Conan Exiles Preview: Survive, Build, Beat to a Bloody Pulp

Conan Exiles Preview: Survive, Build, Beat to a Bloody Pulp

Through the years the world of Conan the Barbarian has been the height of pulp. Whether it’s through film, comic, book or game, the franchise has always been about delivering sensationalized gore, head decapitations, grotesque monsters, feats of strength and beautiful, scantily clad people. It’s wish fulfillment at its finest. So, why should a survival game based in the world be any different? Tapping into our inner primacy is a formula that works for entertainment and online, open world gaming is a perfect playground for our inner savage. Conan Exiles, an open world, survival game with light RPG elements from developer Funcom may just be the head smashing, war mongering orgy we’ve all been waiting for.

Genre: Survival/MMO
Developed by: Funcom
Published by: Funcom
Release date: January 31st for PC Early Access, Spring 2017 Preview for Xbox One
Age rating: Pending
Platforms: Xbox One, PC

Conan Exiles Features

  • Survive the barbaric wasteland by gathering food, water and resources.
  • Build your legacy in a vast, seamless world. Construct and improve your home and craft new gear.
  • Discover the dark history of ancient civilizations and unlock the secrets of their power.
  • Defend your land with an army of slaves to dominate your enemies. Sacrifice your foes to call on the power of the gods.
  • Play alone locally or with others on public and private servers that can be fully customized.

Conan Exiles Story & Setting

In Conan Exiles, the premise is simple: you are an exiled outcast punished to wander a wasteland that is defined by survival of the fittest. In order to thrive, you must find a means to live, construct a new life and crush your foes in your rise to glory.

A mysterious serpent bracelet has been placed around your wrist which will kill you if you try to escape by crossing the huge Cursewall surrounding these lands. You will have to forge ahead and discover who put the bracelet on you and why you have been exiled to these harsh and unforgiving lands.


The land you will now call your home is a seamless world populated by the ruins of ancient civilizations. Of course, their secrets have been lost to time and you will have opportunities to uncover these secrets as you conquer their locations. There is treasure and knowledge to be found in these areas, but there are also dark forces of the world you will have to contend with. You will be learning about the former denizens of this world and the story of their fall by reading inscriptions, books and by observing the environments themselves.

The world is a sandbox that can be explored fully and features a variety of different locations such as lush green vegetation, burning sand dunes, and underwater destinations. As you explore you’ll encounter larger than life enemies from mythological lore.


From the get go, after character creation, you start with absolutely nothing. The game is classless so it will be up to your wits and skill to survive and make best use of everything before you. Your first journey will be to find food and water and get out of the dangerous sandstorm that ravages the desert and seek safety. But basic survival is not simply eating and drinking, as you’ll also have to protect against the elements and steel your mind against insanity. Your next step is going to be about securing shelter which is where the game’s build mechanic takes over.

Build Your Foundation

The building blocks you’re going to use to build your domestic domicile are divided into 3 tiers. At the onset, you’re only going to be able to create very basic structures made of stone and wood. They will provide basic protection from the elements but are not sturdy enough to protect you from attacking enemies. The more you progress in the game, the better types of walls and foundations you’ll be able to erect. At  tier 2 you will be able to build more reinforced structures that also have an aesthetic upgrade. At tier 3, you’ll be able to create fortress like structures that can stand against enemy onslaughts, while also boasting some impressive architectural design.

Eventually, you’ll be able to progress the interior of your home and outfit it with stations for crafting where you can create better weapons, armor and items. You’ll also be able to decorate and furnish your house with collectibles and trophies you gain from your conquests.

The game will task you with exploring your locations and surroundings to find materials you need to engage in crafting. Everything you find will be used to build your burgeoning empire and the tools and weapons that you will use to defend it.

Violent Tendencies

All of this careful construction has a purpose. Protection. But sometimes you’re defenses will crumble, or you’ll be ambushed while out looking for resources and that’s where the game’s tactical and gory twist on combat take center stage.

Your first line of defense is the weapons you are going to be wielding. There are a variety of different weapons you can wield and each has their own situational benefits and tactical strengths. You can sword and board for a balance of offense or defense. There are a variety of one handed weapons that let you do this and feature quick movesets. The two handed weapons trade the defense of a shield for powerful offense, and the variety of ranged weapons let you pick off enemies and hunted prey from safe distances. All the weapons have their own unique movesets and the game’s combat is designed to be tactical rather than hack and slash. You’ll have to carefully consider your opponent and what their strengths and weaknesses are and when engaged will have to take measured strikes for effectiveness.


When you’ve put it all together and start landing blow, the game will reward your prowess in an all too Conan the Barbarian like fashion. Enemies can be literally cut to pieces; you can sever arms, legs, heads or even cut them in twain as they explode in a bloody mess. Every killing blow can result in these kinds of moments, building an anticipation in combat to a goretacular finish.

Gods of War

As you work to build and improve your living situation you will have the opportunity to build an empire and populate your territory with loyal servants. Via the game’s Thrall system, you can enslave people of these lands and force them into a life of servitude and defense of your land. If they won’t comply, you can break their spirit on the ruthless Wheel of Pain, and then assign them to one of several roles, such as city defense, entertainers which help regen your health and reduce your corruption, and crafters that can make unique gear. In a game based on survival, people are the ultimate resource.


Once you’ve raised an army of sufficient size to satisfy your desire for conquest, you can march forward against your enemies, making use of explosives to demolish their territorial defenses. Once you get through their defenses you can move on in to clean up what’s left in typical bloody fashion.


The brutality doesn’t stop there as you can drag the bodies of your defeated enemies back to your land, cut their hearts out and sacrifice them to your god to earn blessings. Curry enough favor with your god and you will be able to summon avatars of them that will devastate the battlefield.


Mutliplayer & Mods

Conan Exiles can both be played alone or on persistent multiplayer. If you choose to connect online you have a couple of different options. You can join the official public server and engage in survival and battle against players all across the world. Or you can rent and set up your own private servers where you can customize the rules and settings for an adventure that is uniquely yours.

The goal at early access launch is for a player count of up to 70 online in a server. The official public servers will support PvE, PvP and something called PvP Blitz. In PvE and PvP servers what transpires there is pretty straight forward. You either work to survive or survive and fight each other, and the servers never get wiped, making the history persistent. The PvP Blitz server is an accelerated server that speedily lets you experience everything the game has to offer but then wipes after 30 days. Furthermore, the servers with have filters that allow players to select the kind of experience they want:

  • Purist
  • Relaxed
  • Hard core
  • Roleplaying
  • Experimental

Each one of those servers is tweaked to focus on that core element, allowing for a substantial amount of player diversity.


Private servers will allow for much more control of the game’s settings. You can alter the the environmental effects, NPCs, health, resources, spawn rate, etc. You can even buff your characters by making them invisible, increasing their speed , remove hunger and thirst and more. The amount of options all let you set up special scenarios based on wildest imaginings.

The game will also fully support mods on PC, based on an Unreal Engine editor. Anything created via the mod tools will connect to the Steam Workshop to allow for easy plug in access.


Conan Exiles is aiming to take the survival genre of gaming that has risen in popularity and escape its trite focus on surviving the zombie apocalypse by thrusting players into the height of pulpy adventure. And we do mean pulp. Spectacular kills and brutal subjugation all reign supreme in this hostile desert. The game’s robust crafting and building mechanics combined with the promise or threat of total destruction give it a smart core that belies its gratuitous surface. Early access begins January 31st, and we’ll be sharpening our spears in the meantime. This is Conan after all. What would it be without a little innuendo?

Visit the Conan Exiles Wiki


Editor at Fextralife. I look for the substantial in gaming and I try to connect video games to the emotions and stories they elicit. I love all things culture and history and have an odd fondness for the planet Jupiter. I think my dogs are pretty awesome too.

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13 comments on “Conan Exiles Preview: Survive, Build, Beat to a Bloody Pulp”

  1. Avatar EldritchImagination says:

    I’m interested. Though did it really have to be based on Conan. I mean why not make a whole new world?

  2. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    Don’t Starve: Conan Edition

    Could be cool

  3. Avatar Emergence says:

    I think the world of Conan is perfect for it because it allows for over the top stuff. Without that branding, the concept of sacrificing beating hearts and explosive kills might go over people’s heads if they’re expecting a stern survival game.

  4. Nunkuruji says:

    I enjoy the Conan source material, I’ve read the original stories.

    As for history… I got in on the alpha test of Funcom’s Conan MMO many years back. It was clear what they had designed was an utter mess, and the quality of the offering never came together. Yet despite my warnings, some friends and guild members gave it a shot at what was a very premature launch… much to their regret.

    As such, I’d strongly suggest not forking over a dime unless there’s a broad hype-less consensus that this is actually good.

  5. Avatar EldritchImagination says:

    I don’t have a problem with it. I just think that simply using an established title just for it’s popularity isn’t very creative, and may come with negative perceptions as to why (attractive name, bad game). They could have made a new IP and wouldn’t have to limit themselves to only what could be in Conan, or staying true to the source material. However, if there is good reason, and they make use of the IP, then I’m okay with it.

  6. Avatar Emergence says:

    I hear you, it’s a totally valid concern. Working within the framework of an established world is going to be a tightrope balance. I’m not sure how true to the source material fans of Conan will expect compared to say like a Star Wars or Star Trek but we shall see!

  7. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    I’d be all over a Kull IP actually.

    I like the character quite a bit better

  8. Avatar EldritchImagination says:

    I’d personally like to see He-Man make a return, maybe a more mature version. An action RPG set in that world would be fun.

  9. Avatar Emergence says:

    Ha holy crap that would be awesome. Would you care to write a piece exploring what a He-Man RPG could be like?

  10. Avatar qeter says:

    i’m interested; if it comes out and doesn’t get panned as trash ill probably try it.

  11. Avatar EldritchImagination says:

    I did have a few ideas of what one would be like, though it was more of a He-Man inspired Action RPG. I’ll try.

  12. Anonymous says:

    conan is going to be a pretty tough

  13. Avatar abraksil says:

    Looks intriguing. I have a soft spot for games in Conan universe since Age of Conan :)

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