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Outlast 2 Review (PC)

In 2013, Red Barrels released their first survival horror video game, centered around a journalist investigating an insane asylum, called Outlast.  What made Outlast immediately successful was the intense story and game play, where you play a protagonist that cannot fight back so your only options was to run or die.  Pretty soon, the internet was covered in videos showing people playing Outlast, just to capture their reactions and jump scares on camera.  Outlast became known as a good game for a jump scare, but what many people forget is that the game itself had a great story line, an intriguing mystery, and tense moments that really made the player uncomfortable.  Four years later, we finally have a true sequel in the aptly named Outlast 2. Does the sequel live up to the quality of the first game, or does it get crushed in the expectations?  Be warned, I tried to stay as spoiler free as possible, but some of my critiques talk about the story, so proceed at your own risk.

Story

In Outlast 2, you play as Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist and cameraman, who is traveling to Arizona with his wife, Lynn, to investigate the discovery of the body of an unknown girl.  Near the end of the trip, the helicopter carrying Blake, Lynn, and the pilot, crashes.  Blake wakes to find his wife missing and the pilot skinned alive and attached to a tree.  Searching for his missing wife, Blake makes his way towards the town of Temple Gate, which is run by a man named “Papa” Sullivan Knoth and his cult of followers.  Blake learns that Lynn was abducted by this cult, and is pregnant with Knoth claiming the child is the Anti-Christ.  Blake also learns about another group of heretics that is opposed to Knoth’s group and is in open conflict.  Caught between the two rival groups, Blake needs to find Lynn and get her out of the area, while discovering the mysteries of Temple Gate.

Outlast 2 has a sub plot that comes out as hallucinations suffered by Blake.  Blake remembers a traumatic event that occurred while he was attending a religious school, and is centered around the death of a girl he knew, named Jessica.  These hallucinations pop up at certain times during the game, and I kept waiting for a huge pay off at the end where Blake connects this past trauma with the trauma that he is currently experiencing.   Unfortunately, that pay off never comes, and the whole sub plot of Jessica feels like it was only used to pad the length of the game.  The story would have been so much better and stronger if this sub plot was left completely out.

Other then the subplot critique, Outlast 2 has a decent story line, but no where near as strong as the first Outlast.  Miles from the first game had a strong reason to keep filming, he was documenting the horrors in the asylum to expose the events and experiments going on within the walls.  Honestly, what motivation does Blake have to continue to record his events during Outlast 2?  He isn’t hoping to expose Knoth for his crimes, or expose some conspiracy within the town of Temple Gate, he just wants to find his wife and leave.  The use of the camera in Outlast 2 is literally only there to give the player the ability to see in the dark and to listen to voices using the camera’s mic.  So, if you can suspend your disbelief knowing that, then the rest of the story of Outlast 2 works ok, but it isn’t anywhere near as compelling or as strong as the first game.

Game Play

The game play for Outlast 2 is exactly the same as Outlast, with a few new editions.  Like the first game, Blake is completely inept at defending himself from anyone.  Blake can only run and hide under beds, in barrels, in wardrobes, or in pools of water.  Blake must be in worse shape then Miles was, due to the fact that Blake has less stamina and can run for shorter distances then Miles could, so your foes will catch you much quicker in a foot race.

You will need to find batteries, just like the first game, but this time you have access to an inventory screen that allows you to see what’s in your pockets.  You can collect batteries and bandages while exploring the lovely town of Temple Gate, with the batteries recharging your camera and the bandages healing you when you get caught by the inhabitants.  Your camera also has a live mic that now allows you to listen to noises in a particular direction.  When pointed at a noise, you will hear exactly what is being said and where that noise is coming from.  This will help you avoid chance encounters when you cannot see very far in front of you, like while hiding in a corn field.  And yes, corn in Arizona is a thing, I did check on that.

The new additions to Outlast 2 were interesting, but not enough to really separate the game play from the original game for me.  This felt more like I was playing new dlc for Outlast then an actual sequel that took years to develop.  The easiest thing to say here is, if you liked the game play of Outlast then you will like the game play in Outlast 2.  If you are looking for something more, or huge advances in game play, you will be disappointed.

Aesthetics

My main critique in the aesthetics for the Outlast series is simple, you see almost the entire world through the viewfinder of a camera that is equipped with night vision.  Everything is night vision green, or too dark to see what is going on or what the environment looks like.  So, going into Outlast 2, I already had that strike set up for my review and Outlast 2 carried on with that tradition.  Also, the setting in the first Outlast is far creepier, scarier, more intense then the setting in the sequel.  We go from haunting images within an insane asylum, that is overrun by inmates, to a town in rural Arizona run by religious fanatics.  Given the two, I vote for “asylum” being a hell of a lot scarier then “rural town”.  The visuals are exactly the same quality as the first game, with no real improvement.  It works, and it works fine.  Marta is horrific, and is designed perfectly, still have nightmares about her.

Final Thoughts

So, it looks like I hated the game, as I reread through what I’ve written up to this point, and that is far from the actual truth.  I would say that I was disappointed by the sequel, but did not hate it.  For me, sequels should take what was good about the first one, and really build on top of it to become great.  Most sequels fall at this, some fail horribly.  Outlast 2 simply does not improve on the original’s design, and that is ultimately my biggest critique with the game.  Outlast is far creepier and scarier for me, but mostly due to its originality and setting. You know exactly what you will be getting when you load up Outlast 2, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  If you liked the first game, you’ll like the second game.  It is more of the same, and it’s good.  Where Outlast 2 failed to impress me, is that it isn’t different enough from Outlast to become great.  Is that worth condemning an game?  Absolutely not, but it also isn’t worth overly praising a game either.  Outlast 2 is solid, though confusing at times.  Outlast 2 is available now through Steam.


Outlast 2 Review Score

(3 out of 5 stars)


 

Win That War! PvE Trailer and Steam Details

Rennes, France (May 17, 2017) – Independent French developer Insane Unity is excited to announce that their breakout title, Win That War! — a retro-futuristic real-time-strategy (RTS) game with a massively multiplayer online campaign where thousands of players battle for planet-scale dominion — is now available on Steam for Windows PC! Players can ready their futuristic weapons of war and embark on faction-based galactic conquest, alone, with friends or with (and against) the whole world.

It’s year 1023 of the Galactic Era. Bold explorers discover a new planetary system among the stars, confirmed to house extremely rare and untapped resources. This immediately prompts the greatest economic powers of the galaxy to dispatch their most skilled envoys to make claim to the alien worlds. This is where your – and many others’ – journey begins.

Win That War! is an RTS which immerses players in the heart of a galactic war fought by three power-hungry conglomerates — Nasca, Atlas, and Jet Blum. This conflict takes shape in a massively multiplayer planetary campaign, allowing players to fight by the thousands on unexplored planets, staking claim to territories by building powerful structures that siphon planetary resources and growing armies. If you agree to join one of the three mega-corporations, you will have to prove your worth on the battlefield by combining strategy, dexterity and a little panache.

Key Features of Win That War!:
  • Build your faction’s influence by taking over new planets in the Galactic Campaign.
  • Take part in heart-racing nine-player multiplayer matches with all three factions.
  • Utilize unique planetary resources to build and fortify a growing list of structures.
  • Raid unsuspecting opponents to steal their resources and improve your own technology.
  • Battle combat drones left behind by an ancient civilization in the thrilling PVE mode and Wasteland map!

Currently an Early Access title on Steam, post-launch, Insane Unity already has three months of carefully considered new content and features planned for Win That War!. Upcoming content includes new biomes, additional maps, online quests, new structures and units and a vast player skill tree. Each new update expands Win That War!’s single, multiplayer and Galactic Campaign modes. Win That War! features an innovative multiplayer networking system which allows for thousands of players to take part in the Galactic Campaign concurrently. Each conquerable planet is divided into hundreds of territories, where up to nine players can dispute a territory at the same time as thousands of others.

Win That War! is available for purchase on Steam for $19.99.

ROKH Early Access Launch Trailer

Paris, France – May 16, 2017 Darewise Entertainment and Nvizzio Creations are offering gamers the adventure of a lifetime – a (virtual) trip to Mars! Created by a team of esteemed artistic minds behind games including Thief, Half Life 2, Dishonored, Age of Conan and Assassin’s Creed, ROKH is set on the planet Mars and features a persistent world and multiplayer co-op. This trip won’t require anyone to go to astronaut school, or live in a cramped colony ship, enjoy the stunning experience that is ROKH, available on Steam today.

“ROKH is more than just a sci-fi survival game, it’s a complete colonization experience, with tailored crafting and construction, all taking place  in a lovingly crafted visual world and wrapped up in a mysterious story,” said Benjamin Charbit, CEO, Darewise Entertainment. “We’ve focused our development efforts on cooperative building and crafting which brings free from creation to the genre.”

Available now on Early Access for $24.99 (USD), ROKH challenges players to uncover the cause of the destruction of the previous Mars colonies, while building new ones and restoring communications with Earth – all while adapting to the hostile Martian environment and creating the tools they need to survive and thrive on the forbidding Red Planet.

In ROKH, players must explore the Martian landscape as they scavenge through deserted human structures to gather the resources they need to survive. With few blueprints, players must use their ingenuity to create tools from a variety of materials and construct their own encampments with no design limitations.

ROKH places players on a cold and dry land that harbors a wealth of resources to extract and exploit. Players will explore Mars, paving the way for settlers to come, as Earth’s resources are tapped and the planet is dying. Mars is a hostile planet where joining forces with friends increases efficiency, and invites trade and barter to develop a habitable and customizable ecosystem.

To learn more about ROKH, visit www.rokhthegame.com. ‘Like’ the game on Facebook and follow the game’s development on Twitter @Rokhthegame for all the latest developer updates and news.

Sailaway – The Sailing Simulator Early Access Launch Trailer

LONDON – April 25th, 2017 New and experienced sailors alike are able to take to the high seas with Sailaway today– the ultimate sailing simulator that brings the world’s oceans to the comfort of your home. Published by new independent games publisher, The Irregular Corporation and developed by OrbCreation, the ultimate sailing simulator is coming this spring on PC and Mac for  £29.99 / $39.99 / €36.99 – http://store.steampowered.com/app/552920/.

OrbCreation has recreated the oceans of the planet with unparalleled accuracy with a detailed world map: In Sailaway, making a trip across the Pacific takes months, just as it would on a real boat. With a persistent online world, adjust your settings and your boat will continue to sail even if you aren’t online.  Receive updates via email as your boat continues its progress, but don’t forget to check in often – with real-time weather data pulled from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conditions can change in just a few hours.

Choose from three types of ultra-detailed boats, a 38′ Cruiser, a Mini-Transat or a 45′ Classic Yacht – all accurately modelled with comprehensive controls and set a course for adventure. Featuring accurately modelled waves and water colour based on your location (waves and wave behaviour differs from ocean to ocean!), and accurately modelled day and night sky, Sailaway is the most advanced sailing simulator on the market.

With a range of difficulty settings, Sailaway allows for adjustments for even the most novice players to blossom into fully fledged sailors, while providing advanced features to challenge seasoned lifelong captains.

The developers at Orbcreation also understand the world’s oceans can be a lonely place, so they have designed an in-game real-time global, local and group chat which will allow you to communicate freely with other sailors to organize your own voyages or pass on sailing tips. These features also allow you to invite others onto your boat to help tackle the voyage ahead – and if you fancy some friendly competition, Sailaway includes options to create your own races with start/finish lines. Reign as master of the wind with online leaderboards and challenge one another for the top spot.

With an established fanbase, Sailaway plans to utilize Steam Early Access to continue to shape the game’s difficulty curves and take input on boats, tutorials, challenges, events and community features. More content is planned for the game and players are encouraged to give feedback.

For more information about Sailaway please visit www.sailawaysimulator.com.

Northgard – A Preview (PC)

Shiro Games has a pretty good game on their hands with Northgard, a viking based real time strategy that is out on early access on Steam.  Those of you out there that have read my reviews in the past, know that I have always struggled with real time strategy games.  I just can’t handle the micromanagement aspect that many of these games require.  While Northgard may feel shallow to the hardcore rts gamer out there, it felt almost perfect to me.  Northgard is still underdevelopment, so what we received was the early access version, and only the skirmish mode was unlocked.  Like many of our other previews, this information is based off of the version that we played, and could change in a later build or even upon release of the full game.  Because only the skirmish mode was unlocked, I’ll have to skip my typical review of the story, and move right into game mechanics.

Game Play

You start a game of Northgard by picking a clan:  Raven, Stag, Goat or Wolf.  Each clan has their own bonuses and advantages, making a game against other clans asymmetrical.  When the game begins, you begin in typical fashion as many other rts games on the market, with a few peons to gather food and a central building.  What makes Northgard immediately different is that your peons will also serve as your Scouts, Warriors, Healers, Traders, etc.  You will select a peon and give that person another job, and they will become that person.  You don’t create more warriors to invade a neighboring section, you assign peons to the warrior job, and then set out to kill your neighbor.  This gives you quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to organizing a work or attack force, but it also means that your resource production will be severely hampered if you suffer major losses in a fight.  To make things even more interesting, your peons can’t be bought, but you gain one every few weeks or so as long as you have enough food and happiness in your village.

Another big change over your typical rts games, is that you have to conquer sections of the world in order to expand your territory.  That means you have to send out a Scout to discover new sections, then pay the expansion cost before you can build your expansion.  Each section also have a building limit, so you will need to constantly expand if you wish to keep on building.  Your workers and military will automatically go about their business and won’t just stand around waiting for you to tell them what to do.  This feature, alone, made me love this game.  The workers will stay in their section, but will continue doing the job you assigned to them.

Northgard also includes a time tracker, that tracks the changing of the seasons.  As winter approaches (brace yourself), your food and wood production decreased while your consumption of these resources increase.  Some years will have harsher winters than others, so you will need to pay attention to what the winter will look like.  This will change how you will behave in September and October.  You might find a new land with some enticing resources, but may not want to expand if it’s October and the winter outlook is particularly harsh this year.

Northgard also let’s you choose your path to victory, which is something that I hadn’t seen in any other rts game before.  Usually, you fight until either you or your opponent is too decimated to continue.  In Northgard, you can still bury many an axe into your opponent’s skull, or you can win by reaching the Trade, Prestige, or Lore Victory requirements.  Each one of these has different requirements for victory, and really allow you to customize how you want to play Northgard.

Closing Thoughts

Northgard is going to be a very good game, once it actually released.  Even in Early Access, Northgard is looking top notch.  With the addition of a single player campaign and multiplayer (both coming soon), Northgard will quickly rise to the top of the current rts games on the marking for people like me.  For the hardcore of you out there, Northgard may not feel as deep as other games on the market, so you may or may not find the game as top notch as I do.  I love how the game allows me to focus on the actual game itself, instead of worrying about what each and every little knucklehead is doing across my land.  Northgard is currently on Steam Early Access for $19.99.

Vikings Wolves of Midgard Launch Trailer

Ridgewood, NJ, March 24, 2017Kalypso Media is thrilled to announce that Vikings – Wolves of Midgard, their new action RPG is available to purchase today globally on Steam (Windows PC). The digital and physical boxed console versions will be released in North America on March 28.

Sharpen your axe, make your blood sacrifice to your deity and prepare to embark on an epic and brutal adventure as you journey to the Shores of Midgard, a world based on the mythology and bloody history of the Vikings. Take on the endless evil forces by becoming either a Viking warrior or shieldmaiden and master several weapon styles and magical abilities as you battle increasingly challenging enemies and boss encounters. Combat styles include sword and shield, two-handed hammer, staff, bow and dual-wield axes, and by collecting resources and special runes on your adventures you’ll be able to use the game’s in-depth crafting system to upgrade your equipment. Dedicated explorers will also be able to find legendary weapons and armors, as well as Artifact weapons tucked away in each of the levels to unlock the most powerful gear in the game. Alongside items and materials, the other key resource you’ll be harvesting is blood, used to level up and earn Gift points, which in turn unlock special powers called ‘Gifts of the Gods’.

To celebrate the launch of Vikings – Wolves of Midgard Kalypso has prepared a short featurette video showing some of the brutal combat and epic boss battles you will encounter on your journey to stop Ragnarok – the end of days.

Vikings – Wolves of Midgard is available today globally on Steam (Windows PC*). The digital and physical boxed console versions will be released in North America on March 28.
*Mac and Linux digital versions to follow

For more information, please visit www.kalypsomedia.com.

Roots of Insanity Release Date Trailer

March 3, 2017 — It’s just another late shift at August Valentine for Dr. Riley McClein, that is, until the night takes a turn for the worse when reality begins twisting into horror and chaos. Determine what is real and what isn’t as Dr. McClein, as you try to rescue your patients and uncover what is happening in this new eerie version of your hospital. Reality hasn’t left you entirely behind though; while you attempt to survive the night, Dr. McClein must also deal with the epileptic attacks that have plagued him his whole life. Can you hold onto reality in Roots of Insanity?

Roots of Insanity will be available on Steam for $9.99 USD April 3rd, 2017!

Card Quest – A Preview (PC)

I love card games.  Outside of video games, card games are some of my favorite ways to spend an evening.  I’ve spent hours playing games such as Magic:  The Gathering, Marvel’s Legendary, Android:  Netrunner, and Dominion.  So, when it comes to card games on the PC, I’m usually up for the challenge, but always feel like there is something missing.  For me, the card game is also something that should be a social event.  I think that’s why Marvel’s Legendary is my all time favorite, as it is cooperative.  Still, I play the hell out of Hearthstone, so I was interested in previewing Card Quest when it came up.  Card Quest is an Steam Early Access game from developer WinterSpring Games and publisher Black Shell Media.  How is it shaping up?  Let’s take a closer look with my preview.

Game Play

The best way to describe the overall game play of Card Quest is as a card driven, dungeon crawler.  You select a class between the three major archetypes (fighter, mage, rogue), and set off on a specific adventure designed to test your class.  The game gives you a specific deck for your class, and sets up ten challenges in a given section of your dungeon.  Each deck has it’s own strengths for both attack and defense, and feel completely different from one another.

The main component of Card Quest is managing your stamina during these encounters.  A typical encounter could have five enemies that you need to kill before moving onto the next round, and each card you use to either attack or defend yourself uses stamina.  You can gain stamina slowly between rounds, or quickly using certain cards.  You also have to manage your stamina between the attack and defense phases of each round.  Using all of your stamina to attack works fine if you can kill all of the monsters.  Otherwise, you are getting hit when they attack you, and you don’t heal.  The smart money is to save some stamina to defend yourself.  You can also spend stamina to draw a card, though that usually is a desperate measure due to the amount of stamina it will cost you.

This stamina management is what really drives Card Quest and turned a fifteen minute game test, into a full hour long run trying to beat the first boss.  The first rounds really lull you into a false sense of security, then that 40 h.p. monster comes down and just beats you senseless, because you didn’t manage your stamina, can’t stun lock the boss, and need to do a ton of damage.  You also have to manage your combinations too.  Certain cards will have bonus effects if played in sequence, so the game makes it enticing enough to use more stamina, because you want to hit certain bonuses.

You gain experience every time you win a battle, and will level up.  As you level up,  you will gain more equipment that will give your character different bonuses, more hit points, or more stamina.  There isn’t any packs of cards or collectible aspect, at least as of now, so you will quickly learn what each card can do and the limits of the decks.  The challenge is definitely there, and I found Card Quest to be a little more difficult than I was initially expecting.

Aesthetics

Card Quest uses an older aesthetic that really brings back the early days of my PC gaming life.  Looking and sounding more like Bard’s Tale than Hearthstone, Card Quest revels in the older aesthetic and makes it feel right.  After my first hour of gameplay, I was so focused on beating that boss that the art and graphics blended into the background.  I feel that the aesthetics goes well with the gameplay, and it shouldn’t have been any other way.

Each card has it’s own artwork, so identifying cards becomes easier over time.  The cards are fairly easy to understand, though it will take some time to get used to what each card actually does, especially when it comes to the combo powers.  Due to the small space on each card, symbols are used and are fairly easy to understand.  I did love how the chain ability on the card would change color if you had done enough to combo the cards together.  That little bit right there helps out a lot in helping out deciding what card to use.

(Not So) Final Thoughts

Card Quest is in early access on Steam, so this preview is based on the build as of the last week or two.  While I never expect developers to make massive changes from one build to another, it can happen.  In its current state, Card Quest is a very challenging and fun card game that is deeper than it comes on to be.  What first seems like a bad card game clone of other popular card games, ends up being a huge test in how you can manage your stamina and plan both of your offence and defense, to protect your non-regenerating health.  I was absolutely sucked into Card Quest for the first two hours, just trying to beat the first boss.  If you are into card based games, Card Quest is a great way to spend an evening or two.  Card Quest is available now through Steam Early Access for $7.99.

Northgard Early Access Trailer

Bordeaux – 22nd of February – The new Viking strategy game Northgard will be available today on Steam Early Access for $19.99, bringing a unique mix of exploration, village building and combat heavily infused with Norse mythology.

Being developed by popular indie studio Shiro Games (Evoland 1 & 2), in Northgard players take control of a Viking clan who arrive on unknown and unforgiving shores, where they have to establish a village, gather resources, grow their society and defeat their opponents. In their quest to conquer this new and mysterious world, clans will face off against undead warriors, giants, dragons and other foes while surviving the harshest environments.

The Early Access version of Northgard allows players to:

  • Build settlements on the newly discovered hostile continent of Northgard while assigning and commanding vikings to various jobs (Merchant, Farmer, Warrior, Sailor, Loremaster…)
  • Manage resources carefully to survive the harsh winters and vicious enemies
  • Expand and discover new territory giving unique strategic opportunities
  • Achieve different victory conditions such as Conquest, Fame, Lore and Trading

“We have always been fans of strategy and simulation games, and with Northgard we have taken what we think are all the best bits, and added a lot of cool Viking themes and fantasy to the mix,” said Nicolas Cannasse, co-founder of Shiro Games. “Launching on Early Access will allow us to get direct feedback from our players which we’ll use in fine-tuning the development of Northgard. Not only that, we’ll also be bringing lots of cool new features to the game in the coming months, like new clans to play around with and a story driven campaign amongst other things.”

Early Access is just the start for Northgard, with Shiro Games continuing to add new content to the game during development. Extra features planned for Northgard include a full dedicated multiplayer mode, a story driven campaign mode, new playable clans and a host of new features such as an improved trading and diplomacy system, and more victory conditions.

More details can be found on the official website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Conan Exiles – A Preview (PC)

In the early 1930’s, Robert E. Howard began publishing short stories about a massive Cimmerian barbarian and his quest to rule a kingdom.  At the time of Howard’s suicide in 1936, he had written 21 complete stories about this barbarian.  These stories faded in and out of publication for almost the next thirty years, never really grabbing the popular culture again, until 1982.  In 1982, a movie about this barbarian hit the big screens, starring an Austrian bodybuilder that was aiming for stardom as the next big action hero.  That bodybuilder is named Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the title character of this movie is named Conan.  Since that movie, Conan has had relative success in both movies and video games, but it wasn’t until Funcom released Age of Conan that Howard’s vision of Hyboria truly felt realized in the medium.  Currently, Funcom is working on their next Conan game named Conan Exiles.  The best way to describe Conan Exiles is that it is like Rust or Ark, but with balls.  And by balls, I mean actual testicles.  Yes, Funcom went the Full Monty with Conan Exiles.  Is it enough to make you want to play the game?  Let’s take a closer look with our preview.

Story

You begin Conan Exiles crucified.  Yes, actually crucified.  As in, strapped to a cross and left in the desert to rot and die.  The intro cinematic shows Conan wandering through the desert, as he comes upon you and your cross.  Conan cuts you down, defends you against some hungry monsters, then abandons you to your fate.  You next find yourself an exile, a criminal, left alone in the desert with nothing.  You must make your way to the relative safety of the valley in front of you and build your camp.  While in the valley, you will need to hunt for food, gather materials for structures and weapons, and defend yourself against everything that wants to kill you.

Let’s start this preview by saying that Conan Exiles is still in early access, so not all aspects of the game are polished, or even present.  Conan Exiles does a good job in setting up the narrative in the beginning of the game, by showing you your crime during the character creation process, and then by having you find journals as you make your way to the valley.  Once in the valley, the narrative begins to take a life of it’s own.  You will run into some characters that will talk to you, and let you in on more of the story.  Other than that, the story will progress by your own creation.  You make your own narrative, in a similar way as it is in Minecraft, 7 Days to Die, or Rust.  There are stones and journals that dot the wasteland that will fill in the gaps and inform you of the ancient civilization that once was here, but like most games of this nature, the story will change depending on your actions and you can create your own narrative.

Game Play

Let’s start with the naked, swinging genitals in the room, shall we?  Conan Exiles will get a lot of publicity over its approach to nudity.  You have the option at the start to go with no nudity, partial nudity (breasts), or full nudity (everything! and I mean everything!).  Character creation is very deep, allowing you to customize your race based on Howard’s world, and then begin to change all of your features using sliders.  Yes, there is a slider for penis length and breast size, you naughty person, you.  Part of the character creation process is also choosing your God.  You can select many of Howard’s pantheon of gods, including Crom, Yog, Set, and Mitra.  This selection will give you access to special structures and items that can only be crafted by a follower of that god.  You can view the game in first person or third person point of view, which alone will give you at least an hour of laughs watching your bits sway as you jump and run across the desert.

Once you get passed acting like a 13 year old boy, you will realize that Conan Exiles has much more to offer.  The main part of the game is truly survival, and that means keeping yourself fed, hydrated, protected, and healthy.  You gather materials as you travel across the land, and craft items that will help you live longer.  Tools, weapons, bedrolls, and even structures can all be crafted and placed in the world.  You will need to watch your encumbrance as well, so you cannot just grab everything in site and take it back to camp.  You will have to manage your pack and the weight of the pack.

Combat is fairly straight forward, but I found it incredibly difficult in the beginning.  Most everything will kill you in the beginning, so picking your fights will be very important.  As you level up and learn new recipes, gather better items, and even collect slaves, you will discover that these enemies will no longer prove a challenge and will need to find stronger enemies to fight.  Then there is the other players.  Depending on what server you are playing on, other players will also prove to be a hazard to you.  Many will kill you and nick all of your stuff, burn down your fortress, and make your life hell.  On the other hand, if you can get a few of your mates to band together, you can become the object of fear in the valley.

Conan Exiles feels right, though the difficulty curve is something that you will need to get used to.  I found the game fun and enjoyable, even in its early access state.  Lag was an issue on some of the servers that I joined, but here’s to hoping that gets hammered out before release.  What is here, is in good condition and was fun to play.

Aesthetics

Conan Exiles is a nice looking game, with full voice acting.  Many of the animations seemed off during my playthrough, including many enemies that just glided towards me, but hey it’s early access.  You definitely get the feeling of Conan here, from your character’s look, to the look of the enemies, and the structures you are able to build.  I love the way Funcom allows you to pick your character’s origin, which helps define your character.  Choices like Hyborian, Stygian, Kushite, and Zamorian are all offered in game, and will help determine the look of your character.

Graphics wise, Conan Exiles looks good and comparable to other similar games on the market.  The game had issues at distance, but again it’s not a release copy yet.  Structures look fairly generic, but will be completely up to you on how you design them.  I found it fairly easy to build a two story hut out of rock and wood.

Preliminary Thoughts

Conan Exiles is looking to be a very good, if not a great survival/crafting game.  The game has the look, the feel, and the blood of a Conan game, with all of the nudity that goes with it.  As of this writing, Conan Exiles has already sold about 300,000 copies and Funcom has completely recouped their cost for the game.  This is one game that I will be keeping a close eye on when it fully releases.  Funcom is also preparing an Xbox One version of the game, with a possible PS4 release later.  Conan Exiles is currently available on Steam Early Access.