I’ve always considered myself a gamer, but not always a player. I spend a lot of my time offering services to the PC gaming community and following the development of great games. This time I’m the player and although I played Minecraft with my children a little, I consider Conan Exiles to be my first survival game, even if it feels easier than Minecraft when it comes to completion.
My “140 hrs on record”
According to Steam, I’ve spent 140 hours in Conan Exiles since a week before it’s official release on the 8th of May 2018. That is massive for me considering I have a lot of work to do and four children. Normally I would get 10 hours gaming in per week, an acceptable level of gaming for someone with my responsibilities. Obviously, something really caught my attention with this game to buy it. Something also got me hooked once I was in it because I dedicated 100 more hours to gaming this month. Even now I really want to play it but I can’t.
So what made me becoming a player for about 100 more hours this month than normal and why can’t I continue playing is what you’ll be wondering.
Let’s walk through the Conan Exiles experience first. We spawn in the dryest of deserts, there are crumbling ruins, some rocks and a desperate need to survive a growing thirst and hunger. I saw this for the first time on Twitch, where I watched Twerk17 play and talk about plans for a private server that I’d later join.
The harsh environment, lack of anything at all even clothes and a progressive map that offers different environments. This is what caught my attention and within a very short time, I decided to buy Conan Exiles. I witnessed gritty survival, with much death and re-spawns which made the game seem challenging.
The First Hut
I died before reaching the river when I first played. I didn’t respect the danger and sensitivity of a naked character. Like all players, I quickly built a hut. The rivers are littered with these huts on official servers. I’m betting every player feels the same sense of danger that I did when getting into the hut and closing the door at night.
Then in time, I realized that the danger is limited to PvE server. Nothing is banging on the door, clawing at the walls or sniffing at the dying camp-fire outside the hut. I realized that even at night, I can open the door without risk of something entering, I can leave the hut and still there is little danger that I can’t easily escape.
We all realize that the NPC in Conan Exiles is are predictable. Holding their positions and staying within their areas. Even discontinuing their chase and returning to original locations. Nothing else travels, wanders, hunts and so there are no random encounters. The sense of danger decreases and survival becomes about dodging creatures.
The first hut is quickly left behind!
The First Stronghold
Everyone’s experience will differ greatly when it comes to building a long-term home. I decided that I needed to build one alone if I was going to learn the game. I was on a private server with building-decay switched off and this encouraged me to build something special. My stronghold would take another 140 hours to complete because it is so large for a single player.
I really enjoy building, but I began asking myself, ‘Why do I need this building on a PvE server?’. I’m looking for a gaming experience that includes harsh survival 24/7 and I thought I was witnessing that on Twerk’s stream. I thought that I was about to get it after my first 5 minutes play when I died twice. Now, I’m cozy in a massive stronghold and despite an over-grown white bat perched on the cliff above me, I’m totally safe!
Why am I safe, while building on The Tower of Bats?
I don’t want to feel safe, so I venture all over the map and I encounter various missive but very stupid beasts. Very predictable, slow and I could tell they just sit around waiting for a level 60 player to kill them…easily! I watched it happen multiple times and by week two I wasn’t the only player with the opinion that the game was too easy.
New Server, New Experience…Canceled
I originally began playing on single player, to get used to the game. Then I moved onto the private PvP server that had tame settings and rules of engagement. Basically watered down to a PvE experience, with the ability to arrange a PvP arena event at any time. Those rules made the server feel too safe on top of the game’s lack of danger when a base is established.
Then I thought I had found a home on a PvE Conflict server. I wanted that PvP danger to exist at some point and the idea of it happening during specific hours seemed sensible(this server type allows PvP during a short period each day). I found my original location and was excited to find it free. I could re-build my original base and finish it this time. I wouldn’t be restricted by a private server owners rules or worry about the server being closed. So I began laying the foundations to my new home, 100% sure I was going to have the greatest gaming time since Star Citizen, when a discussion about decay was happening in the game’s chat.
I was shocked to discover that the building decay rate wouldn’t allow someone to go on a holiday or be in bed with the flu for a couple of weeks without risking everything they had built in the game to the decay timer. I realized that the game has limitations for someone who wants danger, without losing their entire base to a…timer! I can handle players chipping away at my walls because the entire point of designing a fortress and filling it with thralls is for that scenario, in my opinion.
Today, I’m tempted to find a PvP server and join a clan for the survival side of things. My problems with clans are having to follow a leader, a random person who often takes a game too serious and acts like they are on a power-trip. As for the building I really enjoy, I’ll do that offline.
I’m just not sure I want to push my desire to play the game into that experience and I feel done with it now. I feel like I’ve not had my money’s worth but I’m better to call it a day now before I frustrate myself trying to figure out, how I’m meant to play this game. That makes me question all the things that the game is missing and ask why the developers have falling short of delivering server modes that suit someone like myself.
Conan Exiles Summary
Conan Exiles has much to offer but at the same time, it lacks plenty and some moments I feel like I’m testing a beta. That also means there is room for improvement and the latest word is that the developers have been funded to update the game. So I don’t think anybody should give up hope because there are many hints to the possibility of potentially great story-based content and quests that offer challenges as the next big thing for the game.
I’m hoping that the developers make it harder to reach level 60. I’m hoping for the purge to be a more constant night-fall attack that grows, maybe every 3-6 game-days. I would like attacks to be limited in time to prevent too much damage in a single wave. I wish thralls would repair or we could have building thralls that perform emergency repairs. These ideas are easily delivered and yet would create the very danger that I want personally. Lastly, I really want a server that has no decay but does allow players to damage buildings. This should set a state of war which also allows each player to send thralls to attach each other’s buildings, without a player accompanying them.
If I got anything like this, I’d give the developers more money.