Conan Exiles: Isle of Siptah DLCby Adam Dileva
So, I feel I need to be honest from the get-go; I hate survival games. I don’t find the appeal of starting out with nothing, having to scrounge materials to make starter tools to hunt with and trying to simply survive. This was the reason I was very apprehensive about taking on the latest massive expansion DLC for Conan Exiles, titled Isle of Siptah. I figured I would once again become frustrated and not enjoy myself, as it’s generally a genre I don’t enjoy.
Something odd happened though, as once I put in a few hours and started to figure out all the mechanics and get the hang of what needed to be done, I actually started to enjoy myself. I’m not a complete convert, but I do enjoy logging on each night to grind away with some friends, hunt some monsters, explore, craft some gear or work on my huge fort.
While Conant Exiles released on Xbox One a few years ago, it was recently just made available on Xbox Game Pass, so there’s little barrier of entry to check it out and see if it’s your type of survival game. Having never set foot into Conan’s world before, I was jumping in both feet first without any experience in the game, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now optimized for Xbox Series X|S, Conan Exiles’ first major expansion not only brings a new area to play in, but tons of other items, building sets, monsters and more secrets to uncover.
If you’ve never played Conan Exiles before like myself, you create your character, convicted of crimes and then sentenced to death in a scorching hot desert all alone. The Isle of Siptah DLC is no different, except your vessel becomes shipwrecked on the way to the Exiled Lands, leaving you stranded on a massive island left to fend for yourself and to survive. As you wash up on the shores you’re given no direction of what to do, where to go or even what you should be doing. You’re literally dropped into its world and are left to figure out everything else for yourself.
With nothing on you other than the clothes you washed up in, the Isle of Siptah can be daunting at first when you start to realize how large the island truly is. You’ll need to gather some wood, rocks and other materials so you can craft some tools and then build a small shelter to protect yourself from the elements. From there do you decide to hunt or forage, do you expand your shelter into a fort, or do you explore to find higher tiers of materials and other secrets the island holds close?
While apparently the Isle of Siptah map is a little smaller than Exiles, that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of exploration and secrets to find, as there’s tons of new things to do and see for fans that have been around for a while. First you’ll need to decide if you want to play solo, co-op with some friends or play on or rent a dedicated server. This is important, as each game or server you play on is separate from one another, as are your Exiled or Siptah characters, as they aren’t linked and are separate maps/experiences.
The main addition that the expansion brings is the obvious one, the new map; Isle of Siptah. This massive island has beaches, forests, deserts, caverns, forgotten cities and much more to explore. Having explored around on both maps, I definitely found much more wonder and beauty with the Siptah map. Around every turn you see something wondrous or striking in the background that you want to go explore, like finally getting a glimpse of a massive singular tower in the middle of the map, reminiscent of Sauron’s tower from Lord of the Rings. Many times I saw something in the distance catch my eye, so I started to head that way to see what it actually was, usually met with endless enemies and other perils.
Vaults are another new addition with this map, adding a new dungeon type. As you explore you’ll come across these vaults which can be entered and explored. They are quite dangerous, usually house a big bad boss of some sorts but give you some amazing rewards if you’re able to conquer its puzzles, challenges and guardians. You’ll also notice in the middle section of the map that sometimes there’s a massive storm that occurs. This is called the Maelstrom, a powerful storm that isn’t based from nature, spawning some massive and extremely dangerous creatures. Again, being able to defeat them and survive the storm means better rewards though, but goodluck early on.
Like most survival type games you’ll progress on the typical treadmill of exploring, harvesting and crafting to slowly become more powerful as you survive along the way. While you’ll have to spend a few hours to figure out the mechanics and recipes for crafting, once you wrap your head around it you’ll eventually have that “ah-hah” moment where everything simply starts to click. My first few hours were a frustrating mess. I wasn’t sure what to do, what I needed to craft or the best strategy for progressing. Having started over a few times on different servers, now my friends and I can start fresh and get a functioning camp built and running within an hour without any problems.
This is the beauty of the Isle of Siptah, as you can freely play in any way you decide. If you simply want to forage and craft the coolest base you can come up with, go ahead. If you want to explore and see what secrets the island keeps, there’s nothing holding you back. With a group of friends you can all work together to create a well-run Clan, something that was a turning point for my previous distaste for the genre. Finally having a good understanding of its mechanics and how to ‘properly’ progress makes a massive difference. While I would have really enjoyed some tutorial of sorts you are given a ‘checklist’ of actions to do if you desire, but aren’t given any indication of how to actually do them. Again though, this is part of the genre’s beauty; simply figuring things out for yourself.
Crafting plays an integral part of the Isle of Siptah, as you won’t be able to hunt or forage without the proper tools. To survive long term you’re also going to need the right workbenches to create better gear, thus the treadmill begins. I initially thought I’d gravitate towards exploring, but once I got the hang of chopping down trees for wood, collecting rock and iron for ore and then crafting them into bars, I became hooked on crafting. So much so that I’m now the dedicated person in our Clan that builds the starter home base. Initially I started with creating a simple box with a door, eventually making multi-level floors, ramps and then decorating with furnishings, torches, statues and more.
The same goes for your gear, armor, weapons and other items; all crafted from materials you gather while exploring the world. Basic materials will be found nearby on the beach where you begin, but the higher tiered items and materials will only be found deeper within the isle itself. Starter tools and base materials can be made from stone and wood, eventually upgrading to iron, steel and many other items. You could specialize in weapon crafting, armor, base building, alchemy, farming, thralls (slaves), stables or a number of other crafting options.
There’s really no limit, though recipes are gated behind feat point expenditures which you gain from leveling up. Leveling is done by building, combat, crafting and harvesting, so you can really play however you like. While I found combat to be the quickest way to level up, it obviously has its own dangers. You’re able to utilize a light and heavy attack, and while combat is functional, it’s quite basic and nowhere near as refined as say the crafting mechanics are. There’s tons of different enemies and monsters to fight against and the vaults are very dangerous but rewarding. There’s nothing quite like coming around a cliffside corner only to see a massive spider boss waiting for you to try and cross before it attacks you, or a colossal sized alligator roaming along the beach. Just like exploring the environment, enemies are just as much of a wonder to find and take in, especially when you weren’t exactly looking for them in the first place.
Isle of Siptah is a perfect reason to dive back into the fantasy world with a whole new massive area to explore. Conan Exiles: Isle of Siptah runs amazingly well on an Xbox Series X aside from some mechanical bugs and glitches, but the fidelity, framerate and draw distance is quite impressive for such an expansive game. That said, playing on a friend’s server on an Xbox One, there were some noticeable visual downgrades when comparing the two.
While fans have been playing Conan Exiles for some time now on console, the decision to add it to Xbox Game Pass was incredibly smart, as now you can get your toes wet within its world and see if its mechanics are to your liking without much barrier of entry. If you like what you see, the Isle of Siptah expansion DLC is an even better experience than the base game with plenty of new experiences and worth the asking price of $19.99 USD / 24.99 CAD, and that’s coming from someone that used to despise the survival genre.
**Conan Exiles: Isle of Siptah was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**