The Survivalist: A toast to Conan Exiles’ new taverns, launching this week’s Age of War Chapter III


You know that feeling when you get something you really want? Something you’ve been waiting for? Conan Exiles is giving that to me — times two! Wait, make that three. It’s like Christmas is coming early for me. The only difference here is that thanks to a preview with Funcom’s Lead Designer Dennis Douthett, Senior Content Creator Tor Egil Andersen, and Senior PR and Event Manager Magnus Sanford, I know what I’m getting. (OK, whom are we kidding: I’m a mom; I buy most of my own Christmas presents anyway!) And what I am getting has me more excited than possible any previous update, barring pets of course.

Come the release of Age of War Chapter III on December 14th, I’ll be getting a feature I desire in all games: taverns! Functioning, useful taverns. The second present is Conan Exiles-specific, one that I’ve desired since the game was first introduced: a way to recruit NPCs to join us without having to club them over the head and drag them home to torture “loyalty” into them. And third, I’ll also get a huge destructible castle to siege in PvE.

Seriously, Age of War Chapter III is a special gift to all folks who love Conan Exiles for its many features but yearn for a bit more of a world instead of just a PvP survival sandbox. This next chapter really brings that out. Here’s a toast to the great addition of taverns to Conan Exiles!

A toast to taverns

I almost wasn’t sure if I should bin this article under The Survivalist or Some Assembly Required because the opportunity to make content in your Conan Exiles server is blossoming. A tavern is truly my favorite thing to make in any game. Many of my best gaming memories happen in taverns; I owned a cantina in Star Wars Galaxies, decorated a house as a tavern in EverQuest II, and built — then rebuilt — a tavern in Vanguard. But that love goes way beyond merely building and decorating the tavern (which heaven knows I absolutely love to do!). With taverns, I get to roleplay and interact with others, making the game world that much more alive.

This isn’t something very possible in survival sandbox games as the population is usually too small. Opening a tavern when most of the server population only wants to destroy your stuff is also problematic, though definitely not impossible. But an empty tavern is less desirable. Taverns need to be bustling, with patrons and even occasional barfights, and a more-alive world is exactly what Funcom was going for here.

“The tavern system is our first step in trying to make your own settlement feel more alive,” Douthett told me. “And this is a thing that I want to continue to do as we push forward into the game.” A focus on making the world more alive? Yes please!

So what is the tavern? It is more than just a building, but it is also a one you can’t get until you have a barkeep. And to get a barkeeper, you have to rescue her from the camps. (Or, if you’re a server admin, you can just place one.) Upon releasing her, you’ll learn how to build the bar, which is what makes a building a tavern. The barkeep will also tell you that she’s more useful behind the bar to convince you to hire her. When you do, that’s when things get lively.

If you build it, they will come

Once you build your tavern, you will start getting guests. Douthett shared that as long as there are open chairs, NPCs will come and sit and have a few drinks. More chairs mean a busier and more bustling tavern. If you see someone you like, some of these folks can even be hired with gold coins as followers. These patrons will be regular NPCs, from fighters to dancers. The quality will vary, and there is also a chance of rare, named thralls appearing. Anderson noted that there are no crafting thralls for now, but Douthett stated that will change in the upcoming release. In fact, all crafting thralls will soon be able to use the regular placement system in the world instead of at the workbench. This allows them to help defend your settlement, then still be placed at the workbench when it’s time to do their job.

Be aware when you’re decorating that in order for NPCs to come and stay, they need to be able to navigate the tavern. If they can’t get to seating, they will leave or even be teleported out if they get stuck.

In addition, named NPCs can be hired to come to the tavern for a time. Douthett noted that the barkeep is set up for additional content still to come. He described her as “the eyes and ears of the underworld” who “always knows someone.” One of her options once she’s behind the bar is enlisting contacts; as long as players have encountered another character, you can hire them specifically to come to your bar. For instance, if you have freed Isscar the Sellsword from the purge, you can bring him to the bar and use his inventory/shop while he is there.

It won’t end there, however. The tavern as it is is just the beginning. Douthett emphasized that this iteration is is only step one. He said:

“Going further into the future of Exiles, I want this tavern to act as like a content hub for you. So once you’ve created it, more stuff funnels you out of the tavern and into the game, and has you bring stuff back for the tavern. Just an example can be that we release a new update and the barkeeper has someone new that you can hire, and that personal basically comes with dialogue that sets you out on a quest top go experience something else in the world.”

Sadly, I learned that there won’t be any table-flipping bar fights amongst the NPC patrons. At least not yet! Maybe they just don’t want to be banned. That doesn’t mean the tavern can’t be destroyed by sieges and wildlife if those mechanics are turned on, however. Sanford shared an experience where a boar sneaked into the tavern and wreaked a bit havoc. Since the patrons are fighters, they will still fight to defend. Douthett added that there are more things devs want to expand upon behaviorally with the tavern, such as adding ambient rabble so that is sounds more like a tavern. “It would also be really cool if there were random things, like a bar fight could break out,” he said. See? Maybe we will have some flipping tables at some point!

My other disappointment is that you can’t earn any money from any of the NPCs there buying drinks. Drats! Well, at least I won’t have to actually make and supply the alcohol and food; they can just stick with animations. You can, however, spend your money at the barkeep to buy things.

The joys and sorrows of decorating

With the new update comes new building pieces. Anderson shared that the Stygian set has been expanded; I personally really like that the new foundations on stilts are specifically designed for building a lake town.

For me, there is much joy in designing and building the tavern. Sadly, while there are some free options, most visuals specific for the tavern are in the battle pass. Broken items on the floor from a bar fight? Yeah, that’s in the battle pass. Different styles of bars are also in other sets for purchase.

Decorating-wise, there’s also a Forlorn Crypt bundle to buy with some incredible pieces for a dungeon, including iron cages, a sarcophagus, and the game’s first spiral staircase. The Nemedian torture bundle also has a torture cage you can stick thralls or players and tables of torture implements. A triage bundle is medically themed.

Something to siege

As an owner of a PvE server, I don’t have players trying to bust down my friends’ settlements. That means there is no real use of any god avatars or siege equipment on my server, so a whole aspect of the game is lost to us, but it was the price we paid for our style of play. That, however, is changing. With Age of War Chapter III, there is a new mechanic that allows for PvE sieges! A massive Stygian fortress has been added, built with player building pieces. This entire castle can be attacked and blown to bits. I admit, I am looking forward to using a battering ram and a trebuchet.

Don’t worry, the siege is not a one-time event. The fortress is basically an overland dungeon, and like dungeons, it will reset and restore itself to be run again once players have left the area. Think of it as a purge, but you are the attacker and the NPCs are the defenders.

Besides the loot that folks can pick up in the throne room (those piles are more than just decorations!), I confirmed with the devs that players can place items in the castle if the player is in build mode. This allows for more or special loot to be added for those who run stories on their servers. However, it is important to note that the player-placed items may not respawn with the fortress after its destruction and will need to be placed again. The devs were unsure if placed items inside the fortress would stay beyond server reset as well. Additionally, players cannot change the fortress building itself.

More goodies in Chapter III

There is more to Age of War Chapter III than just taverns and a castle to siege. A third mount is coming as one of the free features coming in this update. Welcome the camels! Sorry to say, these camels don’t spit, but Douthett noted that he would like to bump the storage up from the current 10 to 15 or 20 slots.

Another nice feature is that players can add archer slots to their building. This visually shows as a quiver of arrows that is built in a wall. The benefit of this is when you place an archer in that slot, he stays there! Instead of running out to fight melee when your camp is attacked (and usually getting stuck somewhere because it can’t find a path out to the fight), the archer will stay at its post and fire arrows. You know, as an archer should!

Another available defense slot is a pitch pot to put boiling oil down upon the enemies at your gate. The one downside is timing, but Anderson said it will be very effective in sieges.

Something builders — like myself — might find useful is that the build menu has been reorganized, making it easier to find items. More categories have been added and things have been better.

Beyond Chapter III, there will be Chapter IV. And with Chapter IV comes fatalities, Age of Conan style. Chapter III itself is set to launch tomorrow, December 14th!

In the survival genre, there are at least 1001 ways to die, and MJ Guthrie is bound to experience them all — in the interests of sharing them with you! The Survivalist chronicles life and death struggles against all forms of apocalypse, outbreak, mutation, weather, and prehistoric wildlife. And let’s not forget the two-legged enemies! Tune in here and on OPTV to see who feeds better: MJ or the Death Counter.
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