After last week’s announcement from Funcom about the latest sandbox MMO Conan: Exiles we quickly got the team to do an interview about the game. Conan remains a hugely popular franchise and Funcom has a rich history with the brand after Age of Conan’s release. Now with games coming out in early access and offering a much more hardcore style of survival play, the company wants to bring Conan into the new age of smaller scale MMOs.
Open world survival games have been very successful lately with the likes of ARK doing extremely well on Steam and now consoles. Lawrence Poe of Funcom explained that right now Hyboria is the perfect setting for a survival style game. It is the rough and brutal homeworld of the greatest barbarian of all time. The source material just begs for a survival style environment that pits players against each other. Characters in the game are truly exiles sentenced to an area outside the normal kingdoms of Hyboria that we all know. We asked where on the famous REH map the game takes place. The team was not quick to reveal a direct location, but they did say the timeline in which Exiles would take place. Lawrence explained that they want to have several different terrain types in the game and need a location that could support this idea. So, he explained that Exiles takes place around the story “A Witch Shall be Born” which happens in the kingdom of Khauran. At this time Conan himself is around twenty six years old. So this is a very different setting from Age of Conan where he is older and king of Aquilonia.
This time period is rather blank in Robert E. Howard’s history of Conan so it gives the team plenty to work with. It also allows the team to work with multiple landscapes, so our best guess is somewhere near Khauran and Zamora, in that Eastern region outside of the big kingdoms like Nemedia and Aquilonia. Aside from landscape, the team mentioned that ruins would play a big part in the world. So, with all this ancient lore in Conan stories, players can find and explore ruins in the game. The ruins will have their own styles of mysteries and stories hidden within them.
Players have been thrown out of their respective kingdoms for committing crimes against the people. So you begin at the lowest rung of society, and in Hyboria that is pretty low. However, you will get some help. The God system in the game is something that separates Exiles from other survival games. When you choose a god it will come with certain benefits, but you also have to pay a price. For example, the team explained that a worshiper of Set might have to sacrifice their victims on an altar. Your altar actually becomes a big deal in the game and can grow in power. Another great example is the god Yog of the Dafar tribesman. If you worship Yog you gain favor by using a club instead of a blade. You also can only eat meat. The guys only touched on this system, but it sounded quite in depth.
Most survival games pit players against each other on their servers. This simple design was not enough for the Funcom developers. Even though they want the hardcore style PvP game that survival is, they also included the “purge” system. Every now and then if the players start to get too strong, the surrounding kingdoms will hear about it. They will send soldiers into the wastelands to crush the exiles. These columns of troops that enter the zones offer a huge risk reward for the players. You could die, or you could win weapons and resources from them. So even if players are fighting on a server they may still band together to take on one of these purges. Or, players may lead a column of soldiers right to their enemies doorstep. It could go either way.
Last we asked some quick questions about the game which are normal for any new game. It will support both first and third person gameplay, and there will also be mounts. The team is also excited to show off the combat system when they are ready. It is starting to sound like Conan: Exiles is shaping up as a fun survival sandbox. Hopefully it won't just be a "berry eating simulator" like so many games on the market. Oh, when can you play it? Early access is targeted for this summer. The team really wants to make sure they can work with the community in all of the updates and grow the game together once it is in the public testing stage.