Here we are, at the beginning of your journey. I can tell you that there will be hard times and that there will be frustrating times, but the reward of building your empire in the Exiled Lands always seems to outweigh the tribulations. Conan Exiles is a unique spin on the base-building genre.
Sure, it follows in the same footsteps as some of the most popular survival games, but where it strays is why it still has a healthy player base to this day.
Don’t put too much thought into that now; it’s best to attack a new game with optimism and imagination. Conan Exiles is ready to host your imagination.
This game will give it a place to run wild if you let it. All you need to do is commit to learning, being patient, and never taking anything too seriously. If you can only remember one of these three things, remember the one about never taking anything too seriously.
TL:DR: Let’s Go Already
Every Exile starts the same way, stranded in a vast dusty desert. Funcom does a great job of making it seem like this desert is endless, and it certainly appears intimidating, but the reality is that this is just a starting corridor and a tiny portion of the map.
You will be safe from hostile NPCs in this zone, even though it may appear otherwise.
Run east and north until the biome starts to change. Be aware that as you enter the new zone, there will be hostile NPCs. None of these monsters can apply a cripple effect, so the trick is to continue running until you reach the sizeable southern river and find a safe space.
Once you arrive, check out your feats tab and familiarize yourself with how it works. Learn any available feats for your level.
Now you can start collecting branches, stones, and fiber. I would suggest crafting a bedroll first, which will serve as your new respawn point (and save you from spawning back in the beginner corridor).
After that, you’re ready to make your first tools and weapon. The pick and ax will allow you to gather wood, bark, and more stone, which you’ll need for building your first crafting stations.
One of the most valuable components you can work on immediately is upgrading your armor. Craft a skinning knife along with the rest of your tools to start skinning crocs for their hide. Build a tannery to turn that hide into leather and an armorer’s bench to turn that leather into a nice light armor set.
It may take a while to find iron and upgrade your weapon, but this new armor will make you a tougher target to take down while looking for it.
My Experience with Conan Exiles
While I might not be riding at the top of the Official Server’s Leaderboards (they don’t have these, but if they did, I wouldn’t be on them), I’ve been playing Conan Exiles since the very beginning.
I enjoyed the content and genre and followed its release closely. I even played Age of Conan when it was released ten years before Conan Exiles. What can I say? Barbarians speak to me.
I’ve started a hundred games or more in Conan Exiles, some with friends, some on official servers, and some by myself. Unfortunately, there are not many guides to help, and if you do find one, it’s usually a little vague (have they played it?). I learned most of what I know through time-consuming mistakes and cold, hard death.
On my very first play-through, I spent all of my first day in the desert chasing a single, terrible rabbit until I managed to club it into oblivion. I ate it raw, got food poisoning, and died shortly after. It was ages until I found a better way to feed myself, a basic element, but I was laughing the entire time.
Before You Begin
Before setting one dusty foot in the desert, you’ll need to create your character. Your name and physical appearance are purely aesthetic, so go nuts.
Additionally, the race you choose has no tangible effect on your character in the game’s current state, so you don’t have to know the difference between a Pict and a Stygian until you’re out there fighting them in real time. Just pick one that you vibe with and move on.
The only important choice you’ll make is your religion, and it’s really not even that important. The religion you choose in the character creator will give you a starting point for religion mechanics. Same as in real life, you may start as a level-headed Crom worshipper and later welcome the chaotic and eternal abyss of Yog.
Choose the one that sounds the most like your aesthetic; the religious building is a large addition that can either tie a base together or look very out of place.
There are a few things to understand before you click through the final stage of the character creator and start your adventure. The most important one is that while death is not permanent, it has relatively high consequences. You will drop all items and respawn at the spawn point, which could be a significant hassle.
The second thing to keep in mind is that while Funcom claims the point of the game is to solve the world’s mysteries and remove your bracelet to traverse the big green barrier called the Cursewall, the only thing this will accomplish is deleting your character.
I guess in their eyes, this accomplishment is beating the game, but for everyone else expecting something behind the wall, it’s just a bit of a letdown.
It’s also important to note that you will starve to death, die of thirst, and die from the elements in this game if they are not tended to. This is a survival game, though not an overly difficult one in this arena. Combat won’t be your primary focus for some time.
Lastly, when combat is your focus, it is easy to get in over your head. There are no training wheels in Conan Exiles; you will immediately have access to the entire map, for better or worse. Just because you can go somewhere doesn’t mean you should.
Lastly, resources and enemies respawn regularly. This is important to know for your own safety in dangerous zones and for resource-gathering trips. If you find valuable resources, they are never-ending. You could (and probably should) design a whole base around them.
The First Day
The first day in a survival game is the hardest, and while you can certainly get yourself into much more trouble down the road, Funcom thrusts a lot on you in that first 24 hours. Fortunately, there’s no reason to stress over lost progress at this stage. Anything you can make in the lower levels is easily replaced once you have established a base.
For this reason, my opinion is to throw caution to the wind while you learn. Bite off more than you can chew, choke to death, and then sprint back out to try it again.
You’ll begin your journey on a long desert corridor called the Broken Highway after Conan the Barbarian himself frees your character from the cross you were nailed to. If world-building is crucial to you, slow down and explore; if not, sprint this corridor to the east until it veers north.
Nothing here will hurt you, not even the shifty gargoyles. They are in place to scare you, but no one expects you to take one down.
You’ll need to choose a spot to cut north. I suggest to the east of Hanuman’s Grotto; it is full of nasty imps. You’ll notice your map is greyed out, but if you’d like to use one to orientate yourself, there are plenty online with points of interest, area names, and even NPC spawn points.
Things will now start to get dangerous. Crocodiles, imps, and shaleback will thunder after you once the biome changes from high desert to scrubby lowlands. A trick that they don’t tell you is that you can outrun anything that comes after you in this zone, and I suggest implementing this technique until you reach the river.
Later in the game, mobs will be able to apply a slowing debuff, but none of the creatures in this area have that ability.
The river has many safe zones, but the only way you can spot them as a beginner is to know a couple of valuable tidbits. First is that the river will inhibit even animals and monsters that look like they should be able to swim (ahem, crocodiles). If you get in hot water, just dive in and cross to an island or the shore.
The second is that, unlike other very similar survival games, you will not drown just because your stamina runs out. Don’t risk a fight you can’t win because you don’t think you’ll make it across the river.
If your stamina runs out in the deep, you’ll just go very slowly until you reach land. Fortunately, by this point, whatever was chasing you will have turned around.
Lastly, most of the shalebacks (the lumbering gorilla-turtle things) are passive unless you touch them or a baby. Many of the shaleback spawns only have passive animals wandering around. So, while it may look like a dangerous island or shore, it could actually be a safe zone.
The only naturally aggressive ones are larger and red or purple in color. If you see one with glowing eyes, it’s the shaleback king, and you should get away as quickly as possible. If the herd is made of green and aqua shalebacks, they will ignore you while you take a breather.
If the night comes, choose a small, safe spot and stay put. You can back yourself against a cliff or find an island with passive shalebacks. The night is very dark, but nothing will actively come after you. Sprinting with a torch is an option, but if you don’t have a destination in mind, you’ll just end up lost or dead.
If your hunger meter runs low before you reach safety, you can grab plants as you run by for a chance at adding some edible bugs to your inventory. Water should be easy to find once you reach the river. Any temperature-related ailments will not be enough to kill you in this area.
Ok, you can stop sprinting. Is this a sprint simulator? Are you starving to death? That’s ok because now we have a safe place to operate next to the water.
You can fill your thirst meter by using your action button on the river. Look around on the ground for branches and rocks, and start collecting fiber from the bushy plants in the area by using the same command.
Your first order of business will be to make a bedroll. While you cannot pass the night in a bedroll, it serves as a respawn point and is a valuable asset when the Exiled gets the best of you. To craft your first bedroll, you will need to learn the Survivalist feat under the feats menu.
There are three ways to learn recipes in Conan Exiles:
- Spend level points and learn them yourself in the feats menu. These recipes will have level requirements, cost feat points, and often require pre-requisite feats.
- Build a crafting station and use the new recipes it provides. You may learn even more recipes if you add powerful thralls to these stations.
- Find them out in the world. The recipes you find out in the world will not have a level requirement.
Open your inventory crafting menu to get started. Your bedroll will cost three twines, two branches, and six plant fibers. Twine will take three plant fibers in your inventory crafting menu, so you should start by making it. After you craft your bedroll, you must move it from your inventory to your quick wheel to place it.
Close your inventory, select the roll on your quick wheel and place the bedroll. If your bedroll placement image is red, your chosen area is not suitable for the item. If it is green, you should be good to go.
You can rotate it and other items until you get them exactly where you want them. You want your bedroll somewhere very safe. After all, when you respawn on it, you’ll have lost everything you had.
Now that you know how to open your crafting menu and make a campfire. Ignore the tempting bunnies frolicking around your camp and add seeds, plant fiber, and branches to the fire’s inventory. Crafting stations like campfires require fuel, and for now, branches are fine.
Every seed will take five plant fibers to make a ten stack of gruel. The branches will burn as the gruel cooks. Remove the gruel, add it to your quick wheel and then use it to recover your hunger meter.
Tools and Gathering
Next, you’ll want to focus on making a pick, ax, cleaver, and skinning knife. These tools have primary uses, but you should always try switching up tools on new items.
Some items may only be harvested with a particular tool on a particular item, and I have gone multiple games without ever finding an item simply because I was using the wrong tool.
A pick is for gathering stones from rocks. These rocks do a really good job of blending in with the scenery. In fact, they often are the scenery. This is a slight change from most survival games, where the nodes are very obvious additions.
You’ll really feel like you’re chipping away at the earth in Conan Exiles once you figure out what you’re even looking for. Start swinging; that massive boulder bigger than your hut might just crumble away to nothing. Keep your eyes peeled for any rock node that does stand out from the environment. This could be coal, iron, silver, or gold!
Some other common uses for a pick are to gather bark from trees and to harvest dead rocknoses and spiders for alternate ingredients.
An ax is for gathering wood from trees. Just about any tree can be chopped down in the Exiled Lands. Some have vines, which are a valuable source of fiber and horse food.
A skinning knife collects hide from dead animals, and a cleaver collects meat from dead animals. Humans, monsters, and animals rarely have inventory drops in Conan Exiles; instead, you’ll be harvesting their corpses for ingredients.
Keep in mind that each tool, weapon, and piece of armor will degrade with use. Keep enough supplies on you to repair them as necessary. They never take as many ingredients to repair as they do to re-create.
Your new ax and pick will be instrumental in building necessary crafting stations like the tannery, furnace, carpenter’s bench, and animal pen. All of these T1 stations require basic ingredients that can be harvested locally, provided you stay in the river area and generally anywhere on the map.
Each station offers new recipes, but don’t get overwhelmed. My suggestion is to try and craft every station so that you understand how they’re organized.
Some may require ingredients that are processed at other stations, which will slowly introduce you to each station’s recipe list. Keep in mind that some stations require fuel to operate. For now, wood works great in your campfire and furnace.
Use the furnace to make brick from stone and the carpenter’s bench to make shaped wood from wood to get you started. Make sure to build a tannery to turn any hide you’ve found into usable leather.
As soon as you are able, it’s a good idea to begin production on iron bars at your furnace. This one ingredient will make every item you use more efficient. The entire early game revolves around your access to iron.
Weapons and Armor
If you want to make fiber armor, you can, but many people skip this step completely. With your new stone weapon, it is possible to start taking down crocodiles and skinning them for their hide. You’ll need a skinning knife to skin the crocs, a tannery to turn the hide to leather, and an armorer’s bench to build your first light armor set.
There are so many things you could sink your time into at this level, but this one will up your survivability significantly and allow for more exploration and resource gathering.
You won’t be able to upgrade your weapon past stone until you’ve found a reliable iron source. These nodes are obvious when you finally find them, with more of a silver tint than the rest of the rocks around them. I recommend starting with your armor and then venturing out to find iron for iron weapons.
Assuming you plan to level up before settling down, iron weapons will allow you to safely traverse at least half of the map, while stone will keep you sequestered to the bottom half.
Combat moves are determined by the weapon you choose to equip. Try them all! Each weapon has its own moves, debuffs, and practical applications. It is very common to have a couple of options equipped on your action wheel. There are one-handed weapons, shields, two-handed weapons, ranged weapons, and mounted-only weapons.
Until you get used to dodging and stamina management, a safe bet is a one-handed weapon and a shield. Stamina keeps us honest in combat. Block or dodge too much, and you’ll be sluggish and helpless.
There are ways to apply more damage and combinations that work better than others, but they’re not important until you’re much further along. As long as your stamina pool can handle your preferred combat style, go for it.
In Conan Exiles, you will not sit idly by while the world bickers around you. Even if you are on a fully PVE server, the world will eventually come knocking on your door. This mechanic is called the purge. The purge is a wave of NPCs that are programmed to march directly for your base and then raze it to the ground.
You will fill the purge meter by leveling up in the Exiled Lands, so there is no way to avoid it except to turn it off in your server settings. The purge does range in difficulty, and this difficulty is determined by where you put your base.
The purge marches directly for your base, and if you’ve left several buildings around the world, it may march for them instead.
It may be curious to find this mechanic on a getting started guide, but the reality is that the easiest way to get started in Conan Exiles is to go ahead and capture or tame a combat follower. They will both double your inventory size and make your fights twice as easy.
There are three types of followers in Conan Exiles. All three follow you faithfully around the map and must be leveled to reach their full potential.
They also have their own stat trees and feats, though choosing their path is much more difficult than it is for your own character. You’ll only be able to influence their stats, and that will only be by a small percentage.
The follower the game is infamous for is the thrall. These are NPCs that you forcibly capture by knocking out and then dragging back to your base. After a stint at the Wheel of Pain crafting station, they become loyal and functional followers.
Clearly, there are some questionable and insensitive triggers here, but as with any entertainment, Funcom side-stepped the issue by citing their lore and artistic vision as their defense.
Thralls are your most powerful combat followers. They can be equipped with epic weapons and armor. Thralls come in four tiers, with the last tier having several variations depending on the thrall type.
If a thrall is named (for example, Sonja the Accursed), it is T4 or the most powerful tier. If it is named and in a purge wave, it is a best-in-game thrall.
Thralls can be crafters and must be stationed at crafting stations, or they can be combat thralls and follow you into battle. Combat thralls are designated by the dancer, archer, or fighter, while crafting station only thralls will have their profession in their name.
Don’t let these combat titles deceive you; their title is not necessarily indicative of what stats they will have as your follower. For example, an archer NPC will not necessarily have more accuracy than a fighter NPC at the same camp.
The second type of follower is the animal follower and is combat only. You tame pets in Conan Exiles by finding the baby version of the pet you want in the wild (usually around its very hostile parents) and then bringing it home to raise in your animal pen.
Each species of animal follower has different stats and then usually two variants within the species. The greater variant has the highest stats of the species. You can increase your chance of getting a greater variant by feeding the baby animal its favorite food in the animal pen.
Shalebacks are an easy first companion, even if you only use them briefly to carry your things and give you the edge in a fight. You’ll find huge quantities of their babies ambling around on the islands and shore of the southern river.
Keep two things in mind before you grab one. First, the baby may over-encumber you, so you should try your best to empty your inventory before snatching one. Second, all the shalebacks in range will become furious with you, even if they started as passive.
The last type of follower is new to the party. Horses were recently added to Conan Exiles and make traversing the Exiled Lands a much more pleasant experience. Horses and foals are all the same, even though they may have different names, colors, or tack.
You will need a stable to raise a horse and a saddler’s workbench to make it a saddle. Horses will not participate in combat but will follow you around the map when you are not mounted. You will still be able to have one combat follower in addition to your horse.
Tips We Wish We Knew
Bare your teeth and face the world; you’re a barbarian now. There won’t be many friendly faces on an official server, and you will have to have a bit of tenacity to survive out there. There are a couple of things I wish I knew before getting pounded into the sand. It’s dangerous to go alone! Take these:
Don’t Throw Rocks at My Glass House
While I personally think you should play Conan Exiles in whichever way make you happiest, one of the biggest tips I have for you is to hold off on building a fully fledged-out base.
You can place crafting stations to land yourself some better armor and weapons and an animal pen to raise a follower, but after that, I would personally adventure on. You can even pick up these stations and bring them with you to save a little time when you do decide on a permanent base location.
Buildings in Conan Exiles must be completely replaced. They cannot be upgraded like other survival games but must be torn down when you are ready to upgrade. For this reason, spending too much time on a stone starting base could be considered a waste of time.
For me to explain this fully, you’ll need to understand how to read your purge meter and how it works, so take a peek at the core mechanics section.
So, shouldn’t you build a base to protect your things? The reality is that whether you have to worry about other hostile players or just the purge, your most valuable asset is your character’s level. Experienced players ignore the temptation to settle down and head out with some basic leather armor and iron tools to grow their character.
It’s hard to imagine, but there’s really no reason to plant a permanent base until you’ve reached max level. Throwing down a bedroll and campfire while you level, with some backup armor in a basic chest, is the best use of your time.
If the purge does decide to come for your belongings, simply grab the ones you need and move on. Keeping it light until you have the character strength to go all in will save you a lot of heartaches. As a bonus on a PVP server, it will be much more difficult to find your bedroll than it would be to spot your entire stone castle.
Running Up That Hill
Turn up your volume and stretch your hammies. The easiest way to explore the Exiled Lands is by keeping things speedy, and the game’s combat music is a dead giveaway that you need to hit the gas. Most situations can be outrun, especially if you can get going before they land a hit.
In order to do this, just listen for the background music to change while you’re exploring or farming nodes. It’s best to keep high stamina, high encumbrance, and plenty of inventory room.
Always overload your follower, and don’t get greedy when it comes to your inventory, or you risk losing it all. Getting over-encumbered or running out of stamina is a sure-fire way of getting trapped in a fight you can’t win.
Your followers are tethered to you, so putting as much distance between yourself and the danger will also drag them out of combat. After you’ve managed to get far enough away, you can turn around and assess the situation. Maybe you do want that fight after all!
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Conan Exiles is nothing but a game about making mistakes, avoiding consequences, and making the best out of bad situations. While many of them are impossible to avoid, I can pass down some obvious pitfalls. They may even be from my own personal experience.
The Follower Fanatic
New players’ most common mistake is to devote time to followers without fully understanding the mechanic. Your followers will be some of your most valuable assets, but they are not all created equal.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with leveling whatever follower you choose, but you should have the information in front of you so you don’t end up frustrated with the result.
Your very first combat follower is a placeholder. They are essentially a pair of saddle bags with some hand-me-down gear, so don’t spend too much time worrying about what to feed them or leveling them up. When you’re ready, you’ll hit the road in search of a more permanent follower, whether that be an animal companion or thrall.
This follower you will be much more particular about. You will need to put the time into either capturing a T4 thrall with appropriate stats or raising a greater animal variant. You’ll also be selective about what you feed them because that will be the only way for you to influence their stats.
Lastly, you’ll dump plenty of time into leveling them fully, and if they are a thrall, finding them good gear for their stat build.
Don’t dump a bunch of resources into your first companion; it is very unlikely they will be with you for the entire game.
The Base Cheeser
Now that you’ve learned about the purge, you may think it’s cute to build your base in a location a group of NPCs couldn’t possibly march to. Maybe your intent is not to cheat, but you have your eye on a floating island or a soaring airship type of build. Or maybe you think a base clipped into a mountain will deter other players from stealing your things.
In any case, be cautious. If the game cannot find a reasonable route to your front door, they will dump the purge in the middle of your base. They will raze your base from the inside, avoiding any walls or palisades that you thought might save you.
Long-Term Goals to Consider
A getting started guide would be rather inconsiderate if it only had your first few days in mind. Thinking down the road will save you time in Conan Exiles. It’s not in my nature to put much thought into the future, but a good long-term strategy could do nothing but help in this survival game.
Take the High Ground
Well, it doesn’t have to be the high ground, but there are quite of few things to consider when choosing your permanent base location. Is the location defensible? Are there plenty of resources within reach?
For your first game, my best recommendation would be to prioritize iron. When you find a hedge of 10-20 iron nodes, you should consider building a base in the area. Shaving this tedious run down to just minutes will save you a lot of time in the long run.
There is no need to worry about water; you’ll be able to learn a well water recipe as you level up. Additionally, food and hide can be hunted almost anywhere. You’ll always be short on iron, and shortening that run will make your game much more pleasant.
Any base can be defended, but it is much easier to only defend one side if possible. Try to back your base up to a cliff or permanent building to limit the amount of wall you have to defend.
Giddy on Up
Slowly working your way to a mount would be my second long-term priority. Horses make the world so much more enjoyable and open up content that you may have struggled to get to before. Rightfully so, the process is not for your first couple of days in the Exiled Lands, but if you prepare well, it could be sooner than you think.
You’ll need stables to raise a foal, so building those would be my first order of business. Next, you’ll have to adventure to grab a foal. There’s no reason to grab more than one, but it will be a sprint fest if you are under-leveled.
Next, you’ll need a saddler’s worktable and a saddle. This will require a lot of iron and leather, which will be your final hurdle to mounted freedom.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
It may seem like a lot, but once you’ve accomplished your first tasks, the others start to make sense. For now, just concentrate on finding somewhere safe on the southern river and learning the gathering and crafting mechanics. The rest will begin to fall into place as you start needing more ingredients.
Before you know it, you’ll be in the middle of some stinky, moldy dungeon, fighting off ugly monsters that would have one shot you on your first day in the desert. You’ll spend the game searching its most dangerous areas for a way to remove your bracelet and escape the Cursewall.
Once you build your sprawling mansion on the hill, you may decide there’s no reason to leave the Exiled Lands after all.
Conan Exiles Getting Started FAQs
Question: Where Do I Go First in Conan Exiles?
Answer: After escaping the Broken Highway by running east and north along its remnants, you should run right into a large body of water. This is actually a river that spans the entire map from west to east.
Experienced Conan Exiles players lovingly call this zone “noob river” because while the creatures here are hostile, it is a mostly beginner-friendly area. You’ll find all of the resources you need here along the river and can set up a small temporary base while you get things figured out.
Question: How Do You Progress in Conan Exiles?
Answer: Progression is two-fold in Conan Exiles. Your success in the Exiled Lands and how far you can safely explore is determined by both your character’s growth and what you own. Your levels, stats, and feats will only get you so far.
You’ll also need a sturdy base, good armor and weapons, and a dependable follower. In this way, progress in Conan Exiles is less structured than in other video games.
Question: What is the Point of Conan Exiles?
Answer: This question has many answers. This is one of those games where you’ll have to find your own point. Funcom claims that the point is to escape the Exiled Lands in single-player, but it’s a bit of a letdown. It’ll be quite a bit of work to just delete your character.
In PVP, the point could be to conquer the server. It could also be to sneak into everyone’s bases and leave them a chest full of pirate rotgut. You’re really going to have to find your own purpose, just like in real life.
Question: Where Should I Build My First Base?
Answer: You should explore for a long time until putting down something permanent, especially on a PVP server. A small sandstone hut with scattered crafting stations will be a smaller target and all you need.
Focusing on leveling is your priority because that can’t be taken away from you. For that, all you need is a bedroll and a light set of armor. You can grab iron bars along the way for weapon and tool upgrades.
Question: Is Conan Exiles a Challenging Game?
Answer: Yes, it can be. It’s meant to cater to each player’s own interests. You can find a server with any range of settings, and if you don’t, you can create your own. Crank up the crafting and gathering speeds, and your life will get considerably easier.
Official PVP servers are difficult game versions, while a cooperative PVE server is a more casual experience. The default single-player mode is time-consuming but not overly challenging once you learn the mechanics.
Question: Can Exiles be Played Alone?
Answer: Yes, and you may even make some friends. Conan Exile’s single-player is lacking compared to triple-A single players games, but it was never meant to be the flagship game mode. Playing with others is where sandbox survival games shine, and this game is no different.
Try a PVE server while you learn how to play, and then you can jump into the whole PVP experience. Remember, while Rust gives you a rock, Conan Exiles gives you nothing.
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