The survival game bandwagon is looking more and more like a plague cart these days, with the stillborn corpses of quickly forgotten Early Access titles tumbling to the muddy wayside with every jolt along the genre’s increasingly rutted pathway. But it rumbles dutifully on, some not-quite-dead-yet deliveries still to be made before the axle inexorably splinters and the wheels fall off, sloping into decay on some forsaken hillside.
After the island horror of The Forest, the latest stopover on survival gaming’s painful journey from domineering towards indifference (and, eventually, no doubt, back again) is the Hyborian Age. Devised way back in 1932, it’s the fictional epoch that services Robert E. Howard’s Conan adventures, making Exiles the first – and, in all likelihood the last – survival game to be adapted from an established franchise by a studio that’s long been associated with it. It was Funcom of course that brought us Age of Conan back in 2009, which though not the first IP-laden game of its kind, was suitably Conan-like in its informal approach to the design of lady armour.
In line with its persistent predecessor, Conan Exiles continues the tradition for naked flesh and raw bloody combat, which may be less of a thing in a genre where avatar nudity and blunt force trauma are commonplace, but then Funcom always finds a way to play upon the fact that Conan’s world will forever be out of sync with modern sensibilities. To that end Exiles succeeds in getting our hackles up thanks to its character creation options, which famously afford the ability to tweak the pendulousness of a chap’s chap or a lady’s lumps. What really bothers me about it however is that you can’t change much else. Aside from basic options for height and muscle tone, that’s your lot. If you were hoping to sport dinner plate alveoli or effect a scrotum slider that allows you to trawl the sand for edible bugs, you might want to let your berserker rage kick in about now.
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