Conan Exiles Age of Sorcery

Conan Exiles Age of Sorcery Review: Wild & Wicked Wizardry

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Conan Exiles has always had an insane amount of potential. One of the many early access successes from 2017, many factors have played into the game failing to make good on what it could become. The Age of Sorcery update aims to be a turning point in that journey. A step towards the success Conan Exiles has always been so close to reaching.

I’ve played Conan Exiles regularly since 2019, and as a content creator, I’m invested in seeing this game succeed. I’ve delved deep into the most obscure lore of the game, built gargantuan castles and towers, and stalked the ruined streets of The Unnamed City more times than I can recall. I believe the potential this game has is incredible, and with some care, it could easily top the survival genre. I’ve been critical of Conan many times in the past, but I believe that at the heart of any issue is a great game on the cusp of reaching the potential it holds.

As great as Conan Exiles is, Funcom hasn’t always made the right decisions. The release of the Isle of Siptah in 2021 was preceded by a massive content drought that undoubtedly caused the player base to burn out. Furthermore, a sense of irregularity regarding update speed has always permeated the game. The Age of Sorcery aims to change that, offering stability, regularity, and reliability to a game that desperately needs it.

Funcom has taken an interesting perspective here, offering a narrative experience that will evolve over the year ahead, alongside introducing a wealth of new gameplay features, adjustments, and systems. I’ve long been vocal about what I think Conan Exiles needs to succeed, and while not perfect, the Age of Sorcery update seems an impressive first step toward making Conan Exiles into the best game it can be.

Has the game completely changed? No, I wouldn’t say so. At the core, you can still expect the same experience from Conan Exiles, but there’s a lot of meat to chew through in this update. The Age of Sorcery may be one of the best updates Conan Exiles has ever received and lays the foundations for a bright future if executed correctly. So, without further ado, let’s through this Conan Exiles Age of Sorcery update.

So I Can Be a Mage Now?

Conan Exiles Age of Sorcery Review
The Age of Sorcery finally adds Sorcery to Conan Exiles

As you may have already discerned, this update adds sorcery to the game. As the flagship feature of this update, you can now wield the power of the arcane arts. Melding perfectly into the lore of Conan Exiles, don’t go in expecting Skyrim-Esque fireballs or beams of ice. Instead, prepare yourself for casting dark rituals, performing human sacrifice, and corrupting your very soul to enhance your abilities.

As a Conan lore buff, Robert E Howard’s dark and penetrating works have held up extraordinarily well since he first put pen to paper. Over 80 years after his untimely demise, his themes continue to inspire authors, filmmakers, and game developers. Much of Howard’s writing has become the lifeblood of Conan Exiles. That has never been clearer than it is here. The act of sorcery itself drips with dark malevolence, and engaging in the more sadistic elements of sorcery feels purely evil. I may be a tad biased, but this might be one of the best representations of dark sorceries I’ve seen in any game. Everything is designed deliberately and carefully to reflect the horrific magic that permeates the darkest corners of Conan Exiles.

But Wait, There’s More!

Sorcery is a big thing, but there’s even more to discover. An overhaul to the building system, changes to the perks & attributes system, nerfs to thralls, and of course, the new monetization system.

None of these features are necessarily groundbreaking, sorcery remains the star of the show. That being said, the additional changes made in the Age of Sorcery update go a long way toward improving the game. The stale meta of character building is broken by the attribute rework, something many have complained about. The building overhaul makes your architectural dreams a bit easier to achieve, and the nerfs to thralls address a massive power imbalance that has existed for far too long.

These changes are pretty common sense. They’re all designed to make the game more flexible, and offer you more choice and control over how you approach gameplay. Overall, there’s something for everyone in this update. You’re bound to find something you like.

A Dark Figure Looms

Kurak Conan Exiles
Kurak, the main character of The Age of Sorcery, is a dark and mysterious sorcerer

The Age of Sorcery is far from just a regular update, it’s also a narrative experience. The age is split into a few different chapters that will tell an evolving story that will change the game and the characters within it.

From some far-flung lands, a strange sorcerer named Kurak has arrived in The Exiled Lands, bringing knowledge of the arcane. Many centuries before our time in Conan Exiles, the Giant Kings crafted bracelets that prevented their enslaved humans from wielding magic, bracelets that now keep us bound to The Exiled Lands. Kurak has managed to worm his way around those restrictions and has begun to gather quite a following. Something dark is rumbling within The Exiled Lands, but we won’t know what that is until Chapter 3, which will release in 2023.

Through the lens of storytelling, Conan Exiles is right up there with the greats. Being informed by such deep and detailed source material, the lore of the game is insanely rich. I’ve long wanted to see more complex and evolving stories in Conan, and it looks like that’s exactly what we’re going to get. The PvE and PvP folks might not care too much about the how and why of sorcery, but for me, I couldn’t be more excited to see how the story unfolds.

Time for the Controversy

The main thing that caught the ire of many was the new monetization. Some people only have to hear the words “Battle Pass” or “Item Store” to lose all interest, but I think we shouldn’t be so quick to write them off. Microtransactions can be done right, games like Fortnite and Killing Floor 2 have proven that before. That being said, I’ve long held the opinion that microtransactions should be fair to both the developer and the customer, and shouldn’t offer a tangible advantage.

Fortunately, the Battle Pass and Black Lotus Bazaar do not offer any competitive advantage. Everything is cosmetic and will be forever, which is great. All future updates will be free for everyone, another massive bonus. The Battle Pass is fairly inoffensive, it’s pretty middle of the road compared to others, but the Bazaar does have some issues. Frankly, the prices are just too high. I love Conan Exiles and I want it to do well, but $20 for a handful of placeables is nowhere near reasonable.

Conan exiles store
The Black Lotus Bazaar has courted controversy for its high prices

According to lead designer Dennis Douthett, Funcom is aware of the issues with Bazaar pricing and is taking incremental steps to find a better balance between Bazaar prices across the board. The team is also working on regional pricing, though little else could be said aside from that. Maybe I’m a touch too forgiving, but slow action is much better than none at all. This is a pretty big issue for most, given that the Bazaar has replaced the previous traditional DLC model. That method wasn’t making enough money to support the game, but the optics and practicality of selling items at such high prices cannot be good for the long-term health of the game.

People out there, me included, are willing to spend some money on a game they enjoy. Fawn as we might for the times of old, the days of just buying a complete game are gone. Pretty much every game now receives updates, changes, and new additions, that’s just the whims of the market, especially in a post-Fortnite industry. Conan Exiles isn’t doing anything new with the store, but some improvements need to be made here. Hopefully, they’re made sooner rather than later.

Returning to The Exiled Lands

While this is a game-changing update, heralded as a new beginning for Conan Exiles, the core features are still there. You’ll still be surviving, building a base, farming resources, etc. The game’s motto is still “Survive. Build. Dominate”, and that still rings true today. Funcom hasn’t broken the mold, but they have slipped a few more things in there. The ultimate goal of dominating is still there, but there are now more avenues to reach it.

Conan Exiles Exiled Lands
The Age of Sorcery adds lots of new features, like undead followers, but don’t expect a brand-new experience

Ultimately, if you’re a seasoned veteran of Conan Exiles, there is a pervading sense of familiarity. There are new systems and mechanics to engage with, but the game’s core concept remains the same. For some, that will be a burden and a blessing for others. You shouldn’t go into this update expecting a brand-new game, because frankly, it isn’t. What you should expect, however, is a bit more diversity and intrigue around the journey you take to reach the end goal of surviving and thriving.

Houston, we Have a Problem

The biggest issue with this update has been the launch, especially on consoles. I’m a PC player, and we got off pretty lightly. There were a few glitches and bugs here and there, but nothing too dramatic. PC players benefitted greatly from the extended period that Age of Sorcery spent with the TestLive client. However, the same can’t be said for consoles.

Like a tsunami, the complaints began to sweep across the forums upon the launch of this update. Folks playing on console faced a grim reality: Invisible enemies, hard crashes, texture issues, and even entirely invisible bases. While Funcom was quick to assure the community they were fixing these issues, and a hotfix did rectify these bugs, the launch on consoles was a black mark on what would have otherwise been a pretty good update.

To be frank, this simply cannot happen. Consoles have struggled for a while, especially the Xbox One and Playstation 4. The industry has changed massively since those consoles launched in 2013, and the hardware lags massively behind what is available now. Bugs and issues are to be expected, but glitches that render the game unplayable need to be focused on and exterminated. I can’t pretend to know very much about the intricacies of game development, and fixing bugs is much more complicated than just adjusting the code, but some serious improvements need to be made to ensure this does not happen again. Console players are a significant portion of the player base, and while many will espouse the greatness of PC, those on a console should never receive a broken product.

You might also be interested in: Is Conan Exiles Cross Platform?

Closest Alternatives

As much as I believe Conan is one of the best survival games out there, it’s not for everyone, and that’s perfectly understandable. If you’ve not been swayed to pick up the game, here are some alternatives that might take your fancy.

  • Ark Survival Evolved
  • SCUM
  • Green Hell
  • Valheim
  • Dayz
  • Rust

The Final Verdict

conan exiles battle
The Age of Sorcery is a great update, but the core of the game remains the same

Score: 7/10

Overall, The Age of Sorcery is a massive step in the right direction for Conan Exiles. While the core aims and gameplay loop remains the same, this update focuses on choices. If you play PvP, PvE, Single Player, or Roleplay, you’ve got an abundance of options in handling gameplay and the tasks ahead of you.

I mentioned earlier that I believe Conan Exiles could easily become a top survival game and beat out its competitors. It’s not quite there yet, that’s for sure, but hopefully, this is a turning point toward that goal. The game is set to be updated every 3 months, and if Funcom sticks to that promise, the issue of irregular updates will surely fade into a distant memory. The Age of Sorcery isn’t without its flaws. The Black Lotus Bazaar needs some serious adjustments in pricing and design, and the new Sorcery mechanic, while interesting, isn’t as game-changing as the marketing might make you believe. However, this update is pretty good, and hopefully is the starting point of a new future for Conan Exiles.

Pros

  • An engaging and evolving story, perfect for lore hunters
  • Sorcery feels engaging and offers new ways to approach the game
  • Sorcery and Building systems are left open-ended to encourage modding
  • Significant reworks to followers and attributes break the previously stale meta of how to play
  • The building overhauls streamline a once convoluted system
  • The Battle Pass is simple yet effective and gives you premium currency back for completing it

Cons

  • The Black Lotus Bazaar is vastly overpriced
  • Sorcery has some notable gaps in certain schools of magic
  • The launch on consoles was disastrous

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is Now a Good Time to get Into Conan Exiles?

Answer: Honestly, I think now is the best time. There’s already a good amount of content there, but with all the new changes and additions, you’ll get to experience plenty of excitement. With updates coming every 3 months, you’ll also know when to expect more features in the future. If you’re on PC, you’ll also have tonnes of fun with the mods available through the Steam workshop.

Question: How is Future Content Scheduled?

Answer: Future updates are fed into the game with Ages and Chapters. Ages are designed to be an overarching story theme for a set period, with chapters acting as seasons of content, similar to Fortnite’s chapter and season system. Presumably, once Age of Sorcery ends with Chapter 3 in 2023, we’ll get a new age with a new story.

Question: Is Conan Exiles Pay To Win?

Answer: No. While many have complaints about the Battle Pass and the Black Lotus Bazaar, you can only purchase cosmetic items like decorations, building pieces, armor sets, etc. Armor and weapons are equivalent to base game alternatives, and all building pieces follow that same rule. You cannot buy power through the Bazaar or the Battle Pass.

Play Log

Eradicati0n has played over 2600 hours of Conan Exiles since 2019, with over 200 of those hours being played after Age of Sorcery was released. He’s created content on Youtube for just as long and specializes in building & lore. He’s also played a good amount of PvE survival, experiencing almost everything Conan has to offer.

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