As the sun rises and the ocean churns, preparing to consume all with the aid of global warming, so too do new early access survival games invariably top the charts on Steam. Conan Exiles is the latest and, well, it's certainly early.
It isn't that Conan is busted. The game has a big, atmospheric world; serviceable collecting and crafting; interesting lore; and some creative creature design. It also offers you a ton of ways to play, from single-player and multiplayer to custom rule sets, role-playing and experimental options. Also there sure are some dicks.
I managed to hop onto a server for a little while, craft some pants, kill some stuff, run from some other players and meet a really great turtle. The fibres knitting those elements together -- namely, server connectivity and general polish -- are the problem. They're like, well, the rinky dink first items you assemble from grass, shit and dreams in a survival game.
The first time I tried to connect to a server, for instance, the world wouldn't load in. I got stuck staring at something resembling a sand castle abandoned by a petulant child. I could see an outline of the game's massive desert playground, but that was it. This lasted for about five minutes before the game kicked me back to the server select screen.
Once I made it onto a server, I encountered a form of lag players generally refer to as "rubberbanding". That is, you take some steps forward, and then the game flings you back, or vice versa. It happened to me occasionally and wasn't too severe, but after a few times, it got hella annoying. Random bursts of lag and graphical glitches were also not uncommon as I moved through the world.
Combat's also pretty "eh", and there's a general hollowness to movement, a lack of physicality that's supremely disappointing in a game supposedly about the most barbaric barbarians to ever barb.
I'm far from the only one having issues, though mine are not nearly as bad as what some people are reporting:
So basically, Conan shows promise, but it might not quite be ready for primetime. I've seen a handful of people try desperately to anoint it the de facto Ark: Survival Evolved killer. So far, Conan definitely reminds me of Ark, but Ark is much further along these days. Given Conan's focus on lore and intriguing strangeness, it could very well evolve into a game that's more up my alley than Ark. For now, though, I recommend taking a wait-and-see approach with it.
Oh, but I was serious when I said I really like this turtle:
Look at those little arms! And the way he stares at the ground, mouth agape, as though even he is exasperated by his own, evolutionarily questionable existence. Best video game turtle since that one I accidentally punched to death at the start of Crysis. 13/10.