monsters that are built for players who have reached the end game. These players will have high-level gear and will have built enough skill so that they can take on the World Bosses in groups. The prize for defeating World Bosses is legendary gear. That makes the creatures valuable targets.
Of course, some of these features will be slightly different depending on what server players hook up to. They can experience rule sets that will force them to drop their items when they die. Other servers may allow players to keep their gear upon death.
From what I've seen, "Conan Exiles" looks promising. With the addition of a new volcano and swamp areas to the mix, newcomers, veterans and returning players may have a big reason to pick it up.
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