1000 Hours of Conan Exiles

Figure 1 My 1827th(ish) Castle in the Sky Takes Shape

Having recently surpassed 1000 hours playing Conan Exiles, I have a few thoughts to share. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

First, a couple of caveats: This article is intended for relative n00bs to the game; essentially, things I wish I’d known before having restarted multiple times – and thus putting in so many hours! Not that I regret any of those hours; obviously, a game that can hold anyone’s interest for that long is worthy of being described as ‘engaging’, among other adjectives. Regardless, besides the spoiler alert above, if you’re the type who likes to discover and experiment for yourself, then this article is likely not for you. Yet, even if you’re not a n00b, you may still get some entertainment herein – either way I thank you for reading!

Before I get too far, I must serve further notice that I’ll be using game terms that may baffle complete newcomers, but I don’t intend this as a How to Play session, nor will I get into a lot of detail about certain aspects, such as how to craft or build; many other writers and videographers (whom I’ve often consulted) have covered all that closely, and I see no point in repetition. Thus, it’s just a “I wish I’d known that!” analysis; a wishlist of features that I’d personally like to see; as well as comments on oddities that in my opinion ought to be addressed, if for no other reason than to improve immersion – or simply so that they cease to offend my sense of ‘reason’!

Having clarified my slant, you should also know that, since I took it up, the game has improved a great deal (I’m looking at you, Building UI!), whereupon my personal goals have evolved during play, from fighting and adventuring to complete the main quest (i.e., freeing yourself from the bracelet), to plunging into an engaging construction sandbox.

I will now divide my enquiry into sections, including the aforementioned Wishlist, plus Oddities and Anomalies; but I’ll start with If I Only Knew….


I ought to preface this section with a couple of notes on my playstyle: To begin with, I don’t do other than single player at Decadent (normal) difficulty; everything else default, except I set the Purge times to my convenience (not that I’ve seen one so far). Next, as I mentioned, once the Building feature was fixed so you don’t have to destroy everything you mistakenly place, especially not knowing how things worked – which initially caused me to completely abandon building almost anything besides crafting stations et al. – my focus has changed to building castles in the sky and decorating them; placement of barns and booths for pets and thralls; and so on.

Therefore, I haven’t come near to completing the main quest or even suffered a Purge, nor have I defeated most of the main bosses or fully explored the entire Exiles map; I’ve not set foot on The Isle of Siptah or elsewhere; and I haven’t touched the recently added Age of Sorcery DLC. Furthermore, I seldom use potions/elixirs, orbs, or explosives; Alchemy in general is low on my priority list.

I freely admit to ‘cheating’ using mods that lower boss HP; let you level up your character well past the vanilla limit of 60; improve your thralls; and the like. (Where mods may modify my tips I’ll provide notice, otherwise assume I’m commenting on the vanilla game.)

Finally, I favour Grit (stamina), Strength, and Vitality (health) over other Attributes; two-handed weapon styles – albeit this depends somewhat on which Legendary items I discover first; and heavy armour, especially Hyrkanian Raider elephant hide (see Figure 2 Hyrkanian Raider).

Hyrkanian Raider

One last remark before getting on with it: If you’re a veteran reading this and choose to disagree with me, then be my proverbial guest! I’d welcome (respectful) opinions and advice.

Okay then. So, once I’m out of the starting location, I always make my first camp bedside the river in H3 (a.k.a. N00b River; see Figure 3 First Camp site). There’s enough room for every crafting station, plus an animal taming pen and stable, in addition to a tiny flotsam (then sandstone) hut with a simple bed and a few chests for storage, even a trebuchet on the cliff above, with which to experiment and for the Journey Step (see Figure 4 Home Sweet Home). Even so, it gets quite crowded almost right away, especially once you start enthralling captives and taming animals, so I begin planning my move at the same time.

When building in Conan Exiles, beyond my first beach hut, my philosophy is Go Big or Go Home – unoriginal, yes, and forgive the pun, but it applies. In a long-abandoned playthrough I built my first castle on the nearby tall stone column, but soon grew out of that. So, I moved to the southernmost of the twin plateaux south of the Sentinel statues, intending to eventually build across to northerly plateau as well, but never got around to it before restarting. (All these locations are visible in Figure 4.) My current project is on the huge massif to the east, just southwest of Narrowneck Span (title screenshot, which I may update as it progresses).

Figure 4 Home Sweet Home

My priority is to acquire Iron tools and weapons soonest, then Steel, followed by Hardened Steel. Thus, making a Furnace (smelter), plus Blacksmith’s, Carpenter’s, and Armorer’s Benches as well as a Tanner’s Table and Tannery, are top of my list. I add Dyeing, Tinker’s, Artisan’s, and other stations as material allows. I also want to get my first thrall(s) early; I use a mod that increases the frequency of Tier 3-4s, but I try to find a Taskmaster, Smelter, Blacksmith, Entertainer, Carpenter, then a Cook and a decent Fighter or Archer or two, essentially in that order. However, unless you ‘cheat’ and look them up and then go to where certain ones appear more frequently, or REALLY cheat and spawn them with the console, it’s random whom you’ll find first. Still, I try to avoid all but Tier 4 (named) thralls and maybe T3s, since T1-2s are just too squishy – even though the latter are much easier to knock out and quicker to ‘break’. However, IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t even try taking on T3-4s until you’re at least level 20ish; run away! Do use an assistant if you have one – the sole reason I will capture a T1-2 Fighter/Archer early – but don’t take any companions except a human thrall equipped only with a truncheon, or they’ll likely kill your potential slaves. This tip extends doubly to rhino mounts/pack animals, unless you tell them to not help while you knock out your target, by un-Following them a distance away. (Sadly, you cannot equip them with a truncheon.)

Speaking of breaking thralls, another goal of mine is to learn the Greater Wheel of Pain to break the maximum number at a time as quickly as possible, but I often have more than one Wheel going simultaneously, as it’s frustrating when you come across a good one and have no room at the inn—er… Well, you know what I mean!

Anyway, on the same theme, my next tip is to never let your fires go out; that is, for example always have something smelting in your Furnaces. You’ll notice I used the plural; I have two or even three smelters going at once: one for (Hardened) Brick; a second for Iron/Steel; and, albeit a much later priority, a third for Gold/Silver. Note that the game’s priorities on what to smelt in what order may not be yours (the Furnace chooses), so you’ll likely have to move things around, even after you have more than one – and swap out Smelter thralls as well till you get two or three.

Next are my Blacksmiths; again, I have more than one station turning out Iron Reinforcements and, eventually, Steel ones (aside from crafting weapons and tools when needed, of course; repairs don’t interrupt the queue). Iron Reinforcements plus Brick are needed for Stonebrick building; Hardened Brick and Steel Reinforcements for Reinforced Stone and Stable parts. (I’ve yet to use Black Ice or higher tier materials in construction, much less Star Metal – which I understand you can only work in a forge located a deadly area, where I’ve died more than once trying to get to it.)

I like to have my carpentry station fashioning Insulated/Shaped Wood, and Firebowl Cauldron turning out Steelfire (later, Stone Consolidant), as required. Two or three Planters will meantime be using Compost (from the Heap) to grow useful things like Aloe for healing wraps and potions, as well as Plant Fiber for Twine and their myriad uses; my fish traps are scooping up fishes to squash into Oil in my Fluid Press (for armour/weapon improvements); all while my Grinder makes Bonemeal, Salt, Spice, and, when available, powdered Silver and Gold, plus other powders (e.g., from various lotus plants).

Reminder: As a secondary benefit to all this perpetual crafting, you generate XP for everything your stations create; I’ve gained levels while just riding or walking!

I should now cover food and water: Other than forgetting to take enough with me, especially the latter when going into the desert or far north, I’ve never found either a problem except when I once had too many thralls who were almost literally eating me out of house and home! (I’ll have more to say on the fact that I have to feed them later.) Further, I’ve thus far found little benefit from higher quality foods such as those created by a Cook in a Stove: Spiced and Salted and Honeyed, etc., let alone all the elaborate meals possible, including for pets. My thralls and I get by on dried meat/fish and plain roasts and steaks – but stand by for more experimentation! To conclude my tips on this category, put your excess meat, especially Feral, in your composter to rot (where Putrid Meat is a required ingredient along with Plant Fiber and Bonemeal).

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Here are a few more tips in point form for brevity; again, my opinions only:

  • Branches are more useful than Wood for cooking fuel; the latter are better suited to stoke Furnaces and for rendering into carpentered planks.
  • I find Repair Kits inefficient, taking up inventory space/weight to carry in addition to resources to craft; BUT MAKE SURE to fully repair everything – tools, weapons, armour – BEFORE venturing forth without them!
  • Carry two waterskins, and remember to keep both filled, especially when adventuring in desert/tundra.
  • Pack animals and rhino mounts are far tougher and better fighters than Bearer thralls/horses. However, although horses can’t fight at all, they are speedier and more manoeuvrable than rhinos, plus you can use certain weapons ahorse you can’t on a rhinoceros (more in next section).


The following points are mostly presented as curiosities that appear to either flagrantly flout the laws of physics et al., are contradictory or inconsistent, appear ‘unreasonable’ – albeit I acknowledge I am writing about a game that has magic, after all! – or that I personally just find annoying.

I once again present everything in point form, in no special order:

  • Fetch & carry (and chop & mine…); why the h3ll am I doing all the work?! That’s what slaves are for! Mostly kidding here, but it would be nice to tell a thrall to go chop down a tree, for example, or kill and butcher their own food.
  • Sandstorms should strip your skin away if you’re inadequately clothed, not just inhibit breathing. Even so, they don’t affect others (your thralls and pets can blithely stay outdoors during one), and torches don’t even go out; yet
    • How can a sandstorm damage you underwater, especially if you’re not breathing there? I should test if you take damage during a sandstorm while underwater and using a breathing potion. You should, but…
  • Speaking (writing) of potions, why can you only use certain potions/elixirs astride? You can eat/drink but not quaff a healing potion aboard a mount?
    • And only one Elixir can be effective at a time?
  • Similarly, certain weapons cannot be used atop some mounts, not even a shield; I’ve not tested all possible combinations, and I admit that swinging a one-handed weapon effectively from rhino’s back might be a problem if looked at realistically (ignoring whether riding a rhinoceros is ‘realistic’), but surely using a shield should be allowed on any mount, at least a horse? Devs, ever hear of a knight?
  • With the game’s excellent graphics allowing for warpaints etc., why is wet skin/clothing/pelt not modelled? A mod I use makes my skin glow nicely, especially in firelight, so it seems possible.
  • Speaking of wet armour, shouldn’t you, well, easily drown in it?
  • And while on the topic of water, why can’t crocodiles swim? I was frankly shocked when I found I could swim to safety from a croc (and anything else, for that matter)!
  • On the subject of running away, it seems you’re faster than almost everything in the world, especially when mounted. But don’t count on this; even climbing takes Stamina, and if you run out…
  • Back to swimming: Why does fast swimming take less Stamina than running? Shouldn’t it be the opposite or at least equal? I can swim in a river in full armour, packing near my weight limit, and get home faster than running along it!
  • Why do clearly overmatched creatures insist on attacking you? I can see some being overly aggressive/less intelligent, but one or two hyenas literally nipping at the heels of my rhinoceros mount and elephant/rhino pack animal? Just annoying!
    • Almost as silly, why do panthers et al. have the audacity to attack me by running through a herd of nice, tasty deer? Presumably just waiting for a human meal?
  • On the mention of animals being afraid, the game’s introduction suggests that most are afraid of fire, but I’ve yet to find one that shies from my swinging torch, let alone not venture near my bonfire.
  • Still on the topic of rhino pets, in my opinion they’re too strong, but this may be due to a mod(s).
    • Even so, how can a rocknose move a rhinoceros via headbutt?
  • It may again be due to mods, but often I’ve found that a mount ends up literally on top of me when in combat, no matter the Follow setting. More than once I’ve had to console the Ghost command to get out from under.
  • Similarly, unless you tell it to stay, your mount can follow you into impossible locations, even up cliffs, frequently blocking your exit (or retreat!).
  • How often do you swing an axe or pick one-handed? A hatchet, a hammer… yes.
  • Why can’t you simply DUCK UNDER TREE BOUGHS?
  • Why are Bed Pillows under Survival skills? My character survives quite well without them, at least until she builds her castle nest.
  • Why are Followers incorporeal to wandering creatures? I’ve often seen a shaleback, e.g., walk right through one of my peeps or pets.
  • Why isn’t rope in the game, not just Twine? ‘Rope’ could/should be made from, er, twining together Twine, and used for higher-tier construction.
  • Why do unconscious thralls being dragged stay armed, sometimes weapon even in hand?
  • How many of you bake bread in a furnace? I guess it’s just a really big oven?
  • Where do shalebacks get giant feathers for their nests?
  • Why doesn’t Followers’ equipment wear out like yours?
  • Why do I often have to chase rolling corpses, especially, it seems, bouncy spiders? (It’s admittedly not as bad as it used to be, when rhinos and elephants literally went flying when killed, sometimes never to be found.)


  • I may be alone, but I find the constant snorting/snuffling/whinnying of mounts and pack animals very distracting during an otherwise quiet trek across the desert (or through the woods, jungle…). Can we not tune them out or at least down?
  • Your torch/tool/weapon stays in hand after climbing, so why can a torch not automatically relight after (dis)mounting?
  • It should take more consistent blows to harvest, perhaps dependent upon the size of the deposit. Why four hits for silver; five for iron; coal, six; stone/trees, two to six?
    • Along with increased yields from better tools, reduce the number of blows to harvest a node; and
    • make this number consistent between types – again, remaining somewhat related to deposit size*.* I’ve seen boulders the size of my first beach hut reduced with the same number of strokes as one that’s breadbox-sized. (Do they make breadboxes anymore? Does anyone use them, if so?)
  • Chitin should be more useful; so far, I recall only one or two specialist armours in the game, but you should be able to create a generic ‘hard’ armour, or especially shields, from chitin, not just out of poor baby shalebacks.
  • The game yields too much Resin, Bark, Leather (even without an Improved Tannery), Crystal, more Handfuls of Insects and Fat Grubs than I can catch fish with (or eat myself; tasty!). “Too much” is relative, sure, but when you have to start making more and more storage boxes just to hold the excess…
  • A Summon Companion command would be useful, alongside Track.
  • A timer for the Wheels, to tell you how much longer before a thrall is broken. (You know, instead of checking back every five minutes.)
  • Stirrups
  • Beds/bedrolls/sleeping mats should have varying sleep effects, i.e., perks depending on relative ‘tier’, such as enhanced Stamina recovery.

There’s a lot more I could add, but I need to shorten this for now.

Yet, before I go, it probably need not be mentioned that nearly all the above is admittedly nit-picky, not affecting gameplay, and is offered in good fun, not to ridicule the game’s developers; moreover, there’s clearly a whole lot I like about the game, too! So, perhaps I’ll write up Part 2? 2000 Hours of Conan Exiles?

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Looking forward to it! As a fellow of veteran in this game i really appreciate your love for the game and devotion! I could argue but why? You already chose the way you like to play this game, you spend 1k hours in it and you are looking forward to spend another thousand! In this game there is no better way than the way that pleases the gamer individually!
Are there faster ways? Always, but individually again, things that may seem easy to one player may be really hard for another, it’s about the playstyle you choose and the knowledge you have in each map and then “speed” changes.
I really appreciate the fact that you restart characters, this decision helps a lot to really enjoy this game and to this i will suggest you something that i did in the past and my beloved @Damon still do. Recreate character but do not delete progression. Why? I won’t say much i will leave Damon to explain, because his English is better, but above all is because i love to read his experience of this game!
Cheers m8, congrats :+1:t6:

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I will only hop in briefly to say welcome @uncajerf and congratulations on 1000 hours.

Sounds like you are in a really great place, accepting that your play style is not optimized, and admitting you are enjoying the heck out of the game is the place to be. I lurk in the Forums and pop my head as minimally as possible. I would suggest some of the best comments I have seen recently are contained inside the thread “Saving the Katana” lots of passion and some excellent analysis, but ultimately the conclusion I took from that thread was/is that all weapons and play styes are viable in Conan, so your time is not wasted, no matter what choices you make. I personally have had tremendous fun with the often overlooked javelin, and whirlwind blades. Neither weapon is tremendously well regarded, and I often become overconfident, then quickly have to switch out to more effective weapons when fighting more serious foes, or risk losing yet another thrall due to my own whimsy and lack of proper battle support, and game discipline. Have fun brother/sister.

Lots of highs and lows, of all the critiques you included the one that really hit for home was me was the running into the water to escape from crocodiles!!! My first thought was what are we teaching children here!! then of course its like, wait this isn’t a child’s game… oh right…

Anyway before ducking out here I’ll quickly reply to my good friend @stelagal’s remark. One of the exciting accidental discoveries I made in my own haphazard play style adventures is that by finishing the game, (i.e. following the clues, and removing your bracelet) you are immediately sent back to character creation screen to start over all recipes lost, and level 0.

Where this is interesting is that this way of restarting, does not remove any of your previous builds from the map. This dynamic allows the single player the unique opportunity to raid and attack your previous bases. If you then set PVP to ‘enabled’ and turn damage to building ‘on’ in your single player game, your previous thralls, pets etc are hostile towards you. You can bomb, raid, etc. etc. It can add some spice to your next play through as well as add some opportunity for early game loot. Also worth mentioning here that you are probably already well acquainted with the decay timer, but in case you are not, I believe the default setting for solo play is decay timer off. If you want a previous build to disappear turn on decay timer and previous structures will disappear after seven days or whatever you set the timer to. Just make sure to visit your own current buildings and outposts or you may see your fishing huts, or smaller building across the map unexpectantly disappear.

Anyway all the best. Survive. Build. Dominate. and swim, swim, swim!
-Cheers Exile.

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Hi, stelagel,

Thanx for the comment.

The “why” for ‘2000 Hours’ would be to simply show off my buildings, as well as to update any possible changes (such as no longer being able to swim away from crocs (see @Damon’s comment). :wink:

I was not aware of the deleting/progression paths, but I almost always like to start from scratch anyway – mostly to fix what I may have done ‘wrong’ or at least want to do better. “Fast” doesn’t matter for me – or I likely wouldn’t have 1000 hours in!


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Hi, Damon,

Are you a Dev? I suppose I could look up your profile… but just curious.

See above reply to @stelagel re: progression/deletion, but I just want to expand a little here, primarily on my absolute horror at the thought of smashing my own stuff, let alone killing my former thralls! :open_mouth: Couldn’t do it… :sob:

I will check out the “Katana” thread, but I’m curious where you got the inference that I thought I might be wasting my time – or telling others how to waste theirs. Seems odd that I made it clear (I thought) that this was my playstyle, and I figured it’s a given that there are lots of others, perfectly valid.

As for thrown weapons, I never got into them, partly as I assume (perhaps wrongly!) that I’ll have to go (find &) collect them, or at worst, like arrows, they’ll be lost and must be re-crafted. Not fun, for me. Even if I they ‘auto-load’ somehow, I’m leery that would break immersion – something I can look past in other games but not sure I could in Conan. Perhaps I should actually try them, although I think I did, way back at 10-ish hours-or-so. :wink:

I was aware of decay timers etc., but thanx anyway!

Oh, and LOL re: “teaching children” and “swim, swim, swim”! :smiley:

Just 1K hours?

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Its easy to be misunderstood when you are initially replying to a stranger, which is why I tend to keep my replies to myself. Firstly, yeah the javelin’s light attack is a melee attack it is only the heavy attack that throws the javelin, and it can be stacked up to 10 in a bundle so yeah it can be an issue to retrieve the item, but it can be a fun weapon. Definitely not a weapon to place on a thrall though as they just waste them. imho… and we were talking about fun playstyle, not about being meta.

I am definitely not a DEV, but hey thanks for the compliment. I’m just a fellow gamer with a decent amount of time in game. Couple thousand hours that I will admit to. My point which seemed to have been missed, was simply that you are enjoying yourself, so very SPECIFICALLY, you are NOT wasting your time. and That that is a great place from which to be starting.

Regarding weapons choices depending on the time and version you started to play Conan Exiles, there have existed several different META Builds depending upon your preferences and your use of THRALLS… Sorcery 3.0 has rewritten the rules and although arguments can be made for various weapon choices and combinations especially specializing against certain bosses. Various members of this Forum have taken tremendous amount of time to analyze the armour value of certain Bosses and monsters. Some stack buffs, use of alcohol, (sorry lotus potions), and/or go through the effort to prepare and coat their weapons with poisons. None of it is wrong. Some is more effective against other players, some is more effective in groups. Lots of opinions.

None of it is wrong. I always start a conversation good naturedly, like I am talking to a friend, this is often taken as overconfidence, brattish perhaps, neither was my intent… I only commented because my friend Stelagel had already said “hey”. This Game has undergone substantial changes, and I have only been playing for the last three and a bit years of it, and am only a recent member to the forums, I always got my info online from other players. When you start a conversation it can be dizzying how much information this game contains.

The reason I suggested the “Save the Katana Thread” was specifically because I thought as a newer player, 1000 hours is great, lots of folks have played for much longer, and have played in clan, which has a decidedly different learning curve, in each of the 3 game modes. Again I don’t really have a pony in this race, but I read the Forums quite a bit now, and The reason I suggested the “Save the Katana” thread was specifically because it deals with various points of view regarding melee styles, You get some ideas about different attribute allocations, and it is a active thread, and an instant introduction to some of the community, and points of view to the most recent version of the game. But for now I will go back to being a fly on the wall.

Enjoy the game bud, it’s a hell of a ride.

Save the Katana Thread:: Please, save the Katana - #15 by Xevyr

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Cool… thanx for the clarification! :slight_smile:

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