Conan Unconquered Test / Review
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Conan Unconquered Review – Barbaric real-time strategy in the test
The Zap gambles Conan Unconquered Review. In this test episode I introduce you to the real-time strategy game Conan Unconquered, with all it’s strengths and weaknesses, tell you my opinion and give a rating if the game might be interesting for you or not.
► German Version:
Since this post is available as text and as well as video (German voiceover, with subtitles in many different languages), you can choose how you want to enjoy it.
(German voiceover, with subtitles in many different languages)
► Conan Unconquered Review – Intro
Moin Moin, here’s the Zap. In this episode I introduce you to the game Conan Unconquered, explain what the game is about and tell you a little of my opinion. So hopefully, in the end, you can decide for yourself if Conan Unconquered could be something for you or not.
The game was developed by Petroglyph Studios from the USA, who have worked on games like Panzer General, Star Wars: Empire at War, Rise of Immortals or Grey Goo. Also, they probably have the contract to build a Command & Conquer: Remaster. So this is absolutely no inexperienced studio.
Conan Unconquered is already available at Steam for 29,99 €, I’ll see if I can find a cheaper offer for you and link it below. The game is distributed by the Norwegian publisher FunCom, who kindly provided me with a test key. Of course, this has no influence on my rating.
Because, a firm rule with me: I don’t introduce really very bad games, even if they are given to me. And I also point out other mistakes, defects and problems, regardless of whether they are bought or free test samples.
► Conan Unconquered Foreword:
This game has torn me back and forth for a long time because it has absolute highs, but also extreme lows. I ask everyone to at least read the conclusion at the end before buying the game.
► The Conan Universe
Conan Unconquered plays in the universe of Conan the Barbarian, or more precisely in the Hyborian kingdoms. This world is based on the book “The Hour of the Dragon” by Robert E. Howard, there are also several movies of the same name from the ’80s with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a remake from 2011, several cartoon series and a Survival MMO called Conan Exiles and an older MMORPG, both also from FunCom.
There are card games, board games, a table pen and paper role-playing game, comic books and probably I still forgot some things. But in any case, I think it’s clear that Conan is already a well-known fantasy series.
The games around Conan are often characterized by a higher degree of difficulty, probably motivated by the barbaric setting and the hard struggle for survival of the people in it, the developers always want to demonstrate this by setting the degree of difficulty a little higher. Conan Unconquered is no exception.
► Gametype – What is Conan Unconquered?
The game can best be described as a mix of real-time strategy and tower defense. In Conan Unconquered you start with a very small village, few units, and scarce resources. As a player, you are responsible for building and repairing, controlling units, planning defenses and all kinds of other tasks at the same time. Just as it is in almost every real-time strategy game. The goal is to build a fortress that can defend itself against the constantly increasing attacks.
At the beginning of a level, you get some preparation time before the Minimap announces attack waves. These waves come at short intervals, so you can recover troops and recruit new ones, repair buildings and build new ones. Each wave gets stronger, and after a while, true hordes of enemies come to storm against our walls. And as befits the world, there are magic, giant monsters, and later even the gods themselves may intervene in the battles.
A game that offers comparable gameplay is the well known “They are Billions”, in which you have to fend off zombie hordes.
► Technology, Graphics, Sound
For Conan Unconquered, Petroglyph uses its own GlyphX engine. This engine offers a reasonable zoom and also usable display quality in close and far view. But there is no rotation of the camera. Most of the time you will have zoomed out a bit more for a better overview. But if you want to get closer to the details of the figures, you can do that very well. The models, textures and other details are lovingly designed, not super realistic, but absolutely sufficient for a game of this kind, I think.
The game offers technical adaptations of scroll speeds, the typical real-time strategy genre for the shortcut keys for almost everything. You can also switch all sorts of graphics options back and forth if you want to play the game on a weaker computer. On a middle-class PC it runs quite smoothly with Max options.
As a user of multiple monitors, I am very happy that there is a borderless fullscreen window mode. Even if it is sometimes a bit bitchy.
The game is completely translated in several languages like German, Italian, French in the menus, tooltips and other texts. A solid translation has been done here, so far I didn’t notice any great mistakes.
The voice-over is completely in English, but there is not much story and text anyway. It’s mostly about them or us, and not much is told about it. A barbaric barbarian game with barbaric storytelling. It’s about the hard battle itself and who survives in the end. Who fights against whom and why is a minor matter.
Where there is still something missing at the moment is loading and saving. At first, there was no save function at all, meanwhile, an autosave function and a “Save and Exit” function have been introduced. There are quicksaves with F5 and F9. But there is no load function in the menu except Continue. So different savegames are not available, so you should take good care of your savegame.
Also, the loading times are anything but fast, until the game starts some time passes and a map to load also takes several minutes.
► Conan Unconquered Review: Coop Mode
Conan Unconquered offers a rather unusual feature for a real-time strategy game. Because you have the possibility to play the game as a 2 player team online in a team. So you can build the same settlement together with your best friend, your life partner or a random partner randomly picked out of the player pool and maybe even divide the complex processes of the game cleverly.
Each player has his own resources and his own army. So you don’t get too close to each other. This can give these co-op games a very special charm because 2 player co-op in strategy games is rather rare. A big, big plus that the game can get here.
► Conan Unconquered – Gameplay
Let’s start with what there isn’t so much in Conan Unconquered, and that’s the story, I’ll go into that later. There is a short intro, very short mission texts, but otherwise, the game consists of 5 increasingly heavy maps and a mission generator, where you can make all kinds of defaults and a challenge mode, where you can also compete indirectly with others, including high score lists.
For real-time strategy experts, it is probably surprising that there are no workers in the actual game. To get wood we need a lumberjack, and then we get wood there periodically, but nobody walks around. There is also no graphical logging, transport, etc..
Speaking of periodically, the entire economy runs in 25 seconds cycles. At the bottom right of the interface, we have a kind of clock that is slowly filling up and whenever it fills up, we get the appropriate resources from all the buildings.
The missing workers probably seem unfamiliar at first and this could also be seen as a point of criticism that the game has been simplified here. But by the time the fighting starts, you’ll probably be glad that you don’t have to protect any workers and that you can take care of defending yourself against the sometimes huge hordes of opponents.
Because that’s the main course of the game, you build this fortress and then you get attacked in waves by enemies. In the first mission, there are only 5 waves, but gradually this increases to up to 25 attack waves, and each becomes harder than before and sometimes they attack from 3, 4 or even 10 different directions at the same time. This can easily get you into a state of rotating.
In the Sandbox mission generator, there is even an endless mode, where waves come again and again until you are wiped out at some point.
With walls and towers, you can keep your opponents in check for a while, but if your opponent comes along with bat demons or catapults, the towers are useless. These units simply ignore walls and towers and fly straight through to the core of the settlement. The others are outside the range of the towers and tear down the walls.
The fights can get pretty hectic sometimes. Good that we always have the possibility to activate the pause with the space button. And we can also continue building during the break, give unit routes and look around.
Between the attacks, we also have the possibility to explore the area where there are monster nests that work as monster generators. As long as you haven’t destroyed the nest, enemies will spawn endlessly, but if you’ve destroyed the nest, you’ll get an extra box of resources as a reward.
► Buildings and Resources
The buildings in Conan Unconquered begin very gently with little choice. However, this can be greatly extended in longer games by researching certain techniques. I’ll come back to research in more detail in a moment.
We have a very limited area in which we can build. But we can expand it with combat standards. Of course, wood comes from the lumberjack camp, our houses produce the ever scarce gold and we generate food in hunter camps. Later there will be stones, animals, iron and star metal as resources, but these will only be available after a long period of research.
We can build walls and watchtowers, but these do nothing if we don’t recruit javelin throwers in the barracks and put them on the towers. We can build small shrines to heal the units around them. If buildings get damaged, we can repair them during combat pauses against gold. The walls keep most enemies away from the settlement when they are densely built, but not all, some just fly over them, others like spiders crawl over the mountains and bypass the walls like that.
The game also offers an interesting system in which you have to pay attention to reasonably balanced settlements. Because there are secondary resources called command, serf, food, and soul essence, and each house consumes some of those secondary resources.
So you can’t build unlimited lumberjacks, because you would quickly lack the villeins. So you need more houses, and these houses need command and food, which you produce with standards and hunters. This results in a more complex need for construction than it seems at first.
And then there are special conditions for some buildings. Of course, you can only construct a lumberjack at a forest and hunter camps, for example, have to keep a minimum distance between each other, which also limits their quantity in the long run.
And if the enemy has managed to break into the base and demolish houses there, you have to rebuild that balance first. This requires a little bit of attention to the resource indicators in the bottom right corner.
After some research, it quickly becomes even more complex, because you can then, for example, give a wall an extension with a fire bowl, which ensures that spear throwers on nearby towers instead of normal spears throwing fire spears. But this fire bowl has an enormous wood consumption and that permanently. Or you build ballistas, but they cost an enormous amount of gold. These are only 2 examples of higher quality buildings, but there are a lot of them. Provided you have enough time and resources for research.
► Conan Unconquered Review: Research
There’s a craft guild we can build at the beginning. There you can start different researches. Interestingly enough, you can also explore other guilds there to get much deeper into the technology tree.
For the longer missions, you have to think carefully about what to explore when and what to leave out, because you won’t be able to explore everything in most maps, so you have to plan the research and how to get through the complex research tree very well and adapt it to the tactics.
There are enormously powerful things to unlock here, but research also devours a lot of resources that might be lacking in other places. Tactically, you have to consider where to prioritize and where to spend your ever scarce resources first.
And of course, the research is reset to zero in every game and you can probably only use everything in an endless mission and only with enormous effort in one game. In most sessions, you will probably do some basic research and that’s it.
In research, of course, you can also unlock stronger units. And that brings us to exactly these…
► Conan Unconquered Review: Units
At the beginning, we have our main hero, who by the way can’t actually die. If he succumbs to the enemies, he will be spawned again in the base after a short time.
Then we can build a barracks and recruit javelin throwers and swordsmen. Of course, these fighters also cost a lot of the rare resources and so we have too few fighters all the time. This means that we have to take good care of them and at the beginning of a mission our spear fighters have to be constantly deployed because we don’t have enough to occupy the towers in all directions.
With some research into the right tips of the technology tree, we can expand our range of soldiers later on. From archers to heavy cavalry, priests, sun wizards or even the god Mitra himself, the range is endless, to name but a few.
► Conan Unconquered: Enemies
The same variety as for your own troops is also available for the enemy attackers. The palette ranges from simple foot soldiers to javelin throwers, necromancers who let Skelletbogen shooters stand up, and cavalry, mystical animals such as giant scorpions and giant spiders to heavy siege equipment and flying demons.
Some of these units also have the option to show up as a flaming version. These can cause fire damage to flammable items and warriors, which should be extinguished with soldiers and buckets of water.
Heaps of corpses lying around can cause diseases that cause our fighters to infect each other and become very slow. And some catapults hurl corpses against walls that have the same effect.
In the surrounding area there are also ostriches, scorpions, spiders and other animals lurking at smaller spawn points and guarding treasures, as mentioned above.
In addition, there are also fortress bosses who pose a special challenge once again. The name is misleading because they don’t have a fortress, they just stand around in the area, but they’re all a challenge, especially since there’s very little break between the attack waves.
► Tactical depth
The enemy waves are announced on the mini-map for a while before they attack, so you have some time to prepare and reposition the troops. This is especially important at the beginning when you don’t have enough material and units to build a defense in all directions. But even later it makes more sense to pull the troops together where the attack arrives.
But sometimes there are also waves that are hidden in the sandstorm and where no direction is recognizable upfront. Later in the game more and more troops come at the same time so that you have to be able to fend off 3, 4 or even 10 attacks from different directions at the same time. Whereby 10 waves than can degenerate into the ultimate “from all directions simultaneously” carnage. Then you often have to rotate, and then it is sometimes helpful that there is the pause function.
The opposing AI starts very much according to the motto “on and on”. But they try to keep their paths short and at the same time find or create weak points in the walls. And once a wall has fallen, there are also strikers who try to break through the gaps to attack towers and other buildings without protection. Apart from that, there are some units that simply bypass or fly over the walls or bomb them from a distance.
Since you often have other things to do besides the fights, you have to repair things between fights, plan new buildings and keep the complex resources in balance, there is already a good tactic potential here. This is also very well extended by the research possibilities.
Tactically, Conan Unconquered can offer a lot, a big plus in this area.
► Conan Unconquered Review: Story and scope
But not everything is golden in the age of Conan. Many old-school real-time strategy titles tell more or less epic stories in campaigns, in cutscenes or in the game engine and often there are at least a rough explanation and a superficial story.
Here Conan almost completely refrains from storytelling. There are only one cutscene at the start of the game and the mission descriptions fit the proverbial beer mat, German saying. 2-3 sentences of short text, and that’s it.
And even in terms of size, you don’t need to expect any miracles now. 5 Scenarios and a Sandbox Random Cards Generator, that’s not too much variety. So you should see the game more like a kind of chess game, that you start again and again alone or in cooperation and have nice battles.
Any progress is always only for this one game, in the next game you start again from zero. Only at the Achievements and when unlocking the Comic Pages you can achieve something like progress. Almost all Achievements give small advantages like more life for certain units or other bonuses.
This seems unusual at first, I haven’t encountered such a system in any other game yet. And on the one hand, it offers the advantage of an enormous long-term motivation for collectors and perfectionists, on the other hand, it has the disadvantage that you can’t reset your achievements and a new beginning becomes impossible.
Moreover, through the campaign, you can gradually unlock pages in a comic that tells some additional background story. This comic has 6 chapters and most of them have 10-15 pages, so it’s really a complete comic book. But for non-English readers, the flaw is that this part hasn’t been translated.
There seems to be a map editor planned, later probably Steam-Workshop support as well, but both are not yet available, so they can’t be included in the rating.
► Condition of the game
Technically the game seems to be rock solid. It never crashed in the test time of a little more than 15 hours. I didn’t see any animation errors or massive problems with the opponent AI. There were some minor bugs at release, but most of them were removed in almost daily patches the last days. 1-2 times I managed to build units somewhere between buildings.
The loading times are just still a problem in my eyes, here the game could still use optimization. In the window mode, there were several problems with me that the resolution was not correct and could not be changed or that instead of 16:9 the game started at 4:3.
The developers seem to work on the game even after the release, there are probably plans for more features. But how long this work will go on can’t be said today.
► Conan Unconquered: Conclusion
First of all, the strategy part is fun and still very challenging after some missions. But that can be frustrating even for the less strategist players, I guess. However, if you like crisp and hard strategy matches, you’ve come to the right place.
Fighting on three, four or even more fronts at the same time is perfectly normal later in the game and I can imagine that this won’t be suitable for everyone. Sometimes it gets really hectic.
The developers have now added an easy mode to the scenarios with a patch, which might make them more accessible for beginners.
The totally missing story is a huge minus point, the just 5 scenarios, which actually only differ in the length of the matches and a larger selection of opponents, this is just extremely little content for the money. In the end, these are just an extended tutorial, even though it takes 10-15 hours to play them through. So you could say, the actual game consists of co-op mode and sandbox map generator.
Apropos money, that you have to buy the third hero and an extra skin for Conan as a DLC for 10 Euro extra, I think is really bad. The game doesn’t have that much content anyway, which you have to pay with 30 Euro and if you don’t even get everything for it, that’s just absolutely wrong. Someone in the marketing department didn’t get his throat full enough and I don’t think that’s a good choice for the game as a whole. A big minus point for this bad marketing strategy.
► Conan Unconquered: Rating
All in all, Conan is a roller coaster ride. Since I like strategically challenging games, the game appeals to me quite a bit, I also like the Conan universe very much and the co-op possibility is a rarity and a nice feature. On the other hand, lack of content, almost no story and bad DLC tactics, that’s an absolute brake.
If I want to give the game in its current form a rating, that would be 80% for the solid, tricky strategy part. But the lack of content is worth at least 10% deduction and also the miserable DLC ethics give a 5% reduction in the overall ranking. This will result in a 65% rating.
And I would also limit that to “strategy fans only”. Casual real-time strategy players who would like to build a small settlement and maybe have a bit of skirmish should avoid buying the game. And in general, you should always keep in mind that there is not much content in it. Only for the 5 scenarios, the game is not worth its money. So you should be up for randomly generated sandbox matches and ideally have a buddy to play with.
So, I hope you enjoyed this review. I would like to discuss your opinion about the game as well as generally about my reviews with you in the comments. If you want more reviews, guides, tips, and news about strategy and role-playing games, business sims, and MMOs, this might be the right YT channel for you and a subscription and like would be great. If you would like to discuss this review, or just want to express your opinion, I would also like to invite you to the forum. Then I thank you for visiting, wish you a great day, have a good time, ciao ciao, your Zap
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