EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night (cntd)
My time with the Early Access has been limited and I haven’t been able to experience the later game content, but the basic idea is that you will be able to level up, learn more crafting recipes, build crafting stations, explore ruins and other locations, capture thralls to serve you (craft for you) and - a little by little - build a sort of an empire. There will also be more story elements coming up, but we will know more about those as the game approaches its release.
They stack the odds 'till we take to the street
The Early Access gameplay is all about crafting and it seems that the long-term goal for the development is similar. That also perhaps explains the disappearing enemy weapons and your inability to pick up someone’s clothing and armour. I know there are many who like crafting and they will probably like the game even in its current shape - they will be perfectly happy to learn to craft each and every item before they can use it. But those looking for a more authentic survival experience will find such restrictions artificial and non-immersive. I hope I’m mistaken, however, and that these items will later become lootable.
For me, it took several deaths and retries to learn the basics (how you can store items at campfires being the most important) and I must say I got quite fed up with the resource gathering gameplay - and I’m sure my keyboard disliked the constant battering of the ‘e’ key as well. Especially annoying are the high resource costs of the items - when making a simple waterskin takes fifty pieces of animal skin, you know you are in a busy-work land (these, I’m sure, will be adjusted during development). I’m not sure I’d be interested in a game completely designed around crafting, especially since it is the part of gameplay I tend to avoid in other games (if I choose to craft something, I do it in real life).
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
The character creation process is relatively familiar to anyone who’s played Age of Conan. Even at this stage of development, it gives you quite a range of options to make your character unique. The already notorious endowment slider, however, I’d be happy to see gone - it is just an invitation to juvenile gamers and makes me question the maturity of the developers as well.
At the moment, the in-game graphics are nothing to write home about - the official screenshots show lush colours and extreme distance drop-off that are simply not there yet at this point - at least if you do not have a top-of-the-range graphics card. It is also unclear which part of the world of Hyboria the setting is supposed to be: there are lots of desert-based cultures in the Conan lore. But, judging from the many drastic deviations made from the official lore, I suspect that it is not really meant to be any specific place - just a generic setting for the survival/crafting gameplay.
Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry
The Early Access gives a good taste of what we can expect from Conan Exiles, but we cannot be certain of how the direction will change or develop in the upcoming months or if it will at all. In any case, the game will have a lot to offer to those who enjoy crafting. Those looking for survival gameplay may want to sit back and wait a while to see how much the present focus on crafting will give room to other kinds of gameplay.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.