I had been looking forward to playing Conan Exiles. My reviews of Conan the Barbarian & Conan the Destroyer piqued my interest in learning more about the Cimmerian hero, as I’ve been reading some of Robert E. Howard’s original stories, and even some of the comics (they’re good!). I was happy to see that there were a few Conan video games out there; and just my luck, Conan Exiles is now on Xbox Game Pass.
Since I have Game Pass on my new Xbox Series S, I knew I would be trying Conan Exiles out, no matter what, so I went in blind. My only knowledge is that it is a survival game. I’ve messed around with a couple of survival games over the years; Don’t Starve is the game in the genre that I played the most, as the early days of the PS4 did not have many games to play.
Conan Exiles originally launched in 2018 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, but it looks older than that. It looks and feels much more like an Xbox 360 game — not a good start.
After creating my character, I hit some of the buttons to figure out the controls, and what do you know? I leveled up a few times. Nice.
Your character starts with nothing but underwear. Very quickly you learn that just about anything and everything you can see can be gathered for crafting: rocks, sticks, plant fiber, etc. Want to chop down some trees? Craft an ax first. Conan Exiles’ early game loop consists of gathering, crafting, leveling up, keeping yourself healthy (and alive).
Roaming monsters and other survivors run towards you for attempted murder. You can choose to take your chances by fighting back or run away to better prepare for the encounter. Hopefully, you have good stamina control, because death and loss of your progress await if you don’t. Conan Exiles is a Roguelite, so dying in starts you nearly back to square one, removing all your crafted and gathered items. Although, it’s not as brutal as a game such as Returnal, as you keep your gained levels and recipes.
I played Conan Exiles for about 5 hours and then I uninstalled it. I gave it the old college try, but sometimes you just know a game isn’t for you. I’m generally a solo player and this just doesn’t seem like a game I want to sink hours and hours into. Maybe the cooperative/multiplayer aspect of this game is a more rewarding experience, but it’s just not my thing.
With so many games I still have yet to play, I have no interest in a game that is such a slow grind, especially when death is so punishing.
If you have Game Pass and you’re interested in survival or Roguelite games, maybe Conan Exiles is worth a look for you? At 100+ GB download, bad graphics, and meh gameplay…