Review – Conan Unconquered
Conan Unconquered, available now on PC, isn’t what I’d expected from a Conan-themed RTS (real-time strategy) game. There’s no seeing your enemies driven before you or hearing the lamentation of their women, for one thing. To be fair, I did get the expected hordes of barbarians descending on a base intent on destroying everything and everyone in their way…I just didn’t think it would be MY base getting descended on.
Where other RTS games pit the player against enemy AI (artificial intelligence) that must gather resources and build up its own ‘vulnerable to attack’ base, Conan Unconquered flips it over to a purely defensive scenario where players must reinforce their base against wave after wave of enemies. To do this you’ll need to gather resources, which means expanding your walls, which requires more resources…
Think you see the treadmill already? Now add in the expanded upkeep costs for repairing walls between waves, and the costs of training new soldiers to replace the fallen, build shrines to heal the injured, and construct new buildings to unlock new units, putting out the fires that enemy troops have caused (a real problem in a world still largely based on wood construction)…
Oh, and the whole time you’re dealing with all the busywork? Increasingly strong enemy waves will be coming for you.
Early on this isn’t really that big of a deal. Make some ranged units, stick them behind your walls (you did build walls, right?) and they’ll make short work of the attackers while you deal with finding new sources of wood, stone, or food. The difficulty ramps up quickly, however, but I never really felt like I didn’t understand what the appropriate counter was for the incoming threat – it was more a matter of finding the time to implement it, and that’s where the hero unit comes in.
The hero unit I chose most of the time was Conan himself but there are other options, and any of them are a one-unit wrecking crew capable of standing toe-to-toes with an enemy horde and holding their own. As an offensive force the hero unit isn’t ideal as it takes a considerable amount of time to heal them back up but deploying them as a holding action while you move other troops around is a sound strategy.
With only a handful of campaign ‘missions’ to play, the game relies heavily on its random map generator and the addition of co-op play for replay value. Co-op is a fun distraction and allows one player to do more map exploration for resources while the other tends to the base and its defensive needs – like putting out fires.