When a message went out on the Slack group asking who wanted to review Conan Unconquered, I think my exact words were “Heck yes!”. Except I didn’t use the word “heck”. I’d had this game on my Steam wish list for ages simply because it was an RTS set in one of my favourite fictional universes – the universe ruled by Conan The Cimmerian, barbarian, thief, and conqueror of the known world. This was my chance to experience Robert E Howard’s universe for myself and have the experience of crushing my enemies, see them driven before me, and hearing the lamentations of their women (ed - apparently comics, not video games, are the problem with society...).
Conan Unconquered is a game in the RTS-mould of They Are Billions; a game made for defensive players. Like most traditional RTSs, you have to build a base, recruit an army, and defeat your enemies; however, unlike Starcraft and more modern RTSs, the game is built around defensive tactics. Instead of having an opposing army following the same rules as you, you are faced with a horde mode. You must set up you base in preparation for waves of attacks. This changes the dynamics quite a bit as a player who would prefer to build a large army of weak, but overwhelming swarm units (the so called "Zerg Rush" strategy) will not have the opportunity to do so here. This game favours players who like to fortify their base, maybe send a few units to scout the map, but ultimately wait for the hordes to rush in.
Without fun context, a game like this would be very, very boring, as you basically wait out your opponent until they run out of resources, sending wave after wave against your impenetrable fortress. I’ve plated Starcraft matches against “turtles” that have lasted for what seemed like an eternity (ed - it's a valid strategy !), but only lasted two or so hours in reality. Better players have strategies to deal with such defensive players, and I eventually figured out how to win, but it makes for an insanely boring match (ed - us turtlers call it a component of psychological warfare). Conan gets around this in the exact same way that Gears of War does; the hordes are not dependent on the AI building a base, securing resources, and building an army. They simply spawn in a corner of the map and, after a delay, they make their move.
As long as you have decent defensive measures, such as walls, towers to extend line of sight, and an arsenal of weapons, you'll be ready to fend off the attackers.
Graphically the game looks great; no matter how far away you zoom, you can still distinguish between units.
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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29 May 2019
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