Could Funcom be onto something with Conan Exiles? The survival game due end of January on PC early access, and Xbox One Preview in spring, looks pretty good.
New footage shows the game's building systems as easy to use and capable of a wide variety of attractive structures. You can even build on mountainsides, winding wooden walkways and rooms around rock faces. Inside, the spaces are handsome, lit by big candles and full of chunky barbarian-chic furnishings.
Building is central to the game. It's where you and your friends will make your stand, if you like, store equipment, craft equipment. But you won't do it alone: you'll need slaves - thralls. It's a core mechanic in Conan Exiles, enslaving people, literally dragging them back by their roped ankles to work for you. They can be skilled workers, such as smiths who unlock access to new equipment, or grunts for manual labour.
Your settlement, however, isn't safe from other players. Everything built can be destroyed, either by brute smashing force or, frighteningly quickly, by explosives. You can even erect shrines to gods who physically manifest and literally trample enemy settlements.
The building video follows a couple of streamed playthroughs aired December. The first concentrated on character creation and your first steps in the world, the latter on building and combat. Uniquely, you begin the game being crucifixed - character creation actually takes place while you're on the cross.
Conan Exiles is Funcom's punt at the Ark and Rust survival market, which is still going strong. Funcom has plenty of experience with online multiplayer games, though Conan Exiles can also be played single-player, so hopes are high.
Conan Exiles has no price yet. Currently Ark costs £23, and Rust £15. I expect Conan Exiles will aim for something similar.
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