It's a fairly safe bet that any time if your name is best recognized when followed by the words "the Barbarian," you're probably not known for your subtlety. It also follows that a game based on that world would be anything but subtle. That said, Conan Exiles doesn't shy from its "barbarian" roots or use the violence of the world as simply a backdrop for adventure. Instead, the game puts that violence front and center, relishing in its brutality. Whether you're chopping the arms off an enemy, torturing a potential "thrall" into submission on a Wheel of Pain, eating the flesh of another human, or performing a human sacrifice to one of the game's pantheon of gods, Conan Exiles never lets players forget for a moment that the Hyborian Age is one of savagery and ferocity. One of the funny quirks about the game is that it gives players the option of including full nudity, but it never once questions its violence. Apparently, it's perfectly acceptable to carve the heart out of another human being, but potentially seeing bare breasts (and more) is a decision best left to the player.
Even for all its brutality, Conan Exiles has a deeply engaging setting and a fascinating lore. It's a gorgeous-looking world, provided you're running it on a system capable of really showing off its splendor. It's also an ambitious game, promising players the flexibility to make the world their own by not only surviving but also building their own legend. Unfortunately, interacting with the world around you feels forced and cumbersome. The game's unforgiving difficulty also means you'll likely have to restart numerous times, getting more and more frustrated with the experience before you even scratch the surface of it. And that's before you ever deal with any of the game's various bugs and glitches. Sure, the game is in Early Access, so some of this is to be expected, but nearly two months after release, it doesn't feel even close to complete. In fact, the most frustrating thing about Conan Exiles is that there's so much obvious potential, but when you're actually playing, it always feels like the game comes up short of what it's truly capable of.