A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Conan Exiles is a downloadable online open-world survival game based on Robert E. Howard's popular Conan the Barbarian franchise. Currently in Early Access, the game features support for both single-player and multiplayer gameplay, with players able to choose features such as player verses player (PvP) and player versus environment (PvE) servers, as well as full or partial in-game nudity. The game is extremely violent, with scenes of dismemberment, decapitations, executions, and human sacrifice. Due to the online nature of the multiplayer component, with players interacting with each other in various ways, language and other potentially offensive content can be difficult to avoid. There also are references to and instances of drinking, and one potion provides hallucinations to characters that choose to drink it.
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What's it about?
In CONAN EXILES, players become a part of the Hyborian Kingdom, the sword-and-sorcery-fantasy home of Robert E. Howard's epic hero, Conan. Sentenced to die the desert, you're set free after a chance encounter with the Cimmerian. Left to fend for yourself, naked and alone, you must scavenge for food and water to survive. But survival isn't enough. You must prove your strength by overcoming your hardships, defeating your foes, and building a new life for yourself. In time, your legend will grow and so will your power. Before long, you'll have your own followers, your own servants, and perhaps even the gods themselves bending to your will. Just remember that you're not alone in your quest for glory. There's always someone else ready to challenge your strength and take your place. Your decisions will dictate your fate, and through your actions you will rise from exile to conqueror.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in entertainment. How different is it when the violence portrayed in books is brought to life in film or games? Does the direct visual translation have a deeper impact than the words on a page?
Talk about gaming online. What are some ways that parents can protect kids in an online gaming environment? What rules should be in place, and how should kids respond when presented with offensive content?
- Platforms: Windows
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: FunCom
- Release date: January 31, 2017
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Nudity, Use of Alcohol
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